Judge Pirro interviews Emerson on hostage taking, Administration rescue efforts and Al Qaeda-ISIS competition

 

IPT, by Steven Emerson
December 6, 2014

Judge Jeanine: American hostage Luke Somers, a freelance photographer ,was killed late Friday during a rescue attempt by US special forces. Somers was abducted last year and was being held by al Qaeda in Yemen. The murder raises new questions about how the US military will be able to respond to a spike in overseas kidnappings by terrorists. With me now, the founder of the Investigative Project Steve Emerson, and former CIA covert operation officer Mike Baker. All right, Mike. We’ve got two rescues attempts, the American hostage dead. Is there some truth to what the White House says about our intel not being as good as it should be?

Mike Baker: Well, you know, it’s an odd thing to say if they are in fact pushing and saying it wasn’t us. Part of it is they were concerned that they were getting some flack for not approving the initial unsuccessful raid quick enough. You could argue that, look, you control very little in a hostage rescue situation. Intel is never perfect in any of these things. We tend to be conditioned by feature films and beach books to think this is just a pretty simple thing, you find your target, go and rescue them. We have had a very good success rate. But things go wrong and you can never guarantee success when you’re talking about an operation like this.

Judge Jeanine: Alright Steve, same question. Is it good to say that we couldn’t find the guy twice?

Steve Emerson: Well it’s not good to say it, but on the other hand I will give them credit for actually trying to carry out the operations, especially for a president that has eschewed extra judicial operations. I’m glad they’re doing it but the reality is, as Mike pointed out, you’re relying on local intelligence initially, and that local intelligence is going to shift and it’s not going to stay stagnant. It’s going to shift and you’re not going to be able to rely on it when you’re on the ground immediately. However, the reality is it does put us in a position where we’re seen as a paper tiger now. Number two, they’re going to take precautions now to make it almost impossible now to rescue other hostages.

Judge Jeanine: That was my point, Steve and Mike. I’m sure you would agree with me. There’s in point in saying we tried but didn’t get them other than to tell the enemy, you know what we’re coming after our guys. But Steve I want to ask you a question, then Mike I’m gonna go back to you. The group behind this, Steve, is al Qaeda. We’re not talking ISIS now. We’re not talking Syria and Iraq. How were these guys different from ISIS?

Steve Emerson: Well they’re not different from ISIS. Actually they’re in competition and what they realized is that ISIS enriched itself by the tune of tens of millions of dollars by taking hostages and getting them to be paid by ransom money. This is exactly what was going on with this set of hostages. They were going to get paid ransom money, had a set of demands. And al Qaeda realized ISIS was getting a lot of fame and recruitment. So now they [are] in competition [with ISIS….and its] now it’s open season on Americans around the world. So al Qaeda now is in rivalry with ISIS in the same type of tactics, and you can be sure that al Qaeda is going to be killing Americans no matter where they are. Not necessarily directed by al Qaeda core but by al Qaeda- inspired people like in Abu Dhabi as we saw just last week, a woman who was killed. And Americans killed in the Sinai like the Israelis have been killed around the world.

Judge Jeanine: And Mike it seems as Steve is saying that Americans are going to be more at risk of being taken hostage. What can we do about this?

Mike Baker: Well, Americans and our allies, Westerners all over. But we do what we continue to do. It’s a little unusual to say, also, that, you know, well, this unsuccessful raid makes us a paper tiger. It doesn’t make us a paper tiger. It’s just the reality of it. Again, every operation, every hostage rescue attempt presents its own difficulties. And we have the best trained personnel in the world in trying to conduct these operations. But I think we’ve gotten to this place in our lives where the administration and everyone else wants a zero risk world. But it doesn’t work that way.

Judge Jeanine: I understand, Mike, that you want to take that side. But I think when you tell the world that we tried and we lost twice, there’s no point in it. (crosstalk). Hillary Clinton thinks we need to empathize with our enemies. What do you think, Steve? Real fast, we’re coming up against a hard break.

Steve Emerson: I think we should empathize with our friends first.

Judge Jeanine: Mike?

Mike Baker: It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Judge Jeanine: I couldn’t agree more. Steve and Mike, thanks for being with us.

Also see:

FAULTY INTELLIGENCE?

The raid was the third failed rescue attempt of an American hostage in five months and followed a Nov. 25 mission that was unsuccessful because Somers had been moved before U.S. commandos arrived.

In that raid, U.S. commandos and Yemeni troops swooped before dawn into a cave in the eastern province of Hadramout and freed eight people.

Seven of the eight turned out to be al Qaeda members who had been held captive by the militants on suspicion of being government spies, two senior Yemeni officials told Reuters. The eighth was a Yemeni computer specialist, they said.

Al-Ahmadi, Chief of Yemen National Security Bureau, said after the seven were freed they told Yemen authorities they were members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the militant network’s arm in the country, and that they had been accused by their own organization of spying for the government.

Thet were detained by AQAP “not as hostages but as suspects,” a senior Yemini security official said.

Reuters could not independently confirm his description of those being detained. American officials declined to address the question. Officials at the White House and Pentagon did not respond to requests by Reuters for comment.

The seven — five Yemenis, a Saudi and an Ethiopian – are now being held by Yemen’s government, the officials said. It is unclear if the United States was aware that al Qaeda members suspected of being government informants were among the people rescued in that raid.

The raid, along with Saturday’s mission and a failed attempt to rescue American journalist James Foley in July, have raised questions over the quality of intelligence used by Washington in attempts to free American hostages.

 

Obama Admin Wants Hamas Ally Qatar to Remain Chief Broker in Peace Process

Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh / AP

Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh / AP

Washington Free Beacon, By Adam Kredo, December 1, 2014:

The Obama administration is pressing for the Qatari government to remain a chief broker in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process despite the country’s longstanding financial support for the terror group Hamas, according to recent correspondence from the State Department to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Qatar—which has come under harsh criticism by lawmakers in recent months due to its longtime financial support for Hamas—has promised the Obama administration that it will not allow the terror group to benefit from a new $150 million cash infusion that is meant to go toward reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip, according to the letter.

The Obama administration will maintain its close ties with Qatar and push for it to have a key role in the tenuous peace process, despite protestations from lawmakers on Capitol Hill who say that the country cannot be trusted due to its close ties to Hamas, according to the letter sent by State Department officials late last month to Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.).

Although Qatar has pledged in past years to give Hamas at least $400 million in aid, it has assured the United States that the next $150 million sent to the Palestinians will not make its way to the terror group.

“Qatar has pledged financial support that would be directed to the Palestinian people in Gaza,” Julia Frifield, an assistant secretary for legislative affairs at the State Department, informed Roskam in a Nov. 21 letter. “Qatar assured us that its assistance would not go to Hamas. We continue to interact closely with the government of Qatar and will reinforce that such assistance should not go to Hamas.”

The Obama administration in turn will continue to rely on Qatar to serve a role in the peace process and to engage with Hamas, according to the letter.

“Qatar has said it wants to help bring about a cease fire to the ongoing hostilities in Israel and Gaza,” the letter states. “The Qatari government has engaged with Hamas to this end.”

While the United States still regards Hamas as a terrorist organization, “We need countries that have leverage over the leaders of Hamas to help put a ceasefire in place,” Frifield wrote. “Qatar may be able to play that role as it has done in the past.”

Lawmakers and experts remain dubious that Qatar can be taken at its word given its robust support for Hamas in the past.

“It’s an indisputable fact that Qatar has become the chief sponsor of Hamas—an internationally recognized terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel,” Roskam said earlier this year after he petitioned the administration to reassess its close ties to Qatar.

“With Qatar’s financial backing, Hamas continues to indiscriminately launch thousands of rockets at our ally Israel,” Roskam said. “The Obama administration must explain its working partnership with a country that so brazenly funds terrorism right before our eyes, even going so far as turning to Qatar to help broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.”

The administration cannot blindly trust Qatar to cut its close ties with Hamas, said one senior congressional aide who works on the issue.

“It appears the administration is willing to take Qatar for its word on funding some of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations, and the notion that Qatar can simultaneously fund Hamas and help broker and Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty is laughable,” the source said. “Congress is intent on holding the Qataris responsible for their illegal behavior and send a message that under no circumstances should the United States tolerate such brazen support for terrorism.”

The State Department maintains that Qatar shares President Obama’s views about the Middle East peace process.

“Qatar has welcomed President Obama’s commitment to a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and shares the view that such a solution would advance security, prosperity, and stability in the Middle East,” the letter states.

In addition to its role in the peace process, the administration believes that Qatar can help in the international fight against terrorism and groups such as the Islamic State (IS).

“We remain strongly committed to working with Qatar to confront ongoing terrorist financing and advance our shared regional goals,” the State Department told Roskam, noting that more than 8,500 U.S. troops are housed at the country’s Al Udeid Air Base.

“We also have a productive relationship with Qatar on key regional issues ranging from Syria to Iran,” the State Department wrote.

JERRY BOYKIN: GENERALS SHOULD RESIGN TO PROTEST OBAMA’S MISUSE OF MILITARY

Obama-AWOL-BenghaziBreitbart, by LT. GEN. (RET.) JERRY BOYKIN, Nov. 13, 2014:

A new survey finds only 26 percent of those in the military community approve of the performance of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.  But the blame for this low approval rating extends higher up the chain of command.

Retired Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the latest former Obama loyalist to write a tell-all exposé, knows this all too well. In his memoir, Panetta describes how he warned the President (to no avail) that allowing Iraq to slide into violence would create “a new haven for terrorists to plot attacks against the U.S.”

This revelation should come as no surprise, but regrettably, it does. That’s because many Americans have been ignoring what’s really taking place in our troubled world. The books now being published only confirm what many people already knew — or at least suspected — regarding the character of Barack Obama. In reality, what is newly-exposed in these books is the lack of courage of the authors. One must contemplate the question of why these former Obama administration officials did not resign in protest when they realized the man they worked for was leading the nation in a dangerous direction and was making decisions that put the nation at risk.

So what should these less-than-courageous bureaucrats have done? Simply stated: resign in protest.

The notion that they stayed because they thought their influence would be greater on the inside is nothing more than a cop-out. In fact, this line of reasoning is simply another indication of a lack of courage on the part of these tell-all authors, including Panetta. Attempting to persuade the public that you would have resigned if you had thought it would have made a difference is unconvincing. No, the answer is that they should have tendered their resignations in protest when they saw decisions and policies emerging that were dangerous, misguided, and not in the best interest of the country. This is a matter of principle.

Secretary of State Cyrus Vance did exactly that when he disagreed with President Jimmy Carter on the best way to get fifty-two American hostages out of the US Embassy in Tehran in April of 1980. He resigned to protest the rescue attempt that President Carter had ordered. That attempt failed when two aircraft collided in a remote desert airstrip inside Iran. While I do not agree with the wisdom of the late Mr. Vance on the prudence of military action, his resignation demonstrated personal moral courage.

Major General Jack Singlaub took similar action in 1977 when he publically criticized President Carter’s decision to withdraw US military forces from Korea. Carter relieved him for publically opposing a presidential policy. In going public about his disagreement with his Commander-in-Chief, Singlaub voluntarily laid his stars on the table, knowing that his career was over. But his honor was intact as a result of taking a stand on something that he felt strongly about. The same applies to Cyrus Vance.

So what about the current military leadership? Should some of them put their stars on the table and resign in protest of the ongoing deterioration of our military? Or how about the abuse of our men and women in uniform? Sending up to 4,000 service members to Liberia to fight Ebola is abuse. Consider that America has been at war for 13 years and our military has an all-time high suicide rate, out of control PTSD, and family disintegration at unprecedented levels. Now America will send these young men and women — who are not adequately trained to fight Ebola — on something that is NOT a military mission in the first place. In addition, the Obama administration has not announced a serious and coherent strategy to destroy ISIS. It is time for stars on the table, without delay.

What military professional wants to preside over the demise of America’s Armed Forces? One would assume that the answer to that would be none. Yet that is exactly what is happening. The passiveness of the current Joint Chiefs of Staff is giving support to the destruction of America’s war fighting capabilities. Programmed cuts in the military budget as well as cuts resulting from sequestration are reducing America’s readiness to a dangerously low level. And placing women in Infantry and Special Operations units is an irresponsible and reckless policy that will result in needless deaths and injuries in combat situations.

Possibly the most egregious issue is the attack on religious liberty, as the First Amendment rights of service members’ faith are being infringed on constantly. By embracing the foolish and destructive decisions of the Obama administration, the military leadership is contributing to and overseeing the downfall of our most important national security asset, the US Armed Forces.

It is past time for some resignations to protest the Obama administration’s damaging policies. The oath that each military member takes is to “Support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” This is a serious and sacred oath and when you know that a policy is just plain wrong, then you are obligated by that oath to do something; that something is for military leaders to say to the President of the United States, “I can no longer support your ill-advised and reckless policies that I regard as threats to national security and the welfare of our men and women in uniform.”

Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin is executive vice president at the Family Research Council.  He previously served as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and was an original member of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force.

THE REAL THREAT: THE JV TEAM IN THE WHITE HOUSE

0519-1003-1013-3937-president-obama-with-national-security-team-in-the-situation-room-mjpgBreitbart, by DR. SEBASTIAN GORKA, Nov.3, 2014:

A new jihadist group able to recruit thousands of foreign fighters controlling territory larger than the UK; Russia invading its neighbor, flying bombers off the coast of California and sending subs into Swedish territorial waters; Snowden taking millions of classified files to China and then Russia; China using its navy to intimidate its smaller neighbors; American journalists beheaded on TV; Syria using chemical weapons against civilians; An Ebola outbreak the likes of which has never been seen before; Iran unstoppable in its race to go nuclear.

If you read of all these in a Brad Thor thriller you’d probably say the writer was overdoing it. Unfortunately, this isn’t pulp fiction.

America is now in a threat environment that makes some people of a certain age get nostalgic and look back wistfully at the Cold War years when the only real threat was the spread of Communism.
On paper, there really should be no problem. We should be strong enough to deal with any threat whether new (ISIS) or old (the Kremlin). As the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens points out in his forthcoming book, America’s economy beats all others, standing at 26% of the global economy (Japan is 9%, for example). That’s one nation providing a quarter of the global economy! And our defense budget accounts for more than 40% of the global whole. (China’s is 3% by comparison). By any definition that makes us not just a superpower but a “hyperpower.”
Then why is the world seemingly falling apart? Why do actors as diverse as Vladimir Putin and Abu Bakr al Baghdadi feel so emboldened? Perhaps it has to do with the quality of America’s national security bench.
President Obama famously called Mr. Baghdadi and his group ISIS/The Islamic State a JV team. When asked in an interview about ISIS versus al Qaeda, the Commander-in-Chief gave the flip response “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” (Those were his exact words in the original New Yorker piece despite the President’s attempt to deny them in a later interview on NBC.)

Given the fact that ISIS is now more dangerous in all key metrics – money, weapons, territory, use of media – the JV label is clearly out of place. Given the range of threats we now face and the rapidity of their growth, the JV label would appear to be a much more accurate description of our national security bench.

When cabinet members like John Kerry insist that Global Warming is as much a threat to America as ISIS or Ebola, it is hard to know how to react. ISIS has destroyed the territorial integrity of two nations in the Middle East. It has literally slaughtered thousands of people and caused the religious cleansing of most of the historic Christian community in both Syria and Iraq.

Ebola has likewise killed thousands, and in a way – the body dissolves internally and literally bleeds apart – that would befit a schlock horror movie. Yet “climate change” is just as bad? (And this isn’t just a one-off gaff of our Secretary of State. The view has infected our military. I was asked last year to run a three-day exercise for senior uniformed strategists from the Pentagon. On the first day I split them into four teams, asked them to identify the greatest threat to America and gave then two days to work out a strategic response. Two of the teams – half of the colonels involved – agreed with Secretary Kerry: Climate Change is THE threat to America. Worse than Global Jihad, a revanchist China, a nuclear North Korea, an almost nuclear Iran, etc. etc.)

What about about the rest of the bench? What about the Coach, the National Security Advisor? Susan Rice is best known for her commitment to the now evidently untrue claim that the attacks against the US compound in Benghazi were the result of a YouTube video and not a premeditated attack by local jihadists. Now the press reports that she is the hub of the micromanagement of the campaign against ISIS, a woman so “manic and obsessed with the tiniest of details” that the military is losing faith in the mission.   So strategically lacking is the White House plan that apparently Defense Secretary Hagelrecently wrote to Rice that the plan is in “danger of unraveling.” If that is the coach, what about her actual players?

Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken has no record of military service nor has he seemingly obtained any experience or education related to military strategy or national security. Blinken graduated from Harvard University and then went to Columbia Law School for his JD (interestingly enough none of the first half-a-dozen bios on the internet for Mr. Blinken even tell you what his BA was in. Perhaps English or Art History?)

Shortly thereafter, he went straight into Democratic politics, fundraising for the presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis. In 2008, he worked on Joe Biden’s failed campaign for President, but was then appointed by President Obama to be his Deputy National Security Advisor in January of 2013. VP Biden has previously referred to Blinken as his “go-to guy” on Iraq – known for helping to facilitate the US withdrawal from Baghdad – a plan who many in retrospect view as a disaster due to the administration’s failure to secure a Status-of-Forces Agreement.

Then there is her other deputy, Ben Rhodes. His qualifications to be advising America’s National Security Adviser, the President’s top strategic counsellor? Again, zero military or national security experience. Just a BA in English and Political Science and a Masters in Fine Arts. Yes, really, a Masters in Fine Arts. Given the fact that the scuttlebutt has it that Mr. Rhodes is the source of last week’s “chickensh*t” description of Israeli PM Benjanim Netanyahu, a decorated veteran, this is all the more egregious.
What if we go higher? The Vice-President has limited formal influence but he surely has the ear of the Commander-in-Chief, and VP Joe Biden is also a member of Obama’s National Security Council. One quote I think may be enough here. The famously bipartisan Bob Gates, former DCI and Secretary of Defense who served under both George W. Bush and President Obama, said of Biden: he was flat-out wrong on “nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” (Add to that the fact that Biden has spoken publicly on many occasions that he was opposed to the raid that neutralized Osama Bin Laden while in hiding at his compound in Pakistan, and perhaps we should be thankful he is not in control).
Even if we leave the formal structure of White House National Security decisionmaking, the story is no better. Valerie Jarrett is one of President Obama’s most senior advisors, perhaps the most powerful one. So much so that many have alleged that Jarrett is unofficially a key member of the Iran nuclear negotiating team. Jarrett, who gained most of her experience through the Chicago political system, has no known working knowledge or education dealing with foreign policy, international affairs, or military strategy; but she does speak Persian, which is the official language in Iran.
The question stands: who is really in the JV League? Vladimir Putin, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the Politbureau in Beijing, or the “National Security” team in the White House? Can someone please bring back the grown-ups.
 

Sebastian Gorka PhD is the Major General Matthew C. Horner Distinguished Chair of Military Theory at Marine Corps University and National Security Editor for the Breitbart News Network. Follow him on Twitter at @SebGorka. 

Jordan Schachtel contributed to this report.

Documentary: Obama Admin ‘Warned by Everybody’ about Islamic State but ‘Did Almost Nothing’

BY:
October 29, 2014 

On Tuesday evening, PBS’s Frontline aired the new documentary “The Rise of ISIS”, which detailed its investigation into the “miscalculations and mistakes behind the brutal rise of ISIS”.

The documentary included interviews with key Obama administration officials and experts.

Frontline’s Ken Pollak interviewed the Former American Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey who revealed, “The administration not only was warned by everybody back in January, it actually announced that it was going to intensify its support against ISIS with the Iraqi armed forces. And it did almost nothing.”

**********

The Rise of ISIS – FRONTLINE – PBS (internationalterrorismstudyproject.com)

An Islamic State (ISIS) black flag flies near the Syrian town of Kobani, as seen from the Turkish-Syrian border. (Kutluhan Cucel / Getty Images)

On October 28th, 2014 PBS aired “The Rise of ISIS” as the latest installment of their award winning FRONTLINE television program.  Martin Smith reporting, walks us through the how and why of the current state of the Middle East under the influence of ISIS.

Vivid and sometimes violent imagery is the backdrop as several reporters, analysts, and American officials are interviewed, giving the viewer an excellent background of ISIS and how they have quickly risen to power.  They point out that unlike many other terrorist organizations, ISIS does not attack and flee.  They attack, seize assets and hold territory as they please.  FRONTLINE acknowledges ISIS is in part, a byproduct of past United States policies. Notably, only Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security advisor speaks in defense of the current US administration.  Many ousted political figures are also interviewed during this hour long program however ex Iraqi PM Maliki is not among them.  Below is the link for the PBS’s webpage for this program.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/rise-of-isis/

Team of Bumblers? Are Susan Rice and Chuck Hagel equal to today’s new national-security challenges?

141026_hirsh_hagel_rice_apBy Michael Hirsh:

When President Obama, after months of equivocation over how to respond to the takeover of parts of Iraq and Syria by radical militants, announced in September that the United States would “lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat,” the White House swung quickly into action, sending proposed legislation to train and equip Syrian rebels to Capitol Hill that same day.

Unfortunately, the White House failed to consult with the Pentagon—which would be doing most of the rolling back—on the timing or details of the announcement.

According to multiple sources, behind the scenes a few things went badly awry in the launch of Obama’s new policy. First, the Pentagon was surprised by the president’s timing, according to a senior defense official. “We didn’t know it was going to be in the speech,” he said, referring to Obama’s Sept. 10 address to the nation. Second, the White House neglected to give Pentagon lawyers a chance to revise and approve the proposed legislative language before it went to the Hill, which is considered standard practice. Staffers working for Rep. Buck McKeon, the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said they were appalled by what they saw: language so sloppy that it failed to mention adequate protections against so-called “green-on-blue” attacks by trainees on American troops, and effectively left the Defense Department liable for funding the mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)—even though the president was telling members of Congress he didn’t need money for this new mission, since the Saudis were putting it up. “What came over would have not have been a mission the DoD could have executed,” says a senior Republican committee staffer.

The Armed Services Committee later went directly to the Pentagon and worked out new language, the White House approved it, and Obama signed the legislation as part of a new Continuing Resolution on Sept. 19. But that was hardly the first instance in recent months when the White House failed to consult with the Pentagon. The office of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was taken by surprise as well last July, when national security adviser Susan Rice sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner requesting a withdrawal of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed in 2002 to enable U.S. military action in Iraq. This letter came after Mosul, a key northern Iraqi city, had already fallen to ISIL and the scale of the threat was becoming clear. The letter was never acted on, and in fact the AUMF that Rice wanted withdrawn is now part of the very authority the administration says it is operating under, along with the 2001 AUMF against al Qaeda. The Pentagon was not given a heads-up about that letter either, according to multiple sources. “We didn’t know it was going over there, and there were significant concerns about it,” said the senior defense official. “We had these authorities to go into Iraq under the 2002 AUMF, which is what she wanted repealed. We believed the authorities were still needed.”
National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the Pentagon was informed of the new plan against ISIL before it went to Congress, and that in fact Hagel and Dempsey were with the president the morning of the speech. Although he indicated it was not clear exactly what details of the new strategy were shared with the Pentagon and when, Ventrell said that coordination between the NSC and other agencies is ongoing and extensive, that Rice regularly hosts lunches with Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry. They “have a good, solid working relationship,” Ventrell said.

But it’s clear the finger-pointing between the White House and Pentagon reflects no mere technicality. Both examples cited to me by well-placed sources close to the Defense Department offer new evidence of a criticism that has dogged this administration for most of its six and a half years: that Barack Obama’s White House is so insular and tightly controlled it often avoids “outside” consultation—including with its own cabinet secretaries and agencies. That’s especially true when the issue is one of this president’s least favorite things: opening up new hostilities in foreign lands. To his critics—and I spoke with several for this article inside Obama’s administration as well as recent veterans of it—it’s all a reflection of the slapdash way a president so vested in “ending wars” has embraced his new one.

Indeed, the Syrian-rebel incident recalled a more famous instance of White House surprise tactics a year earlier, when after a stroll on the White House lawn with chief of staff Denis McDonough, Obama embarrassed Kerry by abruptly deciding to ask for congressional approval for bombing the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad—only hours after Kerry had publicly declared that Assad was facing imminent action. (Ironically, after Congress quickly balked at approval, humiliating Obama, it was Kerry who rescued the president by securing an agreement with Russian help to force Assad to dismantle the chemical weapons that had prompted the threatened U.S. strike in the first place.)

In their recent memoirs, former defense secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta also have described the White House-centric foreign policy of the Obama administration—in Panetta’s case, a White House that he said was so “eager to rid itself of Iraq” it rejected Pentagon advice about the need for residual troops in Iraq after 2011, opening the way for ISIL. Gates was even more pointed, writing that “suspicion and distrust of senior military officers by senior White House officials—including the president and vice president—became a big problem for me.”

Read more at Politico

No Place for Iran in ISIS Plans

3184128428Center For Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz:

Secretary of State John Kerry’s awkward denial that the United States has not proposed “coordinating with Iran” against ISIS suggests the Obama administration did indeed propose this and is engaged in damage control after its efforts were revealed by Iranian officials.

I wrote in a Sept. 3 Newsmax article that while the U.S. should attack ISIS — also known as ISIL and the Islamic State — in Syria even though this will help keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, the United States must resist the temptation to draw Iran further into the crises in Iraq and Syria. I believe this because Iran bears significant responsibility for the outbreak of sectarian tensions in Iraq since 2011 due to its strong support for the Nouri al-Maliki government and by its training of Shiite militias that have massacred Iraqi Sunnis.

An increased Iranian presence in Iraq would alienate Iraqi Sunnis and make it more difficult to bring them back into the political process.

I believe the Obama administration has been unable to resist the temptation of trying to bring Iran into the battle against ISIS. According to The New York Times, Iranian officials claim they have rejected multiple invitations by the United States to join a coalition against ISIS.

According to the Iranian state news agency — IRNA — Iran’s President Khamenei recently said, “The American ambassador in Iraq asked our ambassador [in Iraq] for a session to discuss coordinating a fight against Daesh [ISIS].”

Khamenei said the Iranian government rejected this request.

Kerry’s denial of Khamenei’s claim was tortuous and hard to believe. Kerry said today that he is not going to get into a “back and forth” with Iran over whether his diplomats suggested that the U.S. and Iran join forces against ISIS. Kerry also said, “I have no idea of what interpretation they drew from any discussion that may or may not have taken place. We are not coordinating with Iran. Period.”

The Los Angeles Times reported today that the U.S. has been discussing ISIS with Iran. According to a Sept. 14 LA Times article, “The U.S., for its part, says it is not coordinating military efforts against Islamic State with Iran, though it has repeatedly discussed the issue with Iranian officials.”

Despite holding behind the scenes discussions with Iran about Iraq, Syria and ISIS, the United States vetoed Iran’s participation in an international conference that opened today in Paris on the ISIS threat. While I agree this was the right move, the Obama administration’s decision to publicly block Iran from the Paris ISIS conference while it conducts secret talks with Tehran on the same issues this conference will be addressing suggests Obama officials are trying to conceal what they are discussing with Iran from the American people and Congress.

So when do U.S. talks with Iran about ISIS become cooperation? More importantly, why is the United States using nuclear talks with Iran — which are going very badly — to discuss Iraq and Syria? What purpose could this achieve other than getting Iran more involved in these two countries.

It is fortunate that Iran revealed the overtures by Obama officials to coordinate on the ISIS threat since Congress can now demand answers from the administration about this latest foreign policy blunder and hopefully force the president to halt any efforts by his diplomats to draw Iran further into the crises in Iraq and Syria.

Al Qaeda Wasn’t ‘on the Run’

WELL.v20-01.2014-09-15.Hayes_BY STEPHEN F. HAYES:

In the early morning hours of May 2, 2011, an elite team of 25 American military and intelligence professionals landed inside the walls of a compound just outside the Pakistani city of Abbottabad. CIA analysts had painstakingly tracked a courier to the compound and spent months monitoring the activity inside the walls. They’d concluded, with varying levels of confidence, that the expansive white building at the center of the lot was the hideout of Osama bin Laden.

They were correct. And minutes after the team landed, the search for bin Laden ended with a shot to his head.

The primary objective of Operation Neptune Spear was to capture or kill the leader of al Qaeda. But a handful of those on the ground that night were part of a “Sensitive Site Exploitation” team that had a secondary mission: to gather as much intelligence from the compound as they could.

With bin Laden dead and the building secure, they got to work. Moving quickly—as locals began to gather outside the compound and before the Pakistani military, which had not been notified of the raid in advance, could scramble its response—they shoved armload after armload of bin Laden’s belongings into large canvas bags. The entire operation took less than 40 minutes.

The intelligence trove was immense. At a Pentagon briefing one day after the raid, a senior official described the haul as a “robust collection of materials.” It included 10 hard drives, nearly 100 thumb drives, and a dozen cell phones—along with data cards, DVDs, audiotapes, magazines, newspapers, paper files. In an interview on Meet the Press just days after the raid, Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Thomas Donilon, told David Gregory that the material could fill “a small college library.” A senior military intelligence official who briefed reporters at the Pentagon on May 7 said: “As a result of the raid, we’ve acquired the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever.”

In all, the U.S. government would have access to more than a million documents detailing al Qaeda’s funding, training, personnel, and future plans. The raid promised to be a turning point in America’s war on terror, not only because it eliminated al Qaeda’s leader, but also because the materials taken from his compound had great intelligence value. Analysts and policymakers would no longer need to depend on the inherently incomplete picture that had emerged from the piecing together of disparate threads of intelligence—collected via methods with varying records of success and from sources of uneven reliability. The bin Laden documents were primary source material, providing unmediated access to the thinking of al Qaeda leaders expressed in their own words.

A comprehensive and systematic examination of those documents could give U.S. intelligence officials—and eventually the American public—a better understanding of al Qaeda’s leadership, its affiliates, its recruitment efforts, its methods of communication; a better understanding, that is, of the enemy America has fought for over a decade now, at a cost of trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives.

Incredibly, such a comprehensive study—a thorough “document exploitation,” in the parlance of the intelligence community—never took place. The Weekly Standard has spoken to more than two dozen individuals with knowledge of the U.S. government’s handling of the bin Laden documents. And on that, there is widespread agreement.

“They haven’t done anything close to a full exploitation,” says Derek Harvey, a former senior intelligence analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency and ex-director of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence at U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).

“A full exploitation? No,” he says. “Not even close. Maybe 10 percent.”

More disturbing, many of the analysts and military experts with access to the documents were struck by a glaring contradiction: As President Obama and his team campaigned on the coming demise of al Qaeda in the runup to the 2012 election, the documents told a very different story.

In the days immediately following the bin Laden raid, the document haul was taken to a triage center where a CIA-led interagency team of analysts and subject-matter experts began to comb through it for perishable intelligence. It was, by all accounts, a fruitful effort.

***

The CTC report was released on May 3 under the title “Letters from Abbottabad: Bin Laden Sidelined?” The authors were careful to note that they were given just a fraction of the document collection and that researchers there had “no part in the selection of documents.” The conclusions of the study were consistent with the administration’s line: Al Qaeda had been badly weakened, and in the months before his death Osama bin Laden had been marginalized.

As the public heard this carefully managed story about al Qaeda, analysts at CENTCOM were poring over documents that showed something close to the opposite.

The broader collection of documents paints a far more complicated picture of al Qaeda. There are documents laying out al Qaeda’s relationships with terror-sponsoring states, including Iran and Pakistan. There are documents that provide a close look at bin Laden’s careful cultivation of a vast array of increasingly deadly affiliates, including the one we now know as ISIS. Other documents provide a window into the complex and highly secretive system of communications between al Qaeda leaders and operatives plotting attacks. Still others offer a glimpse of relations between bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and the others who run the global terror syndicate.

One document laid bare bin Laden’s relationship with Hafiz Saeed, the leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba, and suggested that the al Qaeda leader helped plan the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed 150 people and injured more than 600. “The documents and files found in Abbottabad showed a close connection between bin Laden and Saeed, right up to May 2011,” former Obama adviser Bruce Riedel told the Hindustan Times. The documents “suggested a much larger direct al Qaeda role in the planning of the Mumbai attacks than many had assumed.”

The CENTCOM team reviewed documents detailing the complicated and dangerous relationship between al Qaeda and Tehran and found evidence that senior Iranian officials facilitated the travel and safe haven of top al Qaeda operatives both before and after the 9/11 attacks. Other documents suggest that the relationship between Pakistan’s intelligence service and al Qaeda leaders was even stronger than many intelligence officials had understood.

The exploitation by the CENTCOM team, though far from comprehensive, generated “hundreds of additional reports” on al Qaeda that were distributed throughout the intelligence community, according to congressional testimony from Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, then director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The findings were briefed to senior intelligence and military officials, including Robert Cardillo, deputy director of national intelligence, and Admiral Michael Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Several members of Congress were briefed as well on the findings.

Derek Harvey, who supervised the DIA/CENTCOM team and conducted some of the briefings, has considerable credibility on these issues. He was one of the first intelligence analysts to warn of the growing insurgency in Iraq—just months after the invasion—challenging the happy talk from some members of the Bush administration. Later, Harvey worked closely with Sunni tribes in Iraq to lay the groundwork for the Iraq surge in 2007—work that was highlighted in The War Within, Bob Woodward’s account of the Bush administration’s attempt to save Iraq between 2006 and 2008. When David Petraeus went to CENTCOM, he took Harvey with him to the Tampa headquarters to create and run the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence.

Harvey would not discuss the contents of the documents. But he acknowledges that the DIA/CENTCOM conclusions contradicted the story the administration was telling the American people. “They were saying al Qaeda was on the run,” he recalls. “We were telling them al Qaeda was expanding and growing stronger.”

Meanwhile, the internal squabbling continued. The CIA, now under the direction of John Brennan, who had moved back to the agency from the White House, sought once again to limit DIA/CENTCOM’s access to the documents. And some analysts at the CTC were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the analysis in “Letters from Abbottabad.” According to three sources with knowledge of the handling of the documents, at least one CTC analyst drafted a memo—sometimes referred to as an “affidavit”—describing how the conclusions of the study would have been different had analysts been provided access to the full range of documents. The Weekly Standard asked CTC director Liam Collins about the memo in April. He responded: “I’m not tracking you on that.” Collins denied that anyone at CTC had written or distributed such a memo, and he reiterated his denial this month.

But one U.S. intelligence official, told of Collins’s claim, scoffed, “It exists. Period.”

In July, Lieutenant General Flynn left his post as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, a year earlier than scheduled. Many intelligence professionals believe he was forced out, in part because he—and many who worked for him—aggressively challenged the administration’s view that al Qaeda was dying. Flynn’s views were shaped by the intelligence in the bin Laden documents.

Read more at Weekly Standard

ISIS is the President’s Intelligence Failure

383580128 (1)Center For Security Policy, By Fred Fleitz:

Obama officials made some dubious claims over the summer that the White House was caught off guard by the rise of the terrorist army of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) because U.S. intelligence agencies underestimated the ISIS threat.  Many have disputed this, including Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who said in June that the Iraq crisis is a policy and not an intelligence failure.  Others pointed out there has been press on ISIS activities for almost a year and that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee last February that ISIS “will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014, as demonstrated recently in Ramadi and Fallujah, and the group’s ability to concurrently maintain multiple safe havens in Syria.”

It now looks like the real intelligence failure has been President Obama’s decision to ignore critical U.S. intelligence analysis and warnings.

Fox News correspondent Catherine Herridge reported today that according to a former Pentagon official, “detailed and specific intelligence about the rise of ISIS was included in the PDB, or the President’s Daily Brief, for at least a year before the group took large swaths of territory beginning in June.”  The source also described this intelligence as “strong” and “granular” in detail.

The PDB is a highly classified daily intelligence report prepared for the President and a handful of other high level officials by U.S. intelligence agencies.  The former Pentagon official told Herridge that unlike his predecessors, President Obama reads the PDB and does not receive a PDB briefing.  The source also said U.S. intelligence agencies rarely receive follow-up questions from Mr. Obama on the PDB.

Herridge’s story tracks with a September 12, 2012 Washington Post op-ed by Marc Thiessen that despite White House bragging about President Obama receiving a daily PDB briefing, Thiessen found the president had skipped more than half of them.

The president’s supporters in the news media went after Thiessen over this op-ed.  For example, in a September 24, 2012 column, The bogus claim that Obama ‘skips’ his intelligence briefings, Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler gave Thiessen’s piece three “Pinocchios” for being inaccurate and said in an update it may have deserved a fourth.  According to Kessler, Presidents Nixon, Carter, Reagan and Clinton also did not receive daily PDB briefings.

While Kessler is right that presidents have had different styles in dealing with intelligence and the PDB, the real issue is whether the information in the PDB reaches the president.  President Carter and both Presidents Bush often sent comments and feedback after reading the PDB.  Presidents Ford and Reagan sent also sent feedback but less than these presidents.  (Kessler also claimed President Reagan almost never wrote questions or comments about the PDB.  I dispute this since I once received a comment from President Reagan written on a PDB I authored when I was a CIA analyst.  Several of my CIA colleagues occasionally received comments and questions on the PDB from President Reagan.)

President Bill Clinton had a very different approach to the PDB and his morning intelligence.  It was well known at CIA that Clinton rarely read the PDB.  Clinton skipped so many PDB briefings that CIA management stopped sending daily read-outs of them to analysts after someone at CIA leaked word about Clinton’s skipped PDB briefings to the press.  I believe Clinton’s ignorance of U.S. intelligence analysis contributed to his underestimation of the threat from al-Qaeda and his timid responses to the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks which occurred on his watch.

Some will interpret Herridge’s report as an explanation for President Obama’s claims that he did not know about the ISIS threat as well as the much-criticized comment he made last week that his administration has “no strategy yet” to deal with ISIS.

I don’t buy such an explanation.  Consider that National Security Adviser Rice, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Hagel also are PDB recipients.  I’m sure most if not all of them receive daily PDB briefings and read the PDB.  If this is the case, why didn’t any of them tell the president about the growing ISIS threat that U.S. intelligence agencies reportedly were warning about?

The answer is that the president did know about these warnings and was told about them by his senior officials but chose to ignore this information because he is still in denial about the threat from radical Islam.  This was obvious by the way Obama officials misled the American people about the 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.   It is now clear Mr Obama did not learn from this mistake.

The most worrisome conclusion I draw from Herridge’s report is not that President Obama ignored or played down information about the ISIS threat and radical Islam.  I’m more concerned that Mr Obama’s reported refusal to do PDB briefings or send feedback on the PDB suggests he may be ignoring intelligence across the board just like President Clinton did.  This raises the question whether there are other urgent threat warnings by American intelligence agencies that Mr Obama is aware of but has chosen to ignore.

ISIS Shifting Tactics In Face of U.S. Air-Strike Campaign

Published on Aug 13, 2014 by Steven Laboe

“Our blood and treasure is in their sand” says Jessie Jane Duff, Gunnery Sergeant USMC (Ret) to FNC’s Bill Hemmer as she shares her position on the Middle East crisis.

ISIS so extreme, even al-Qaida worried it would “damage its reputation”

brutal-300x180By Allen West:

I am pleased to know the Obama administration has decided to provide weapons support to the Kurdish Peshmerga Army and bypass the Iraqi government — which under al-Maliki is in shambles. Our goal should be to assist in establishing an independent Kurdistan where Kurds, Christians and other religious minorities can live and thrive in peace. And a strategic part of that objective should be to destroy ISIS and deter the rising Islamist government in Turkey. After all, Southern Sudan was established based on religious persecution from the same folks: Islamists versus Christians.

And never forget that the Kurds are the words largest ethnic group without a homeland — the “Palestinians” are just hell-raising Arabs who were kicked out of Jordan.

But the purpose of this missive is to ask a question: How did ISIS kinda sneak up on the Obama administration? Do we have a failure in our intelligence gathering apparatus — or is this just an example of abject incompetence or worse, willful negligence?

Why do I ask this question?

Well, based on a report from the UK Daily Mail, ISIS was already ringing alarm bells on the radar screen of some major players a few years ago, and it might surprise you whose radar was twitching.

According to the report, “Lying among a pile of papers at the hideout in Pakistan where Osama Bin Laden was shot dead was a carefully worded 21-page letter. It warned of the rise of a new and ruthless group of Islamic extremists capable of such extreme brutality that al-Qaida should sever all links with them. In fact, it claimed the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or ISIS) had such complete disregard for civilian life that it could damage the reputation of al-Qaida – if such a thing were possible for an organization that has long traded in murderous terrorism.”

Here’s a particularly brutal video you may or may not want to watch on the Daily Mail’s website.

So let me get this right, Osama bin Laden was aware of ISIS back in 2011 and was concerned about ISIS damaging al-Qaida’s reputation? And how was it that President Obama referred to them as a “JV” team? Obama was beside himself with glee to lay claim to “killing” Osama bin Laden, but neglected to mention there was an even bigger threat looming.
Read more at http://allenbwest.com/2014/08/isis-extreme-even-al-qaida-worried-damage-reputation-video/#9mFe9PVgmJ2hwUzT.99

Read more at Allen West’s blog

FLASHBACK: Obama Administration Says Islamic Caliphate is “Feckless Delusion” That is “Never Going to Happen”

2014-07-23T200304Z_1_LYNXMPEA6M0WW_RTROPTP_3_IRAQ-SECURITY-BAGHDADIBy Katie Pavlich:

The brutal terrorist organization known as ISIS or ISIL, made up of former al Qaeda fighters, has renamed itself the Islamic State. The name “Islamic State” is self-explanatory and was chosen based on the group’s goal of establishing a caliphate by conquering as much land in the middle east and around the world as possible, beheading and killing anyone standing in their way.

Regardless of the terrorist group’s own classification and stated goals to implement and maintain an Islamist caliphate going back years, the Obama administration wasn’t worried about the “absurd” concept and had no plans to stop it from happening according to then White House Counter-Terrorism Advisor and current CIA Secretary John Brennen. From 2011:

“Our strategy is also shaped by deeper understanding of al Qaeda’s goals, strategy, and tactics over the past decade. I’m not talking about al Qaeda’s grandiose vision of global domination through a violent Islamic caliphate. That vision is absurd, and we are not going to organize our counter-terrorism policies against a feckless delusion that is never going to happen. We are not going to elevate these thugs and their murderous aspirations into something larger than they are,” Brennen said.

Watch here (15:38 to 16:07):

 

Sounds a lot like the administration treated these guys like a junior varsity team

Brennen argued the administration’s goal was to have “a deeper understanding of al Qaeda’s goals,” yet ignored the greatest goal of all: an Islamic caliphate. We’re seeing the caliphate happen now. In fact, ISIS just started issuing caliphate/Islamic State passports.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has reportedly issued Islamic State passports as the group expressed desire to expand its territory in Middle East, parts of Asia and Europe.

The group has also threatened to to raise the jihadist flag over Downing Street and the White House.

The introduction of passports by ISIS is believed to be part of the group’s ongoing campaign of psychological warfare, with experts saying that the passports are little more than a symbolic gesture.

Photos of the passports based on the black jihadist flag flown by ISIS terrorists with inscription “State of the Islamic Caliphate” at the top of the passport, were circulated on social media websites.

As another reminder, this is the same administration that argued al Qaeda was “on the run” in 2012 while it was actually spreading. These are dangerous times and the administration has done very little to show Americans they take the threats and goals of al Qaeda/ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State terrorists seriously.

Read more at Town Hall

Obama Lifts Ban on Libyans Attending U.S. Flight Schools, Training In Nuke Science

Libyan militias parade through Tripoli / AP

Libyan militias parade through Tripoli / AP

By Adam Kredo:

The Obama administration has lifted longtime restrictions on Libyans attending flight schools in the United States and training here in nuclear science, according to a final amendment of the ban recently approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Less than two years after the deadly terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is poised to sign off on an amendment reversing the ban, which was enacted following a wave or terrorist attacks in 1980s and prevents Libyans from studying these sensitive trades in the United States.

The original law effectively disqualified all Libyan nationals and those “acting on behalf of Libyan entities” from training in “aviation maintenance, flight operations, or nuclear-related fields,” according to the ban.

DHS said the prohibition is irrelevant now since the United States and Libya have worked to “normalize their relationship,” according to the directive approved by the OMB.

“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its regulations by rescinding the regulatory provisions promulgated in 1983 that terminated the nonimmigrant status and barred the granting of certain immigration benefits to Libyan nationals and foreign nationals acting on behalf of Libyan entities who are engaging in or seeking to obtain studies or training in,” the amendment states.

“The United States Government and the Government of Libya have normalized their relationship and most of the restrictions and sanctions imposed by the United States and the United Nations toward Libya have been lifted,” it says. “Therefore, DHS, after consultation with the Department of State and the Department of Defense, is considering rescinding the restrictions that deny nonimmigrant status and benefits to a specific group of Libyan nationals.”

Members of the House Judiciary Committee expressed outrage on Monday about the rollback in the law, maintaining that Libyans continue to pose a security risk to the United States, particularly if they are given access to train in the aviation and nuclear fields.

The terror threat continues and numerous news reports document recent terror-related activities coming from Libya,” the Judiciary Committee said in a statement. “Recently, the employees at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli were evacuated due to violence between rival militias near the facility.”

“Since then, many foreign governments have closed their embassies in Libya and evacuated staff as the violence has spread throughout the country,” the statement said.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

White House Can’t Explain Iraq Objectives to Congress

President Barack Obama talks with National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice following foreign leader phone calls, from Chilmark, Mass., August 11, 2014 / White House Flic

President Barack Obama talks with National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice following foreign leader phone calls, from Chilmark, Mass., August 11, 2014 / White House Flic

By Adam Kredo:

Just two weeks after the Obama administration asked Congress to repeal the Iraq war authorization, the White House is failing to adequately explain to lawmakers the legal justification and concrete objectives for its airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), according to congressional insiders apprised of off-the-record briefings on the matter.

Questions are now being raised on Capitol Hill about how the White House intends to legally justify its military campaign, particularly in light of its efforts to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq (AUMF).

Obama administration officials waited to brief senators late last week after isolated airstrikes had been launched on multiple ISIL targets, according to Senate sources who provided the Free Beacon with a readout of the call, which was described as “pointless.”

The administration’s decision to bypass Congress before taking military action is reminiscent of its behavior in Libya, where air strikes also were authorized without congressional approval.

“They didn’t provide any firm answers or decisions,” said one senior Senate source apprised of the briefing. “The administration is saying that they’re going to authorize air strikes if ISIS gets close to U.S. personal or stationed personal, which in [our] mind, if there is a threat in the region you get your people out unless they’re military.”

This rationale from the White House is leading some to speculate that U.S. personnel in the region are being left in harms way “as collateral” because the Obama administration “can’t get his party and donor base to support further action in Iraq,” according to the source.

“That’s where a lot of the confusion is coming from” on Capitol Hill, the source added. “When there’s an imminent threat you get your civilian employees out of the region.”

The decision to take action against ISIL was made just weeks after White House national security adviser Susan Rice petitioned Congress to repeal the Iraq AUMF, a move that one Congressional insider described as “tone deaf” and “bad optics on the administration’s part.”

Read more at Free Beacon

Experts: American Adversaries Work Together Despite Differences

Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) / Reuters

Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) / Reuters

BY: :

American adversaries in the Middle East continue to work together across sectarian and religious divides to harm U.S. interests and security, requiring a more nuanced response from U.S. officials to address the turmoil in the region, experts say.

The Obama administration has claimed in recent weeks that the United States and Iran—a traditional U.S. enemy since its Islamic revolution 35 years ago—have a shared interest in pushing back the advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), an al Qaeda offshoot, in Iraq. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last month that the United States and Iran have “some history here of sharing common interests,” citing early cooperation on the Afghanistan war against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Iran, led by a Shiite government, is typically viewed as opposing hardline Sunni groups such as the Taliban and al Qaeda as part of an intra-religious dispute among Muslims.

However, Iran has a long history of harboring and supporting al Qaeda. European intelligence reports indicate that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, founder of the group al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) that eventually morphed into ISIL, operated from Iran after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Zarqawi used protection from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to rebuild the terrorist group’s network and prepare for its expansion into Iraq.

The U.S. Treasury Department has called Iran “a critical transit point for funding to support al Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The department in February sanctioned three IRGC officers for allegedly providing support to the Taliban as well as to a senior member of al Qaeda who allegedly used Iran to move Sunni fighters into Syria.

“Iran has a long history of fomenting violent conflict and inflaming sectarian divides throughout the Middle East including in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq,” said the group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) in recent press release.

“Depictions of Iran as a source of stability are therefore erroneous and short-sighted, as are assertions that increased Iranian involvement in Iraq will serve American and Iraqi interests,” UANI added.

Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq for the George W. Bush administration, said in an email that U.S. diplomats often only view the Middle East through “a sectarian lens.”

“Sunnis and Shi’ites show no compunction working together to screw over America, which their respective extremists consider a bigger threat,” he said. “Heck, sometimes it seems that the State Department never bothered to read the 9/11 report which suggested that the attacks might not have happened had Iran not facilitated the travel to training camps of the 9/11 hijackers.”

“Sure, at first glance, Secretary of State John Kerry may believe that the U.S. and Iran share an interest in Iraq,” he added. “But just because firefighters and arsonists share an interest in fire doesn’t mean they are on the same side.”

In Iraq, ISIL partnered last month with former Baathist generals under Saddam Hussein’s regime to seize the key northern city of Mosul. Religious extremist groups such as al Qaeda have traditionally sought to overthrow secular Middle East regimes such as Hussein’s Baathists.

Top U.S. officials have recently expressed grave concerns about the potential for foreign fighters in ISIL to commit terrorist attacks in the United States.

The secular-religious rift in the Middle East also did not stop Hussein from supporting jihadist groups when it suited the former Iraqi dictator’s interests. Hussein reportedly provided safe haven, training, and arms to these groups as long as they agreed to attack countries he wanted to pressure.

Hundreds of thousands of documents obtained in Iraq since 2003, compiled in a report by the Institute for Defense Analyses, further confirmed Hussein’s links to terrorist groups.

Read more at Free Beacon