Evidence in Sony hack attack suggests possible involvement by Iran, China or Russia, intel source says

cyyber attackFox News, By Catherine Herridge, December 18, 2014

The U.S. investigation into the recent hacking attack at Sony Pictures Entertainment has turned up evidence that does not point to North Korea as the “sole entity” in the case, but rather, raises the possibility that Iran, China or Russia may have been involved, an intelligence source told Fox News on Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, Fox News confirmed that the FBI is pointing a digital finger at North Korea for the attack.

The source pointed to the sophistication of malware “modules or packets” that destroyed the Sony systems — on a level that has not been seen from North Korea in the past — but has been seen from Iran, China and Russia.

There is no evidence of a forced entry into the Sony systems, pointing to an insider threat or stolen credentials. And the first emails sent to Sony, described as blackmail or extortion, included demands unrelated to the movie.

The malware had two destructive threads, the source said: it overwrites data and it interrupts execution processes, such as a computer’s start-up functions. After the initial attack, the FBI warned the industry that the malware can be so destructive that the data is not recoverable or it is too costly a process to retrieve. The intelligence source added that the forensic evidence suggests that the final stage of the attack was launched outside North Korea’s borders — creating some plausible deniability.

“Given the destructive efforts or effects of this attack, we’re treating this as a national security matter, and as such, members of the president’s national security team have been in regular meetings regarding this attack,” State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Also, Fox News has learned that U.S. security firms were first notified Monday by the U.S. government that they planned to publicly blame North Korea, which is inconsistent with past practice, as the U.S. government often has chosen to work behind the scenes in similar instances.

The White House declined earlier Thursday to directly blame North Korea for the attack, though Press Secretary Josh Earnest referred to the incident as a “serious national security matter.”

The case is “being treated as seriously as you’d expect,” Earnest told reporters at an afternoon briefing. He added that the White House would allow the investigation to move forward before speculating about a response.

“There is evidence to indicate that we have seen destructive activity with malicious intent that was initiated by a sophisticated actor,” Earnest said. “And it is being treated by those investigative agencies both at the FBI and the Department of Justice as seriously as you would expect.”

The North Korean link came shortly after Sony canceled plans for its Dec. 25 release of “The Interview,” a comedy about the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.  Getting Sony to pull the release of the movie had been one of the hackers’ public demands.

Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the attack originated outside North Korea, but believe the individuals behind it were acting on orders from the North Korean government.

While the U.S. government is unlikely to issue formal charges against North Korea or its leadership, a formal announcement of North Korea’s involvement is likely to come Thursday.

The Sony hack attack is “deeply worrying” to the intelligence community because it is believed to be the first time destructive malware has targeted a U.S. firm, according to the Fox News source, who added that the cyber assault is seen as “retribution” for “The Interview.”

Fox News is told that the malware used in the Sony hack attack has two destructive threads: it overwrites data and it interrupts execution processes, such as a computer’s start-up functions. The FBI warns that the malware can be so destructive that the data is not recoverable or it is too costly a process to retrieve.

It is not clear how long the malware needs to be in the system before it brings on an almost complete paralysis. In the case of Sony, support functions — including emails –were knocked off-line, seen as a distraction while the more destructive attack was launching.

This week North Korea’s state-run media KCNA endorsed the Sony hacking, saying it was done by “sympathizers.” Andrei Lankov, an expert on North Korea who writes a column for The Korea Times, says this is as close to an endorsement as possible.

Another expert noted “ambiguity of attribution and guerilla-warfare approach” are the tactics of North Korea. The expert concluded it will be seen that America is vulnerable to blackmail and North Korea will try it again.

Fox News has also been told, however, there was “zero” chance there would have been any actual attacks on theaters.”

“Sony was stupid to make a movie about killing Kim Jung-un,” Lankov said, “but it was even more stupid to cave in to pressure.”

A Steve Carell “paranoid” thriller “that was to be set in North Korea” also has been scrapped, sources say. The project from director Gore Verbinski and writer Steve Conrad wasn’t yet titled, though industry outlets said the working title was “Pyongyang,” which is the North Korean capital.

“Sad day for creative expression,” Carell tweeted Wednesday evening, adding “#fear eats the soul” as a hashtag.

In an interview with ABC News aired Wednesday, President Obama encouraged Americans to go to the movies.

The Sony hacking saga took a sinister turn on Tuesday when hackers sent a message threatening to target theaters showing “The Interview” in a 9/11-type attack.

Sony then told theaters they will not be penalized should they choose not to show it.

A representative for the FBI Los Angeles Field Office told FOX411 that the bureau is “aware of the recent threats and continues to work collaboratively with our partners to investigate.”

Security experts told Fox that in the wake of the Sydney siege and the release of the CIA enhanced interrogation report last week, it was crucial the threat be taken seriously by authorities.

“This threatening statement obviously has some foundation and may be linked to current global hostilities toward the West and predominantly the U.S.,” said Lee Oughton, global security and risk management expert. “We are still unaware how deep the hackers were able to penetrate into the Sony systems. Only time will tell how much information they were able to ascertain and what price Sony will pay in the international market.”

Actors James Franco and Seth Rogen already canceled all media appearances promoting their film.

Fox News’ Greg Palkot, Lucas Tomlinson, Hollie McKay and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Also see:

 

Iranian commander: We have targets within America

Hossein-Salami-10-e1391313435440 (1)By Reza Kahlili:

A top commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards boasted Saturday that his forces have plans in place to attack the United States from within, should the U.S. attack the Islamic Republic.

“America, with its strategic ignorance, does not have a full understanding of the power of the Islamic Republic,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised interview. “We have recognized America’s military strategy, and have arranged our abilities, and have identified centers in America [for attack] that will create a shock.”

Reports indicate that terrorist Hezbollah forces — allies of Iran — have infiltrated the U.S. and have mapped out targets.

“We will conduct such a blow in which they [America] will be destroyed from within,” Salami said.

This is the second warning by a high-ranking officer of the Guards in two weeks. The chief commander of the Guards, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Jafari, addressing Secretary of State John Kerry, said on Jan. 24 that a direct conflict with America is the “strongest dream of the faithful and revolutionary men around the world.”

Kerry had previously said that if Iran did not live up to the agreement reached in Geneva on its nuclear program, “all options are on the table.”

“Your threats to revolutionary Islam are the best opportunity,” Jafari had said. “Muslim leaders for years have been preparing us for a decisive battle.… Do you know how many thousands of revolutionary Muslims at the heart of the Islamic revolutionary groups around the world are awaiting for you to take this [military] option from the table into action?”

Gen. Salami went further, saying the Revolutionary Guards have taken into consideration America’s military ability and different scenarios under which the U.S. could attack Iran via a limited missile or air strike, or even a ground attack.

“All operational bases of the enemy in the region in whatever capacity and location are within our firepower,” Salami warned. “The American military option does not make a difference for us, and they can use this option, but they will have to accept the responsibility of devastating consequences.”

Salami asked whether America could control the spread of any war with the Islamic Republic: “Can they preserve their vital interest in the region in the face of endless attacks by Iran? Can they keep their naval assets and the Zionist regime [Israel] secure?”

Salami said that with the U.S. economy and debt, America is in no position to engage Iran militarily.

The general then taunted Washington, citing Iran’s political and cultural influence in Iraq. “The current has changed for the Americans so much so that they invest [by invading Iraq] and others [Iran] benefit.”

Read more at Daily Caller

Iran and US Fighting On Same Side Rattles Israeli Defense Officials

by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
December 11, 2014

1065 (1)Confirmation that Iran has joined the air campaign against Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Syria won muted praise from U.S. officials last week. And that development has increased anxiety among Israeli defense officials that budding cooperation between Tehran and Washington will lead to dangerous comprises about Iran’s nuclear program and inadequate action confronting the Islamic Republic’s global terrorist network.

The biggest threat from that network lies just over Israel’s northern border in Lebanon.

On Sunday, according to international media reports, Israeli Air Force jets bombed targets in and around Damascus. The strikes likely targeted advanced weapons that were destined for Hizballah depots in southern Lebanon, often hidden in apartment buildings in Shi’ite villages.

With more than 100,000 rockets and missiles, Hizballah has the largest arsenal of any terrorist organization in the world, and its heavy involvement in the Syrian civil war on behalf of dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime is giving it plenty of experience in ground warfare.

Israel did not confirm any involvement in the recent air strikes, but it is deeply involved in a covert war against an international Iranian-led weapons smuggling network that is designed to provide Hizballah and other radical terror entities around the Middle East with an array of sophisticated arms.

This network is run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, which oversees the smuggling of powerful weapons to Hizballah in Lebanon, often via Syria. The Iranian network also attempts to send arms to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, to radical Shi’ite militias in Iraq that fight the Islamic State, and to Shi’ite Houthi rebels that have taken over Yemen’s capital.

Iran’s Quds Force and Hizballah, both backers of the Assad regime, have set up terrorism sleeper cells around the Middle East and beyond, according to Israeli intelligence assessments. Some of these cells are routinely activated and ordered to strike Israeli and Jewish targets.

Israeli intelligence agencies quietly work to stop the planned attacks, any one of which, if successful, could spark a wider regional conflict.

Meanwhile, Tehran continues to pursue a nuclear program and develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

According to international media reports, Israel targeted shipments of Hizballah-bound weapons in Syria five times in 2013, and once in Lebanon in 2014. This has led Hizballah to retaliate by planting two bombs on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon appeared to hint at Israel’s role in the latest Syria strikes, by saying that “those who seek to arm Israel’s enemies will know that we can reach anywhere, at any time, and through any means to thwart their plans.”

As this covert, high-stakes struggle continues to rage against the background of Iran’s creeping nuclear program, a growing number of Israeli defense officials are expressing concern that the Obama administration may be willing to cooperate with Iran and its radical Shi’ite allies in the war against the Islamic State.

The officials stress the flourishing defense ties between Israel and the U.S., which are absolutely vital for Israeli security, and express gratitude for continuous American defense assistance.

However, some have become highly critical of the way the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State sees Iran as a de facto member.

Israeli defense officials wonder out loud whether the West, led by the U.S., is falling into a dangerous trap, by teaming up with the radical Shi’ite axis in the Middle East.

To be sure, no one within the Israeli defense establishment doubts the need to tackle the Sunni Islamic State. Israel is quietly providing any assistance necessary to the anti-ISIL coalition.

Yet it is the prospect of tactical cooperation between the U.S. and Iran against IS, and the danger that the cooperation could lead to Western concessions to Iran over its nuclear program that haunts some.

The failure by Washington to take tangible steps against Iran’s global terrorism network is also a source of concern. This network is growing in Syria, along with Iran’s presence there, and over the past 12 months, all of the cross-border terror attacks launched from Syria into northern Israel have been the work of elements linked to either Hezbollah or Iran, one senior military official has said.

These worries seem to be bolstered by comments like those recently made by Secretary of State John Kerry, who welcomed Iranian air strikes on Islamic State positions in Iraq, describing them as “positive.”

Unlike the Islamic State, the Shi’ite radical axis enjoys state sponsorship from an Islamic Republic that is three to six months away from nuclear weapons.

This situation makes it a more urgent problem for global security, and would seem to justify a stance that views both radical Sunnis and radical Shi’ites as threats to international peace.

Driven by an extremist religious-ideological doctrine, the Iranian-led axis views moderate Sunni governments which partner with the West – like Egypt and Jordan – as enemies, seeks to push American influence out of the Middle East, and promotes the idea of Iranian hegemony as a first step to establishing eventual Iranian global dominance.

Iran views itself as the authentic Islamic caliphate, and seeks to export its influence as far as possible. Eventually, it would like to fuel conflict across the region through its proxies under a nuclear umbrella.

“The success of the Iranian revolution influences to this day the ambition for an Islamic caliphate,” Ya’alon said this month, in an attempt to illustrate the imminent danger posed by Iran’s role in the world.

Disappointment in Israel has been expressed over what one official said was the West’s “support” for radical Shi’ites, and its willingness to ignore Iranian threats.

Israeli officials, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have expressed concern about the U.S. agreeing to a “bad deal” with Iran over its nuclear program since talks started. Thus far, those fears have not yet been realized.

The Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center published a report last week that explicitly warned about Iranian-American cooperation against IS, which it said could occur at Israel’s expense.

“Despite Iran’s basic hostility towards the United States, and despite Iran’s subversion of American interests in the Middle East, it might collaborate with the United States against ISIS and the global jihad in Syria and Iraq, the common enemy,” the reportsaid. “Such collaboration might occur at Israel’s expense and harm its vital interests (for example, Iran’s concessions on the nuclear issue). In addition, collaborating against ISIS might increase Iranian influence in Syria and Iraq, and might also strengthen Hizballah’s status in Lebanon, possibly strengthening the Iranian-led radical camp in the Middle East.”

The report is another signal of concerns in Jerusalem that Washington’s war on IS could lead it to make concessions to Tehran on a nuclear program.

Such an outcome would entrench and legitimize Iran’s position as a state on the threshold of nuclear arms possession, an outcome that, in Jerusalem’s eyes, would jeopardize both regional and international security to an unacceptable degree.

Yaakov Lappin is the Jerusalem Post’s military and national security affairs correspondent, and author of The Virtual Caliphate (Potomac Books), which proposes that jihadis on the internet have established a virtual Islamist state.

A New Imperative to Secure the Grid

EMP-power-grid--665x385CSP, by Frank Gaffney:

Iranian leaders have long stated that they seek a world “without America.” Prior to President Obama’s disastrous diplomacy, U.S. leaders have sought to prevent the mullahs from getting the Bomb for that reason, among others.

Last week, however, a firm called Cylance issued a frightening report about extensive Iranian cyberwarfare operations over the past two years. It suggests that Tehran may already be in a position to destroy this country – without firing a shot.

Hackers believed to be associated with the Iranian regime have been able to penetrate the control systems of America’s critical infrastructure – including those of our electric utilities. Were they to disrupt or destroy such systems, the United States would lose power for prolonged periods. And without electricity, many millions of us would die.

We must secure the grid, now.

Rep. Franks on Judge Jeanine: Iran military doctrine calls for EMP weapon

 

Gaffney on Judge Jeanine: Congress must continue to act on grid security

 

High Frontier

“A Date That Will Live In Infamy!”

By 

December 8, 2014

“Global critical infrastructure organizations need to take this threat seriously. The Iranian adversary is real and they’re coming, if not already here.” ~ Mark Weatherford, Former Deputy Under Secretary of Homeland Security

On a Monday 73 years ago, today, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began his address to a joint session of Congress with these famous words: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date that will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” Congress declared war on Japan, with only one dissenting vote. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States and we were committed to World War II, a war that may have been avoided had we been prepared.  

December 8, 2014 I

But we were unprepared, and over 85 million died—including death by associated starvation and disease around the world; and including over 400,000 of the “Greatest Generation Americans” who fought in that war. (Click here for some pertinent statistics by country.) My reflections last year on Pearl Harbor emphasized that this “Black Swan” event should not have been a complete surprise. Billy Mitchell was court-martialed for demonstrating the vulnerability of ships to attack from the air and giving us 15 years of explicit “strategic warning” of Pearl Harbor’s specific vulnerability  to air attack—which we ignored, and Roberta Wohlstetter’s in-depth 1962 analysis demonstrated our failure in responding to “tactical warning” of the actual attack.    

Today, we are again living through a period of great threats to all we hold dear—and we are not likely to have time to recover from a modern surprise attack using technology that did not exist in 1941-45. This is why it is so important to block Iran’s efforts to gain nuclear weapons that could pose an existential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat—and why the thus far failure to do so is so dangerous. 

Strategic Warning of an EMP Attack by Iran.

The remainder of my December 11, 2013 message discussed a possible, now looming, “Black Swan” attack by Iran that could extinguish American civilization—indeed Western Civilization, which is the declared objective of Iran’s ruling mullahs.  We listed the long-standing “strategic warning” events below:

  • The U.S. demonstrated  high altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) effects on “ancient” vacuum tube electronics nearly 1000 miles from our 1962 Starfish Prime nuclear test in the South Pacific—today’s solid state electronics are much, much more vulnerable to HEMP.
  • At considerable expense during the Cold War, the U.S. hardened its key military electronic systems to HEMP to assure the President could retaliate after a Soviet HEMP attack on the U.S. This capability was at the heart of our deterrent policy.
  • Post-Cold War discussions with Russia validated this investment—their high altitude tests were actually more extensive than ours and they included HEMP in their attack plans.
  • We continue to harden our strategic military systems but have done little or nothing to harden our civil critical infrastructure—especially the electric power grid, upon which the viability of most other critical infrastructure depends.
  • The Congressionally mandated nonpartisan EMP Commission reports warned of the devastating consequences of such an attack in 2004 and in 2008 provided previously classified information to back up these conclusions in a comprehensive report.
  • The EMP Commission identified the electric power grid vulnerabilities as being critically important, deserving remediation immediately—its Chairman testified that unless these vulnerabilities were rectified, starvation, disease and social collapse from a HEMP attack could lead to the death of most Americans within the following year.
  • Russia has shared its nuclear and ballistic missile technology with China, North Korea, Iran and, at least via the cacophony of proliferation if not directly, with others. This includes information that helps North Korea develop nuclear weapons to maximize EMP effects. For example, close collaboration between North Korea and Iran has benefited both—of course with help from Russia and China.
  • Iran has collaborated with North Korea and attended North Korean tests, which some experts believe were intended to demonstrate advanced designs that could easily be adapted for ballistic missile or satellite delivery to create HEMP effects.
  • Iran has pursued an extensive ballistic missile development program—including testing in the late 1990s that knowledgeable observers associate with an interest an HEMP attack from a seagoing vessel.
  • A ten-day maneuver exercise in the summer of 2011 launched some 14 ballistic missiles of various ranges, after which Iran’s then Defense Minister, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, boasted: “The war games…show Iran’s great capability in designing, producing and using various kinds of missiles based on domestic knowledge. This showed that the sanctions imposed had no effect on Iran’s missile program.”

Last Year’s Tactical Warning of an EMP Attack by Iran.

These activities bridge into more recent potential “Tactical Warning” events that may signal an eminent attack. A slightly edited version of last year’s list follows:

  • The last bullet above suggested a certain irrelevance of the debate over sanctions in the broader context of the ongoing ill-advised negotiations with Iran on its nuclear weapons development programs. We just kicked the can down the road for the second time since last year—with no real prospect of any significantly helpful outcome.
  • Over a year ago, North Korea and Iran launched satellites to their south, traveling over the South Polar regions, which could easily have been directed over the U.S. in their initial orbit at an altitude to optimize HEMP effects over the entire continental U.S.
  • Over a year ago, Iranian Naval Admiral Afshin Rezayee said Iran’s Navy plans to deploy warships in the Atlantic.
  • Previously, Iranian officials had observed their ships can threaten U.S. coastal cities—particularly from the Gulf of Mexico. We are completely vulnerable to such an attack.
  • Meanwhile President Obama and his spokesmen have continued to signal a willingness for Iran to continue with a “Modest nuclear enrichment program” . . . whatever that means, it must drive the Israelis up the wall—as it should any who may ultimately be threatened by a nuclear armed Iran. Israel is the “Little Satan”—America is the “Great Satan.”

Breaking News—Urgent Tactical Warning.

Just breaking news should further heighten our concern that time for us to respond is running out.  Even as Secretary of State John Kerry prepares for another round of negotiations with little hope of any meaningful success, news this week explicitly indicates Iran is planning to employ EMP weapons against us. Last Monday, EMP Caucus Chairman Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), in speaking on the House floor for the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA) that passed by a voice vote, noted that

The National Intelligence University of the United States recently translated an Iranian military doctrine called “Passive Defense” which referenced the use of nuclear EMP as a weapon more than 20 times. This doctrine stresses that electrical grids are vital to national existence. It includes a formula for calculating the value of electric power plants and for prioritizing the targeting of electric grid components and other infrastructures.”

Mr. Franks made the same statement at a conference I attended last Thursday and Friday. I strongly urge that you read this important Act and the associated floor statements, including that of Rep. Yvette Clark (D-NY), the co-chair of the EMP Caucus. 

In addition, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) who will chair the Homeland Security Committee also spoke on Friday, and I believe he will be very supportive of CIPA and other measures to defend the nation against EMP attacks. Hopefully, the Senate will also pass the act before the end of the current session—if not I believe it will come up immediately in the new session to begin in January.

Rep. Franks’ reference to this Iranian report on Iran’s military doctrine deserves great weight, as further indicated by additional troubling Iranian threat information provided this week by Cylance, a private security firm. Its report on Iranian cyber operations referred to as Operation Cleaver is sobering, to say the least. Cylance dubbed the threatening Iranian team “Tarh Andishan,” which roughly translated means “thinkers” or “innovators.” They have displayed an evolved skillset to perform attacks of espionage, theft, and the potential destruction of control systems and networks. Tarh Andishan was observed actively targeting, attacking, and compromising more than 50 victims since at least 2012.

By “reverse hacking” the Iranian cyber-offense infrastructure and compromising their servers, Cylance obtained 80,000 files and 8 gigabytes of data, including data Iran stole from the U.S. Marine Corps. Among other things, the 85 page report included that the Iranian group is believed to work from Tehran, “although auxiliary team members were identified in other locations including the Netherlands, Canada, and the UK.” Targets include “military, oil and gas, energy and utilities, transportation, airlines, airports, hospitals, telecommunications, technology, education, aerospace, Defense Industrial Base (DIB), chemical companies, and governments.”

Surely, the U.S. electric power grid is among these targets. And given Mr. Franks’ revelation that the Iranian military strategy includes the exploitation of EMP, it is not a stretch to imagine Iranian attack strategy combines cyber-attacks with the more debilitating EMP attacks, once Iran achieves that capability. Indeed, this fits with Cylance’s bottom line after tracking the Operation Cleaver team for over two years, that

“the government of Iran, and particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is backing numerous groups and front entities to attack the world’s critical infrastructure.”

It would be absurd for U.S. planners not to consider the full spectrum of threats, including direct attacks like the 2 AM sniper attack on the Metcalf substation near San Jose in April 2013, followed by another attack last August.  Such repeated successful attacks on such an important substation do not provide confidence in the power company’s countermeasures, even after a year for their application—a highly publicized bad message to have sent to an Iran planning to attack the United States. Good news for Iran; bad news for us.  (Click here for a brief press account.)

The most devastating threat could occur once Iran mates nuclear weapons to its ballistic missiles and can launch a devastating HEMP attack with nuclear detonations a hundred or so miles above the U.S.—combined with cyber and a Metcalf-like attack operations. 

Some Key Bottom  Lines:

To recap a few associated important bottom lines from my email messages over the past year:

  • Members of the Executive and Legislative branches are collectively failing in their sworn duty “to provide for the common defense” against the EMP threat.
  • The key obstacles blocking effective U.S. countermeasures are purely political. The threat is well known—and validated by numerous competent technical reviews. The cost of hardening is minimal by any reasonable measure—the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which doesn’t have the authority and resources to rectify the situation, has estimated the annual cost to be less than that of a postage stamp per subscriber. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) is a captive of the Electric Power industry which has blocked for four years legislation to improve the electric grid’s ability to survive an EMP attack. Click here for an example of dysfunctional NERC-FERC treatment of Natural EMP. The above mentioned Metcalf failures speak volumes. And there’s more—much more—evidence of a badly broken regulatory process.
  • So . . . the electric power companies have been winning in their efforts to frustrate initiatives to harden the electric power grid against HEMP (or other manmade or natural EMP) effects.
  • Some believe that Iran would not attack the United States for fear of retaliation—these views ignore the stated willingness of the ruling Mullahs to commit suicide to achieve their stated objective of eliminating the Great Satan (America) and Little Satan (Israel) and to hasten the return of the Mahdi according to their end times prophesy. 
  • The Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA) is a step in the right direction, but . . .
  • The clock clicks on—toward a disaster that will make Pearl Harbor look like a picnic . . .

WILL THERE BE ANOTHER DATE THAT WILL LIVE IN INFAMY?????

Near Term High Frontier Plans.

As time may be running out for effective U.S. action, we will continue to inform all who will listen about the existential EMP threat and how to counter it. Our primary focus will be to help state and local authorities, particularly the National Guard, protect the citizens under their charge. Past experience shows that it is foolish to wait for the federal authorities to respond effectively.

High Frontier will continue to advocate the most cost effective BMD systems that the powers that be will permit.

And we will seek effective means to harden the electric power grid. As quickly as possible.

What can you do?

Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.

Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.

Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage, www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.

And support us with your tax deductible gifts to help enable our continuing efforts.

Low Oil Prices Make Time Ripe to Pressure a Panicked Iran

Oil-Rig-Midland-Texas-IP_0By Ryan Mauro:

The U.S. and Iran failed to meet the November 24 deadline for a nuclear deadline and have yet again agreed to extend negotiations until June 30. The West is missing an excellent opportunity to pressure Iran as the regime is “panicking” over low oil prices.

In his State of the Union address on January 28, President Obama said he would veto legislation implementing tougher sanctions on Iran during these talks but “if Iran’s leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for more sanctions.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in September that Iran had failed to meet two obligations to ensure that its nuclear program is not for building weapons. Access continues to be denied to the Parchin site where it is believed that Iran worked on nuclear warheads and the “trigger” for nuclear explosions.

Iran continues to test newer centrifuges to speed up the uranium enrichment process and vows never to dismantle a single nuclear facility or centrifuge. All of this goes on as Supreme Leader Khamenei brags of his regime’s support for Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, emphasizing that it is willing to support both Sunni and Shiite terrorists.

Yet, in response, Iran has been given another seven months by the international community to avoid harsher sanctions. The regime will also have access to $700 million per month in unfrozen assets and be able to entice Western businesses, especially those from Europe, in order to shield itself from future sanctions and get much-needed foreign investment.

A bi-partisan coalition in Congress is campaigning to recruit enough supporters for new sanctions that can override a presidential veto. Iran says talks would be suspended if that happens.

This team has sought legislation that would sanction Iranian energy, port, ship-building and shipping sectors and the foreign companies investing in them. It would also sanction those involved in certain commodities as well as the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting company and corrupt Iranian officials.

Read more at Clarion Project

Obama Empowers Enemies and Imperils Friends

national-security-summit-hausman-e1415355363525By Matthew Hausman:

Even after the recent war in Gaza – and in spite of the dangers posed by ISIS and other Islamist forces – many American Jews still do not fully comprehend the risk to Israel and the West of a rejectionist ideology that promotes jihad and genocide.  But the threat is real and arises from a doctrine that demands total submission from the vanquished.  In failing to recognize the scope of the threat, western progressives – Jews and Gentiles alike – view the world as they believe it should be, not the way it actually is.  The reality, however, is that liberal ideals are irrelevant in regions where politics have no existence independent of religion and religion is unforgivingly totalitarian.

This failure is as much political as intellectual.  Moreover, it engenders complacency with the foreign policy of an administration that has not only failed to respond adequately to the Islamist threat, but whose actions have bolstered fundamentalism across the Mideast and undercut the interests of Israel – America’s only stable and dependable ally in the region.

These points were articulated at a security panel conference entitled, “Israel and the US: The Fight to Save Western Civilization from Global Jihad,” which took place in Massachusetts recently.  The program featured retired Generals Jerry Boykin and Tom McInerney, former CIA Station Chief Gary Berntsen, and retired Lt. Colonel (and former congressman) Allen West.  The program focused on the need to recognize the threat of jihadist extremism, as well as the myriad foreign policy failures that have helped destabilize the Mideast.

Secular progressives have become unwitting foils for Islamist radicalism by their failure to acknowledge its supremacist aspirations and their perception of Muslims as a vulnerable minority despite a global population of approximately 1.6 billion.  This view is a little ironic considering the progressive tendency to disparage Jewish national claims and values and to condemn any perceived Christian intrusion into American politics, but nevertheless to discourage speech that criticizes Islam or mentions any Muslim involvement in terrorism.

Secular progressives often support anti-blasphemy laws and are quick to label as racists those who criticize Muslims on political grounds, although Islam is a religion and is not defined by race or ethnicity.  Moreover, while they often rationalize Islamist extremism as an indigenous voice of protest against western chauvinism, its ubiquity is the result of conquest, colonialism, and the subjugation of “infidel” minorities.  It is the height of cognitive dissonance when feminists, gay rights activists and other social progressives express support for religious extremists who persecute and kill based on gender, sexuality, and dissenting religious belief or political opinion, but condemn Israel – the only country in the Mideast where minorities have equal rights and protections under the law.

Over the last six years, the administration has sought rapprochement with the Islamic world through a series of questionable policies.  Domestically, it has discouraged official use of terms such as “Islamic terrorism,” instead referring to terror incidents involving Muslims as criminal acts, workplace violence or violent extremism.  On the foreign stage, it enabled the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, provided funding in areas governed by Hamas despite that organization’s stated goals of jihad and genocide, and failed to honor strategic commitments to Israel during the Gaza war.

Perhaps most troubling, the administration has used the pretense of negotiations to allow Iran to continue its quest for nuclear weapons – to the consternation not only of Israel, but of Saudi Arabia and all Sunni states in the region.  Though it rationalizes that Iran should be permitted to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, critics point out that 55 percent of Iran’s domestic energy comes from natural gas, 42 percent from oil and two percent from hydroelectricity, such that it has no apparent consumer need for nuclear power. Its true intentions are reflected in the statements of its leaders, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who recently tweeted that Israel “… has no cure but to be annihilated.”

Whether promoting Islamists, enabling Iran’s nuclear ambitions, or chastising the way Israel defended herself in Gaza, the administration has pursued policies that have empowered America’s enemies and imperiled its allies.  Furthermore, by drawing meaningless redlines that it refuses to enforce and unilaterally disarming in Europe, it has signaled to the world that it is no longer willing to defend its own interests or those of its allies, but instead will stand aside while Russia, China and other geopolitical rivals assert themselves within traditional U.S. spheres of influence.

Speaking to a packed house at Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Massachusetts, Generals Boykin and McInerney, Colonel West, and Agent Berntsen discussed the weakening of American strength and prestige under the current administration, and how this has enhanced Islamist resolve, endangered the safety of Israel, and compromised American interests around the globe.

Read more at NER

 

Is Erdogan’s Turkey an Emerging State Sponsor of Terrorism?

Vice President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Istanbul, Turkey, November 22, 2014 Source:  AP Emrah Gurel

Vice President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Istanbul, Turkey, November 22, 2014
Source: AP Emrah Gurel

By Jerry Gordon and Mike Bates:

On November 22, 2014, Vice President Biden met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul. The agenda was ‘consultation’ with this alleged “valued ally” of the Administration. To ease the conversation, Biden announced at a joint press conference $135 million in aid for Syrian refugees in Turkey. It all had to do with Erdogan’s opposition to the US led coalition fight against the Islamic State, formerly ISIS in both Syria and Iraq. According to a report in Defense News, the meeting did not go well:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday slammed US “impertinence” on the Syrian conflict, exposing the extent of strains between Washington and Ankara days after his key meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden.

Ties between the US and Turkey have soured in recent months over the reluctance of Turkish leaders to intervene militarily in the US-led campaign against the Islamic State jihadists, who have taken control of swathes of Iraq and Syria.

That meant relations between President Obama and President Erdogan have seriously deteriorated from the May 16, 2013 White House Rose Garden joint press conference. They were seeking to topple Syrian strongman Assad engaged in a civil war against opposition groups with hundreds of thousands of dead civilians. There was more than ample indication that Erdogan was playing a double game against the Syrian Kurds in support of ISIS. Turkey appeared to be emerging as the second state sponsor of terrorism across the Middle East, after Iran. That was reflected in a recent Business Insider, headline story, The US Is On A Collision Course With An ‘Absolutely Indispensable’ Ally. Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President of Research at the Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies was cited in the Business Insider article saying:

The American Foreign Policy with Syria has been feckless while Turkey has been reckless. They have become one of the top sponsors or enablers of ISIS and this should be cause for serious concern.

The Administration has been thwarted in its objective of “degrading and destroying” the Salafist Jihadist Islamic State that has torn through Syria and Iraq leaving death and destruction in the wake of its blitzkrieg. It has become the second wealthiest terrorist group after Hamas in the Middle East. Erdogan permitted a small contingent of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga to enter Kobani from the Turkish side of the border.Together with US led air strikes that may have temporarily set back ISIS forces ranged against this Syrian Kurdish bastion. Nearly 180,000 Syrian Kurds had fled Kobani for sanctuary in the Turkish border town of Suruc. The world media was consternated by this NATO member with the largest ground force equipped with US tanks and aircraft not joining the fray. Erdogan’s justification for stiff arming the Obama White House ISIS strategy was that the Assad regime’s oppression of its own citizens needed to be addressed.

The realities are that this Sunni supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood has turned the Southeastern frontier into a major center of terrorist finance for ISIS and Al Qaeda opposition groups in Syria. It is aiding funding of ISIS with sales of captured oil and even plundered antiquities. It has provided a veritable Jihadist highway for thousands of foreign fighters to enter the combat zone. They have even extended facilities for care of wounded ISIS fighters in Turkish hospitals. In late September 2014, they exchanged 180 foreign jihadists for return of 49 Turkish diplomats and their family members trapped in the Iraqi city of Mosul when ISIS captured it from fleeing national security forces on June 10, 2014.

That is not the only example of Erdogan’s support of terrorism. On November 27, 2014, Israel’s Shin Bet announced that it foiled a plot by 30 Hamas operatives on the West Bank. The Times of Israel reported:

The Shin Bet announcement said Israel had arrested dozens of members of a Hamas terror network operating throughout the West Bank. The network, Palestinian officials said, was funded and directed by Hamas officials in Turkey who have set up a de facto command center in [that] country.

More than 30 Hamas operatives were arrested during the month of September, the Shin Bet said Thursday. The majority were recruited while studying in Jordan and trained in either Syria or the Gaza Strip, which they entered via tunnels from Sinai.

The Shin Bet said the ring was preparing to kidnap Israelis in Israel and abroad, enter Israeli villages, detonate car bombs, perpetrate roadside attacks, and execute a major terror attack in Teddy Stadium, where the Israeli soccer team Beitar Jerusalem plays its home games.

The Shin Bet asserted that the plan was evidence of an “indefatigable” desire on Hamas’ part to rehabilitate its terror infrastructure in the West Bank and to tug Israel into a sharp military response, which might indirectly lead to the toppling of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ regime, which is “one of Hamas’ goals.”

The admitted mastermind for this failed operation is Saleh al-Arouri who has been based in Turkey since 2010. He had founded the Hamas Qassem Brigade on the West Bank. Al-Arouri claimed in August, 2014 responsibility for  the operation by two Hamas terrorists masquerading as Orthodox Jews who murdered three young Jewish yeshiva students near Hebron on June 12, 2014. Israeli security and IDF launched a massive man hunt that recovered  their remains on June 30th.  Hamas began a rocket campaign. On July 8th the IDF launched the 50 day Operation Defensive Edge against the rocket and terror tunnel war from Gaza against Israel.

We had written extensively about the corruption of the Erdogan premiership in 2013 and early 2014, noting a $13 billion illicit gold trade for gas with Iran, thus enabling the evasion of US, EU and UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear development program.

On November 24, 2014 the P5+1 and Iran announced a seven month extension to June 2015 endeavoring to conclude a seemingly unattainable agreement. This in the face of continued implacable demands by Iran to lift sanctions while refusing to comply with disclosures requests from UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA. One expert called this “an unmitigated disaster.” This has raised the prospects that bi-partisan members of the US Congress would likely pass new stronger sanctions that the Administration opposes. Meanwhile the clock is ticking on Iran achieving nuclear breakout. Many consider that an overarching threat to both regional and world nuclear non proliferation.

Against this background we convened another 1330amWEBY wide-ranging Middle East Round Table discussion with Dr. Jonathan Schanzer of FDD.

Read more at NER

Clare Lopez at ‘A Discussion on the Iranian Nuclear Threat’

Published on Nov 25, 2014 by emetonline

On Monday, November 24, 2014, EMET was proud to host Dr. Michael Ledeen, Manda Zand Ervin, and Clare Lopez on Capitol Hill to discuss the failed nuclear deal talks and the continued threat of a nuclear Iran.

 

Also see:

Nuke Deal Elusive as Iran Digs in Heels Over ‘Inalienable’ Enrichment Rights

Anti-Iranian regime protesters chant outside the Palais Coburg in Vienna, where final negotiations over Iran's nuclear program continued Friday ahead of a November 24 deadline

Anti-Iranian regime protesters chant outside the Palais Coburg in Vienna, where final negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program continued Friday ahead of a November 24 deadline

kredo tweet

Washington Free Beacon, BY: :

VIENNA—Secretary of State John Kerry spent hours locked behind closed doors with Iran’s foreign minister early Friday as both sides rushed to reach a final nuclear agreement that sources say is becoming increasingly elusive as a result of Tehran’s intransigence.

As the United States seeks to impose clear and verifiable limits on Iran’s nuclear research work ahead of a Nov. 24 deadline, the Iranians have refused to cede any ground and are publicly insisting that its “inalienable” nuclear rights must be recognized under any final deal.

Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spent several hours Thursday night and several more on Friday morning meeting in private, according to a senior State Department official. There is no indication yet that major headway has been made between the sides.

The foreign ministers from the negotiating countries, including the United States and Iran, are all gearing up to leave Vienna today, according to one source familiar with the status of the talks. While it remains unclear at this point if the leaders will return in the coming days, some have speculated that Zarif could be conveying the parameters of a tentative deal with higher-level officials in Tehran.

Any agreement that it is reached is likely to pave the way for another extension in talks as final details continue to be hashed out, the source said.

With neither the United States nor Iran appearing publicly before reporters in Vienna and answering questions, insiders in Washington and Vienna are becoming increasingly skeptical that the Obama administration will be able to deliver a deal the American people and Congress will find acceptable.

“The Iranians have refused to budge on the most basic elements—they want to keep the entire fuel cycle, and do so at a level that will allow them to breakout [with a nuclear weapon] whenever they choose so quickly no one will be able to stop them,” said one senior foreign policy strategist currently in Vienna for the talks.

The Obama administration is poised to ink a deal that includes many concessions to Iran before the Monday deadline comes around, according to a senior congressional aide who works on the issue of Iran.

“As Iran digs its heels against dismantling its enrichment program, eliminating its plutonium ‘bomb factory’ at Arak, and coming clean on its nuclear weapon, the worry is that the Obama administration will make more massive concessions and move to grant ‘nuclear amnesty’ to the terror-supporting mullahs in Tehran before Monday,” the congressional aide told the Washington Free Beacon.

“The Clinton administration gave ‘nuclear amnesty’ to North Korea in 1994 and North Korea exploded its first nuclear bomb little more than a decade later. So we’ve all seen this charade before,” warned the congressional source.

Many watching the talks unfold in Vienna remain skeptical that Iran will even hold up its end of any bargain that may be reached.

“If Iran agrees to something, history shows they will be lying—it will be the only time in 25 years Iran would not be secretly cheating on its nuclear obligations,” said the foreign policy strategist. “At this point, it seems that only more pressure will get Iran to dismantle its plutonium bomb factory and enough of its illicit nuclear infrastructure to assure us, our allies, Congress, and the American people that Iran won’t have the capability to build nukes.”

If Kerry and his team fail to deliver a deal that restricts many of the most controversial aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, Congress is likely to step in and impose new economic sanctions on Tehran—an outcome that will likely lead Iran to abandon any further negotiations.

“Without that [type of deal], there will be more sanctions on Iran, not fewer as Tehran seeks,” the source explained. “Even if that means a period of increased tension, Tehran won’t race ahead and will be back at the table soon, or it will soon again face a balance of payments crisis and economic default.”

However, Kerry’s version of a likely deal differs drastically from these parameters, which also are supported by a majority of Congress.

The Obama administration only hopes to delay Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon by about a year, according to U.S. officials quoted by the New York Times.

Congressional leaders have called this unacceptable, with many in the Senate promising to veto any final deal that caves to Iran’s demands to continue its nuclear enrichment regime.

“We are now just a few days away from the Iran nuclear deadline. And the P5+1 appear poised to accept a weak deal with a regime that cannot be trusted,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) said on Thursday. “Despite approximately $14 billion in direct sanctions relief, as well as incalculable indirect benefits to the Iranian economy and the nuclear program, Iran has repeatedly stated that it will never stop enriching uranium or take one step back in its research and development.”

General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, told Congress Thursday afternoon that the White House’s goals with Iran are flawed. Even if Tehran’s program is stalled, the U.S. intelligence community is not capable of detecting an Iranian nuclear bomb, Hayden said.

“Because of the covert nature of Iran’s activities, American intelligence alone will not be able to verify the agreement,” Ros-Lehtinen reiterated. “It is impossible to verify Iran’s nuclear program because as the Defense Science Board report has said, the capability to detect Iran’s undeclared or covert nuclear sites is either inadequate or does not exist.”

Meanwhile, Kerry is scheduled to meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond later Friday afternoon.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry will travel from Vienna to Paris Friday evening for consultations with his European counterparts. It is unknown whether or not he will return to Vienna before the Nov. 24 deadline, a sign talks are at an impasse and western delegations will plot the way forward.

Also by Adam Kredo:

Fred Fleitz: Fatally Flawed Negotiations with Iran — The WMD Perspective

CSP: Fred Fleitz, Senior Fellow, Center for Security Policy; Former Chief of Staff to then-Undersecretary of State John Bolton; former Professional Staff Member, House Permanent Selection Committee on Intelligence; Former Analyst, Central Intelligence Agency speaks at the Center for Security Policy’s National Security Group Lunch on Capitol Hill regarding the fatally flawed negotiations with Iran.

 

Also see:

Completely Recasting U.S. National Security Policy For Dealing With Islamic Jihad

06listeningpost-5-jumboRight Side News, by Col. Tom Snodgrass (Ret.) Nov. 17, 2014:

Confusion Due To Faulty Assumptions

Consider the assumptions that underlie the current U.S. National Security Policy toward the Middle East and the wider Islamic world:

1. The Westphalian nation-state concept imposed on the Middle East by the Sykes-Picot Agreement in the aftermath of World War I is still an operative approach to partition peoples and territories into political entities, while ignoring the reality of the culture and history of religious, tribal, and geographical divisions.

2. The Sykes-Picot creation of the state of Iraq can function viably with a combined Shia-Sunni-Kurd government, while the similarly created state of Syria will also be viable with a combination Alawite-Sunni-Shia-Kurd polity functioning together.

3. The territorial sovereignty represented by the Iraq-Syrian border is still valid.

4. The U.S. can maintain simultaneous, balanced, effective alliances with Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, and the various regional minor sects like Alawites.

5. The Khomeinist-Shia mullah government will negotiate discontinuation of their nuclear weapons development program and additionally will serve as a U.S. partner in maintaining political stability in the area of the Persian Gulf.

6. The Saudi, Egyptian, and Gulf Arab Sunnis will compliantly acquiesce to the new U.S.- Khomeinist-Shia Iranian alliance.

7. The absence of a two state Israel-Palestine solution is the driving force of Middle East instability, and it is the Israelis that are responsible for the impasse.

8. Turkey is a secular ally and is not pursuing a Sunni Islamist agenda.

9. Islamic jihad is not a politico-theocratic, imperialistic doctrine that is the organizing principle of Islam as mandated in the Quran, the Hadith, the Sira, and the Sharia and that those Muslims engaged in jihad are merely an isolated fringe.

The Reality

1. The nation-states created by Sykes-Picot have never functioned as intended and instead have been just geographical cauldrons for life-and-death, religious-tribal warfare for the political power to exploit religious-tribal enemies.

2. The reality of #1 above has been violently the case in Iraq and Syria where tribal-sectarian warfare has been what has masqueraded as “national politics” since their foundings.

3. The Sunni Islamic State has forever erased the Sykes-Picot political boundary between Iraq and Syria restoring cultural-historical, religious-tribal territorial hegemonies.

4. The Islamic world is on the brink of a total sectarian Sunni-Shia war for leadership of the Islamic jihad movement. The U.S. would be insane to get involved on one side or the other because the U.S. loses regardless which sectarians prevail.

5. It defies all sensibility to honestly believe that, after the Khomeinist-Shia mullah government of Iran has sacrificed so much national wealth and endured economically debilitating international sanctions, they will forego acquiring the nuclear means to their Khomeinist-Shia jihadist goals, as well as to regional hegemony over neighboring Sunnis.

6. With the Islamic world is on the brink of a total sectarian Sunni-Shia war and the Iranian mullahs on the verge of becoming a nuclear power, the Saudi, Egyptian, and Gulf Arab Sunnis will not hesitate to follow courses of action that are sectarian-religious and tribal motivated, which inevitably will be at cross purposes with U.S. interests.

7. A two state Israel-Palestine solution can never be achieved because it is written in the Islamic Sharia that once a territory is ruled by Sharia law (as Israel was under the Ottomans), it can never again be under the domination of non-Muslims. Therefore according to Sharia, it is obligatory that Muslims fight jihadist war until the territory is once again under Islamic control (such is the essence of the Hamas founding-purpose charter).

8. The Ataturk secularization of Turkey has failed, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (“AKP” in Turkish) have been slowly and deceptively introducing a Sunni Islamist political agenda piecemeal, while changing the Turks’ orientation from secular to Sunni Islamist. The Turks are no longer the reliable Cold War allies they once were.

9. Mohammad clearly stated to Muslims and is quoted in Islamic scripture: “I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer and pay zakat [which is charity only for fellow Muslims, and/or funding for jihad].”  The first part of this condition is the Shahada, or profession of faith in Islam that a non-Muslim must say in converting to Islam. Furthermore, it is clear that violence is sanctioned until the victims embrace Muhammad’s religion. Mohammad was not addressing “the fringe.” He was establishing the overriding dictum for all Muslims to follow.

Change Required

It is small wonder why the Obama Regime’s National Security Policy is in total disarray. The assumptions undergirding it have no relationships with reality. Were the Obama regime to change its assumptions, how could it recast the National Security Policy?

First, it is necessary to recognize that Iraq is already lost influence-wise to Iran. When Obama pulled U.S. troops out in 2011, Iran moved in and we will never again have the influence in Iraq that we had in 2011 (such as it was). That fact is not going to change as long as the Khomeinist-Shia mullah government rules Tehran, and Baghdad and Damascus by proxy. Therefore, we should not live in a fantasyland that “2011 Iraq” can or even should be recreated.

The purpose of President Bush’s war to democratize and nation-build an American ally in the middle of “Jihadistan” was very misguided, but the limited, tenuous ascendancy over the various Islamic forces in Iraq he gained with “the surge” and “Anbar Awakening” was lost when Obama forfeited Iraq to Iran by complete withdrawal of US forces, absolutely removing our political influence/power in Iraq. In Jihadistan, only force commands political power/influence.

Obama is truly a fool not to understand that fact of life in dealing with international affairs. Mao’s dictum that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” applies in day-to-day politics throughout the world with the current exceptions of the U.S., Western & parts of Central Europe, Australia, and Japan (and some other isolated polities around the world)! Any fool who denies the veracity of the Maoist political power dictum has no business being in charge of the fate of this nation! The Obama-variety utopian foolishness has prevailed in various forms in Democrat Party foreign policy since the McGovernites captured the Democrat Party in 1972.

A policy that would be in accord with reality would be to withdraw everything but U.S. diplomatic presence, along with the military force to protect it and to evacuate it, from Iraq. Let the Iranians have the lead in fighting the Islamic State, just as the Iranian mullahs have demanded. When the U.S. attacks the Islamic State, it is foolishly entering into the Salafist-Sunni/ Khomeinist-Shia religious-sectarian war. Taking military actions that would benefit Iran by removing the threat of the Islamic State from them makes no sense from the standpoint of U.S. national interests.

Another factor to consider in recasting policy is that the Islamic State is an existential threat to the House of Saud, which it wants to overthrow and replace as the true Salafist guardians of Mecca and Medina. The Islamic State’s physical presence on the borders of Iran and Saudi Arabia poses an existential threat to both regimes. If we remove ourselves as a buffer, they will both be forced to contend with the Islamic State for their own national security reasons.

We should encourage our three enemies — Iran/Islamic State/House of Saud (make no mistake, the Saudis are our covert Wahabbi enemies funding jihadist mosques throughout the world) — to war against each other and expend their resources in the fight. All three are more immediate threats to each other than the Islamic State is to us because of physical proximity. The three cannot coexist bordering each other, and they will have to deal with their immediate enemies before they can effectively concentrate jihad against us.

Once the latest Sunni-Shia battle reaches its conclusion, we should be mentally and physically prepared to fight and destroy the winner, when they emerge as a credible threat, which they will. In the meantime, we should invest in building Kurdistan into an independent, militarily capable separate nation-state that could be “our base of operations” for future activities in Jihadistan. Kurdistan could also serve as a safe-haven for Christians and other persecuted minorities that the Islamic State and the Khomeinist-Shiites target. Also, should the Sunni-Shia sectarian war force U.S. nationals to be evacuated from Iraq, Kurdistan could fulfill the role of first stage evacuation destination and way-station.

The Central Principle Guiding All Policy Changes

We have no “friends” in Syria, Iraq, or Jihadistan in general with the exception of the Israelis and Kurds. The current fighting in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon is a Salafist-Sunni/ Khomeinist-Shia religious-sectarian war — we don’t win regardless which sect prevails. So, we should stay out of it. Our immediate national counter-jihad priorities regarding the Islamic State, Iran, and the entire Jihadistan should be:

  • Aiding our Israeli-Kurdish allies protect themselves
  • Providing humanitarian assistance/protection to religious and racial minorities persecuted by the Salafist-Sunni and Khomeinist-Shia jihadists
  • Preparing to counter either Salafist-Sunni or Khomeinist-Shia jihadists when they expand their operations beyond Jihadistan into Europe and the U.S.
  • Closing our borders and improving our visa/immigration administration, while cancelling further Muslim immigration into the U.S.
  • Increasing our national efforts to become carbon energy independent

Conclusion

Aside, from the great power, geopolitical competition emanating from Russia and China, we must acknowledge that the current international disarray in the world stems from Islamic jihad. Whether the terror and death is committed by jihadist “lone wolves,” the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, al-Nusra, Muslim Brotherhood, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Taliban, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hezbollah, or al-Quds Force, to name a few of the more well-known Islamic terror organizations, there is no denying that the genesis of the terror is the Quran, be it a Sunni or Shiite putting the Quranic murder mandates into practice. All U.S. National Security Policy decisions must be made with that undeniable fact as a primary consideration.

Col_Thomas_Snodgrass_USAFCol. Thomas Snodgrass, USAF (retired) served over a year in Peshawar, Pakistan, working with Pakistani military intelligence. During his year in Vietnam he daily scheduled 130 U.S. Army and Air Force intelligence collection aircraft. In his final overseas tour he was the U.S. Air Attaché behind the Iron Curtain in Warsaw, Poland. In total, Col. Snodgrass was variously an Intelligence Officer or an International Politico-Military Affairs Officer serving duty tours in seven foreign countries, as well as teaching military history and strategy at the Air War College, US Air Force Academy, and USAF Special Operations School during a thirty-year military career.

Additionally, he was awarded an Air Force scholarship to get a history master’s degree in revolutionary insurgent warfare at the University of Texas, as well as being granted a year’s educational sabbatical to teach and to write about international relations as an Air Force Research Associate in the graduate school at the Center for Advanced International Studies, University of Miami, Florida. Following the Air Force, Col. Snodgrass was an adjunct professor of military history for ten years at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Arizona.

National Leaders Urge Congress To Repudiate Iran Nuclear Talks And Any Agreement They Might Produce

716087492

(Washington, D.C.): Today, the Center for Security Policy released a letter signed by 17 prominent security policy practitioners and other national leaders denouncing the Obama administration’s conduct of the nuclear talks with Iran and the seriously defective deal likely to emerge from them. Signatories include: former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra, former National Counterintelligence Executive Michelle Van Cleave,formerAssistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance Paula DeSutter, formerAssistant Secretary of Defense (Acting) Frank Gaffney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Jack David, National Review Editor Rich Lowry and Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes. 

The letter calls on the U.S. Congress to repudiate this year’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran and dissects the terms of the agreement it is reportedly producing. The authors believe the United States and its Western allies have already given away too much to Iran – and still moreconcessions appear to be in the offing.  Their professional assessment is that any accord along these lines will be a threat to our interests, allies and security.

Key problems with the incipient agreement identified in the open letter, which was organized by the Center for Security Policy, include:

  • The deal will effectively concede to Iran the “right” to enrich uranium and allow Iran to continue uranium enrichment.
  • It will permit Iran to install new, still more advanced centrifuges and to retain its large stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
  • It will not require Iran to disassemble existing centrifuges, its underground Fordow enrichment facility or its plutonium-producing Arak heavy water reactor now under construction.

In the signatories’ judgment these dangerous U.S. concessions will do virtually nothing to stop, or even substantially to delay, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.  They note estimates by three leading Washington think tanks that Iran will retain its presently assessed capability of producing weapons-grade nuclear fuel in as little as four-to-six weeks from a decision to do so.

In addition to raising their concerns about these disturbing U.S. concessions, the authors of the letter expressed alarm that Iran is already defying a key premise of this year’s nuclear talks and prerequisite for any future deal – namely, that the regime in Tehran would cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In that connection, Iran was supposed to give IAEA inspectors unrestricted access to Iranian nuclear sites and answer outstanding questions about the military dimensions of its nuclear program. The signatories conclude that since Iran has failed to live up to these commitments even before an agreement was reached, there is no reason to believe it will abide by these or similar obligations in the final, comprehensive agreement that the Obama administration is trying to finalize by a November 24 deadline.  Neither is there reason to expect that the mullahs will cooperate with efforts by the IAEA to monitor their future compliance with such an accord.

Finally, the authors of the joint letter regard as wholly unacceptable President Obama’s reported intention to deny the U.S. Congress any say in the forthcoming nuclear agreement with Iran and his plan to suspend unilaterally statutorily mandated U.S. sanctions against Iran once a final accord is reached. It appears that Mr. Obama is proceeding in this fashion precisely because he knows that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle would find his deal unsupportable.

The letter concluded by stating that Congress must act now to prevent the realization and implementation by the United States of an extremely bad nuclear deal with Iran. Its signatories called on lawmakers to:

…Adopt legislation to repudiate the nuclear agreement now taking shape.  We urge you and your colleagues to insist that a coherent, realistic and firm U.S. policy be adopted instead, one aimed at actually preventing the Iranian regime from realizing its nuclear weapons ambitions.  This should require, at a minimum, that there be no further easing of sanctions or further talks with Iran until Tehran complies with all UN Security Council resolutions related to its nuclear program, fully cooperates with the IAEA, and provides truthful answers to all outstanding questions about its nuclear program.

View full text: Iran letter to Congress 111214

Also see: 

The Obama Administration’s Strategic Schizophrenia

obamasCSP, By Kyle Shideler:

Last week in the Wall Street Journal it was reported that the Obama administration sought an agreement on fighting ISIS with Iran:

The correspondence underscores that Mr. Obama views Iran as important—whether in a potentially constructive or negative role—to his emerging military and diplomatic campaign to push Islamic State from the territories it has gained over the past six months. Mr. Obama’s letter also sought to assuage Iran’s concerns about the future of its close ally, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, according to another person briefed on the letter. It states that the U.S.’s military operations inside Syria aren’t targeted at Mr. Assad or his security forces.

It is now being reported that the same administration believes ISIS cannot be defeated without overthrowing Assad:

President Barack Obama has asked his national security team for another review of the U.S. policy toward Syria after realizing that ISIS may not be defeated without a political transition in Syria and the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, senior U.S. officials and diplomats tell CNN. The review is a tacit admission that the initial strategy of trying to confront ISIS first in Iraq and then take the group’s fighters on in Syria, without also focusing on the removal of al-Assad, was a miscalculation. In just the past week, the White House has convened four meetings of the President’s national security team, one of which was chaired by Obama and others that were attended by principals like the secretary of state. These meetings, in the words of one senior official, were “driven to a large degree how our Syria strategy fits into our ISIS strategy.”

The contradiction between these two policies should be obvious, as Iran has expended ample time, funds, and men (primarily through proxy forces like Hezbollah and other Shia militias) to keep Assad in power. In fact overthrowing Assad would by necessity require the targeting and destruction of some of the very same forces that the Obama administration envisioned fighting ISIS on our behalf in Iraq.

The administration’s utter strategic incoherence is founded on an unwillingness to comprehend what drives both the Iranian aims (through proxies in Iraq and Syria), as well as the forces arrayed against them.  As we have repeatedly pointed out here on the Free Fire blog (See here, here, and here), the Syrian opposition is dominated by Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda-allied Islamist militias connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Obama Administration’s policy for Syria has involved alternatively partnering with these Islamists, while also bombing certain units of them during the course of the air campaign against ISIS. All sides in the current regional conflict are motivated by the same ideological agenda, establishing their hegemony in the region in order to extend (their particularly sectarian brand) of Islamic law, and to use future gains as a base for further jihad against their enemies, including principally the United States. Whether the U.S. attempts to partner with Iran against ISIS, or Al Qaeda against ISIS, or the Muslim Brotherhood against Al Qaeda, or Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood against Iran, every permutation will result in the same eventual outcome. Victory for enemies of the United States.

The Obama administration has prided itself on it’s attention to “nuance”. In its dealings in the Middle East, it has repeatedly attempted to tease out differences and distinctions that are at best irrelevant, leading to the construction of a world view that is ultimately divorced from reality in any meaningful way. The result is that this Administration finds itself simultaneously on all sides, and still the wrong sides, of every strategic challenge.

BLACK: It’s Not The Centrifuges-It’s The Warhead

iranian-nuclear-weaponTruth Revolt, By Edwin Black, Nov. 11, 2014:

November 24, 2014 is a looming deadline for Iran, Israel, the United States and the world over its nuclear weapons program. Just days ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] released a report summarized by its conclusion: “The Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities. Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the Agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures, nor has it proposed any new practical measures in the next step of the Framework for cooperation.”

Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, leading the international negotiations, has described the back and forth as “a forest of distrust.” At the same time, she declares, “Our bottom line is unambiguous … Iran will not, shall not obtain a nuclear weapon.” In the background, media revelations recently disclosed secret correspondence between the Obama White House to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — kept even from Congressional leaders and America’s closest allies and Israel. Washington is struggling to enlist Tehran in the faltering campaign against the Islamic State. This process has juggled agreed numbers of centrifuges — a limit of 4,000 … or is it 10,000 … or is it something in between? Centrifuges are a critical component because each vertical cylinder slowly but steadily distills uranium into a highly enriched weapon-ready state.

However, as the world ponders Iran’s dash to enrich more kilograms of uranium, the underlying concern is not so much about the enrichment process itself, but the end product: a nuclear warhead. Iran has been developing its warhead for some sixteen years. That design is nearly perfected.

Compare the process to gunpowder. To use gunpowder, you need load it into a cartridge, load the cartridge and a bullet into a rifle, and then find a marksman. Iran has nearly mastered all those steps — but in nuclear terms.

Four technological achievements are key to completing Tehran’s nuclear weapon:

1) accretion of enough nuclear materials, highly enriched to weapons-grade or 90 percent; 2) machining that material into metal for a spheroid warhead so it can fit into a missile nosecone; 3) developing a trigger mechanism to initiate the atomic explosion at a precise moment during missile reentry; and, of course, 4) a reliable delivery system.

Start with the nuclear material. Experts estimate that a single bomb would require approximately 25 kilograms of Highly Enriched Uranium, or HEU, with a U-235 concentration of at least 90 percent. Much of Iran’s nuclear enrichment remains at 3.5 and 20 percent levels. But the numbers are deceiving. Enriching to 3.5 percent is 75 percent of the task of reaching weapons-grade. Once Iran has reached 20 percent, it has gone 90 percent of the distance. Indeed, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani delivered a 2005 speech in his capacity as National Security Advisor in which he declared, “a country that possesses fuel cycle technology can enrich uranium —and the country that can enrich uranium to about 3.5 percent will also have the capability to enrich it to about 90 percent.” Today, Iran possesses enough nuclear material for a fast “break-out” that would finish the job, creating enough for five or ten bombs, in about six weeks.

Second, that HEU must be metalized and shaped into a dense spheroid compact enough to fit into a missile nosecone. Iran has mastered the metallurgical techniques using other high-density metals such as tungsten, which have been test-detonated in a special chamber to measure their explosive character.

Third, the spheroid must be detonated. Iran’s warhead design employs a R265 shock generator hemisphere drilled with 5mm boreholes that are filled with PETN— pentaerythritol tetranitrate, an organic high explosive favored by terrorists. When triggered with precision, the PETN array can cause a massive synchronized implosion. That will fire an internal exploding bridgewire which will in turn actuate an embedded neutron initiator to detonate the atomic reaction—and the mushroom cloud. This sequence of devices has been assembled and tested. Iran has some 500 exploding bridgewires.

Fourth, the warhead must be delivered. The Shabab-3 missile nosecone is large enough to accommodate the warhead. The outer radius of the R265 shock generator-encased warhead is 550 millimeters, less than the estimated payload chamber diameter of about 600 millimeters. Most of all, the Iranian military has selected the Shabab-3 not only because it possesses a range of 1200 kilometers, but because it can be detonated in an airburst some 600 meters off the ground on re-entry. The height of 600 meters was used in the Nagasaki explosion. Such a weapon cannot be crashed into the ground. It must be detonated while still airborne. Iran has a small fleet of Shahab-3 missiles.

Hence, Iran’s metronomic accretion of nuclear material is not just an ambiguous physics undertaking that should worry the West. It is part and parcel of a nuclear attack plan that the international community is determined to address.

Edwin Black is the author of 11 award-winning editions, including IBM and the Holocaust,and his most recent book Financing the Flames. The author can be found at www.edwinblack.com

Also see:

US Embracement of Iran Will Only Help the Islamic State

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (r) and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (l) shake hands as EU envoy Catherine Ashton and Oman Foreign Minister Yussef bin Alawi watch. Zarif began talks with Kerry and Ashton in Oman on Nov.9, 2014 to end a standoff over Tehran's nuclear program. (Photo: © Reuters)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (r) and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (l) shake hands as EU envoy Catherine Ashton and Oman Foreign Minister Yussef bin Alawi watch. Zarif began talks with Kerry and Ashton in Oman on Nov.9, 2014 to end a standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program. (Photo: © Reuters)

BY RYAN MAURO:

As the November 24 deadline for a deal with Iran looms, President Obama wrote a secret letter to Supreme Leader Khamenei reportedly suggesting a common bond against the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS or ISIL).

The unpublished letter reportedly offered cooperation with Iran against ISIS if a nuclear deal is reached. Secretary of State Kerry saidthis is incorrect and that the nuclear negotiations are being treated as a wholly independent issue.

The evidence supports Kerry, as Iran publicly rejected cooperation with the U.S. against ISIS in September. There has already been some level of indirect coordination, as U.S. airstrikes assisted Iraqi forces and two Iranian-sponsored militias, Asaib Al-Haq and the Hezbollah Brigades, in breaking the ISIS siege of Amerli.

President Obama similarly said the U.S. is not coordinating with Iran and that the nuclear issue is not being paired with the ISIS issue. He would not confirm or deny the letter but said he told Iran, “Don’t mess with us, we’re not here to mess with you. We’re focused on our common enemy.”

The White House ruled out military cooperation and intelligence-sharing with Iran, raising the question of what kind of relationship the U.S. is seeking with Iran.

The letter underscores one of the biggest flaws in the U.S. strategy against ISIS: The failure to tackle Iranian-backed militias in Iraq whose activity fuels ISIS and other Sunni extremists and undermines the Iraqi government.

Iran needs ISIS and Al-Qaeda just as these organizations “need” Iran. Ayatollah Khamenei and his allies, the Syrian regime, have a strategy of setting up Al-Qaeda and ISIS as their opponents  so they can purport themselves up as the “moderate” alternative.

That is why Iran helps Al-Qaeda, even permitting it to use Iranian territory to send fighters to Syria. And that’s why, as senior U.S. Treasury Department official David Cohen mentioned, the Assad regime buys oil from ISIS.

Yet, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Turkey, James Jeffrey, hit the nail on the head when he said Supreme Leader Khamenei “is basically a believer in a very similar Islamic philosophy to that of ISIS…It is a pan-Islamic force of revolutionary bent.”

Read more at Clarion Project