Media Covers Fake Mike Flynn Story, Ignores Bombshell on Secret Obama/Iran Meetings

(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

PJ Media, by David Steinberg, January 25, 2017:

If mainstream media truly wishes to repair its image with the general public, these outlets must recognize they do not merely suffer from a “bubble” reinforced by overwhelmingly liberal staffing, or from supposedly insufficient outreach to working class communities.

The mainstream’s issues are apparent in their content choices, suggesting an intractable problem. Following decades of allowing the Democratic Party to select the day’s narrative, they possess no measure of professional competence for objectively judging the importance of information.

The media’s remarkably different responses to the following two stories offer a definitive example:

1. Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, President Trump’s national security adviser, made a series of phone calls and texts to Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak on December 29, 2016. On that day, then-President Barack Obama had revealed that he was issuing sanctions against Russia for its supposed hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

2. Per the Washington Free Beacon: “Two high-level Iranian government backers, including a former Islamic Republic official and another accused of lobbying on Tehran’s behalf, were hosted at the Obama White House for more than 30 meetings with top officials at key junctures in the former administration’s contested diplomacy with Iran …

“Sources familiar with the nature of the meetings told the Washington Free Beacon that both Parsi and Mousavian helped the White House craft its pro-Iran messaging and talking points that helped lead to the nuclear agreement with Iran. These efforts were part of a larger pro-Iran deal ‘echo chamber’ led by senior Obama administration officials who were tasked with misleading Congress about the nature of the deal …”

Just about every mainstream outlet has covered the Michael Flynn story with multiple articles: Newsweek, CNN, Daily Beast, CBS News, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and others — a thorough search returns dozens of high-profile sources that published highly trafficked pieces.

Several pundits demanded answers, pointing to the calls as further evidence of Donald Trump having aligned himself with Vladimir Putin’s dictatorial regime, and having allowed Putin to direct elements of his campaign and his coming presidency. Later, these same outlets announced that an “FBI investigation” into Flynn’s calls and texts had commenced.

But this week, we learn the hysteria about Flynn and the FBI appears to have been unwarranted. The outlets which had previously inflated the story have since backed down.

As you read their follow-up stories below, note the cause of their initial hysteria: you know of the Mike Flynn story simply due to journalistic ineptitude — specifically, the journalists’ ignorance of diplomatic practices — combined with their predetermined acceptance of the Trump/Russia narrative.

Yesterday, per NBC News:

FBI Finds Nothing Amiss in Flynn-Russia Eavesdrop: Official

The FBI eavesdropped on telephone calls between President Donald Trump’s national security adviser and the Russian ambassador but found nothing improper, a U.S. intelligence official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said late Monday that there was never a formal “investigation” of the calls in December between retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn and Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador in Washington.

According to the source, who was confirming a Washington Post report earlier Monday, intelligence officials merely listened inas part of routine eavesdropping on Kislyak.

The former official, who requested anonymity to speak about sensitive information, said it was not uncommon for diplomats or other U.S. officials to garner such attention to if they are recorded talking to foreign counterparts. Rarely anything comes of this, however, because U.S. officials have wide latitude in how they communicate as part of their jobs.

And this is how the Washington Post article referenced above described the calls:

The FBI’s counterintelligence agents listen to calls all the time that do not pertain to any open investigation, current and former law enforcement officials said. Often, said one former official, “they’re just monitoring the other [foreign official] side of the call.”

Both Flynn, a former head of the Pentagon’s intelligence agency, and Kislyak, a seasoned diplomat, are probably aware that Kislyak’s phone calls and texts are being monitored, current and former officials said. That would make it highly unlikely, the individuals said, that the men would allow their calls to be conduits of illegal coordination.

Has the damage been done, however? When you hear “Mike Flynn,” do you immediately consider him through the lens of this story?

Objectively, you should not, and further, you should not trust anything you have heard regarding Mike Flynn that traces to those outlets. They have shown both incompetence on the subject and vulnerability to a cynical Democratic Party narrative intended to damage Donald Trump’s presidency.

Re-watch the Clinton-Trump debates: Clinton pulls focus towards Russia to minimize coverage of the scandalous content of John Podesta’s emails. Further, following Trump’s victory, President Obama announced the aforementioned sanctions against Russia, knowing such sanctions brought no tangible punishment to Putin — then-President Elect Trump could rescind them within a month’s time. Obama’s motivations bear no rational explanation beyond continuing the narrative of Trump as an illegitimate president and pawn of Vladimir Putin.

Obama was successful — these outlets proved to have been primed to run with later information, such as the Mike Flynn story, to further the Trump/Russia narrative.

Now, return to yesterday’s exclusive story from Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon:

Seyed Mousavian, a former Iranian diplomat and head of its national security council, was hosted at the White House at least three times, while Trita Parsi, a pro-Iran advocate long accused of hiding his ties to the Iranian government, met with Obama administration officials some 33 times, according to recently updated visitor logs.

The implications of this story, considering Obama adviser Ben Rhodes later opened up about the extent of the Obama administration’s duplicity with the public on the Iranian nuclear deal, are objectively relevant to anything else an America voter may read or believe regarding our national security. The Obama administration was surreptitiously welcoming counsel from two enemies of the state while crafting a treaty supposedly intended to prevent that enemy — a genocidal regime with a messianic bent — from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Here’s how that Ben Rhodes article described how Obama misled America (link is to David Reaboi of The Federalist):

In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. ‘ We created an echo chamber,’ [Rhodes] admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. ‘ They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.’

Rhodes has become adept at ventriloquizing many people at once. Ned Price, Rhodes’s assistant, gave me a primer on how it’s done. The easiest way for the White House to shape the news, he explained, is from the briefing podiums … “But then there are sort of these force multipliers,” he said, adding, “We have our compadres, I will reach out to a couple people, and you know I wouldn’t want to name them—”

“I can name them,” I said, ticking off a few names of prominent Washington reporters and columnists who often tweet in sync with White House messaging.

Price laughed. ‘I’ll say, “Hey, look, some people are spinning this narrative that this is a sign of American weakness,”’ he continued, “but—”

“In fact it’s a sign of strength!” I said, chuckling.

These same “often-clueless” reporters the Obama administration was “ventriloquizing” were just utilized as gleeful political pawns yet again. Mike Flynn’s brief calls and texts with the Russian ambassador should have immediately been dismissed as common diplomatic activity; they weren’t, in service of a cynical political end sought by not just the Democratic Party, but by the media outlets themselves.

However, the Obama White House meetings with Mousavian and Parsi — dozens of meetings — can not rationally be attributed as common diplomatic contact. Even after Ben Rhodes spilled his secrets — and not due to the weight of guilt, but due to pride in his work — we still do not know the extent of the Obama administration’s deceitful behavior during the passage of a bill that holds ramifications for global stability.

To summarize, the information uncovered by Adam Kredo is real news.

The Flynn story has been exposed as nothing notable beyond its potential as a political club; it was fake news.

As of this moment, not a single mainstream outlet has picked up the Adam Kredo story.

PJ Media and other “new media” outlets have, though.

As the mainstream continues to humiliate itself in an attempt to maintain a monopoly on information exiting Washington, D.C., the general public — and certainly, the voters — has developed an awareness that the mainstream’s status as gatekeeper has always been artificial. It certainly never had anything to do with competence.

Accused Hezbollah Operative Slated to Speak In Washington, D.C.

Azmi Bishara, an Israeli Arab and former lawmaker, speaks with journalists as he arrives to attend the emergency Arab leaders summit on Gaza in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Jan. 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Azmi Bishara, an Israeli Arab and former lawmaker, speaks with journalists as he arrives to attend the emergency Arab leaders summit on Gaza in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Jan. 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Washington Free Beacon, by  Adam Kredo, October 6, 2016:

A former Arab member of Israel’s parliament who was forced to flee the country after he was accused of working as a top Hezbollah operative is slated to speak next week in Washington, D.C., raising questions about how he obtained permission to enter U.S. soil.

Azmi Bishara, who is accused by Israel’s Shin Bet secret service of helping Hezbollah plot terrorist operations, is confirmed to speak next week at Washington’s downtown Marriott hotel as part of a conference organized by The Arab Center of Washington, D.C.

An official from the Arab Center confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon that Bishara will be attending the event, raising questions about how an individual linked to a U.S.-designated sponsor of terror obtained permission to enter America.

Bishara was initially slated to speak alongside former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who the Free Beacon has learned cancelled his appearance. The talk was to focus on the promotion of democracy in the Arab world, according to a current conference schedule.

McFaul’s image was removed from the conference’s webpage several hours after the Free Beaconmade an inquiry into the event.

Bishara remains listed as a speaker.

Bishara, who has been living in Qatar since he fled Israel in 2007, is accused by Israel of helping Hezbollah select targets during its 2006 assault on the Jewish state. Israel is still seeking to detain Bishara and charge him for these terror offenses. Israeli authorities have said they will arrest Bishara if he returns to the country, where he could face the death penalty, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The State Department declined to tell the Free Beacon if it granted a visa to Bishara. It remains unclear how he has gotten official permission to be in the United States, as Qatar, his current place of residence, is not part of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

A State Department official told the Free Beacon that visas are granted on a case-by-case basis, but remain confidential.

“We are unable to provide information on individual cases because visa records are confidential under U.S. law,” an official told the Free Beacon. “Visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with U.S. law.”

Additionally, “Section 222 (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) prohibits us from disclosing details from individual visa cases,” the official said.

One foreign policy insider familiar with the situation questioned how Bishara obtained entry to the United States.

“The Obama administration’s tilt toward Iran is so extreme that now a visa has been given to a Hezbollah terrorist so that he can visit Washington D.C.,” the source said. “The administration’s love affair with Iran is a disgrace to our country and a danger to our security.”

Bishara, a former chairman of Israel’s Balad political party, is accused by Israel of aiding Hezbollah agents during the 2006 war.

“Bishara allegedly provided ‘information, suggestions and recommendations,’ including censored material, to his contacts in Lebanon during the war,” according to Haaretz.

He currently serves as the general director at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Qatar.

Huma Abedin’s Father: “Arab states must police the upholding of Sharia, or Islamic law”

abedin-1Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Sept. 28, 2016:

Syed Abedin, the father of top Hillary Clinton aide Huma, outlined his view of Sharia law and how the Western world has turned Muslims “hostile” during a wide-ranging video interview that shines newfound light on the reclusive thinker’s world views, according to footage exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Abedin, a Muslim scholar who was tied to the Saudi Arabian government until his death in 1993, has remained somewhat of a mystery as the media turns its eye to his daughter Huma, a top Clinton campaign aide who recently announced her separation from husband Anthony Weiner following his multiple sex scandals.

Syed Abedin explained his views on the Muslim world and spread of Islam during a 1971 interview titled The World of Islam, which was first broadcast on Western Michigan University television.

pic2

Abedin said that Arab states must police the upholding of Sharia, or Islamic law, and explained why the majority of Muslims view Israel and the Western world in primarily “hostile” terms.

The video provides a window into the Abedin family’s ideology, which has been marred by accusations it is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Abedin, who was then a professor in the university’s college of general studies, said that Western intervention in the Arab world has sparked a backlash among many faithful Muslims.

“The response to the West has been of two kinds,” Abedin said. “By and large the response has taken more of a hostile form.”

“The first impulse of the average Muslim in the Islamic world is that this kind of borrowing [culturally] would be somehow an alien factor into our social fabric and thereby destroying the integrity of our ethos … the integrity of our culture,” he added.

In a separate discussion on the state’s role in a person’s life, Abedin said it is necessary to police the application of Sharia law.

“The state has to take over” as Muslim countries evolve, he argued. “The state is stepping in in many countries … where the state is now overseeing that human relationships are carried on on the basis of Islam. The state also under Islam has a right to interfere in some of these rights given to the individual by the Sharia.”

“Suspicion” runs rampant in the Muslim world, Abedin said, citing it as a reason why Western governing values have not been quickly adopted in the region.

“In the contemporary Islamic world, religious leadership is of very crucial significance because any change that will be abiding, that will make any positive contribution to the development of Muslim life, must come from that source, and that is one reason why ideologies like socialism or communism that have been introduced into the Muslim world have never really taken root,” Abedin said. “They have always been considered as foreign importations. … It’s a kind of suspicion.”

Abedin also discussed the clash between modernity and the Islamic world.

“When you talk of an Islamic state … does it have to have a caliph?” he asked. “What does it mean? What is the Islamic concept of good in the present day world?”

Any cultural change, Abedin concluded, will have to be validated by the tenets of Islam.

“The main dynamics of life in the Islamic world are still supplied by Islam,” he said. “Any institution, as I said before, any concept, any idea, in order to be accepted and become a viable thing in the Islamic world has to come through … Islam.”

Abedin’s views on religion have become a central topic among those who have questioned Clinton’s choice to elevate Human Abedin into such a prominent role.

The Abedins helped create the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, a publication accused of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and of promoting a hardline Islamic ideology.

Huma Abedin served as an assistant editor of the journal for 12 years and also played a role in its offshoot, the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, a think-tank established in Saudi Arabia by an accused financier of the al Qaeda terror group, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Iran May Have Received as Much as $33.6 Billion in Cash, Gold Payments From U.S.

John Kerry, left, and Javad Zarif / AP

John Kerry, left, and Javad Zarif / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Sept. 8, 2016:

Iran may have received an additional $33.6 billion in secret cash and gold payments facilitated by the Obama administration between 2014 and 2016, according to testimony provided before Congress by an expert on last summer’s nuclear agreement with Iran.

Between January 2014 and July 2015, when the Obama administration was hammering out the final details of the nuclear accord, Iran was paid $700 million every month from funds that had previously been frozen by U.S. sanctions.

A total of $11.9 billion was ultimately paid to Iran, but the details surrounding these payments remain shrouded in mystery, according to Mark Dubowitz, executive director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

In total, “Iran may have received as much as $33.6 billion in cash or in gold and other precious metals,” Dubowitz disclosed.

New questions about these payments are emerging following confirmation from top Obama administration officials on Thursday that it was forced to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash prior to the release of several U.S. hostages earlier this year. The administration insisted that cash had to be used for this payment.

Top administration officials were adamant that the cash payments were the best way to ensure that Iran got immediate access to this money due to its ongoing difficulty accessing international funds still sanctioned by the West.

Lawmakers and others are now pressing the administration to disclose how a slew of other payments to Iran were made in the years leading up to the final nuclear accord.

“In July, the Associated Press cited U.S. officials who estimated that Iran ‘brought home less than $20 billion.’ Were these funds repatriated to Tehran in cash or in gold and precious metals? Through the formal financial system? Or through some combination?” Dubowitz asked in his testimony before the House Financial Services Committee.

“The administration should also clarify if the $20 billion dollars is inclusive of the $11.9 billion in [Joint Plan of Action] funds, or if the $20 billion was in addition to the $11.9 billion,” he said. “Either way, it is important to understand how funds were sent. The worst-case scenario here is that Iran may have received as much as $33.6 billion in cash or in gold and other precious metals.”

At least some of this money was likely sent in cash and other assets, according to Dubowitz.

The Obama administration was forced to disclose on Thursday that current sanctions and banking restrictions prohibited it from transferring funds to Iran via electronic methods.

The cash payment of $1.7 billion earlier this year was the easiest way to ensure Iran got immediate access to the money, according to these officials.

“Iran had to have it in cash,” Paul Ahern, assistant general counsel for enforcement and intelligence at the Treasury Department, told lawmakers. “Iran was very aware of the difficulties it would face in accessing and using the funds if they were in any other form than cash, even after the lifting of sanctions.”

A cash delivery “was the most reliable way that they received the funds in a timely manner and it was the manner preferred by the relative foreign banks,” Ahren said.

Given the situation, it is likely that the multiple past payments to Iran were conducted in a similar fashion, according to Dubowitz.

“If the White House could only send cash to Iran from the start of the JPOA period through the Tribunal payment that could amount to a grant total of 33.6 billion,” he said. “Did any of this money go through the formal financial system? If so, the administration is not being truthful about the 1.7 billion. If many billions arrived in Iran on pallets [of cash] this would be a pretty astounding revelation.”

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official and expert on rogue regimes, said that cash payments of this nature are “highly irregular.”

“There’s no reason it needed to be paid now. After all, successive administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have delayed payments so as to avoid funding Iranian terrorism,” Rubin said. “Likewise, if the United States freezes accounts linked to al Qaeda or Hamas, releasing it and saying, ‘It’s their money anyway,’ would not be a tenable explanation. Cash payments are highly irregular.”

The Iranians have been clear that they “perceived the payment to be a ransom” despite the administration’s protestations, Rubin explained.

“Not only has the delivery of the millions of dollars been perceived as a ransom, provided as an incentive to seize more hostages …. but because the money was delivered in cash the payment bolstered the strength of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and augmented its ability to finance and conduct terrorism,” he said.

Congress Moves to Block Obama Admin’s ‘Ransom Payments’ to Iran

Marco Rubio / AP

Marco Rubio / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Sept. 6, 2016:

Congress is set to consider new legislation that would block the Obama administration from awarding Iran billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in what many describe as a ransom payment, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) will introduce on Tuesday new legislation that would prohibit the Obama administration from moving forward with all payments to Iran, according to the bill, which would also force Iran to return billions of dollars in U.S. funds that have already been delivered to Tehran by the White House.

Rubio’s bill—a version of which is also being introduced in the House by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.)—would mandate that Iran pay American victims of terrorism some $53 billion in reparations for past attacks planned and coordinated by the Islamic Republic.

The legislation comes amid a growing scandal surrounding the Obama administration’s decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion earlier this year as part of an effort to free imprisoned U.S. hostages. The payment, details of which were kept secret from Congress and the American people, is expected to become the focus of several congressional investigations in the coming weeks.

“President Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran was sweetened with an illicit ransom payment and billions of dollars for the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism,” Rubio said in a statement provided to the Free Beacon. “The U.S. government should not be in the business of negotiating with terrorists and paying ransom money in exchange for the release of American hostages. Doing so puts more Americans in danger, as President Obama himself admitted.”

The State Department recently reissued a travel warning for U.S. citizens traveling to Iran due to the possibility of kidnapping and imprisonment by the Iranian government.

Rubio said his new bill “would stop the Obama administration from making any further payments to Iran from the [Treasury Department’s] Judgment Fund until Iran returns the ransom money it received and pays the American victims of Iranian terrorism what they are owed.”

“President Obama may have attempted to appease our enemy with pallets of cash secretly delivered on an unmarked cargo plane, but Iran continues to cheat on the nuclear deal, harass our military, hold Americans hostage, and fund terrorism around the world,” Rubio added. “Iran should be held accountable, and the Obama administration’s misguided policies must be stopped.”

Rubio’s bill, called the No Ransom Payments Act, is co-sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R., Texas), Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.), John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.).

“Congress is taking a clear stand—demanding Iran return the more than $1 billion the Obama Administration wrongly gave them and putting a stop to any and all future money this administration, or any administration might want to give to state sponsors of terrorism like Iran,” Pompeo, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Free Beacon. “The American people know this is an unacceptable use of their taxpayer dollars and we wholeheartedly agree. It is unprecedented and dangerous for President Obama to be doling out millions to the Islamic Republic of Iran—in the dead of night, under wraps, and in cash. Kansans expect and demand better from their government.”

Rubio on Tuesday also filed a separate piece of legislation that would stop the Obama administration from permitting U.S. corporations and banks from selling Iran aircraft and mechanical parts.

The Obama administration has sought to issue waivers to remove sanctions on companies and banks that could facilitate these transactions with Iran.

Congressional leaders and regional experts have warned that Iran routinely uses its national air carrier, Iran Air, to conduct terror operations and transport military forces into war zones in Syria and elsewhere.

Adam Kredo is senior writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Formerly an award-winning political reporter for the Washington Jewish Week, where he frequently broke national news, Kredo’s work has been featured in outlets such as the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and Politico, among others. He lives in Maryland with his comic books. His Twitter handle is @Kredo0. His email address is kredo@freebeacon.com.

Report: United Nations-Backed Orgs Promoting Terrorism, Anti-Semitism, Violence

Flags of member states fly outside United Nations headquarters / AP

Flags of member states fly outside United Nations headquarters / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Sept. 1, 2016:

“Bigots, anti-Semites, and terrorist advocates” are “spreading hatred and inciting violence” from within the halls of the United Nations with full backing of the international organization, according to a report that shines new light on the lack of proper administrative oversight at Turtle Bay.

Accredited advocacy groups permitted to operate at the U.N. have been using the international organization as a platform to legitimize anti-Semitism, hatred of the Jewish state, and support for terrorism, according a new report issued by Human Rights Voices, a group that monitors bias at the U.N. and the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.

“Most striking for an organization founded on the ashes of the Holocaust, the UN enables its accredited NGOs [non-governmental organizations] to play a central role in promoting modern anti-Semitism,” the report states. “Although the preamble of the UN Charter promises the equal rights of nations large and small, UN-accredited NGOs foster the destruction of the UN member state of Israel.”

The report provides evidence showing how a range of U.N.-backed groups use the institution to promote hatred and violence, a claim long made by supporters of the Jewish state.

“There are numerous examples of UN-accredited NGOs engaging in anti-Semitism, promoting violence and terror, demonizing the UN member state of Israel, and advocating its destruction,” according to the report, which provides screenshots and images of this behavior.

Many of the materials are still publicly accessible and continue to be distributed by these organizations, according to the report.

The report notes that many of the U.N. member states responsible for granting accreditation to these anti-Israel and anti-Western groups have questionable human rights records.

“The states running the UN accreditation processes are frequently countries that inhibit free speech and curtail the freedom of association in their own backyards, and deliberately use their UN powers to protect themselves in the international sphere,” the report noted. “Current members of the most prolific UN NGO accreditation operation include such NGO-abusing states as China, Cuba, Iran, Russia, and Sudan. Iran is currently a Vice-Chair.”

Accredited status gives these advocacy groups special access at the U.N.’s New York headquarters, permitting them to serve as observers at meetings, participate in official conferences, and consult with top U.N. officials, among other benefits.

U.N. accredited organizations flagged in the report have compared Israelis to Nazis and have claimed that Israel commits acts of genocide. Other international organizations in the report portray Israel as Nazi Germany and promulgate age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish people.

Read more

Iran Expanding Terror Network in Latin America

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, is welcomed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, in Havana, Cuba / AP

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, is welcomed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, in Havana, Cuba / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Aug. 23, 2016:

Iran is solidifying its foothold in Latin America, sparking concerns among U.S. officials that the Islamic Republic will enlist these regional allies in its push to launch terror attacks on U.S. soil, according to conversations with congressional sources.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has been on a diplomatic tour through key Latin American countries known for hostility towards the United States, including Cuba, Venezuela, and a host of other countries believed to be providing shelter to Iranian terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah.

As Iranian-ally Russia boosts its spy operation in the region, sources have raised concerns about the rogue nations working together to foster anti-U.S. unrest.

Zarif’s trip through the region has raised red flags among some senior congressional sources familiar with the region. For example, Zarif took aim at the United States and touted the regime’s desire to align with anti-American countries during his stay in Cuba.

One senior congressional source who works on the issue said to the Washington Free Beacon that Iran is seeking to recruit “potential terrorists who want to cause the U.S. harm.”

Increased ties between Iran and these Latin American nations are setting the stage for terrorists to penetrate close to U.S. soil with little detection.

These individuals “can travel easily to Venezuela, and once there, they can get to Nicaragua or Cuba without passports or visas, which poses a national security risk for our nation,” the source explained.

Iran has also reopened its embassy in Chile, a move that has only added fuel to speculation among U.S. officials that the Islamic Republic is making moves to position its global terror network on America’s doorstep.

“The threat to U.S. national security interests and our allies should be setting off alarm bells,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement about Zarif’s Latin American tour.

“The Obama administration has failed to prevent Russia and China from expanding in our Hemisphere, and now Iran is once again stepping up its efforts to gain a greater presence to carry out its nefarious activities,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “I urge the White House to stop downplaying the Iranian threat and take immediate action to prevent the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism from establishing a regional safe haven in the Americas.”

Asked to comment on Zarif’s trip and the potential repercussions on Monday, a State Department official said to the Free Beacon that the administration had no comment.

Ros-Lehtinen said the high-profile trip by Zarif should serve as a warning.

“The timing of Zarif’s trip is significant as Iran could use many of these rogue regimes to circumvent remaining sanctions, undermine U.S. interests, and expand the drug trafficking network that helps finance its illicit activities,” she said. “Tehran’s classic playbook is to use cultural centers, new embassies or consulates, or cooperative agreements on various areas to act as façades aimed at expanding Iran’s radical extremist network.”

The renewed concerns about Iran’s footprint in Latin America comes nearly two years after the State Department said Tehran’s influence in the region was “waning.”

“The timing of Zarif’s trip speaks volumes,” said the senior congressional aide who would discuss the issue only on background. It “is worrisome that as we just celebrated the 22nd year of the horrific terrorist attack against the AMIA Jewish community center in Argentina, Iran can now have personnel nearby in a new embassy in Chile.”

“Just recently, a Hezbollah member was picked up in Brazil, an explosive device was found near the Israeli embassy in Uruguay, and Hezbollah members are reportedly traveling on Venezuelan passports,” the source added. “It was not too long ago that Venezuela offered flights to Iran and Syria, and as of last week, Hezbollah cells were found in the West Bank where Venezuela lifted its visa requirements for Palestinians.”

Zarif slammed the United States on Monday during a speech in Havana.

“Iran and Cuba could prove to the U.S. that it cannot proceed with its policies through exerting pressure on other countries,” Zarif said, according to Iran’s state-controlled media.

“Now the time is ripe for realizing our common goals together and implement the resistance economy in Iran and materialize [Cuban dictator Fidel] Castro’s goals of reconstruction of the Cuban economy,” Zarif added.

Zarif went on to note that Iran “has age-old and strong relations with the American continent and the Latin American countries.”

Zarif is reported to have brought along at least 60 Iranian officials and executives working in the country’s state-controlled economic sector.

Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon that Iran has boosted efforts to engage Latin America in the wake of last summer’s nuclear agreement.

“Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif is aggressively continuing Iran’s diplomatic outreach, a policy which began early in the Rouhani administration and was kicked into high gear in the aftermath of the JCPOA—last summer’s nuclear deal,” he said. “Zarif’s sojourn into the Western hemisphere follows on the heels of his May visit to the region. Zarif’s trip symbolically commences in Havana, Cuba, where the Iranian foreign minister harped on themes of steadfastness and resistance to American legal and economic pressure.”

The Iranian leader’s goal is to “build on this experience to help promote an anti-American and anti-capitalist world order,” he added. “What’s most clear however, is that in addition to seeking to solidify the anti-American political orientation of these states, Iran aims to capitalize on the increasingly detached stigma of doing business with it in the aftermath of the nuclear accord. Therefore, we can expect to see trade deals or memorandums of understanding inked. In short, Iran will be looking to deepen to its footprint in Latin America.”

Obama Former Top Intel Official: ISIS Is Already in America

Michael Flynn / AP

Michael Flynn / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Aug. 9, 2016:

Affiliates of the Islamic State terror organization are already residing in the United States, though exact numbers are unclear due to the Obama administration’s efforts to downplay and hide information about this threat from the American public, the former director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency told the Washington Free Beacon in a wide-ranging interview.

Gen. Michael Flynn, an adviser to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump who served as a top intelligence official under the Obama administration, warned that “they are here” when asked by the Free Beacon to characterize the threat posed to Americans by undercover ISIS adherents.

“They are here,” Flynn said, disclosing that he is aware of roughly 1,000 instances in which ISIS members have been caught plotting in the United States.

“The director of the FBI has said it,” Flynn explained. “There are dozens and dozens and dozens, and I think the number I’ve heard is 1,000, but I don’t know the exact numbers. But I do know there are a lot of cases against members inspired or directed by the Islamic State in this country.”

Information about these individuals is not well known to the American public due to efforts by the administration to downplay and suppress news relating to these terror plots.

“There should be more publicity about what we’ve discovered,” said Flynn, co-author of the book Field of Flight: How We Can Win The Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies. “We ought to expose it, expose its [ISIS’s] weaknesses, expose its dangers to the American public. We’re a tough crowd. The American public is tough. We can take the truth.”

Scores of foreign-born individuals residing in the United States have been arrested on various terror charges in the past few months, multiple Free Beacon investigations have discovered.

Flynn has taken issue with the Obama administration’s refusal to describe these terrorists as adherents to a radical brand of Islam.

The goal of ISIS and other radical terrorists is to slowly infiltrate the West, according to Flynn, who said this is already happening across the United States.

“This is an enemy that actually sees our way of life as something that is not acceptable,” he said. “They’re infiltrating, and their campaign plan is to basically dominate the world essentially through letting Islam bloom.”

Leaders in the United States refuse to acknowledge this reality and are actively downplaying the threat, Flynn said.

“Is this something that is acceptable to our current leadership? Because this is something the enemy says it’s doing. They have declared war on us.”

“They are doing a variety of things. Some are tactical attacks that you’ve seen. Some is just infiltrating into sort of what I call the bloodstream of main street America. That’s just the way they’re going to do it,” he added.

America’s difficulties in facing down ISIS are the result of the Obama administration’s failure to clearly define our enemy, Flynn said.

“Warfare 101 is know your enemy, know yourself, you’ll win 1,000 battles,” he said. “This president, who is also wearing the hat of commander-in-chief, has shown really a level of incompetence when it comes to clearly understanding and clearly defining the enemy we are facing. This is a political problem. We face political incompetence at this point.”

The next U.S. leader, Flynn said, must take steps to clearly define the enemy and the threat it poses to Western values.

***

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Obama Admin Hid Details of Multi-Million Dollar Cash Payout to Iran From Congress

John Kerry and Javad Zarif / AP

John Kerry and Javad Zarif / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Aug. 4, 2016

The Obama administration took steps to withhold from lawmakers the details of a $400 million cash payout to Iran and continues to rebuke inquiries from Congress for information about how another $1.3 billion in taxpayer funds was awarded to the Islamic Republic, according to multiple conversations with congressional sources apprised of the matter.

U.S. officials familiar with the recent transfer of $400 million in hard currency to Iran withheld details of the exchange from Congress during briefings in classified and unclassified settings, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

The disclosure threatens to complicate efforts by the administration to downplay new reports detailing how U.S. officials used an unmarked aircraft to transfer $400 million in “pallets of cash” to Iran on the same day it freed several U.S. hostages.

Lawmakers and others have claimed for months that the payment was part of a “ransom” aimed at securing the release of the hostages. The White House denies this claim and has said the payment was part of a settlement to resolve decades-old legal disputes with the Islamic Republic.

Nearly eight months after congressional officials demanded a formal accounting of this payment–which amounted to $1.7 billion in total–the administration is still declining to provide lawmakers with the full story, sparking outrage on Capitol Hill.

“It has been seven months since President Obama announced that he was giving the Islamic Republic of Iran almost $2 billion,” Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Free Beacon on Wednesday.  “And we are just now finding out damning details about how $400 million, which is less than half of the total, was sent to Iran using foreign aircraft and foreign currencies.”

Pompeo led several unsuccessful inquiries into the cash payout. He said the administration has been stonewalling efforts to obtain a full readout of the exchange in both classified and unclassified settings since January.

Pompeo expressed anger that the administration is “totally stonewalling congressional inquiries,” while leaving it to the press to unearth the details of the exchange.

“That is far too long of a timeline, especially as it is in the face of the Obama administration totally stonewalling congressional inquiries into this matter since January,” Pompeo said.

“We still do not know how the other $1.3 billion was sent, and we still have three Americans sitting in prisons in Iran,” Pompeo said, explaining that the bulk of the cash to Iran remains shrouded in mystery.

Congressional sources with knowledge of the situation told the Free Beacon that the State Department and other administration officials withheld details regarding the payment for more than three months–and only then provided a barebones accounting of the payout that omitted all mention of the secret cash delivery.

Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon said this was an intentional effort by the administration to keep lawmakers in the dark and prevent them from receiving a full accounting of the $1.7 billion payout.

A timeline centered around these inquires reveals that administration officials stonewalled Congress for months before providing responses that omitted any mention of the hard currency transfer.

Pompeo launched an inquiry seeking further details in January, when the legal settlement was first announced.

By mid-March, the State Department still had not responded, as was first reported by the Free Beacon.

The State Department informed Pompeo later that month in a hand-delivered letter that the information he was seeking was classified.

A classified briefing was held in late April. Sources familiar with the briefing told the Free Beacon that administration officials made no mention of the $400 million cash delivery. This information was only made public when the Wall Street Journal reported it late Monday.

One congressional source working on the issue said that the Obama administration could now spend funds set aside for American victims of terrorism on further payments to Iran.

“This just makes you wonder how far President Obama is willing to go to appease the Iranians,” the source said. “Iran keeps taking American citizens hostage because it knows the administration will cave. It wouldn’t surprise me if the president has authorized negotiations with Iran over the $2 billion that is meant to go to the families of the victims of Iranian terror.”

“Every action this administration has taken toward Iran has been in furtherance of the regime’s interests and at our expense,” the source added. “What else is currently being negotiated between the administration and Iran? The American people deserve to know and they should demand full transparency.”

A second congressional source involved in the issue told the Free Beacon that obfuscation by the administration has become a pattern and practice when it comes to Iran.

“Congress continues to press the Obama administration on every change and new policy regarding Iran,” the source said. “At every turn, we are met with ‘no comment’ and further secrecy, which is why the American people do not like this deal and understand it does not make them safer.”

Another source familiar with the administration’s thinking said that administration efforts to downplay the latest disclosures do no comport with the reality that this payment was part of a secret negotiation.

“The Obama admin is hoping to convince people that there’s nothing new in this scandal,” the source said. “But they can’t convince members of Congress because members know that they weren’t told all the details about this cash payment for hostages. For instance, the administration has refused to fully disclose all the ways in which it has transferred money to Iran all of the time.”

The White House declined on Wednesday to offer further details to reporters.

***

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Congress to Compel Obama Disclosure of $1.7 Billion ‘Ransom Payment’ to Iran

Credit: Iranian state media

Credit: Iranian state media

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, June 1, 2016:

New legislation could force the Obama administration to disclose if it paid Iran $1.7 billion in taxpayer funds as part of a “ransom payment” earlier this year to secure the release of 10 U.S. sailors who were abducted at gunpoint by the Iranian military, according to a copy of the legislation and conversations with lawmakers.

The bill, jointly filed by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas), comes on the heels of a Washington Free Beacon report disclosing that the Obama administration has been suppressing potentially “shocking” details related to the January abduction of the sailors, who were held at gunpoint by Iranian soldiers and forced to apologize on camera.

The legislation, dubbed the No Impunity for Iranian Aggression at Sea Act, would compel the Obama administration to issue a report to Congress detailing whether it paid Iran a $1.7 billion settlement as part of the hostage release. It also would level sanctions against Iran for possible breach of Geneva Convention rules governing legal military detainment.

Lawmakers and others have suspected for months that taxpayer money was partly used to secure the release of the sailors and other imprisoned Americans, though the administration has been adamant the issues are not linked.

The new legislation would require the White House to certify whether any federal funds, including January’s $1.7 billion payment, were doled out to Iran as part of a “ransom” to secure the release of these sailors and citizens imprisoned in Iran.

The legislation noted that the administration released the money to Iran just a day after it freed several U.S. citizens from prison.

The bill would further require the White House to determine if Iran’s treatment of the sailors—which included filming them crying—constitutes a violation of the Geneva Conventions or international laws governing innocent passage in international seas, according to the bill.

If it is determined that Iran violated either of these accords, the legislation would force the White House to list and sanction every Iranian complicit in the detainment.

Pompeo, a member of the House’s intelligence committee, told the Free Beacon on Tuesday that the White House continues to stonewall efforts to determine precisely hat happened to the sailors.

Read more

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Obama Admin Awards $270K to Controversial Islamic Charity

Palestinian Hamas militants take part in a rally / AP

Palestinian Hamas militants take part in a rally / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, @Kredo0, April 20 2016:

The Obama administration has awarded $270,000 to an Islamic charity that has been outlawed by some governments for its support of the terror group Hamas and other jihadist organizations, according to grant documents.

The Department of Health and Human Services has provided a $270,000 grant to Islamic Relief Worldwide, a charity that has repeatedly been linked to terrorism financing and support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, according to recent grant information.

The grant was awarded as part of a larger project to provide health services in Nairobi, Kenya, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the grant.

Some terrorism experts have expressed concern that the administration is providing funds to Islamic Relief given its past ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, ties that have led some governments to outlaw the charity.

The United Arab Emirates and Israel both banned the charity in 2014 after investigations revealed that Islamic Relief had ties to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other entities engaged in terror financing, according to reports.

An investigation by the Israeli government led to accusations that the charity was providing material support to Hamas and its operatives.

The charity “provides support and assistance to Hamas’s infrastructure,” Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs determined in 2006. “The IRW’s activities in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip are carried out by social welfare organizations controlled and staffed by Hamas operatives.”

The charity further “appears to be a hub for donations from charities accused of links to al Qaeda and other terror groups,” according to an investigation conducted by the Gatestone Institute.

The charity’s “accounts show that it has partnered with a number of organizations linked to terrorism and that some of charity’s trustees are personally affiliated with extreme Islamist groups that have connections to terror,” according to the investigation, authored by terrorism analyst Samuel Westrop.

An audit of the organization’s accounts showed that it had donated thousands of dollars to a charity established by a terrorist affiliated with al Qaeda, according to Westrop.

Israeli authorities arrested the charity’s Gaza coordinator, Ayaz Ali, in 2006 due to his alleged work on Hamas’s behalf.

“Incriminating files were found on Ali’s computer, including documents that attested to the organization’s ties with illegal Hamas funds abroad (in the UK and in Saudi Arabia) and in Nablus,” Israel’s foreign affairs ministry said at the time. “Also found were photographs of swastikas superimposed on IDF symbols, of senior Nazi German officials, of Osama Bin Laden, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as well as many photographs of Hamas military activities.”

The charity attempted to mend its image in 2014 by performing an internal audit. However, experts criticized the effort as unreliable.

“The information provided by [Islamic Relief] on its internal investigation is insufficient to assess the veracity of its claims,” the watchdog organization NGO Monitor wrote in a 2015 analysis. “NGO Monitor recommends that a fully independent, transparent, and comprehensive audit of IRW’s international activities and funding mechanisms be undertaken immediately.”

Patrick Poole, a reporter and counter-terrorism analyst for Unconstrained Analytics, noted that USAID, a taxpayer funded organization, also has donated funds to Islamic Relief.

“Time and again we see federal agencies and departments using taxpayer money to support the enemies of the United States and our allies,” Poole said. “USAID is a persistent culprit in this regard. In 2005 it took an act of Congress, led by the late Rep. Tom Lantos [D., Calif.], to stop USAID from funding Hamas institutions in Gaza. Now we see them doing the same thing, but only using a middleman.”

The Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to a request for comment on the grant.

Obama Admin Open to U.N. Measures Focused on Israel

AP

AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, April  14, 2016:

The Obama administration says it “will carefully consider” what are expected to be a series of United Nations Security Council Resolutions aimed at Israel in the coming months, generating accusations in Congress that Washington is preparing to abandon Israel at the U.N., according to State Department officials and congressional sources apprised of the measure.

U.S. officials told the Washington Free Beacon that no decisions have been made yet about several draft resolutions being informally circulated in Turtle Bay, but that the administration is open to considering future drafts.

“We will carefully consider our future engagement and determine how to most effectively advance the objective we all share in achieving a negotiated two-state solution,” a State Department official not authorized to speak on record told the Free Beacon.

The administration has struggled this week to publicly articulate a consistent position on the issue.

State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters on Monday that the administration is open to U.N. action on Israeli settlements, but on Tuesday declared that the administration is flatly “opposed” to such action and would likely veto an Israel-focused measure.

Anne Patterson, an assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, testified to Congress on Wednesday that the administration has not yet committed to opposing future resolutions.

Asked by the Free Beacon to clarify the administration’s stance late Wednesday, a State Department official said that while the administration remains opposed to any “one-sided” action targeting Israel, it would not commit to vetoing all resolutions focused on Israel.

“Our position has not changed with regard to action at the U.N.,” the official said. “We continue to oppose one-sided resolutions that delegitimize Israel or undermine its security, but we are not going to speculate on hypothetical resolutions or other actions by the Security Council at this time.”

There are at least two drafts being circulated at the U.N. Security Council centered on the Jewish state, and more are expected in the months ahead.

One measure, led by the Palestinian Authority, seeks to formally condemn Israeli settlement activity, while a second measure, spearheaded by France, seeks to define the parameters for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse.

A second U.S. official familiar with the U.N. action emphasized that the administration does not yet have a stance on those specific resolutions or future resolutions.

“There’s not much new here. This and other drafts have been floating around for some time,” the official told the Free Beacon. “Nothing has been formally introduced or circulated in the [Security] Council. We have no position on the informal draft.”

Meanwhile, Patterson’s testimony has generated frustration among lawmakers, who fear that the administration is planning to stand down when the U.N. Security Council takes up action focused on Israel.

Patterson also had difficulty explaining how the administration will react to the new U.N. resolutions aimed at Israel.

“Will the administration state unequivocally that we will not introduce, we will not support, that we will block, that we will veto any resolution at the U.N. Security Council that seeks to impose a two-state solution on Israel or that offers some artificial timeline for negotiations,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) asked Patterson during a hearing.

“I can’t say without seeing a resolution,” Patterson responded.

Pressed by Ros-Lehtinen, Patterson continued to dodge the question.

“A draft exists and I haven’t personally seen it,” Patterson said.

“Do you think perhaps this lack of clarity to say, ‘We vetoed it before, we’re going to veto it again’ [is causing confusion]?” Ros-Lehtinen asked, describing the situation as “worrisome.”

“All I can say is that I think the administration’s record on this is pretty clear,” Patterson said, referring to the administration’s veto of past resolutions centered on Israel.

One senior congressional source working on the issue told the Free Beacon that the Obama administration appears to be setting the stage to endorse new U.N. action on Israel.

“It’s pretty clear the administration has been shifting the goal posts on this even though it should be a simple question to answer: Will the administration keep with longstanding U.S. policy and veto any resolution at the UNSC that would impose a resolution on Israel?” the source said.

“It’s worrisome because everyone keeps focusing on this ‘one-sided’ phrase that keeps getting thrown out, but who decides what a one-sided resolution is?” the source said. “If it’s the same people who decided what ‘consulting’ Congress meant during the [Iran] negotiations or the shift in Cuba policy, then there should be real cause for concern there. The president is still legacy shopping and I don’t think it would be a stretch to imagine him once again upending established U.S. policy and undermining what is supposed to be the bedrock of our policy of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”

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Congress Seeks Fight Over Obama Effort to Give Iran Access to US Markets

The Capitol in Washington is illuminated during a thunderstorm with the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building reflected on the rain-covered windows, late Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 24, 2016.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Capitol in Washington is illuminated during a thunderstorm with the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building reflected on the rain-covered windows, late Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 24, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, March 28, 2016:

Leading foreign policy voices in Congress say they are preparing to fight against an Obama administration effort to provide Iran unprecedented access to U.S. financial resources as part of an expanded package meant to address new demands from the Islamic Republic’s for greater economic concessions, according to several conversations between the Washington Free Beacon and top lawmakers.

The Obama administration is currently exploring new options to grant Iran more sanctions relief than promised under the comprehensive nuclear agreement reached last year, just days after Iran’s Supreme Leader gave a speech accusing the United States of interfering with Iranian banking.

Top foreign policy voices in Congress told the Free Beacon in recent days that they are exploring a range of responses if the Obama administration goes through with reported plans to grant Iran further concessions beyond the purview of the nuclear deal, which dismantled key nuclear-related U.S. sanctions against Iran. At least part of this action could violate current U.S. laws, they said.

The planned concessions could include access to the U.S. dollar and financial markets, which the Obama administration promised would never take place under the deal, according to recent disclosures first reported by the Associated Press.

The Iranian government has recently heightened complaints that it is not being granted enough relief from international economic sanctions as a result of the recently implemented nuclear deal.

The Obama administration’s latest move to placate the Iranians comes on the heels of a Free Beaconreport last week disclosing that U.S. officials engaged in secret talks with Iran for years before agreeing in January to pay it nearly $2 billion in taxpayer funds.

The reports have generated harsh responses from lawmakers, who say that the administration’s plans would endanger American economic influence and put the entire international financial system at risk from Iran’s illicit finance and money laundering activities.

“Any administration effort to get foreign financial institutions or foreign-based clearing houses to enable Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime to conduct transactions in U.S. dollars ignores American laws and the Financial Action Task Force,” Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) told the Free Beacon.

“Such an effort would benefit Iran’s terror financiers while fundamentally undermining the USA PATRIOT ACT 311 finding that Iran’s entire financial sector is a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern,” Kirk said.

It would also undermine “the Financial Action Task Force’s ongoing calls for international countermeasures to protect financial sectors from Iran’s terrorist financing,” explained Kirk, who is backing a new effort in Congress to increase sanctions on Iran as a result of its recent ballistic missile tests, which violate United Nations resolutions.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, warned that the Obama administration’s latest move could set the stage for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC, to gain a foothold in the U.S. economy.

“As if a windfall of over $100 billion in sanctions relief was too small, and the massive cash influx into Iran from new business deals too paltry, President Obama appears to be looking for ways to make further concessions to Iran,” said Pompeo, who also has backed new legislation to sanction Iran. “This would be comical if it wasn’t so dangerous.”

“American and international businesses can’t ignore the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ vast control of the Iranian economy and the threat Iranian banks pose to the international financial system,” Pompeo continued in a statement to the Free Beacon.

“In contrast with the absurd policies of the Obama administration, I work with my colleagues in Congress to protect America’s national security interests—just as we have in response to Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests.”

Pompeo is independently investigating the Obama administration’s recent $1.7 billion payment to Iran, which he and others viewed as a “ransom payment” for the Islamic Republic’s recent release of several captured Americans.

Other longtime Iran critics in Congress also expressed concern over administration efforts to provide Iran with even more economic freedom.

“Further sanctions relief would mark the death knell for U.S. sanctions and would represent a boon to the Iranian regime and its Revolutionary Guard Corp,” Rep. Ron DeSantis, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Free Beacon. “The lengths to which the Obama administration is willing to go to empower Iran is breathtaking.”

Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) explained that the “administration has lost all credibility on Iran” as a result of its efforts to accommodate Iranian demands.

“President Obama and Secretary Kerry have played the pied piper so many times now,” Roskam told the Free Beacon. “Western companies have to make the determination themselves whether or not they want to make their employees and shareholders complicit in funding terrorism.”

When asked to comment on concerns in Congress, a State Department official told the Free Beaconthat it is aware of lawmaker requests for more information on “additional sanctions relief.”

The official added that as long as Iran continues to adhere to the nuclear agreement, the United States “will continue” to do the same.

Obama administration officials first guaranteed last year that Iran would not be permitted to conduct foreign transactions in dollars. This promise, however, is being reevaluated as the administration seeks to keep Iran from walking away from the nuclear deal.

U.S. Gears Up for Showdown With Russia Over Iran Missile Tests

Iran missile test, which took place on March 9 / AP

Iran missile test, which took place on March 9 / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, March 15, 2016:

The United States is preparing for a diplomatic showdown with Russia as it prepares to release an official report accusing Iran of breaching international accords prohibiting the test firing of ballistic missiles, according to Obama administration officials familiar with the situation.

The United States has been pressuring partner nations on the U.N. Security Council to publicly chastise Iran for a series of ballistic missile tests that the Obama administration claims violate international accords.

Russia broke ranks with the United States this week by siding with Iran, which claims that the tests do not violate the recently-implemented nuclear agreement.

Iran and its allies argue that the U.N. resolutions governing the nuclear deal only suggest that the Islamic Republic abstain from testing ballistic missiles, a claim the United States has publicly opposed in recent days.

One U.S. official familiar with discussions surrounding the issue told the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday that the administration is now gearing up for a diplomatic battle with Russia at the U.N.

The United States and its allies on the Security Council, including Germany, will submit a report to the U.N. Security Council by the end of the week outlining Iranian violations of U.N. Resolution 2231, which governs the nuclear agreement reached last year.

“Contrary to what the Russians believe, we, the U.S., strongly believe that the launches by Iran do fall under the scope of 2231,” the official, who was not authorized to discuss the issue on record, told the Free Beacon.

“Ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering a payload of at least 500 kilograms to a range of at least 300 kilometers are inherently capable of delivering nuclear weapons,” the source said. “We intend to submit the relevant technical information needed to make the point and we’ll go from there.”

The source noted that U.S. officials “expect this will continue to be a point of contention with the Russians.”

In its first public comment on the issue, Russia stated this week that it stands with Iran, which has long claimed that ballistic missile tests are no longer banned by the U.N.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin stated on Monday that the newest U.N. resolution governing the nuclear agreement only suggests that Iran stop test firing missiles.

“A call is different from a ban so legally you cannot violate a call, you can comply with a call or you can ignore the call, but you cannot violate a call,” Churkin was quoted as saying. “The legal distinction is there.”

These comments have set the stage for a showdown with Moscow, and left State Department officials scrambling to respond on Monday.

State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Monday that the United States is preparing to “raise the matter directly” at the Security Council.

Kirby said that the United States differs with Russia on the matter and views Iran’s missiles tests as “provocative and destabilizing.”

“They are also, at the very least, inconsistent with, but more practically in defiance of, the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which of course codified the Iran deal,” Kirby added.

While Kirby declined to elaborate on the differences between previous U.N. resolutions and current ones, he told reporters “We’re comfortable we have a strong case.”

One foreign policy consultant familiar with discussions on the issue told the Free Beaconthat the administration’s U.N. team in New York has been working overtime to convince officials in Washington, D.C., to aggressively pursue the issue.

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., “is clearly furious with Russian protection for Iran and is dragging the rest of the administration along with her in an attempt to do something that holds the Iranians accountable for their illegal missile launches,” the source said.

Iran hawks in Congress also have been pressuring the administration to take aggressive action aimed at holding Iran accountable for these tests.

Critics of the nuclear agreement say that while the Obama administration claimed during its negotiation with Iran that the deal would strictly prohibit this activity, senior officials caved in the final days before the deal was reached.

Meanwhile, Iran and Russia have continued to boost their diplomatic ties in the months since the nuclear deal was enacted.

Iran recently inked an $8 billion arms deal with Moscow, which includes the purchase of advanced fighter jets and defensive artillery.

The United States reserves the right to veto portions of the arms deal, though it remains unclear if the Obama administration will follow through with this action at the U.N.

A State Department official told the Free Beacon in mid-February that the department is “aware” of the arms deal and would express “concern about specific transactions” through its diplomatic channels.

***

Fred Fleitz discusses the IAEA’s reporting requirements on Tipping Point with Liz Wheeler

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Obama Counter-Terror Adviser: Terror Groups Planning ‘Sophisticated and Coordinated Attacks’

Lisa Monaco / AP

Lisa Monaco / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam  Kredo, March 7, 2016:

President Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser disclosed on Monday that international terrorist organizations, including ISIS and al Qaeda affiliates, are “planning for sophisticated and coordinated terror attacks,” according to determinations made by the U.S. government.

Lisa Monaco, a top counter-terrorism adviser at the White House, warned that the risk of terrorism, both at home and abroad, has reached peak levels, with threat levels becoming “broader, more diffuse, and less predicable than at any time since” the 9/11 attacks.

“We continue to see planning for sophisticated and coordinated attacks, such as those in Paris,” Monaco said, referring to last year’s mass attack by ISIS in France. The United States also continues “to disrupt plots also from al Qaeda’s largest affiliate, the Nusra Front, operating in Syria.”

“What keeps me up at night is that this threat is unlike what we’ve seen before,” she added, referring in particular to ISIS.

The U.S. military and intelligence communities have faced difficulties in combatting the threat due in part to a rise in the number of small, undetectable terror cells and lone wolf radicals who are not formally affiliated with any particular group.

“Terrorism today is increasingly defined by small cells or lone actors, sometimes with little or no direct contact with terrorist organization,” Monaco said, referring to the recent terror attacks in San Bernardino, California.

“It was a starkly different kind of attack,” she said. “Simply put, the terrorist threat we confront today, almost 15 years” after the 9/11 attacks, “has evolved and done so dramatically.”

This new threat is personified by ISIS, which Monaco credited with refining “do it yourself terrorism.”

“The primary example of this new type of terrorism is the cancer of ISIL,” she explained. “ISIL has eclipsed core al Qaeda as the principle terrorist threat we face.”

With its “apocalyptic ambition and an unprecedented brutality,” ISIS is a threat “unlike what we’ve seen before,” Monaco said of ISIS, which was once described by the Obama administration as an amateur organization.

“ISIL is very different” from al Qaeda, she said. “These fanatics are online and on the ground. They are at once terrorists, insurgents, and bureaucrats.”

“The different threat that ISIL poses is a danger we cannot ignore nor underestimate,” she added. “This is not an entity we can accommodate. Today, ISIL, in all its manifestations—insurgent army, foreign fighter magnet, social media phenomena, external operations cadre—ISIL is the principle counter-terrorism threat we face as a nation.”

Social media poses one of the most complex problems for U.S. counter-terrorism officials.

ISIL has shown that it can successfully recruit and indoctrinate social media users, such as those on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, Monaco said, revealing that there are more than 90,000 Twitter accounts associated with or sympathetic to the terror group. Many of these accounts reach more than 50,000 followers.

“Through their use of social media, ISIL has distributed the threat globally,” Monaco said. “They can inspire sympathizers and adherents anywhere”

Al Qaeda also remains a challenge, despite taking a backseat to ISIS.

Al Qaeda continues to plan attacks on “American interests” and “has attempted to attack the U.S. multiple times,” primarily through its most dominant arm, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The United States has devised new methods to combat radicalism, including “creating anti-extremist rap music,” Monaco said.

Monaco further disclosed that for the first time the Obama administration will reveal in the coming weeks a new report disclosing the number of combatant and non-combatant casualties from U.S. strikes since 2009. The figures will continue to be publicly provided on an annual basis.

The Obama administration has implemented a number of safeguards to prevent civilian casualties.

U.S. military pilots who have returned from the fight against ISIS have disclosed they were not authorized to drop up to 75 percent of their ordnance.