Trump and Leaks: The president must take aggressive steps to stop a grave national security threat

Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, May 29, 2017:

President Trump spoke out angrily Thursday against leaks of classified information to the press – including leaks of confidential information the U.K. government had shared with American intelligence agencies on the Manchester terrorist attack. These leaks “pose a grave threat to our national security,” he said, and pledged to identify and prosecute those responsible.

The president has it exactly right. He is facing an unprecedented campaign by career government employees to sabotage his presidency with a flood of leaks to the press of classified and confidential information. These leaks are damaging U.S. national security and constitute criminal behavior. They must be stopped.

Some of the leaks have been of highly classified U.S. intelligence reports, including “demasked” NSA reporting concerning former National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn. Others were of President Trump’s confidential conversations with foreign leaders.

Concerning the false allegation that President Trump “leaked” classified information to Russian officials when he met with them in the Oval Office, bear in mind that the president has ultimate classification authority — he can disclose intelligence as he sees fit to advance his foreign policy.

As I discussed in an earlier Fox News Opinion article, the real scandal in that instance was that current and former intelligence and policy officials disclosed to the Washington Post sensitive details about the intelligence Trump allegedly discussed with Russian officials – details that were so highly classified the Post chose not to publish them. This was the real crime. The persons who illegally disclosed this information to the Post must be prosecuted.

Just as serious are the constant leaks concerning investigations of Trump officials. There’s no question in my mind that former FBI Director James Comey arranged to have his notes leaked to the press to hurt President Trump and influence the congressional investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. It also appears that anti-Trump government employees with the Justice Department and the FBI are systematically leaking a story a day to help CNN and MSNBC promote their false narratives that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election.

These leaks are especially serious since Justice and law enforcement careerists are violating the due process rights of Trump officials by disclosing (and probably misrepresenting) confidential information from official investigations to smear them. Since the “evidence” of wrongdoing by Trump officials appears too thin to produce any charges, these officials are instead using leaks to try and convict Trump officials in the press.

It is urgent that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Special Counsel Robert Mueller stop these leaks which are an affront to the American system of justice.

The Trump administration also must take decisive action to halt leaks of classified national security information. The most effective way to do this is to fill vacant confirmable and non-confirmable positions in policy and intelligence agencies as quickly as possible.

This should include a housecleaning in the NSC, State, DOD, CIA, DIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and other agencies to replace career government employees named to sensitive positions by the Obama administration. In some cases, these career officials are actually former Obama political appointees who converted to the career civil service, a practice known as “burrowing in.”

Although civil service laws and regulations make it virtually impossible to fire career government employees, the Trump administration can reassign these officials. If this is not possible, job descriptions can be changed so anti-Trump careerists suspected of leaking no longer work on sensitive matters. Their security clearances can also be stripped.

Other immediate steps must be taken to address recent leaks of classified and confidential information. Read-outs of the president’s meetings and conversations must be better protected. Investigations that include polygraphs should be conducted to find those who were behind recent leaks. And the NSC needs to bring in experienced personnel to help safeguard confidential information concerning the president’s policy deliberations.

Trump officials will never completely stop leaks to the press. They need to recognize that leaks are always worse during Republican presidencies because the career work force tilts to the left. That said, this recent flood of leaks is an unprecedented effort by government careerists to put U.S. national security at risk to undermine an elected president. This cannot be allowed to continue.

Fred Fleitz is senior vice president for policy and programs with the Center for Security Policy, a national security think tank. Follow him on Twitter@FredFleitz.

The ‘Russia Hacked the Election’ Narrative Battle Continues—Are Republicans Paying Attention?

Sessions testifies at his confirmation hearing, January 10, 2017. (Reuters photo: Kevin Lamarque)

Sessions testifies at his confirmation hearing, January 10, 2017. (Reuters photo: Kevin Lamarque)

A Democratic attempt to force Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from investigating Russian meddling in the election is a ploy to make him concede a conflict where none exists.

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, January 18, 2016:

I contended in last weekend’s column that the Justice Department’s inspector-general investigation, focusing on statements by FBI director James Comey in the stretch-run of the presidential campaign, is part of a carefully orchestrated Democratic scheme to win the narrative battle over the 2016 election. The inquiry into whether Director Comey’s disclosures about the Clinton e-mails investigation violated DOJ standards is merely a pretext. The real objective is to bolster the claim that Donald Trump’s triumph was illegitimate, thus undermining his presidency.

The same strategy informs the Democrats’ continued repetition of the theme that “Russia hacked the election.” Notwithstanding that Putin’s regime did not tamper with the actual voting process and that the embarrassing information released by WikiLeaks (mostly e-mails from the DNC and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta) was true, Democrats are determined to depict President Trump not as elected fair-and-square by Americans but as maneuvered into the White House by Russian “cyber-espionage.”

Now it’s the same old wine in a different bottle.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently considering Trump’s nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) to be attorney general. On Tuesday, all nine Democrats on the committee signed a letter demanding that, if confirmed, Sessions recuse himself from any investigation of efforts by Russia to interfere in the election.

Let’s once again take a step back and understand what’s going on here.

If Russia merely tried to interfere in an American election, there is no basis to call for Sessions’s recusal. There is no reason to question Sessions’s motivation and commitment to investigate and prosecute espionage by Putin’s regime. The purported conflict of interest would arise only if we accept the narrative — i.e., the fiction — that “Russia hacked the election.” Had that actually happened, then it could be credibly claimed that Trump owes his presidency, and Sessions his stewardship of the Justice Department, to Russian espionage. That would be a major conflict of interest. Thus, Democrats want Sessions to concede, in effect, that he has a powerful motive to conceal Russia’s espionage — such that he must recuse himself because we cannot trust him to lead a fair and impartial investigation. Implicitly, Sessions would be conceding — and thus cementing — the fiction that “Russia hacked the election.”

In other words, the Democrats’ latest recusal ploy has nothing to do with Sessions, just as the IG investigation has nothing to do with Comey. The objective is to engrave a story on the election: The Democrats lost not because their candidate was terrible and their policies unpopular; they lost because Russia stole the election for Trump — rendering Trump illegitimate, and implicitly obliging Americans to resist him as a Putin puppet.

Read more

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

***

Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell gives the facts of Russian “active measures” –

Gaffney: The ‘Big Lie’ Is Back

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

Breitbart, by Frank Gaffney, November 22, 2016:

In 2011, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to use “some old fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming” against those whose exercise of free speech “we abhor.”

At the time, she had in mind specifically perpetrators of what the OIC, the Muslim Brotherhood, other Islamic supremacists and their enablers on the Left call “defamation of Islam.” But the same playbook – in the tradition of Mrs. Clinton’s mentor, Saul Alinsky – is now being followed with a vengeance against what is abhorred by the cabal best described as the Red-Green Axis.

Much in evidence among such “old-fashioned techniques” now being employed is what’s known as “the Big Lie.” It entails the endless repetition of outrageous falsehoods to defame, and ultimately silence, one’s political opponents.

Three good men Donald Trump has selected for key strategic and national security positions are currently getting the Big Lie treatment: his White House Counsel Steve Bannon, Attorney General-designate Senator Jeff Sessions, and incoming National Security Advisor Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. They are being relentlessly vilified as “racists,” “bigots” and “haters.”

I feel these able public servants’ pain. Indeed, I know what it’s like to be subjected to the Big Lie. For years, the Islamists and their allies on the hard Left – notably, the discredited (for example, here and here) Southern Poverty Law Center – have used character assassination and vitriol against me (for example, here, here and here) to protect what they otherwise cannot defend: the totalitarian program its adherents call Sharia. The false assertion last week that I had been asked to serve on the Trump transition team sent these rogues into fresh paroxysms of hateful denunciation, repeated like a mantra by their media echo chamber (for example, here, here, here and here).

I am hardly alone in being diagnosed by such charlatans with the made-up condition of “Islamophobia.” Indeed, I am proud to be included in the company of men and women being pilloried for what Islamic supremacists and their enablers would have us believe is “defamation of Islam.” In fact, it is simply informed, astute and courageous truth-telling about the global jihad movement and threat it poses. Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions and Mike Flynn are under assault for doing the same in this and other contexts.

It seems that critics are particularly unhinged by the clarity of these three men and the president they will serve about the fact that Islamic supremacism is not simply a menace overseas. The Red-Green types are determined to prevent Donald Trump from operationalizing the plan of action he described in a major address on the topic on August 15, 2016. Among its highlights are the following:

Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam. All actions should be oriented around this goal….Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam….

In the Cold War, we had an ideological screening test. The time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today. In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law. Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country….

Finally, we will pursue aggressive criminal or immigration charges against anyone who lends material support to terrorism. Similar to the effort to take down the mafia, this will be the understood mission of every federal investigator and prosecutor in the country. To accomplish a goal, you must state a mission: the support networks for Radical Islam in this country will be stripped out and removed one by one. Immigration officers will also have their powers restored: those who are guests in our country that are preaching hate will be asked to return home. (Emphasis added)

In short, the Red-Green Axis is having conniptions because the American people have now chosen to lead them a president and an administration that will not just be sensible about this threat. It is also determined to do the job Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and their minions have adamantly shirked: protecting us against, rather than accommodating, Sharia. So the Big Lie and “other techniques of shaming and peer pressure” are now being applied with abandon to outstanding public servants in the hope of reducing their effectiveness and that of the presidency they will serve.

The transparent falsity and political agenda being served by such lies should, instead, discredit their perpetrators. For that to happen, however, the so-called “mainstream press” will have to stop lionizing the Big Liars and uncritically promoting their handiwork.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. acted as an Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration. He is President of the Center for Security Policy.

All Hands on Deck

trump-1

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, November 9, 2016:

The historic election on Tuesday was a resounding rejection of failed socialist programs, weak government leaders, and corruption/tyranny on both sides of the political aisle.

From a national security perspective, this is not the time to find “common ground” with those who oppose liberty and our Constitutional Republic.

This is the beginning of a battle in America to restore our founding principles and defeat the Islamic and Marxist Movements in this nation.  If we do not accomplish this now, we will have squandered this great opportunity.

Remember, this is much more a counterintelligence and espionage war than it is a fight against “terrorism.”  We need leaders who get it at a deep level.

This is not the time to bring in people from the RNC – the very same establishment flunkies who lost the wars for us in Afghanistan and Iraq and the ones Americans voted against Tuesday – to help solve our problems.

Already, individuals working against U.S. interests and/or for the jihadi or marxists Movements are inside the Trump camp.

Oz Sultan, a jihadi who works on the Park 51 (Ground Zero Mosque) project is on the inside thanks to the RNC.

Additionally, names like Senator Bob Corker (TN), who helped architect the failed Iran deal, Congressman Mike McCaul who drove and funded the Muslim Brotherhood’s CVE (Combatting Violent Extremism) program, and Governor Chris Christie who defends jihadis and attacks those who speak truth about them, are all being considered for senior cabinet positions.  Mr. Christie was also hailed by Hamas in the U.S. doing business as CAIR for advancing the Islamic agenda here.

These men are significant impediments to victory in this war and should have no place in a Trump administration.

Many other hostile individuals and forces are circling Mr. Trump in an effort to gain favor.  Think jihadis in suits and those they use to get what they want, and you will begin to understand the true nature of the threat.

UTT offers President elect Trump, 14 recommendation as strategic launch points in this war to begin this endeavor to restore our national security.

  1. Designate the Muslim Brotherhood a Foreign Terrorist Organization
  2. Indict unindicted co-conspirators in US v HLF beginning with ISNA, NAIT & CAIR
  3. Implement the UTT strategy to systematically dismantle the Islamic Movement in the United States and educate/train all federal, state, and local agencies on this threat whose duties include law enforcement, intelligence, or security
  4. Shut down the Refugee Resettlement program
  5. Freeze all immigration into the U.S. for at least 5 years, and secure U.S. borders
  6. Create a strategy to address and systematically dismantle the Marxist Movement in the United States beginning with colleges/universities, as well as barring any Federal agency from receiving training from Marxist groups (to include the Southern Poverty Law Center)
  7. Criminally charge U.S. leaders and organizations who aid and abet America’s enemies
  8. Rebuild U.S. Military forces, and eliminate all policies which put anything in front of the military’s primary duty to fight and win wars
  9. Dismantle U.S. tax code doing away with federal income tax over four years (pay for infrastructure as founders intended)
  10. Shut down all federal programs/agencies not specifically provided for in the U.S. Constitution
  11. Institute Citizen Training Programs in elementary, junior high and high schools to teach and reaffirm America’s true history, founding principles, and Godly heritage
  12. Rebuild America’s broken Counterintelligence apparatus
  13. Repeal the 17th Amendment
  14. Outlaw foreign ownership of property inside the United States

Over the next couple weeks, UTT will review these recommendations in detail.

Be vigilant America.  Now is the time we need all hands on deck to pay attention and immediately make your voice heard when needed.

Disclosure: Another 41 Foreign-Born Individuals Snagged On Terror Charges

AP

AP

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

Following the discovery of a terrorist cell in Texas allegedly operated by an Iraqi who entered the United States as a refugee, the Washington Free Beacon has learned of an additional 41 individuals who have been implicated in terrorist plots in the United States since 2014, bringing the total number of terrorists discovered since that time to 113, according to information provided by Congressional sources.

Since August, however, the Obama administration has stonewalled Congressional efforts to obtain more detailed immigration histories of these individuals, prompting frustration on Capitol Hill and accusation that the administration is covering up these histories to avoid exposing flaws in the U.S. screening process.

The disclosure of these additional 41 individuals linked to terror operations—many already identified as immigrants, others’ immigration histories shrouded in secrecy—has stoked further concerns about flaws in the U.S. screening process and is likely to prompt further congressional inquiry into Obama administration efforts to withhold details about these suspects, sources said.

As the number of legal immigrants connected to terrorism continues to grow, the Obama administration has sought to quash congressional inquiries and rally its allies behind an effort to fund efforts to boost the number of immigrants and refugees from the Middle East.

Many of these immigrants have been caught by authorities planning terrorist attacks on American soil, while others were found to be involved in efforts to provide funding and material to ISIS, according to an internal list of migrant terrorists codified by congressional sources and viewed by the Free Beacon.

“A growing number of foreign-born terrorists are being identified operating within the United States, and yet the Administration will not provide any information about their immigrant histories,” said one senior congressional source apprised of the issue. “And one can only imagine that for every identified terrorist, there are many more individuals around them who are radicalized, extreme or otherwise detracting from American society in ways beyond the threat of terrorism alone.”

As congressional calls for increased screening methods go mostly ignored, local authorities are dealing with an uptick in terror-related crimes committed by legal immigrants.

On Thursday, the Justice Department accused two Iraqi refugees legally in the U.S. of conspiring to provide support to ISIS.

Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, a 24-year-old Palestinian born Iraqi refugee who had been living in Texas, was charged with aiding ISIS. The man had been granted legal permanent residence in Houston in 2011, though it was later determined that he “swore untruthfully on his formal application when applying to become a naturalized U.S. citizen,” according to the Justice Department.

Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, also a Palestinian born Iraqi, allegedly “traveled overseas to fight alongside terrorist organizations and lied to U.S. authorities about his activities,” according to the Justice Department

Al-Jayab entered the U.S. as a refugee in 2012 and later travelled back to Syria, where it is believed that he resumed “fighting with various terrorist organizations,” according to the charges.

Late Thursday, a Philadelphia police officer was reportedly ambushed by an assailant sporting “Muslim garb and wearing a mask,” according to local reports.

Additional information viewed by the Free Beacon outlines another 20 previously unknown individuals brought up on similar terrorism-related charges in 2015 alone.

Those who have been charged were legally residing in the U.S. after entering from countries such as Egypt, Uzbekistan, Albania, Pakistan, and Syria, according to information provided by Congressional sources.

“The terrorism-related arrests of two more Iraqi refugees on American soil proves once again our screening process is weak and needs to be updated,” Sen. Mark Kirk (R., Ill,) said in a statement Friday.

With incidents and indictments of this nature continuing to rise, critics of the Obama administration’s immigration policy are expressing concern about a last-minute funding effort in 2015 to fully fund refugee resettlement and visa programs.

These priorities, which were granted full funding as part of a yearly spending bill approved by Congress last year, will permit around 170,000 new migrants from Muslim-majority countries to enter the United States in 2016, according to the Senate’s immigration subcommittee.

“The omnibus gave the green light for the administration to continue this failed immigration policy over the objections of the electorate,” the senior Congressional source quoted above said.

The Senate continues to uncover dozens of cases in which individuals accused of terrorism entered the country legally.

“Preventing and responding to these acts is an effort encompassing thousands of federal agents and attorneys and billions of dollars: In effect, we are voluntarily admitting individuals at risk for terrorism and then, on the back end, trying to stop them from carrying out their violent designs,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) warned last year as Congress considered the spending bill.

WND: Ryan plotting ‘meaningless show-vote’ on refugees

Politico says the two are going to try to get along. Will that result in tens of thousands of Muslim refugees being greenlighted to your towns? The “dynamic” will get its first test over the next days and weeks. http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/barack-obama-paul-ryan-relationship-215398

Politico says the two are going to try to get along. Will that result in tens of thousands of Muslim refugees being greenlighted to your towns? The “dynamic” will get its first test over the next days and weeks. http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/barack-obama-paul-ryan-relationship-215398

Follow Ann Corcoran on twitter @RefugeeWatcher, Like her Facebook page and subscribe to her blog emails. There is much more on this at her blog!

Refugee Resettlement Watch, by Ann Corcoran on November 18, 2015:

We told you last night here that, although we are pleased with the strong show of solidarity by the vast majority of America’s governors regarding the importation of not-thoroughly-screened refugees, the real fight will be in Congress, and it is all about money!

Obama cannot advance his resettlement agenda without appropriations approved by Congress.

(Intellectual debates about the Constitutionality of the whole refugee program will have to wait right now!)

In fact, the federal resettlement contractors*** (some supposedly religious non-profit groups) are scrambling at this minute to put in motion a massive display of grassroots power to pound members of Congress and US Senators to turn back any effort to cut funding that they depend on for their survival (the refugees are their gravy train).

Also, remember that if the funds are cut, and Syrians aren’t resettled in significant numbers, it will be a huge image setback for Obama because the United Nations is counting on America to lead the way in moving Muslim Syrians into western countries for permanent resettlement.  If the US balks, it will have a chilling affect on countries like Australia that are presently being strong-armed into taking more.

Here is Leo Hohmann at World Net Daily with a detailed report on what to expect.  I have snipped some significant sections, but please read the whole thing especially some very good comments by Senator Jeff Sessions, like this key line near the end:

Sessions said the American people should not be asked to fund a population shift of Muslims from the Middle East and Africa into the U.S.

Hohmann opens with this (emphasis is mine):

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday he will convene a special task force to examine how to respond to President Obama’s plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States, but some conservatives on Capitol Hill are warning Ryan’s plan is nothing but a smokescreen designed to give lip-service while refusing to defund the program.

Ryan likely has no intention of cutting off the flow of Muslim refugees into the U.S., nor does he plan to ensure Syria’s persecuted Christian minority gets rescued from the clutches of ISIS, sources told WND.

The issue of ISIS terrorists infiltrating the West by sneaking in among the ranks of Syrian refugees has come to the fore in the wake of last Friday’s ISIS attack on Paris in which 132 innocent civilians were murdered by eight ISIS terrorists, at least two of which entered Europe as “refugees.”

[….]

Ryan’s strategy is also ignoring the fact that Syria is only a small part of the overall United Nations refugee program that sends approximately 40,000 Muslims to America every year from some of the most notorious jihadist hotbeds such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Bangladesh, Sudan, Somalia and Burma.

But WND has learned from insiders on Capitol Hill that Ryan’s end objective is not to close down a program that has delivered more than 1.5 million Muslim refugees to American cities and towns since 1990 under a law authored in 1980 by then-Sen. Joe Biden and the late Teddy Kennedy.

A conservative Capitol Hill aide told WND, “Paul Ryan is setting us up for a meaningless show vote on Syrian refugees so the White House can continue the influx of Muslim refugees this year and all the years to follow as it always has.

Ryan loves mass immigration!

“Putting Ryan in charge of a fight to block refugees would be like putting (Nancy) Pelosi in charge of fight to repeal Obamacare,” the staffer said. “No one loves mass immigration more than Ryan, so how exactly is he going to make a public argument against it? He can’t and won’t, leaving Democrats unharmed, unscathed and unafraid.”

Members of the House Intelligence, Armed Services and Homeland Security panels will meet this week to come up with legislation the House will vote on by Thursday.

The “show vote” will likely occur on the American SAFE Act of 2105, the source said, a toothless bill that will allow Obama to put forth certain assurances that Syrians are being “certified” as having no connections to terrorism.

Senators say, cut the whole program!

Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala., issued a joint statement Tuesday afternoon saying that any strategy to eliminate the infiltration of terrorists posing as refugees must terminate funding for the entire $1.2 billion refugee program.

“As chairmen of subcommittees on both the appropriations and judiciary committees, we believe it is essential that any government funding bill cancel the President’s blank check for refugee resettlement,” the senators said.

Babin increases co-sponsors AP (After Paris).  The House Judiciary Committee should now begin to move the Babin bill by first holding a hearing in Trey Gowdy’s subcommittee on that bill, but right at this point in time, the quickest way to slow the flow of Syrians Muslims (and those from many other countries) into the US is to cut the funding.

Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, also has a bill in the House that picked up 14 new co-sponsors Monday and Tuesday in the wake of Friday’s attacks in Paris. His bill would halt all the resettlements until a full accounting of the program is given, both from a cost standpoint and in terms of national security.

The No Borders Left and the refugee industry*** is scrambling!  (More shortly on that)

Sensing that a movement is afoot to stop the flow of Islamic refugees into the U.S. from just one of a dozen or so pipeline countries, Syria, the refugee resettlement agencies called an emergency conference call Tuesday.

[….]

Sessions said the American people should not be asked to fund a population shift of Muslims from the Middle East and Africa into the U.S.

There is much more here.

So, as I have been saying for days, the first battle of what is likely going to continue to be a long war is going to be in Congress in the coming weeks.

Call your members of Congress and your US Senators, today and every day going forward.  The vote is expected on or before Dec. 11th.

*** Remember readers that these agencies are paid largely with your tax dollars and they lobby and agitate for amnesty for illegal aliens with the same vigor as they advocate for refugees.  It is about changing America by changing the people.

The nine major federal resettlement contractors which like to call themselves VOLAGs (short for Voluntary agencies)—a joke considering how much federal money they receive:

Senators: Obama Counter-IS Strategy Failing

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., joined by the committee's ranking member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., right, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., speaks during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 7, 2015, about Counter-ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) Strategy. Defense Secretary Ash Carter defends President Barack Obama's strategy to defeat Islamic State group militants amid blistering criticism from Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., joined by the committee’s ranking member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., right, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., speaks during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 7, 2015, about Counter-ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) Strategy. Defense Secretary Ash Carter defends President Barack Obama’s strategy to defeat Islamic State group militants amid blistering criticism from Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Washington Free Beacon, by Bill Gertz, July 8, 2015:

President Obama’s strategy against the Islamic State terror group came under harsh criticism from senators on Tuesday who said the United States is losing the war by not doing more to attack the group.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) said the president was guilty of “self-delusion” in claiming progress is being made against the ultra-violent al Qaeda offshoot, also known as ISIL or ISIS.

During a committee hearing with Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, McCain said 5,000 allied air strikes on IS targets have so far done little to stop IS advances.

“Since U.S. and coalition airstrikes began last year, ISIL has continued to enjoy battlefield successes, including taking Ramadi and other key terrain in Iraq, holding over half the territory in Syria and controlling every border post between Iraq and Syria,” McCain said.

“Our means and our current level of effort are not aligned with our ends,” he said. “That suggests we are not winning, and when you’re not winning in war, you are losing.”

Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs chairman, said restoring Iraqi sovereignty over IS-held territory in Iraq will take at least three years, and defeating the terror group could take up to 20 years.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) also said the president’s strategy against IS is failing.

“And I am deeply disappointed,” Sessions told Carter. “I don’t see the confidence in your testimony or Gen. Dempsey’s testimony. I believe we’re actively carrying out a strategy that the president has, and I don’t believe it has sufficient respect for the use of military force necessary to be successful.”

Additionally, Republican senators criticized the Pentagon leaders for adopting a counter-IS strategy that excludes a concerted military effort to oust Syria’s Bashir Assad from power.

McCain said the failure to deal with the Syrian civil war, where Iran, pro-Iran Hezbollah forces, and Russia are supporting Assad, is the greatest accelerant for Islamic State gains in both gaining recruits and on the battlefield.

“None of our efforts against ISIL in Iraq can succeed while the conflict in Syria continues, and with it, the conditions for ISIL’s continued growth, recruitment, and radicalization of Muslims around the world,” McCain said.

A U.S.-backed program to train Syrian rebels has been restricted to training fighters solely to battle IS militants and not the Assad regime. Fewer than 100 fighters have been trained so far, the Senate testimony disclosed.

The administration launched a Syrian rebel training program just three months ago that plans to produce a force of 7,000 volunteer anti-IS rebels.

“As of July 3rd, we are currently training about 60 fighters,” Carter, the defense secretary, said. “This number is much smaller than we’d hoped for at this point.”

The Pentagon currently has some 3,500 troops involved in training Iraqi forces and has conducted over 5,000 airstrikes on IS targets in Iraq and Syria.

McCain, however, said a large number of the aircraft sorties returned to their bases without dropping bombs because of a lack of ground spotters.

Dempsey testified that IS terrorism is one of several global threats that include Russian revanchism in Eastern Europe, Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, Iranian terrorist activities in the Middle East, and new technical advancements by North Korea, as well as a growing cyber threat.

“While our potential adversaries grow stronger, many of our allies are becoming increasingly dependent on the United States and on our assistance, and some of our comparative military advantages have begun to erode,” Dempsey said.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said the Islamic State is expanding its operations to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

“There have been a series of spectacular terrorist attacks in the Sinai peninsula,” he said. “The Islamic State takes credit for those attacks. We still have the multinational force and observers in the Sinai peninsula, almost 1,800 soldiers, 1,200 of which are American personnel.”

Dempsey said the Joint Staff conducted a vulnerability assessment of the Sinai and added some new weapons and communications to U.S. and Egyptian forces there.

“I’m confident that [American forces] are adequately protected today, but I fully expect that threat to increase,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey, under questioning from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) agreed that currently more terrorist organizations are operating in more safe havens, and with more weapons and people capable of striking U.S. homeland than at any time since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The four-star general also said IS is expanding to other countries outside Syria and Iraq.

Graham said IS is “recruiting more foreign fighters than we’re training [for the] Free Syrian Army.”

“The math doesn’t work. This is never going to result in Assad or ISIL being degraded or destroyed. The only way I see ISIL to be degraded or destroyed is for a ground force, regional in nature, to go into Syria,” Graham said.

The defense secretary said the U.S. objective in Syria is to force Assad to step down through political and not military means.

Carter and Dempsey said in their testimony that the U.S. ground forces in the region are limited to being used as trainers for Iraqi forces.

Four divisions of U.S.-trained Iraqi military forces deserted during the IS incursion from Syria into Iraq last year, providing both military equipment and a propaganda edge for the group.

“The lack of coherent strategy has resulted in the spread of ISIL around the world to Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, and even to Afghanistan,” McCain said.

“We have seen this movie before, and if we make the same mistakes, we should expect similarly tragic results,” he said. “I do not want to attend another hearing like this with your successors, trying to figure out a strategy to clean up after avoidable mistakes.”

Under questioning from Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) Carter said IS exercises “mixed” command and control over affiliate terror groups and individual jihadists in the Middle East and North Africa, and in Europe and the Western Hemisphere.

“ISIL is more resilient because it is more decentralized and informal in that sense,” Carter said.

Carter and Dempsey met Monday with Obama at the Pentagon to discuss the administration’s counter-IS strategy that includes nine “lines of effort.”

They include military, diplomatic, and intelligence programs, along with sanctions and efforts to counter IS propaganda and recruitment.

Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, a former senior CIA counterterrorism leader, said in an interview that the administration’s Syrian training program is a waste of time.

Clarridge said the Pentagon should fund and organize a regional military force of Egyptians, Saudis, Jordanians, and Persian Gulf militaries based on the Sunni Arab National Front for the Salvation of Iraq, also known as the Awakening Movement, that was developed in Iraq from 2008 to bring stability to the country.

“Then you’d have a real force that could whack ISIS to the ground,” he said.

Additionally, Clarridge said the Pentagon needs to stop sending all arms and aid through Baghdad and should follow Germany’s lead in sending weaponry directly to Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.

Clarridge also said that the Obama administration is doing nothing to counter IS propaganda and recruitment efforts, he said.

“Everyone says you can’t win this war militarily. But where is the psychological warfare effort? I have people monitoring this day in, day out, and there is none, zero,” Clarridge said, adding that the current efforts is limited to a few people at Fort Bragg, N.C.

“There are people standing by with large capabilities, Muslims, ready to put their capabilities to work, if someone would organize it,” Clarridge said.

Additionally, no radio broadcasting is being carried out in Iraq and Syria, he said.

Carter said the key Iraqi city of Ramadi that was overrun by IS forces on May 17 needs to be retaken but not until Iraqi forces are better prepared for the counter offensive.

“This will be a test of the competence of the Iraqi security forces, and it’s a test that they must pass,” Carter said. “Our and the coalition’s involvement is to try to train and equip and support them to be successful.”

Dempsey said a counter attack against Ramadi was called off about a month ago because Iraqi troops were not ready.

According to a detailed situation report from Iraq by the contractor Falcon Group, coalition forces conducted 11 airstrikes on July 6, near Sinjar, the Makhmour district, Kirkuk province, Baiji, Haditha, Ramadi, and Fallujah. The strikes hit an IS tactical unit and destroyed a heavy machine gun and a building.

Reports from the region indicated that IS forces near Baiji, where a major oil refinery is located, carried out a major counter offensive against Iraqi forces, the Falcon Group said.

“IS elements also attacked in the oil refinery and now control 60 percent of the refinery,” the report said.

The Iraqi government denied the reports and said most of the refinery remains under Iraqi security forces’ control.

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