Obama Admin Loyalists, Government Insiders Sabotage Trump White House

Former admin planted series of landmines to subvert Trump team

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam  Kredo, March 22, 2017:

The Obama administration worked in its final weeks in office to undermine the incoming Trump White and continues to do so, according to multiple sources both in and out of the White House.

Behind the effort, these sources say, are senior government officials who previously worked under President Obama and remain loyal to his agenda. These individuals leak negative information about the Trump White House and its senior staff to a network of former Obama administration officials who then plant this information in key media outlets including the Washington Post and New York Times.

Meanwhile, holdovers from the Obama administration are working to undermine the Trump administration’s agenda through efforts to alter official communications, a number of administration officials confirmed in conversations with the Washington Free Beacon.

Multiple sources expressed concern over what they described as an unprecedented effort by the former administration to subvert President Donald Trump’s team. These sources would only speak on background because they were not officially authorized to publicly discuss the situation, which is said to have fostered a level of discomfort and distrust in the West Wing.

The Free Beacon first reported on several portions of this effort earlier this year, including separate campaigns to undermine current CIA Director Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, both of whom were subjected to leaks aimed at undermining their credibility.

“We have members of the former administration at the highest levels who through their actions after January 20 have demonstrated their refusal to recognize the results of the general election,” one senior administration official told the Free Beacon. “They have pursued, organized, and managed a comprehensive subversion of the new administration.”

In one instance, Trump administration officials found evidence that the administration’s executive order banning travel from certain Muslim-majority nations had been selectively altered to bring it more in line with Obama-era talking points.

Several hours before the orders were set to be signed by Trump, officials noticed that language concerning “radical Islamic terrorism” had been stripped from the order and replaced with Obama-era language about countering violent extremism.

West Wing staffers quickly scrambled to rewrite the order to bring it back in line with Trump’s rhetoric, sources told the Free Beacon. The alteration of these directives is said to have spooked some senior officials working on the issue.

A series of targeted leaks also has fostered concerns that Obama administration holdovers are seeking to handicap the new administration.

Several weeks before his resignation, former national security adviser Flynn requested staff assemble an in-house phonebook that included contact information for senior White House staff. Before Flynn signed off on the effort, the phonebook was leaked to the press.

Additionally, the previous administration permitted staff to accrue substantial amounts of vacation time in its last year in office. As soon as team Trump entered the White House, it was obligated to pay out all of these hours. White House sources say the cost was in the millions of dollars.

The payout prevented the Trump White House from hiring key staff in its opening days due to insufficient funds, according to those familiar with the situation. Flynn, for instance, was able to hire only 22 people to work on the White House National Security Council, which topped around 420 staffers under Obama.

“They put landmines everywhere,” according to one senior administration official.

Outside of the White House, meanwhile, a team of former Obama administration officials is working to subvert Trump’s agenda.

Former Obama administration officials such as Ben Rhodes, the architect of Obama’s pro-Iran press operation, and Colin Kahl, a senior national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, have engaged in public efforts to “purge” the current White House of officials they disagree with.

Earlier this month, Kahl admitted on Twitter that he is seeking to provoke the firings of Trump’s handpicked team “in the West Wing,” including senior advisers Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Sebastian Gorka, and NSC leaders Michael Anton and KT McFarland.

As part of this effort, Kahl, Rhodes, and others have leaked damaging stories about these officials to allies in the media.

The latest target, Gorka, has been falsely accused of being a Nazi sympathizer and an Islamophobe. The campaign against Flynn unfolded in a similar manner and sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about the matter speculated that these leaks will continue.

“They have a network of journalists for whom they have served as sources and they have fed stuff to these journalists,” one senior U.S. official told the Free Beacon. “That’s what pretty obviously is going on. I’ve never seen this happen before. I’ve never heard of it happening throughout history.”

Putting the current White House in a permanent state of defense is a key objective of this strategy, according to one senior Republican foreign policy operative who is close to the White House.

“Part of this campaign, of course, was the media operation of selective leaks, many of which were illegal and directly targeted the staff and officials of the incoming Trump administration,” the source said.

This targeted media campaign is similar to the method used by Rhodes and others to push the Iran nuclear deal.

“You can tell what’s clearly going on because many of the same media outlets who formed crucial parts of Ben Rhodes’ Iran Deal ‘echo chamber’ are springing to launch coordinated attacks on Sebastian Gorka today,” said one longtime political consultant who is close to the White House NSC. “The way it works is, one highly partisan journalist goes out on a limb in dishonestly characterizing the target. That dishonest story is used to build on the next, in which the original lie is taken as fact, and then repeated in an echo chamber until it becomes conventional wisdom.”

Sebastian Gorka Defends Trump’s National Security Actions

Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, defended the president’s national security decisions Wednesday on CNN.

Host Jake Tapper asked Gorka what to make of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s statement earlier in the day to Iran that the country is being “put on notice.”

“Well, it’s a very simple signal: there’s a new sheriff in town,” Gorka said. “His name is Donald J. Trump, and we are not going to follow the policies of the prior administration, which really facilitated Iran in terms of getting more muscular, releasing those billions of dollars, and also bringing the JCPOA agreement, which also was disastrous in terms of our allies and security of the region.”

“So it’s sending a very simple message: this is a new dawn, a new day for relations with Iran.”

Tapper tried to ask Gorka if Iran would be emboldened to go ahead and produce nuclear weapons if Trump withdraws from the Iran nuclear deal.

“This is the great irony that people talk about how an action here in America in the White House or in the Congress will suddenly change the aggressive nature of Iran,” Gorka said. “This is a nation that is already going up to our naval vessels, is harassing our naval vessels, our friends’ vessels in the Red Sea, is firing upon Saudi ships.”

When Tapper asked Gorka if the immigration ban by Trump was going to help the Islamic State, Gorka lambasted the assertion.

“I would say that any document signed or executed in the United States makes no difference to ISIS. ISIS believes you are an infidel, Jake, and you should be beheaded or convert to Islam,” Gorka responded. “Whether or not a president signs something or not is utterly irrelevant to that attitude.”

“The idea that what we do here, that they’re suddenly going to surrender or give up or recruit less is absurd,” Gorka continued. “They wish to have a global caliphate, Jake. That’s all that they wish to do.”

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Son of Muslim Brotherhood Official Visits White House

In this March 9, 2015 photo, Mohammed Soltan is pushed by his father Salah during a court appearance in Cairo, Egypt / AP

In this March 9, 2015 photo, Mohammed Soltan is pushed by his father Salah during a court appearance in Cairo, Egypt / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, January 19, 2017:

The son of a Muslim Brotherhood official who was imprisoned in Egypt until mid-2015 visited the White House earlier this week, according to photos posted on social media.

Mohamed Soltan is an American citizen who served as the unofficial spokesperson for a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated protest movement that sought to reinstate Mohamed Morsi following his ouster in 2013. Soltan visited the White House just days before President Barack Obama is set to vacate the presidential home.

Soltan, the son of a senior Muslim Brotherhood official Salah Soltan, was sentenced to life in prison by Egyptian authorities for his role backing the Muslim Brotherhood as it carried out deadly protests following Morsi’s ouster.

The younger Soltan was released from prison after a lengthy hunger strike and efforts by the Obama administration to secure his freedom.

screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-9-14-33-am-3

Soltan, who has been critical of the Muslim Brotherhood in the past and claims to not be an official member of the organization, thanked the Obama administration in comments accompanying the photo of him in the White House, which was posted on Facebook.

The Obama administration has come under fire in the past for hosting official members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which some lawmakers in Congress have sought to designate as a terrorist organization.

The Washington Free Beacon first reported in 2015 that the State Department had lied to reporters about a meeting it held with Muslim Brotherhood members.

One member of that delegation, a Muslim Brotherhood-aligned judge in Egypt, posed for a picture in which he held up the Islamic group’s four-finger Rabia symbol, according to his Facebook page.

Iran: U.S. Surrendered More Than $10 Billion in Gold, Cash, Assets

Hassan Rouhani / AP

Hassan Rouhani / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, January 9, 2017:

The Obama administration has paid Iran more than $10 billion in gold, cash, and other assets since 2013, according to Iranian officials, who disclosed that the White House has been intentionally deflating the total amount paid to the Islamic Republic.

Senior Iranian officials late last week confirmed reports that the total amount of money paid to Iran over the past four years is in excess of $10 billion, a figure that runs counter to official estimates provided by the White House.

The latest disclosure by Iran, which comports with previous claims about the Obama administration obfuscating details about its cash transfers to Iran—including a $1.7 billion cash payment included in a ransom to free Americans—sheds further light on the White House’s back room dealings to bolster Iran’s economy and preserve the Iran nuclear agreement.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi confirmed last week a recent report in the Wall Street Journal detailing some $10 billion in cash and assets provided to Iran since 2013, when the administration was engaging in sensitive diplomacy with Tehran aimed at securing the nuclear deal.

Ghasemi disclosed that the $10 billion figure just scratches the surface of the total amount given to Iran by the United States over the past several years.

“I will not speak about the precise amount,” Ghasemi was quoted as saying in Persian language reports independently translated for the Washington Free Beacon.

The $10 billion figure is actually a “stingy” estimate, Ghasemi claimed, adding that a combination of cash, gold, and other assets was sent by Washington to Iran’s Central Bank and subsequently “spent.”

“This report is true but the value was higher,” Ghassemi was quoted as saying.

“After the Geneva conference and the resulting agreement, it was decided that $700 million dollars were to be dispensed per month” by the U.S., according to Ghassemi. “In addition to the cash funds which we received, we [also] received our deliveries in gold, bullion, and other things.”

Regional experts who spoke to the Free Beacon about these disclosures said that the $10 billion figure offered by the Obama administration should be viewed “as a conservative estimate for what Iran was paid to stay at the table and negotiate.”

“Iran does have incentives to overstate this figure,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon. “But given the recent state-sponsored narrative in Iran about a Western and particularly American failing to offer sanctions relief, this reads much more as fact rather than another instance of disinformation from Tehran.”

It is likely Iran spent a portion of this money to fund its regional terror operations and military enterprise to bolster embattled Syrian President Bashar al Assad, Ben Taleblu said.

“Given the nature of some of this sanctions relief (through the provision of gold and unfrozen assets), this money likely underwrote some of the Islamic Republic’s more destabilizing regional activities,” he explained. “At the macro level, all of this continues to prove one larger point: The way the Iran deal was handled and the provision of sanctions relief during and after the talks that led to the nuclear accord continues to create problems for those interested in defending the integrity of the international financial system.”

One veteran foreign policy insider familiar with the administration’s outreach to Iran told the Free Beacon that the White House has a history of deflating these figures in order to obfuscate details about its contested diplomacy with the Islamic Republic.

“This is how it always happens when the Obama administration secretly sends money to Iran,” said the source, who would only speak on background when discussing the outgoing administration’s strategy. “They deny it until they’re caught, then they lowball it until they’re caught again, then they say it’s old news. In every single case where Iranian officials confirms these transfers while Obama officials denied them, it later turned out the Iranian officials were the ones telling the truth.”

Gertz: ‘America Is Extremely Vulnerable’ to Cyber Threats

iwarBY: Washington Free Beacon Staff
January 3, 2017

Washington Free Beacon senior editor Bill Gertz said that the United States is “extremely vulnerable” to cyber attacks during a radio interview with Sean Hannity on Tuesday evening. Gertz appeared on Hannity’s radio show to discuss his newly released book, iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age.

To begin the interview, Hannity asked Gertz what he thought of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s assertion that he did not receive hacked emails of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign from Russian sources.

“We’re going to have to wait to see what the [Obama] administration’s investigation of the Russian influence operation is,” Gertz responded.

Hannity then referenced his previous interview with Assange in which the WikiLeaks founder claimed to have hacked into NASA at the age of sixteen, prompting Gertz to explain how vulnerable the U.S. is to what he described as information attacks.

“America is extremely vulnerable, and I think that’s the bottom line of this book, iWar. We’re getting killed in the information space,” Gertz said.

Gertz defined the information space as twofold: one part encompasses the use of cyber and technical attacks and the other involves information and content.

In the second chapter of his book, Gertz details the sophistication of North Korean cyber attacks, including the 2014 Sony breach after the entertainment company released a comedic movie that made fun of the North Korean regime. Gertz described an interview with a North Korean defector who “issued a dire warning” that the American government needs to do something to “counterattack North Korean information warfare operations.”

Continuing on this point, Gertz asserted that the CIA needs “dire reform.” Under the leadership of current CIA Director John Brennan, the organization, Gertz noted, has focused too heavily on drone strikes instead of clandestine information operations.

Hannity then played a brief snippet of his interview with Assange in which he repeatedly denied that the Russian government was behind the leaked Clinton and DNC emails during the 2016 election. Hannity asked Gertz what he thought of Assange’s adamant denials of receiving the hacked emails from Russian sources.

“On Assange I think it’s clear until he reveals where he obtained the information that he leaked, then I think the onus is going to be on him,” Gertz said. “And if he doesn’t reveal it, that’s going to be a problem.”

Later discussing America’s relationship with Russia and the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, Gertz declared that “we are definitely entering a new Cold War.” Gertz explained that in his new book he lays out Putin’s strategy to “reestablish the Soviet Union without communism.”

Hannity then asked Gertz what the new Trump administration can do to confront Iran after what he described as President Obama’s capitulation to Tehran with the Iran nuclear deal and the $1.7 billion payment early last year to the Iranian regime to free American hostages.

“We’ve got to use an information warfare campaign against Iran,” Gertz said, adding that the Obama administration missed a golden opportunity to do so during the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009.

Gertz suggested that the American government could establish a new institution to combat foreign enemies and administrations by using information and political warfare to spread American messages of freedom and democracy.

iWar can be purchased today in print or as an e-book from Amazon and a variety of other booksellers. It can be downloaded as an audiobook through iTunes and Audible.

Gertz is the author of seven books, including the New York Times best-selling Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security.

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Bill Gertz’s ‘iWar’ Now Available as Audio Book

The new book by Free Beacon Senior Editor Bill Gertz, iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age, is now available in print and as an audio book.

Gertz is a long-time national security correspondent and columnist for the Free Beacon and Washington Times. He is the author of seven books, including the New York Times best-selling Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security.

Gertz published iWar to explain the digital battle being waged between the United States and foreign adversaries like Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran.

A five-minute excerpt of the audio book is embedded below.

***

The following is an excerpt from the book

Chinese Information Warfare: The Panda That Eats, Shoots, and Leaves

Congress to Freeze State Department Funds Until U.S. Embassy Moves to Jerusalem

Orthodox Jewish people at the Western Wall, Jerusalem / AP

Orthodox Jewish people at the Western Wall, Jerusalem / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, January 3, 2017:

A delegation of Republican senators is moving forward with an effort to freeze some funding to the State Department until the U.S. embassy in Israel is formally moved to Jerusalem, according to new legislation.

The legislation comes as the Obama administration continues to face criticism over its behind-the-scenes effort to forward a United Nations resolution condemning Israel.

The Obama administration, like previous administrations, does not formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city and has worked to stymie efforts to move the U.S. embassy there.

While Congress first approved legislation to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in 1995, the new bill threatens to cut State Department funding until the relocation is complete.

The effort is being spearheaded by Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), and Dean Heller (R., Nev.), all of whom support efforts by the incoming Trump administration to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem after years of debate.

“Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel,” Cruz said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s vendetta against the Jewish state has been so vicious that to even utter this simple truth—let alone the reality that Jerusalem is the appropriate venue for the American embassy in Israel—is shocking in some circles.”

“But it is finally time to cut through the double-speak and broken promises and do what Congress said we should do in 1995: formally move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel,” Cruz said.

The legislation orders the White House to identify Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which the Obama administration has refused to do. The bill will freeze a significant portion of the State Department’s funding until it completes the relocation.

In the past, the Obama White House has been caught scrubbing captions on official photographs that labeled Jerusalem as part of Israel. The administration also was entangled in a Supreme Court case when it refused to permit an American family to list its child’s birthplace as “Jerusalem, Israel.”

Heller said the legislation could help repair America’s relationship with Israel, which has become strained under the Obama administration.

“For years, I’ve advocated for America’s need to reaffirm its support for one of our nation’s strongest allies by recognizing Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel,” Heller said in a statement. “It honors an important promise America made more than two decades ago but has yet to fulfill. While administrations come and go, the lasting strength of our partnership with one of our strongest allies in the Middle East continues to endure.”

Rubio also championed the bill in a statement, saying it will finally close loopholes that have permitted the Obama administration to ignore congressional calls to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel, and that’s where America’s embassy belongs,” Rubio said. “It’s time for Congress and the president-elect to eliminate the loophole that has allowed presidents in both parties to ignore U.S. law and delay our embassy’s rightful relocation to Jerusalem for over two decades.”

Iran Seeking ‘Many Billions of Dollars’ in Ransom to Free U.S. Hostages

 (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Source close to IRGC puts bounty on remaining U.S. hostages

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, October 19, 2016:

Iran is seeking “many billions of dollars” in payments from the United States in exchange for the release of several U.S. hostages still being detained in Iran, according to reports by Iran’s state-controlled press that are reigniting debate over the Obama administration’s decision earlier this year to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash.

Senior Iranian officials, including the country’s president, have been floating the possibility of further payments from the United States for months. Since the White House agreed to pay Tehran $1.7 billion in cash earlier this year as part of a deal bound up in the release of American hostages, Iran has captured several more U.S. citizens.

Future payments to Iran could reach as much as $2 billion, according to sources familiar with the matter, who said that Iran is detaining U.S. citizens in Iran’s notorious Evin prison where inmates are routinely tortured and abused.

Iranian news sources close to the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, which has been handling prisoner swaps with the United States, reported on Tuesday that Iran expects “many billions of dollars to release” those U.S. citizens still being detained.”

“We should wait and see, the U.S. will offer … many billions of dollars to release” American businessman Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer, who was abducted by Iran after the United States paid Iran the $1.7 billion, according to the country’s Mashregh News outlet, which has close ties to the IRGC’s intelligence apparatus.

The Persian language news report was independently translated for the Washington Free Beacon.

Six hostages have been sentenced to 10 years in prison by Iran in the past months, including the Namazis.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told NBC News in late September that his government is in talks with the United States to secure future payouts, a disclosure that may have played a role in the White House’s recent decision to veto legislation to block future ransom payments to Iran.

“We’re currently conducting conversations and various dialogues in order to return this money to Iran,” Rouhani was quoted as saying. “Perhaps these dialogues can be still conducted simultaneously on parallel tracks while we’re conducting those same conversations in order to free the sums of money that are still owed to us.”

One senior congressional adviser familiar with the issue told the Free Beacon that Iranian officials have been pressing for another $2 billion from the United States for months.

“Iranian officials including Foreign Minister [Mohammad Javad] Zarif have been bragging for months that they’re going to force the U.S. to pay them several billion dollars more,” the source said. “Now officials across the spectrum in Iran—from IRGC hardliners to the ostensibly moderate President Rouhani—are talking about those billions, and maybe several more, alongside chatter about the U.S. hostages.”

“Even some family members of the hostages talk that way, which is completely understandable given what they’re going through, but it doesn’t change the fact that the administration is gearing up to give Iran another ransom in the hundreds of millions and maybe again billions,” the source added.

Rumors of future ransom payments to Iran come as Congress continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding the $1.7 billion cash payment, a portion of which was delivered by plane to Iran just hours before it released several U.S. prisoners.

The Free Beacon recently disclosed that details of this payment and other details bound up in the hostage release are being stored in a highly secure location on Capitol Hill, preventing many from accessing the documents, which are not classified but are being treated as such.

The three documents show that the cash payment was directly tied to the prisoner release, adding fuel to claims of a ransom payment, according to sources who have viewed them.

Iran experts who spoke to the Free Beacon said that Iran senses weakness in the United States and is angling to squeeze more money from the administration before it leaves office.

“Paying $1.7 billion to Iran to release the U.S. prisoners has encouraged Iran to arrest more Americans,” said Saeed Ghasseminejad, an associate fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Iran senses weakness in the U.S. leadership as it constantly tests the administration through a chain of provocative actions. To put an end to Iran’s abduction program, the administration should make it clear, by action and not words, that it does not reward Iran for its bad behavior.”

Conceding to Iran’s demands will only bolster the hardline regime, Ghasseminejad said.

“The administration must show strength in response to Iran’s other provocative actions in the region,” he said. “The administration also should warn American citizens and green card holders that Iran is a very dangerous place for them to travel or do business. However, such warning contradicts the administration’s continuous efforts to encourage investors and big banks to do business with Iran. The administration also should impose sanction on the entities and individuals involved in this abduction program.”

Internet Group ICANN Boosted Member Who Transferred U.S. Technology to Iran

 (AP Photo/Tim Hales, File)

(AP Photo/Tim Hales, File)

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Sept.15, 2016:

The international organization the Obama administration is pushing to hand control over the internet to has provided official accreditation to people who have transferred technology to Iran, worked with North Korea, and ordered “murders-for-hire,” according to congressional testimony that raises questions about the organization’s practices.

Obama administration efforts to hand over control of America’s Internet to The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, an international coalition of 162 countries and entities, have sparked outrage on Capitol Hill, where critics allege the move would stifle the free flow of information.

Experts familiar with ICANN’s structure testified before Congress on Wednesday that the organization has failed to act in a transparent and accountable fashion, raising questions about how it would operate free from U.S. government oversight.

On multiple occasions, ICANN has provided official accreditation to people operating as an “arm of a criminal network,” including one person who pled guilty to transferring U.S. technology to Iran, according to testimony by John Horton, president and CEO of LegitScript, which works with international governments.

ICANN continues to provide legitimacy to these organizations despite mounting evidence they have engaged in illegal activity, according to Horton, who explained that these criminal sites “remain online because ICANN green-lighted the registrar’s refusal to investigate or take action.”

One of these outfits is ABSystems, a “rogue internet pharmacy network” that provided cover to its founder, Paul Le Roux, who has been dubbed the “most successful criminal mastermind you’ve never heard of.”

“In December 2013, Paul Le Roux pleaded guilty to crimes involving North Korean methamphetamine trafficking, the transfer of US technology to Iran, and several murders-for-hire,” according to Horton’s testimony, which was offered to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Mr. Le Roux, a Zimbabwean national … remains in US custody, pending sentencing.”

Le Roux financed his illegal endeavors “by operating as an ICANN-accredited domain name registrar, creating a rogue internet pharmacy network through his ability to register domain names unimpeded,” according to Horton.

Oversight failures on ICANN’s behalf led to Le Roux being accredited until at least 2013. However, “it wasn’t until 2016 that information about the link between Mr. Le Roux’s accreditation by ICANN as a registrar and his diversion of US technology to Iran, murders-for-hire, trafficking in North Korean methamphetamine, and arms smuggling [came] to light,” according to Horton.

Horton highlighted ICANN-accredited organizations across the globe that operate illegal black market pharmacies, including one that has been found to be operating as “part of a Russian cybercriminal network.”

These oversight failures just scratch the surface, according to Horton, who testified at a hearing led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), who is leading an effort to stop the Obama administration from handing control of the Internet to ICANN.

Cruz is spearheading legislation that would block the Obama administration from spending any money on this effort. The bill is backed by at least 25 other senators.

One senior congressional source working on the matter told the Free Beacon that ICANN cannot be trusted to preserve internet freedom.

“Proponents of the transition want us to simply take their word that freedom on the Internet will be protected by ICANN, a multistakeholder organization consisting of 162 foreign countries, private corporations and other interests, because its bylaws prevent it from fleeing U.S. jurisdiction and are designed to prevent any one bad actor from gaining too much influence,” the source said.
“But bylaws can be changed, as was established during the hearing today,” the source explained. “Mr. Marby, CEO of ICANN himself, admitted ICANN is not subject to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Bylaws intended to prevent one bad actor from gaining influence can be changed to allow them greater influence. This is not the kind of organization the American people should feel confident in protecting their interests and protecting freedom on the Internet.”

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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.

What’s the Plan for Winning the War?

iranian-nuclear-weaponDoes anyone in the administration recognize that we’re in one?

CounterJihad, Aug. 25, 2016:

Michael Ledeen makes a clever observation:

Everyone’s talking about “ransom,” but it’s virtually impossible to find anyone who’s trying to figure out how to win the world war we’re facing.  The two keystones of the enemy alliance are Iran and Russia, and the Obama administration, as always, has no will to resist their sorties, whether the Russians’ menacing moves against Ukraine, or the Iranians’ moves against us.

The moves are on the chessboard, sometimes kinetic and sometimes psychological warfare.  Like a chess game, we are in the early stages in which maneuver establishes the array of forces that will govern the rest of the game.  Russia’s deployment of air and naval forces to Syria stole a march on the Obama administration.  Its swaying of Turkey, which last year was downing Russian aircraft, is stealing another.  Its deployment of bombers and advanced strike aircraft to Iran is another.  That last appears to be in a state of renegotiation, as Ledeen notes, but that too is probably for show.  The Iranians have too much to gain in terms of security for their nuclear program, at least until they’ve had time to build their own air force.

Iran is making strategic moves as well.  Ledeen notes the “Shi’ite Freedom Army,” a kind of Iranian Foreign Legion that intends to field five divisions of between twenty and twenty-five thousand men each.  Overall command will belong to Quds Force commander Qassem Suliemani, currently a major figure in the assault on Mosul, having recovered from his injury in Syria commanding Iranian-backed militia in the war there.  The fact of his freedom of movement is itself a Russian-Iranian demonstration that they will not be governed by international law:  Suliemani is under international travel bans for his assassination plot against world diplomats, but was received in Moscow and now travels freely throughout the northern Middle East.

Turkey, meanwhile, has been effectively cut off by Iran’s and Russia’s success in the opening game of this global chess match.  As late as the Ottoman Empire, the Turks looked south through Iran and Iraq to power bases as far away as Arabia.  Now the Ayatollahs are going to control a crescent of territory from Afghanistan’s borders to the Levant, leaving the Turks locked out.  One might have expected the Turks to respond by doubling their sense of connection to Europe and NATO.  Instead, the purge following the alleged coup attempt is cementing an Islamist control that leaves the Turks looking toward a world from which they are largely separated by the power of this new Russian-Iranian alliance.  The Turks seem to be drifting toward joining that alliance because being a part of that alliance will preserve their ties to the Islamic world.

For now, the Obama administration seems blind to the fact that these moves are closing off America’s position in the Middle East.  This is not a new policy.  Eli Lake reports that the Obama administration told the CIA to sever its ties to Iranian opposition groups in order to avoid giving aid to the Green revolution.  Their negotiation of last year’s disastrous “Iran deal” has led to Iran testing new ballistic missiles and receiving major arms shipments from Russia.  Yet while all these moves keep being made around them, the Obama administration proceeds as if this were still just an attempt to crush the Islamic State (ISIS).  The commander of the XVIIIth Airborne Corps has been given a task that amounts to helping the Iranians win.  Our incoherent policy has left us on both sides in Syria.  Our only real ally in the conflict, the Kurds, stand abandoned by America.

Who is even thinking about how to win the war?  Will the legacy of the Obama administration be a shattered NATO, a Turkey drawn into Russia’s orbit, an Iranian hegemony over the northern Middle East, and a resurgent Russia?  It certainly looks to be shaping up that way.  Russia is playing chess while the US is playing whack-a-mole.  The absence of a coherent governing strategy is glaring.

The Trickle-Down Erosion of Honesty in Obama’s White House

ap_barack-obama-john-kerry_ap-photo-e1471008064574-640x480Breitbart, by  James Zumwalt, Aug. 12, 2016:

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) conducts fraud prevention training for U.S. businesses. Training focus is both internal and external—preventing fraud against the business as well as fraud by company employees against others.

An important standard taught is the tone set for ethical integrity leadership:

An organization’s leadership creates the tone at the top – an ethical (or unethical) atmosphere in the workplace. Management’s tone has a trickle-down effect on employees. If top managers uphold ethics and integrity so will employees. But if upper management appears unconcerned with ethics and focuses solely on the bottom line, employees will be more prone to commit fraud and feel that ethical conduct isn’t a priority. In short, employees will follow the examples of their bosses.

Obviously, the larger an organization, the more difficult to hold all within it accountable to this standard. However, when numerous examples of a lapse in an organization’s ethical conduct exist, the tone set at the top comes into question.

Next week, a five-month long investigative report will be released finding U.S. Central Command intelligence ISIS and al-Qaeda threat assessments were intentionally downplayed. While offering no definitive evidence President Barack Obama ordered it, determining whether he did or not creates a need to look at the tone set for truth-telling.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered more ethics training for its attorneys based on a judge’s findings he was misled by DOJ lawyers in a high-profile lawsuit initiated by 26 states opposed to Obama’s immigration policies.

Apologizing for any confusion, DOJ lawyers deny making intentional misstatements. But their soft-pedaling contrasts significantly with the judge’s finding, “The misconduct in this case was intentional, serious and material.”

A recent Hillary Clinton email release suggests DOJ may also have blocked a Clinton Foundation probe.

For those believing it unfair to pin transgressions of one wayward federal agency as an indictment of the president under whom it serves, let us turn to Obama’s executive branch staff—where he held the most direct influence.

Ben Rhodes is Obama’s foreign policy guru. He is credited with setting the tone for the Iran nuclear deal both via his interactions with the press and Congress. Throughout the process, he maintained a low profile.

However, with the deal concluded, it has been difficult for Rhodes to contain his successful deception of the media and Congress. In a New York Times interview, he boasted about doing exactly that. And, anyone who knows Rhodes, knows he and Obama enjoy a mind-meld mentality.

For Obama defenders still believing DOJ misconduct and one self-admitted lying foreign policy guru do not an unethical president make, we continue.

Concerning the Iran nuclear deal, Secretary of State John Kerry attempted to deceive Congress there were no side deals. We now know there were at least three.

As reported by the Associated Press, under one side deal, restrictions imposed by the known agreement “will ease in slightly more than a decade” rather than the 15 years originally claimed, thus reducing “the time Tehran would need to build a bomb to six months from the present estimates of one year.”

An aspect of the Iran deal making more recent headlines is the $400 million cash payment to Iran—sold to Congress at the time as a release of “Iranian” funds. Disclosures now suggest the fund release was actually a devious way for Obama to pay a ransom for Americans the mullahs held hostage. Senior DOJ officials objecting to the payment were overruled by Kerry.  Obama continues to deny it was ransom money despite evidence strongly suggesting Tehran viewed it as such.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, also denying it was ransom, claims, “We don’t pay for hostages. We don’t negotiate for hostages, absolutely not. We’re a nation of laws…” Yet, the White House, admits some of the money paid Iran could go to fund terrorism—a clear violation of U.S. laws.

Tehran even boasts about Obama’s efforts to deceive Americans on the nuclear deal. The Iranians were told not to discuss their missile tests, conducting them in secret so as not to draw attention to a flawed deal.

Evidence has also come to light that the U.S. State Department manipulated data given to Congress, downplaying anti-Israel bias charges against the UN Human Rights Council.

But, enough about State Department lies. Let us now turn to other federal agencies.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed this month the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had inappropriately targeted tea party and other conservative groups seeking non-profit status. As IRS targeting became an issue, it tried blaming it on “rogue agents.” However, internal documents reveal the tone was set at the agency’s top level.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper also suffered effects of the tone. In June 2013, he apologized to the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman for lying during a hearing. He had responded “No,” when asked specifically if NSA was spying on Americans. Only after Edward Snowden leaked classified documents revealing secretive U.S. government programs monitoring hundreds of millions of Americans did Clapper’s lie come to light.

The tone from the top includes misrepresenting facts tied to our national security and Muslim immigration.

The Senate Judiciary Committee determined in June 2016 the number of refugees arrested for terror in the U.S. was more than three times higher than what State Department reported.

Additionally, concerning criminal aliens in general, it was determined the number reported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement as released in 2014 who then went on to commit additional crimes was under-reported to the House Judiciary Committee by almost 90 percent. This led Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte to say Obama was creating “a sanctuary for tens of thousands of criminal aliens.”

The Secret Service also fell victim to Obama’s unethical tone, releasing a congressman’s personnel file in retribution for his disclosures about agent misconduct.

Obama’s unethical leadership has had a trickle-down effect. While 42 years ago such leadership caught up to a U.S. president, it appears Obama, inexplicably, will be spared a similar fate.

Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of “Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields,” “Living the Juche Lie: North Korea’s Kim Dynasty” and “Doomsday: Iran–The Clock is Ticking.” He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.

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Also see:

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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Also see:

Top Intel Official: Al Qaeda Worked on WMD in Iran

713_missile

New evidence of the bin Laden-Iran connection.

Weekly Standard, by Stephen F. Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn, July 12, 2016:

Al Qaeda operatives based in Iran worked on chemical and biological weapons, according to a letter written to Osama bin Laden that is described in a new book by a top former U.S. intelligence official.

The letter was captured by a U.S. military sensitive site exploitation team during the raid on bin Laden’s Abbottabad headquarters in May 2011. It is described in Field of Fight, out Tuesday from Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Michael Ledeen of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“One letter to bin Laden reveals that al Qaeda was working on chemical and biological weapons in Iran,” Flynn writes.

Flynn’s claim, if true, significantly advances what we know about al Qaeda’s activity in Iran. The book was cleared by the intelligence community’s classification review process. And U.S. intelligence sources familiar with the bin Laden documents tell us the disclosure on al Qaeda’s WMD work is accurate.

Flynn notes that only a small subset of bin Laden’s files have been released to the public. The “Defense Intelligence Agency’s numerous summaries and analyses of the files remain classified,” too, Flynn writes. “But even the public peek gives us considerable insight into the capabilities of this very dangerous global organization.”

It’s not just al Qaeda.

“There’s a lot of information on Iran in the files and computer discs captured at the Pakistan hideout of Osama bin Laden,” Flynn writes in the introduction. The authors note that the relationship between Iran and al Qaeda “has always been strained” and “[s]ometimes bin Laden himself would erupt angrily at the Iranians.” Previously released documents and other evidence show that al Qaeda kidnapped an Iranian diplomat in order to force a hostage exchange and bin Laden was very concerned about the Iranians’ ability to track his family members.

And yet the book makes clear that Flynn believes there is much more to the al Qaeda-Iran relationship than the public has been told. And that’s not an accident. Obama administration “censors have been busy,” Flynn writes, blocking the release of the bin Laden documents to the public and, in some cases, to analysts inside the U.S. intelligence community. “Some of it—a tiny fraction—has been declassified and released, but the bulk of it is still under official seal. Those of us who have read bin Laden’s material know how important it is…”

Not surprisingly, Obama administration officials bristle at Flynn’s characterization of their lack of transparency and lack of urgency on jihadists and their state sponsors. “Mike Flynn, in true Kremlin form, has been peddling these baseless conspiracy theories for years. Anyone who thinks Iran was or is in bed with al Qaeda doesn’t know much about either,” an Obama administration official told THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

It’s an odd line of attack, given the fact that the Obama administration has repeatedly accused Iran of directly aiding al Qaeda. The Treasury and State Departments publicly accused the Iranian regime of allowing al Qaeda to operate inside Iran in: July 2011, December 2011, February 2012,July 2012,October 2012, May 2013, January 2014, February 2014, April 2014, and August 2014. In addition, in congressional testimony in February 2012, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described the relationship as a “marriage of convenience.”

Asked about the administration’s own repeated statements pointing to the Iranian regime’s deal with al Qaeda, the administration official who dismissed Flynn’s claim as a “baseless conspiracy” theory declined to comment further.

The Flynn/Ledeen claim about al Qaeda’s WMD work in Iran comes with an interesting wrinkle. The authors preface their disclosure of al Qaeda’s work on “chemical and biological weapons in Iran” by suggesting that the revelation was included in documents already public.

But the only document released to date that seems to touch on the subject is a March 28, 2007, letter to an al Qaeda operative known as “Hafiz Sultan.” The letter, which discussed the possibility of Iran-based al Qaeda operatives using chlorine gas on Kurdish leaders and includes a likely reference to Atiyah ‘Abd-al-Rahman, was released by the administration via the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point in May 2012. President Obama’s Treasury Department has claimed that Rahman was appointed by Osama bin Laden “to serve as al Qaeda’s emissary in Iran, a position which allowed him to travel in and out of Iran with the permission of Iranian officials.” It is not, however, addressed to bin Laden and it does not include a reference to biological weapons.

And while the U.S. Treasury and State Department have repeatedly sanctioned al Qaeda’s operatives inside Iran and offered rewards for information on their activities, as noted, statements from Treasury and the State Department do not mention al Qaeda’s “chemical and biological weapons” work inside Iran.

The takeaway: It does not appear that the al Qaeda document referenced by Flynn has been released by the U.S. government.

Flynn and others who have seen the documents say there are more explosive revelations in the bin Laden files kept from the public. Those already released give us a hint. One document, released in 2015, is a letter presumably written by Osama bin Laden to the “Honorable brother Karim.” The recipient of the October 18, 2007, missive, “Karim,” was likely an al Qaeda veteran known Abu Ayyub al Masri, who led al Qaeda in the Iraq (AQI) at the time.

Bin Laden chastised the AQI leader for threatening to attack Iran. The al Qaeda master offered a number of reasons why this didn’t make sense. “You did not consult with us on that serious issue that affects the general welfare of all of us,” bin Laden wrote. “We expected you would consult with us for these important matters, for as you are aware, Iran is our main artery for funds, personnel, and communication, as well as the matter of hostages.”

That language from bin Laden sounds a lot like the language the Obama administration used in July 2011, when a statement from the U.S. Treasury noted that the network in Iran “serves as the core pipeline through which Al Qaeda moves money, facilitators and operatives from across the Middle East to South Asia.”

David Cohen, who was then a top Treasury official and is now the number two official at the CIA, told us back then: “There is an agreement between the Iranian government and al Qaeda to allow this network to operate. There’s no dispute in the intelligence community on this.”

Why, then, is the Obama administration attempting to dismiss the cooperative relationship between Iran and al Qaeda as a “baseless conspiracy?” Good question.

And it’s one that releasing the rest of the documents could help answer.

Note: Flynn’s co-author Michael Ledeen is a colleague of Thomas Joscelyn at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Homeland Security Report Calls for Rejecting Terms ‘Jihad,’ Sharia’

An ISIS propaganda shows Omar Mateen who killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, with 'Islamic State' blazoned behind him / AP

An ISIS propaganda shows Omar Mateen who killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, with ‘Islamic State’ blazoned behind him / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Bill Gertz, June 17, 2016:

A new Department of Homeland Security report urges rejecting use of Islamic terms such as “jihad” and “sharia” in programs aimed at countering terrorist radicalization among American youth.

The Homeland Security Advisory Council report recommends that the department focus on American milliennials by allocating up to $100 million in new funding. It also urges greater private sector cooperation, including with Muslim communities, to counter what is described as a “new generation of threats to the Homeland related to the threat of violent extremism.”

The funds would be used for hiring experts and new social media programs and technology to influence young people not to join terror groups.

“The department’s CVE efforts are an attempt to protect our nation’s young people from extremists who prey upon the Millennial generation,” the report says.

“The department must reframe the conversation to reflect this reality and design a robust program around the protection of our youth, which must include predator awareness and an understanding of radicalization. In doing so, our citizens will be better equipped for this threat.”

Under the section on terminology, the report calls for rejecting use of an “us versus them” mentality by shunning Islamic language in “Countering Violent Extremism” programs, or CVE, the Obama administration’s euphemism that seeks to avoid references to Islam.

Under a section on recommended actions on terminology, the report says DHS should “reject religiously-charged terminology and problematic positioning by using plain meaning American English.”

Government agencies should employ “American English instead of religious, legal and cultural terms like ‘jihad,’ ‘sharia,’ ‘takfir’ or ‘umma,’” states the June 2016 report by the Council’s countering violent extremism subcommittee.

Jihad is the Islamic concept of holy war that is the primary call to arms for Islamic terrorist groups around the world, including the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Sharia law is the anti-democratic Islamic supremacist legal code that critics say has prevented U.S. Muslims from assimilating into American society. Takfir is the Arabic term for apostasy, and umma is the word used to describe the entire Muslim community.

The DHS report stated that to avoid a confrontational “us versus them” stance in public efforts to counter Islamic radicalization, government programs should use the term “American Muslim” instead of “Muslim American.”

The limits on counterterrorism terminology outlined in the report are the latest sign of verbal censorship within government imposed by President Obama. The president this week launched into an angry public denunciation of Republican critics of his policy of avoiding use of the expression “radical Islam.”

Obama sought to deny charges that political correctness was behind the policy of not linking Islamic terrorism to its religious roots, and dismissed those who favor highlighting the links as a Republican political ploy.

The comments prompted a backlash from counterterrorism experts who say that failing to publicly link Islamic terrorism to its religious tenets makes it more difficult to counter jihadist ideology.

The terrorist attack Sunday in Orlando was carried out by a radical Muslim, Omar Mateen, who declared loyalty to ISIS during the rampage that killed 49 people at a gay nightclub on Sunday. The FBI said Mateen was “radicalized” through the Internet.

President Obama’s program to counter ISIS came under fire from CIA Director John Brennan during a Senate hearing Thursday.

Some gains are being made in taking back territory controlled by ISIS and limiting its finances, according to Brennan.

“Unfortunately, despite all of our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach,” he said.

“The resources needed for terrorism are very modest, and the group would have to suffer even heavier losses on territory, manpower, and money for its terrorist capacity to decline significantly.”

The DHS report said the average age for foreign fighters joining ISIS is 26, with the Internet “playing a primary or contributing role” in radicalization.

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kansas) a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, criticized the DHS language restrictions.

“The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Interim Report makes the dangerous recommendation that the Obama administration continue to deny the threat that radical Islamic terrorism poses,” Pompeo said.

“Jihadists are the ones who have made this fight ‘us vs. them’ with every violent terrorist attack—from bringing down the World Trade Center towers, killing American soldiers overseas, beheading journalists, or shooting Americans in Orlando,” he added. “DHS’s emphasis here on political correctness is absolutely dangerous and places America and our military at risk.”

In the Senate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said the administration’s failure to properly address radical Islam has made the country less safe.

“Over and over again, we have seen the Obama administration having ample information to stop a terrorist attack, and yet because of the political correctness, because of the ideology of this administration that won’t even say the word ’jihad,’ won’t even say the words ’radical Islamic terrorism,’ they look the other way and the attacks go forward,” Cruz said in a Senate floor speech Thursday.

Sebastian Gorka, a counterterrorism expert, said that banning the jihadist terminology is similar to “Newspeak,” the fictional language used for totalitarian control in George Orwell’s book 1984.

“This is simply outrageous from the perspective of national security,” said Gorka, the Horner chair of military theory at Marine Corps University.

“Banning words that our political elite don’t like is not only a contravention of the First Amendment, it directly endangers the lives of Americans,” he added.

“When the enemy that slaughters our citizens in Orlando, San Bernardino, and Boston calls themselves ‘jihadis’ no one, not even the president, has the right to censor that reality and give them another name.”

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official now with the American Enterprise Institute, said the report’s concerns about terminology are hindering counterterrorism efforts.

“If the Obama team and DHS used half the effort they expend debating vocabulary actually advancing strategies to stymie and defeat enemies, America would be safer,” he said.

The report also recommends using former terrorists in “programming and messaging” efforts, including “far right, anti-government, and other extremists groups.” The report also mentions white supremacist, sovereign citizen, and anarchist groups as posing a terror threat but makes no mention of left-wing extremist groups.

The report also calls for a focus on “gender diversity of youth through careful attention to the range of push and pull factors that attract individuals of differing gender.” The gender focus was not further explained.

On the use of social media, “the department must fully understand and leverage social media in its policy and programmatic activities,” the report said.

America’s children, the report says, will grow up in a world of expanding human ingenuity and knowledge. “As that process of human evolution, including the expansion of freedom and liberties across the globe proceeds, our government must remain vigilant, adapt, and evolve to protect them,” the report concludes, adding that “we must do so by demonstrating faith in the American people, in their government, and we must be confident in the power of America’s ideas.”

A DHS spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

Farah Pandith, a Council on Foreign Relations fellow, and chairman of the panel that produced the report, did not return emails seeking comment.

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.