Ex-AP Reporter – Media Imbalance Toward Israel Becomes Rooted

A Reuters truck drives through a bombed refugee camp in Gaza. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

A Reuters truck drives through a bombed refugee camp in Gaza. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

by IPT News  •  Dec 1, 2014

Life as a foreign correspondent often is portrayed as dangerous, sexy work for a journalist.

But it also can be insular – you’re a stranger in a strange land, often dropping in with little knowledge about history, culture and context. That can inhibit the breadth of reporting presented to the world, a glaring flaw when it comes to reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, former Associated Press Jerusalem correspondent Matti Friedman writes in an article for The Atlantic.

Journalists monitor each other’s work and tend to view human rights groups and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well meaning do-gooders immune from scrutiny. “Are they bloated, ineffective, or corrupt? Are they helping, or hurting? We don’t know,” Friedman writes, “because these groups are to be quoted, not covered.”

Over time, that arrangement helped entrench a narrative among foreign correspondents in Israel, writes Friedman, who reported out of the AP’s Jerusalem office from 2006-11. It is the second essay from the veteran journalist on how the media covers Israel. In August, Friedman provided first-hand examples of stories which were spiked if they made the Palestinians look intransigent, or made Israelis look good.

A “distaste for Israel has come to be something between an acceptable prejudice and a prerequisite for entry,” he writes in the Atlantic piece. “The Israel story” is “a simple narrative in which there is a bad guy who doesn’t want peace and a good guy who does.”

A New York Times editor unintentionally reinforced Friedman’s point last month when he took to Twitter to admit his willingness to ignore Palestinian incitement and bigotry until “they have [a] sovereign state to discriminate with.”

When events conflict with that narrative, Friedman writes, they are under-reported or not reported at all. So a 2013 rally at the West Bank’s Al-Quds University supporting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and invoking Nazi imagery was widely known among Western journalists but generated little coverage until Brandeis University suspended a partnership program with Al-Quds.

Or, more recently: “The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby—and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff—and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.)”

Hamas understands this reality and manipulates journalists to further advance it. So some stories hint that Hamas no longer is wed to its founding, anti-Semitic charter and its calls for Israel’s destruction. Others falsely cast Hamas as open to peace and moderation.

Friedman’s essay is important because he writes from experience, not anger. It is packed with too much insight to fully capture here. To read the full essay, click here.

Also see:

NYPD Surveillance Upheld Despite AP Campaign

Islamists Launch New Offensive Against NYPD

nypd2BY RYAN MAURO:

The American Islamist groups are back on the offensive against the NYPD after misleading headlines suggested that it had spied randomly on mosques by branding them terrorist organizations. Again, the NYPD is falsely depicted as a rogue agency hell-bent on trampling all over the civil rights of innocent Muslims.

The latest controversy began after a book was published revealing that the New York Police Department had labeled some mosques and Islamic groups as “terrorism enterprises,” permitting intelligence-gathering on them through the use of undercover agents.

The hysteria leads one to believe that this is happening all over. The numbers tell a different history.

It is now known that the NYPD opened up at least 15 “terrorism enterprise investigations” since 2003, with 10 being mosques. According to a 2010 report by A Journey Through NYC Religions, there are 175 mosques in New York City. Another 2011 study recorded 192 mosques in the Greater New York City area. These totals do not even include every Islamic organization in the NYPD’s jurisdiction.

Let’s summarize what we know for a fact: Out of a minimum of 175 mosques, only 10 were subjected to a “terrorism enterprise investigation” over 10 years. The actual number may be higher but nonetheless, when the existing facts are put in the proper context, the NYPD doesn’t look like the villain that its adversaries make it sound like.

While it is true that a judge did not have to approve each investigation, a federal judge did approve the guidelines permitting them.

David Cohen, a former CIA executive that joined the NYPD after 9/11, told a federal judge in 2002 that mosques can be used “to shield the work of terrorists from law enforcement scrutiny by taking advantage of restrictions on the investigation of First Amendment activity.”

The problem the NYPD was running into were restrictions put in place in 1985 due to the “Handshu agreement” where the NYPD was sued for spying on Vietnam War protesters. The federal judge agreed that the restrictions needed to be modernized because of “fundamental changes in the threats to public security.”

The new guidelines permitted the NYPD to record speech protected by the First Amendment when “facts of circumstances reasonably indicate” that two or more individuals may be conspiring to support terrorism. The NYPD was not authorized to prosecute someone based on their free speech.

The results of the NYPD’s controversial programs are remarkable. As Police Commissioner Ray Kelly wrote on July 22, the NYPD is “guilty of saving 7,383 lives.” And as he explained, the NYPD never sent an informant or undercover officer into a mosque unless it was in response to a vetted lead. To argue otherwise is to argue that the NYPD desires to violate civil rights and waste its resources in doing so.

The media is quick to quote the “moderates” that were supposedly victimized by the NYPD. One of the first mosques to be subjected to a “terrorism enterprise investigation” is the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge. The mosque has a history of extremist preaching. Reda Shata, its imam, was placed under surveillance for valid reasons. For one, he was a vocal supporter of the terrorist group Hamas.

Read more at The Clarion Project

 

Major Escalation of the US Role in Syria with CIA Delivery of Weapons to Rebels

FILE – In this Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 file citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, rebels from al-Qaida affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra sit on a truck full of ammunition at Taftanaz air base, that was captured by the rebels, in Idlib province, northern Syria. Credit: AP

FILE – In this Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 file citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, rebels from al-Qaida affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra sit on a truck full of ammunition at Taftanaz air base, that was captured by the rebels, in Idlib province, northern Syria. Credit: AP

By :

Rebel forces in Syria are now officially receiving CIA-delivered weapons from the United States government, the Washington Post reports, citing U.S. officials and Syrian figures.

Following months of delay, the lethal aid promised to the Syrian rebels by President Barack Obama began trickling into the war-torn country over the past two weeks. The opposition forces have also reportedly received vehicles and other gear from the State Department, marking a “major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war,” the Washington Post observes.

The Associated Press adds that delivery of bigger weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades has also been arranged through a third party country.

According to the Post’s sources, arms shipments of light weapons and other munitions are being delivered to the rebels as well as nonlethal gear like sophisticated communications equipment, advanced combat medical kits and vehicles — all funded by the U.S. taxpayer.

“U.S. officials hope that, taken together, the weapons and gear will boost the profile and prowess of rebel fighters in a conflict that started about 2 1/2 years ago,” the report adds.

The revelation comes as some in the United States have wondered if the 9/11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year was tied to possible weapons running to Syria. It also comes on the heels of one Benghazi whistleblower’s attorney saying 400 surface-to-air-missiles were stolen from the country and “it is clear that the [CIA] annex [also attacked] was somehow involved in the process of the distribution of those missiles.”

Read more at The Blaze

NYPD designates mosques as terrorism organizations

Bay Ridge mosque NYAssociated Press

NEW YORK — The New York Police Department has secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorist organizations, a designation that allows police to use informants to record sermons and spy on imams, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Designating an entire mosque as a terrorism enterprise means that anyone who attends prayer services there is a potential subject of an investigation and fair game for surveillance.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD has opened at least a dozen “terrorism enterprise investigations” into mosques, according to interviews and confidential police documents. The TEI, as it is known, is a police tool intended to help investigate terrorist cells and the like.

Many TEIs stretch for years, allowing surveillance to continue even though the NYPD has never criminally charged a mosque or Islamic organization with operating as a terrorism enterprise.

The documents show in detail how, in its hunt for terrorists, the NYPD investigated countless innocent New York Muslims and put information about them in secret police files. As a tactic, opening an enterprise investigation on a mosque is so potentially invasive that while the NYPD conducted at least a dozen, the FBI never did one, according to interviews with federal law enforcement officials.

The strategy has allowed the NYPD to send undercover officers into mosques and attempt to plant informants on the boards of mosques and at least one prominent Arab-American group in Brooklyn, whose executive director has worked with city officials, including Bill de Blasio, a front-runner for mayor.

De Blasio said Wednesday on Twitter that he was “deeply troubled NYPD has labelled entire mosques & Muslim orgs terror groups with seemingly no leads. Security AND liberty make us strong.”

The revelations about the NYPD’s massive spying operations are in documents recently obtained by The Associated Press and part of a new book, “Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America.” The book by AP reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman is based on hundreds of previously unpublished police files and interviews with current and former NYPD, CIA and FBI officials.

The disclosures come as the NYPD is fighting off lawsuits accusing it of engaging in racial profiling while combating crime. Earlier this month, a judge ruled that the department’s use of the stop-and-frisk tactic was unconstitutional.

Read more at WSJ

Also see: 

The ONLY reason New York City hasn’t been attacked since 9/11 is precisely because the NYPD has put mosques, certain Muslim businesses and terror-linked Muslim groups and individuals under constant surveillance (barenakedislam.com)

EGYPT BROTHERHOOD LEADER DENIES ‘TERRORISM’ CLAIM

Beltagy
By SARAH EL DEEB and AYA BATRAWY:

CAIRO (AP) — A fugitive leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has denied accusations his group is committing acts of “terrorism” following the coup that toppled the country’s president.

Mohammed el-Beltagy’s address, which aired Tuesday, comes as the Brotherhood plans new demonstrations to defy a crippling security crackdown that has put most of its senior and mid-level leadership behind bars. Among those detained Monday was 25-year-old U.S. citizen Mohamed Soltan, the son of outspoken Brotherhood figure Salah Soltan, family and security officials said.

El-Beltagy, a former lawmaker, is wanted himself on accusations of inciting violence and has been hunted by authorities for nearly three weeks. In a videotaped message aired by Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr, an affiliate of the Qatar-based broadcaster, el-Beltagy said that authorities were trying to turn a “political crisis” into a security problem by accusing his group of orchestrating a terrorism campaign.

Egypt’s media, almost uniformly anti-Brotherhood after the closure of Islamist television stations, have described the crackdown as a “war against terrorism.”

“Don’t be fooled by these lies and deception that aim to label us with terrorism, violence, (and) killing … at a time when the hands of the coup regime are drowned in blood,” el-Beltagy said.

El-Beltagy went into hiding earlier this month after authorities violently broke up protest encampments held by supporters of President Mohammed Morsi, overthrown July 3 by the military after days of mass protests against him. Hundreds died in the crackdown, including el-Beltagy’s daughter.

In retaliation, Morsi supporters attacked police stations, government buildings and churches. Hundreds of Brotherhood members, the group’s top leaders and Morsi supporters were arrested, many accused of orchestrating and taking part in violence.

Airport authorities also said Tuesday that well-known Egyptian cleric Yousef al-Qaradawi, based in Qatar, would be arrested upon entry to the country. The elderly sheik is very close to the Brotherhood and has spoken out vehemently against the country’s military chief who led the coup.

The current bout of violence is the worst in Egypt’s 2 ½ years of turbulent transition. More than 1,000 people, mostly Morsi supporters, were killed in the raids and other violence since mid-August. Violence has waned in the past few days.

An official in the Interior Ministry said Tuesday that 106 security personnel have been killed since Aug. 14 and that more than 900 have been wounded in violence, including soldiers and policemen. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

In the latest round-up of Brotherhood supporters, authorities said they arrested Soltan and three others at the pro-Brotherhood Rassd Network News service’s office in the Cairo suburb of Maadi. Also detained in the group arrest was the manager of the news service, a broadcaster and one of Rassd’s founders.

Soltan, a graduate of Ohio State University, was active online in support of the Brotherhood and had posted a picture of his arm after he was shot during the security raid on the sit-ins two weeks ago. His father is wanted by police on charges he incited violence during speeches.

Police said the group was in possession of plans to spread chaos and violence in the country by inciting splits among the ranks of the army and police and through acts of civil disobedience. Police officials said they confiscated a Thuraya satellite phone, six mobile phones, three laptops and a camera from the group.

Read more

 

Supreme leader of Muslim Brotherhood detained, Egyptian security officials say

BadieMuslimBrotherhoodFox News:

CAIRO –  Egyptian security officials detained the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood early Tuesday, state media reported.

Officials said Mohammed Badie, 70, was captured  in an apartment in the eastern Cairo district of Nasr City, the same place supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi held a six-week sit-in protest that was cleared by security forces last Wednesday. Morsi is a longtime leader of the Brotherhood.

Badie’s detention came “after information came to the security apparatus locating his place of hiding,” Reuters quoted the state news agency as saying.

The Associated Press described his arrest as a serious blow to the group at a time when authorities are cracking down on its leaders and mid-ranking officials, detaining scores of them across the country.

Badie, known as the Brotherhood’s General Guide, and his powerful deputy Khairat el-Shater, who is in custody, go on trial later this month for their alleged role in the killing of eight protesters outside the Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters in June.

The Facebook page of the Interior Ministry showed a picture of Badie, with dark rings under his eyes, sitting in a car between two men in black body armor with a caption confirming his arrest, Reuters reported.

“Carrying out the decisions of the public prosecutor to arrest and bring forward the general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie, and through collected information and observation of movements it was possible for the criminal search apparatus under the direction of Cairo’s security (services) to arrest him,” the caption said.

”The necessary legal measures are being taken,” Reuters quoted the page as saying.

In other developments, a court ruling Monday raised the possibility of jailed ex-president Hosni Mubarak walking free soon, a move that would fuel the unrest roiling the country after the autocratic leader’s successor was removed in a military coup.

Underscoring the growing anger over Morsi’s ouster, suspected Islamic militants ambushed two minibuses carrying off-duty policemen in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, forcing the men to lie on the sand and shooting 25 of them dead.

“They were marked in advance by the attackers,” said Ashraf Abdullah, who heads the police branch the victims belonged to. He said the assailants checked the IDs of the men, who were not in uniform, to ensure they were policemen before opening fire.

The brazen daylight attack raised fears that the strategic desert region bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip could be plunged into a full-fledged insurgency.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Video – Egypt army chief: New clashes won’t be tolerated

APTOPIX Mideast Egypt(AP) CAIRO, By MAGGIE MICHAEL:

Egypt’s military leader vowed Sunday that the army will not tolerate further political violence after nationwide clashes that left hundreds dead, as security forces detained Muslim Brotherhood members in raids aimed at disrupting planned rallies.

Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, who led the July 3 coup that toppled President Mohammed Morsi, again said the army has no intention of seizing power in the Arab world’s most populous country. El-Sissi removed Morsi after four days of mass rallies by millions of Egyptians who demanded the president step down.

“We will not stand by silently watching the destruction of the country and the people or the torching the nation and terrorizing the citizens,” he said in a speech aired on state television.

The general said that the military didn’t seek power but instead “have the honor to protect the people’s will _ which is much dearer (than) ruling Egypt.”

El-Sissi also said Islamists must be included in the country’s politics moving forward. A military timetable calls for the nation’s constitution to be amended and for presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in 2014.

“We have given many chances … to end the crisis peacefully and call for the followers of the former regime to participate in rebuilding the democratic track and integrate in the political process and the future map instead of confrontations and destroying the Egyptian state,” he told a gathering of top military commanders and police chiefs.

El-Sissi’s remarks come ahead of an anticipated harsher stance by the military-backed government toward the Brotherhood. The Cabinet held an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss potentially banning the group, a long-outlawed organization that swept to power in the country’s first democratic elections a year ago.

A possible ban _ which authorities say would be implemented over the group’s use of violence _ would be a repeat of the decades-long struggle between the state and the Brotherhood. It also would drain the group’s financial resources and allow for mass arrests of its members. That likely would diminish the chances of a negotiated solution to the crisis and push it again underground.

The Brotherhood, however, has shown no signs of backing down.

Under the banner of an anti-coup alliance, the group said it will hold a demonstration in front of the Supreme Constitutional Court in southern Cairo later Sunday. Authorities already stationed armored vehicles and troops at the building, which could turn into another focal point of street violence.

More than 800 people have been killed nationwide since Wednesday’s dismantling of two encampments of Morsi supporters in Cairo _ an act that sparked fierce clashes. Some 70 police officers were killed in clashes with protesters or retaliatory attacks during the same period, according to the Interior Ministry.

In an attempt to cripple the Brotherhood’s protest plans, authorities carried out raids early Sunday morning, detaining at least 300 mid-level officials and field operatives in several cities, according to security officials and group statements.

In Egypt’s second-largest city Alexandria, the Brotherhood said on its official website that security forces stormed houses of 34 officials and former lawmakers, but only arrested seven people. Among those targeted was Medhat el-Haddad, the brother of top Morsi’s aide Essam el-Haddad.

In Assiut, 320 kilometers (200 miles) south of Cairo, 163 of the group’s officials and operatives were rounded up in different towns in the province, security officials said. They said those arrested face charges of instigating violence and orchestrating attacks on police stations and churches.

In the city of Suez, nine people were arrested after being caught on film attacking army vehicles, burning churches and assaulting Christian-owned stores, officials said.

In ancient southern city of Luxor, more than 20 Brotherhood senior officials were detained, officials said.

Read more at Breitbart

 

Statement of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi 08/18/2013:

 

The Return of Al Qaeda and Jihad

By Raymond Ibrahim:

With the ousting of Muhammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, al-Qaeda has been vindicated and the terror-jihad exonerated, in the opinion of many Islamists, that is.

Ayman Zawahiri: “Told you so.”

Ayman Zawahiri: “Told you so.”

According to the Associated Press, in a new video, al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri “said the military coup that ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi provides proof that Islamic rule cannot be established through democracy and urged the Islamist leader’s followers to abandon the ballot box in favor of armed resistance [i.e., jihad].”

In fact, in the Arabic video, Zawahiri gloats over two points that he has championed for decades despite widespread opposition: that the Brotherhood was foolish to engage in democracy and elections in the first place, and that the triumph of Islam can only be achieved through jihad.

Interestingly, these two points go back to a long but internal debate between nonviolent Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, and violent jihadis, like al-Qaeda. While both groups pursue the same exact goals—a Sharia-ruling caliphate followed by the subjugation of the “infidel” world, according to Islamic teachings—they follow different strategies.  The Brotherhood has long argued that, because the Islamic world is militarily weaker than the West, now is not the time for an all-out jihad, but rather a time for infiltration and subversion, a time for taqiyya and short-lived promises.  Conversely, jihadis generally disavow pretense and diplomacy, opting for jihad alone.

Since the 1960s in Egypt, Ayman Zawahiri was an outspoken proponent of jihad (see “Ayman Zawahiri and Egypt: A Trip Through Time for a brief biography).  In the early 1990s, he wrote an entire book titled Al Hissad Al Murr, or “The Bitter Harvest,” where he argued that the Brotherhood “takes advantage of the Muslim youths’ fervor by bringing them into the fold only to store them in a refrigerator. Then, they steer their onetime passionate, Islamic zeal for jihad to conferences and elections….  And not only have the Brothers been idle from fulfilling their duty of fighting to the death, but they have gone as far as to describe the infidel governments as legitimate, and have joined ranks with them in the ignorant style of governing, that is, democracies, elections, and parliaments.”

Read more at Front Page

Behind Egypt’s coup, months of acrimony between Morsi and top general over Sinai, policies

download (14)AP: CAIRO — The head of Egypt’s military, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, sat with a polite smile in the front row listening to President Mohammed Morsi give a 2 1/2-hour speech defending his year in office. El-Sissi even clapped lightly as the audience of Morsi supporters broke into cheers.

It was a calculating display of cool by an army general plotting the overthrow of his commander in chief. Just over a week later, el-Sissi slid in the knife, announcing Morsi’s ouster on state TV on July 3 as troops took the Islamist leader into custody.

The move was the culmination of nearly a year of acrimonious relations between el-Sissi and Egypt’s first freely elected — and first civilian — president.

A series of interviews by The Associated Press with defense, security and intelligence officials paint a picture of a president who intended to flex his civilian authority as supreme commander of the armed forces, issuing orders to el-Sissi. In turn, the military chief believed Morsi was leading the country into turmoil and repeatedly challenged him, defying his orders in at least two cases.

The degree of their differences suggests that the military had been planning for months to take greater control of the political reins in Egypt. When an activist group named Tamarod began a campaign to oust Morsi, building up to protests by millions nationwide that began June 30, it appears to have provided a golden opportunity for el-Sissi to get rid of the president. The military helped Tamarod from early on, communicating with it through third parties, according to the officials.

The reason, the officials said, was because of profound policy differences with Morsi. El-Sissi saw him as dangerously mismanaging a wave of protests early in the year that saw dozens killed by security forces. More significantly, however, the military also worried that Morsi was giving a free hand to Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula, ordering el-Sissi to stop crackdowns on jihadis who had killed Egyptian soldiers and were escalating a campaign of violence.

“I don’t want Muslims to shed the blood of fellow Muslims,” Morsi told el-Sissi in ordering a halt to a planned offensive in November, retired army Gen. Sameh Seif el-Yazl told AP. Seif el-Yazl remains close to the military and sometimes appears with el-Sissi at public events.

And at root, the military establishment has historically had little tolerance for the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi’s Islamist group. The military leadership has long held the conviction that the group puts its regional Islamist ambitions above Egypt’s security interests.

Its alliances with Gaza’s Hamas rulers and other Islamist groups alarmed the military, which believed Gaza militants were involved in Sinai violence. The officials said the military leadership also believed the Brotherhood was trying to co-opt commanders to turn against el-Sissi.

Read more at Washington Post

 

Egypt Cabinet has women, Christians; no Islamists

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This image released by the Egyptian Presidency on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 shows interim President Adly Mansour, center, with his new cabinet ministers at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt. Egypt’s interim president has sworn in a new Cabinet, the first since the ouster of the Islamist president by the military nearly two weeks ago. The new government, sworn in Tuesday, is led by Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, an economist, and features the promotion of Defence Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who ousted Mohammed Morsi on July 3, to deputy prime minister. He also retains the defence portfolio.

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s interim leader swore in a Cabinet on Tuesday that included women and Christians but no Islamists as the military-backed administration moved swiftly to formalize the new political order and present a more liberal face that is markedly at odds with the deposed president and his supporters.

The changes came at a time of deep polarization and violence in Egypt, including new clashes that killed seven people as part of the continuing bloodshed that has marked the days following the armed forces coup that swept President Mohammed Morsi from office and cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt’s military already wields great influence behind the scenes, and the army chief, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who ousted Morsi on July 3, was given a promotion in the Cabinet. He became a first deputy prime minister in addition to keeping his post as defense minister.

For most of the two years since the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, the country has been split into two camps — one led by Morsi, his Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies, and another led by secular Egyptians, liberals, Christians and moderate Muslims.

The fault lines remain, except that the Islamist camp is no longer in power. It does not include members of any Islamist parties — a sign of the enduring division that follows the removal of Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president.

The interim president’s spokesman had earlier said posts would be offered to the Muslim Brotherhood, but the group promptly refused, saying it would not take part in the military-backed political process and would continue protests until the legitimately elected Morsi is reinstated.

“We refuse to even discuss it,” a senior official of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice party, told The Associated Press. “What is built on illegitimacy is illegal,” he said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media before the party issued a formal statement on the formation of the Cabinet.

The only Islamist party that supported Morsi’s ouster — the ultraconservative Salafi el-Nour party — was not represented and criticized the leadership as “biased,” lacking inclusion and repeating “the same mistake the last government was blamed for.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he had talked with el-Sissi about 10 times in the past week.

“We have encouraged publicly and privately the leaders of Egypt, including the interim president, the interim vice president, and the prime minister in particular, to be inclusive, to bring all political parties in, to allow them to participate in the writing of the constitution and the elections,” Hagel told reporters in Florida. “That’s the only way it will work. We’ve been very clear on that.”

Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, an economist in his 70s, leads the government of 33 other ministers. Sworn in by interim President Adly Mansour, it reflected the largely liberal, secular bent of the factions who brought millions into the streets at the end of June calling for Morsi to step down and backed el-Sissi’s removal of the president.

Women have a somewhat higher profile in the government, with three ministries — including the powerful information and health ministries. Most past governments for decades have had at most only two women.

The Cabinet also includes three Christians, including one of the three women, Environment Minister Laila Rashed Iskander. That is also a first, since successive governments had no more than one or two Christians.

Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, appointed by Morsi, remains in his post, which oversees the police. Nabil Fahmy, who was Egypt’s ambassador to the U.S. from 1999-2008 and a nuclear disarmament expert, becomes foreign minister.

In a nod to the revolutionary youth groups that engineered the 2011 uprising and this year’s massive protests, Mansour renamed the Justice portfolio the Transitional Justice and National Reconciliation Ministry and gave it to Mohammed el-Mahdi, a career judge.

The groups have been campaigning to bring to justice those responsible for the killings of hundreds of protesters since Mubarak’s fall. Reconciliation is a longstanding demand by most political forces to end Egypt’s polarization, which often spills over into street violence.

At least three senior figures from the National Salvation Front — the main opposition group during Morsi’s year in office — were included in the government. In addition, the new deputy prime minister in charge of international cooperation, Ziad Bahaa-Eldin, is a member of the Social Democratic Party, which is part of the Salvation Front.

Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the Front’s top leaders and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has already been installed as Mansour’s vice president.

In a first, Mansour also swore in a leading figure in Egyptian soccer as sports minister. Midfielder Taher Abu Zeidstarred in Cairo’s el-Ahly club and the national team in the 1980s. He was a member of the national squad that won the African Nations‘ Cup in 1986.

The Cabinet is to run the country during a transition period announced last week by Mansour. The plan includes the formation of panels to amend the Islamist-drafted constitution that was passed under Morsi, then elections for a new parliament and president early next year.

After the swearing-in ceremony, the Cabinet held its first meeting and set the government’s priorities as reviving the economy, bolstering public security and improving services, according to a palace statement.

Read more

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Free Morsi: Obama’s Fight for a Bloody Tyrant

images (74)By :

On the day that President Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s brutal tyrant who had presided over the torture and mass rape of protesters, was overthrown by popular protests, a statement was issued by the White House.

The statement said, “The United States does not support particular individuals or political parties” and then went on to urge that the voices of “those who have supported President Morsy” must also be heard.

Obama was once again contradicting himself. Either the United States was not in the business of telling Egypt whose voices should be heard or it was. Obama wanted to insist that it was and that it wasn’t at the same time. He wanted to have his bloody tyrant on the throne and his myth of democracy too.

On the same day, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, a former Obama spokeswoman, said, “We haven’t taken sides and don’t plan to take sides here.”

Psaki also vigorously denied that Secretary of State John Kerry was hanging out on his yacht, despite a CBS producer photographing him aboard the boat, saying, “Any report or tweet that he was on a boat is completely inaccurate.”

Two days later, Psaki admitted that Kerry had been on the boat. A week later, Psaki implicitly admitted that her bosses were taking sides by warning that further arrests of Muslim Brotherhood members would endanger US foreign aid to Egypt.

Psaki was actually following up on an earlier warning by Obama to Egypt’s government “to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters.” Obama had not issued any such warnings after the overthrow of Mubarak. Nor had he said anything about Morsi’s arrest and torture of protesters.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders had set off a storm of violence as their followers rampaged through Christian neighborhoods murdering and maiming. Churches and cathedrals were targeted and a priest was shot to death.

The Associated Press headlined the story describing Muslim atrocities against Christians as a “backlash” for their protests against Morsi. It would be difficult to imagine the wire service headlining a story about the KKK bombing a black church after Obama’s victory as a “backlash,” but the Muslim Brotherhood, like so many Islamist hate groups, has the media on its side. The Muslim KKK can count on the AP and DC.

Violence against Christians and even other Muslims followed in the wake of fiery speeches by Muslim Brotherhood leaders urging their followers to martyrdom. “They treated us like infidels. They were chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they were shooting us,” one Egyptian eyewitness said.

These atrocities were not just an outraged response to Morsi’s fall. The Muslim Brotherhood resorted to violence when in power and when out of power.

Obama’s people never threatened Morsi with the loss of foreign aid for arresting activists from other parties, but arresting Muslim Brotherhood members clearly crosses whatever passes for a red line in the White House.

Read more at Front Page

 

After campaigning for Morsi’s ouster, Egypt’s Christians come under retaliation from Islamists

In this Sunday, July 7, 2013 photo, relatives of Christians killed near Luxor, Egypt, pray during their funeral after two days of violence that followed the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi. Some Christians are paying the price for their activism against Morsi and his Islamist allies in a backlash over his ouster last week. Since then, there has been a string of attacks on Christians in provinces that are strongholds of hard-liners. In the Sinai Peninsula, where militant groups run rampant, militants gunned down a priest in a drive-by shooting as he walked in a public market. (AP Photo/Ibrahim Zayed)

In this Sunday, July 7, 2013 photo, relatives of Christians killed near Luxor, Egypt, pray during their funeral after two days of violence that followed the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi. Some Christians are paying the price for their activism against Morsi and his Islamist allies in a backlash over his ouster last week. Since then, there has been a string of attacks on Christians in provinces that are strongholds of hard-liners. In the Sinai Peninsula, where militant groups run rampant, militants gunned down a priest in a drive-by shooting as he walked in a public market. (AP Photo/Ibrahim Zayed)

By HAMZA HENDAWI:

CAIRO — With a mob of Muslim extremists on his tail, the Christian businessman and his nephew climbed up on the roof and ran for their lives, jumping from building to building in their southern Egyptian village. Finally they ran out of rooftops.

Forced back onto the street, they were overwhelmed by several dozen men. The attackers hacked them with axes and beat them with clubs and tree limbs, killing Emile Naseem, 41. The nephew survived with wounds to his shoulders and head and recounted the chase to The Associated Press.

The mob’s rampage through the village of Nagaa Hassan, burning dozens of Christian houses and stabbing to death three other Christians as well, came two days after the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi from power. It was no coincidence the attackers focused on Naseem and his family: He was the village’s most prominent campaigner calling for Morsi’s removal.

Some Christians are paying the price for their activism against Morsi and his Islamist allies in a backlash over his ouster last week.

Since then, there has been a string of attacks on Christians in provinces that are strongholds of hard-liners. In the Sinai Peninsula, where militant groups run rampant, militants gunned down a priest in a drive-by shooting as he walked in a public market.

Egypt’s Christian minority, about 10 percent of the population, long shunned politics for fear of reprisals, relying on their church to make their case to those in power. That changed in the revolutionary fervor when autocrat Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011, as Christians started to demand a say in the country’s direction.

But they took it to a new level during Morsi’s year in office and the empowerment of his Islamist allies. The new Coptic Christian pope, Tawadros II, enthroned in November, openly criticized the president. He told Christians they were free to actively participate in politics and that the church will not discourage them.

“The Christians have emerged from under the robes of the clergy and will never go back,” said Ezzat Ibrahim, an activist from Minya, a southern province with a large Christian community.

It was a risky gamble for a minority that has long felt vulnerable, with its most concentrated communities often living in the same rural areas where the most vehement and vocal Islamists hold sway.

During Morsi’s year in office, some of his hard-line allies increasingly spoke of Christians as enemies of Islam and warned them to remember they are a minority. When the wave of protests against Morsi began on June 30, Brotherhood media depicted it as dominated by Christians — and to hard-liners, it smacked of Christians rising up against a Muslim ruler.

The worst anti-Christian backlash since Morsi’s July 3 ouster was the attack in Nagaa Hassan, a dusty village on the west bank of the Nile River, not far from the most majestic ancient Egyptian archaeological sites in the city of Luxor.

Read more at The Republic

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STATE DEPT CONFIRMS TALIBAN CONCESSIONS WITHIN HOURS OF FATAL ATTACK ON U.S. TROOPS

taliban2by MEREDITH DAKE:

State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday that talks between the United States and the Taliban for a “political solution” to the security of Afghanistan will result in concessions from both sides. Within hours of that statement, the Taliban took credit for an attack in Afghanistan that resulted in the death of four Americans.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday morning that the Taliban have “claimed responsibility” for an attack on an U.S. air base in Afghanistan that resulted in the death of four Americans. This attack was facilitated after the Taliban announced the opening of offices in Qatar for the purpose of negotiations for a “political solution” in the Afghan region.

The State Department seems to have put no pre-conditions for the Taliban to come to the negotiation table and suggests that major concessions could be made to the terrorist group in an effort to bring security and stability to the region without the need for U.S. presence.

State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki left the possibility open with reporters on Tuesday that upcoming “negotiations” with the Taliban could result in the delisting from the United States’ “Most Wanted” terrorists list in order to facilitate stability in the Afghan region. When asked about the Taliban’s insistence for leaders to be removed from the “Most Wanted” list, Psaki said, “There need to be negotiations, there need to be discussions. The U.S. will have some, Afghans will have some, but I’m not going to get ahead of what the end results will be.”

Read more at Breitbart with video

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Benghazi, Agency Scandals and Syria: The Most Perverted Shell Game Yet

20130617_SHELL_GAME_SCANDAL_LARGEby JOHN BERNARD:

The stories of government agency corruption and the blurring of Constitutional guidelines have certainly caused a storm of consternation and outright anger in the past many weeks. It seems each day has provided us with yet one more glimpse into the seedy world of a government that has clearly lost its way, and shed even the appearance of concern for maintaining the public trust.

While the debacle in Benghazi had dominated the national media stage for a few months, it was quickly shifted to the back burner to make room for far more salacious tales starring State Department appointees and prostitution as well as a litany of stories detailing every manner of corrupt behavior.

Learning that the IRS abused its power and deliberately targeted groups with a very specific political leaning was just one more.  Certainly the American public has a right to be concerned when the single most powerful agency in government shamelessly exerts its influence and authority against the very Americans it collects money from in order to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States”.

It was as disconcerting to learn that the Department of Justice was gleaning Associated Press documents for who knows what purpose, as it was ironic that the media which has acted as a pro-bono ad agency for this Administration and its agencies should take issue with this particular infringement on our Constitutional “Rights”.

The NSA digital surveillance program really isn’t news except to those who haven’t been concerned about it since the last time it was discussed some 6 or 7 years ago. The fact is, that program really hasn’t changed, it just happened to come to light again but this time in the midst of a list of other abuses of authority and power, levied during this seemingly Teflon coated administration’s second term.

There is no doubt that all of these things give reason for concern. It does however remain to be seen which, if any, of these things will be deemed to be truly illegal or unconstitutional if not arrogantly applied.

The real problem is, these things, while troubling have served a much darker purpose and it appears that purpose is now all but accomplished; Weapons to the Syrian Rebels.

It seems just a little too convenient that all of these “scandals” should appear on the scene right in the middle of Congressional hearings to determine exactly what happened in Benghazi. And being as Congress has yet to learn how to multi-task, they have been oh so easily side-tracked from that most important investigation to these sideshows. What this has managed to do is take the spotlight from Benghazi and away from any suggestion of Administration guilt in order to focus on what may be determined to be not much more than poor judgment in some cases and horrible supervision in others.

Since September 11, 2012, Benghazi has been a mine filled with potential evidence of wrong-headed vision, Administration malfeasance, upper echelon military incompetence, Pentagon and Administration collusion, Administration protectionism and a list of bald face lies.

Read more: Family Security Matters