Syria’s military says the U.S.-led coalition carried out an airstrike on an eastern base that is surrounded by Islamic State militants

USAF/Getty

USAF/Getty

 BREITBART JERUSALEM, Sept. 17, 2016:

A U.S. military official in Baghdad said he was looking into the report, which could not be independently corroborated. If true, the strike would mark the first known time the United States had targeted Syrian government forces since the start of the five-year-old conflict. It was unclear why coalition air forces would be mounting attacks during a cease-fire that the U.S has worked to put in place. However, the cease-fire does not apply to attacks on the Islamic State group.

A Russian Defense Ministry official said Syria has informed them that 62 of its soldiers were killed in the airstrike. Russia has been waging a year-old air campaign on behalf of Assad’s forces and closely coordinates with them.

Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the airstrike near Deir el-Zour airport was conducted by two F-16s and two A-10s. He did not identify the planes’ country affiliation, but said they were part of the international coalition.

Konashenkov said Syrian authorities reported another 100 wounded. The planes came from the direction of the border with Iraq, he added.

He said IS militants surrounding the air base launched an attack on the Syrian army positions after the air strike. He added that if the coalition attack was launched by mistake, the reason for it was a “stubborn reluctance by the American side to coordinate its action against terrorist groups in Syria with Russia.”

IS has repeatedly attacked the government-held air base, which is an isolated enclave deep in extremist-held territory. The Syrian military said the airstrikes enabled an IS advance on a hill overlooking the air base.

It called the strike a “serious and blatant attack on Syria and its military,” and “firm proof of the U.S. support of Daesh and other terrorist groups,” using the Arabic acronym for IS. President Bashar Assad’s government views all those fighting against it as “terrorists,” and has long accused the U.S. and other rebel supporters of backing extremists.

The U.S.-led coalition has carried out thousands of airstrikes against IS in Syria and Iraq over the past two years, allowing allied forces on the ground to liberate several towns and cities from the extremist group. Russia also carries out attacks against IS targets, in Deir el-Zour and other parts of Syria.

The cease-fire took effect on Monday, and despite reports of violations, it has largely held. However, aid convoys have been unable to enter rebel-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo — a key component of the deal.

Earlier on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin questioned the U.S. commitment to the fragile cease-fire, suggesting that Washington wasn’t prepared to break with “terrorist elements” battling Assad’s forces.

Russia has accused Washington of failing to rein in the rebels, and on Saturday Putin asked why the United States has insisted on not releasing a written copy of the agreement. Officials have provided details of the agreement in press conferences, but have not released an official document, fueling suspicions on both sides.

“This comes from the problems the U.S. is facing on the Syrian track — they still cannot separate the so-called healthy part of the opposition from the half-criminal and terrorist elements,” Putin said during a trip to Kyrgyzstan.

“In my opinion, this comes from the desire to keep the combat potential in fighting the legitimate government of Bashar Assad. But this is a very dangerous route.”

He appeared to be referring to the Fatah al-Sham Front, an al-Qaida-linked group previously known as the Nusra Front, which is deeply embedded in rebel-held areas and fights alongside more moderate groups.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov echoed Putin’s remarks during a phone call with Secretary of State John Kerry. Lavrov noted the “refusal by an array of illegal armed groups to join the cease-fire,” and Washington’s obligation to “separate units of the moderate opposition from terrorist groupings,” according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

Under the cease-fire agreement, the U.S. and Russia would work together to target the Fatah al-Sham Front, as well as the Islamic State group, while Assad’s forces refrain from striking opposition-held areas.

But Washington has warned Russia that unless aid is delivered to Aleppo, it will not move ahead with the formation of the joint coordination center.

The U.N. has accused Assad’s government of obstructing aid access to the contested city. The Russian military says insurgents have held up the delivery by firing on government positions along the main route leading into besieged, rebel-held districts, in violation of the cease-fire.

The Syrian government said it has done all that is necessary to facilitate the entry of aid convoys to Aleppo, but that armed groups have failed to withdraw from the supply routes and are committing “dangerous, provocative acts.”

Russia’s military said Syrian rebels violated the cease-fire dozens of times over the past day, including with strikes on military and civilian targets in Aleppo.

The Interfax news agency quoted Col. Sergei Kopytsin as saying Saturday that mortar fire and homemade rockets struck Aleppo 26 times. Russian news agencies cited another official, Lt. Gen. Vladimir Savchenko, as saying there had been 55 violations throughout the country. Syria’s state news agency SANA said insurgents have violated the cease-fire 12 times in the last 12 hours. No casualties were reported.

Syrian activists said government forces have meanwhile killed five civilians. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a woman and child were killed Saturday in Talbiseh, in the central Homs province. It says two men were killed outside Damascus and a child was killed in Aleppo province.

Syria’s conflict has killed more than 300,000 people and displaced half the country’s population since March 2011.

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Syria, Russia: Coalition airstrike kills regime forces

Obama: Islamic State Will Be Defeated ‘Inevitably’

GettyImages-585966410

Meanwhile, in case you are having trouble keeping track of ISIS related arrests here in the United States, here is the list at Threat Knowledge Group. CURRENT COUNT: 109

Breitbart, by Charlie Spiering, Aug. 5, 2016:

President Barack Obama tried to talk down Islamic State terrorism during his press conference at the Pentagon, insisting that it would be defeated “inevitably.”

“ISIL turns out not to be invincible,” he said. “They’re, in fact, inevitably going to be defeated.”

Obama met with his national security advisers at the Pentagon to discuss his ongoing war against ISIS, citing the importance of freeing Mosul and Raqqah from their control.

But he failed to outline any significant changes to his strategy, citing an ongoing commitment to supporting partners on the ground.

“What we’ve learned from our efforts to defeat al Qaeda is that if we stay on it, our intelligence gets better and we adapt as well,” he said. “And eventually, we will dismantle these networks also.”

Obama pointed out that two years ago, ISIS was making gains and threatening Baghdad, but argued that as a result of his efforts, they had lost territory.

“Even ISIL’s leaders know they’re going to keep losing,” he said. “In their message to followers, they’re increasingly acknowledging that they may lose Mosul and Raqqah. And ISIL is right. They will lose them.”

Obama urged Americans to “keep our eye on the ball and not panic” in spite of a series of ISIS attacks on civilians around the world.

“We have to understand that as painful and as tragic as these attacks are that we are going to keep on grinding away, preventing them wherever we can, using a whole government effort to knock down their propaganda, to disrupt their networks, to take their key operatives off the battlefield, and that eventually we will win,” he explained.

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Jim Hanson: Obama Is a ‘Dismal Failure’ in Fighting Global Jihad

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12 Freed Guantánamo Terrorists Have Killed ‘About a Half-Dozen Americans’

Getty Images

Getty Images

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, June 9, 2016:

The Obama administration reports that at least 12 terrorists from the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — all released under George W. Bush — have killed an estimated half-dozen Americans, the Washington Post (WaPo) has learned from current and former U.S. officials on condition of anonymity.

Although the officials reportedly declined to provide a specific figure for former Guantánamo prisoners involved in attacks that killed and injured Americans, one is quoted as saying the number “was fewer than 15.”

The revelation follows the starling acknowledgement to the House Foreign Affairs Committee made by a top Pentagon official in March that detainees released from the U.S. military prison in Cuba have killed Americans.

Paul Lewis, the Pentagon’s special envoy for President Barack Obama’s relentless efforts to shut down the Guantánamo facility, declined to provide the GOP-led House panel with more details. The Obama administration has since refused to further elaborate publicly on the official’s comments, claiming the intelligence behind it is classified.

However, an unnamed administration official was quick to tell the Associated Press (AP) that Lewis was referring to an incident involving the release of an Afghan prisoner from Guantánamo under Obama’s predecessor.

Some U.S. lawmakers are urging the Obama administration to declassify the information about suspected attacks attributed to former Guantánamo prisoners that they have been privy to but are prohibited from discussing publicly.

“There appears to be a consistent and concerted effort by the Administration to prevent Americans from knowing the truth regarding the terrorist activities and affiliations of past and present Guantánamo detainees,” wrote Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a vocal opponent of Obama’s efforts to shut down the prison, in a letter to the president this week.

Some jihadists released from Guantánamo under President Obama have returned to terrorist activities, including one of the five high-level Taliban commanders released in the controversial exchange for deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Former and current U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, provided the Postwith “additional details about the suspected attacks [that Lewis was allegedly alluding to], including the approximate number of detainees and victims involved and the fact that, while most of the incidents were directed at military personnel, the dead also included one American civilian: a female aid worker who died in Afghanistan in 2008.”

According to the Post, the officials also revealed that NATO troops who have been fighting alongside their American counterparts throughout most of the nearly 14-year-old Afghanistan war have also suffered casualties at the hands of the released prisoners.

One U.S. official familiar with the intelligence told the Post that, of the detainees suspected of attacking U.S. and allied personnel, nine are currently dead or in the custody of a foreign government.

The Pentagon official’s comments in March sparked criticism from Republicans opposed to closing the detention center.

“Some lawmakers see the violence against Americans as further evidence that the president’s plans for closing the prison are misguided and dangerous,” points out WaPo. “They also describe the administration’s unwillingness to release information about the attacks as another instance of its use of high levels of classification to avoid discussion of a politically charged issue that could heighten political opposition to its plans.”

President Obama continues to push ahead in his efforts to shut down the Guantánamo detention center, commonly known as Gitmo.

The Guardian reported in late May that his administration is secretly preparing to transfer up to 24 prisoners out of Gitmo by the end of the summer, a move that would bring the detainee population down to 56 from the 242 who were held there when Obama took office.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon submitted to Congress the Obama administration’s proposal for closing the Guantánamo detention center, which would require transferring prisoners to the United States, a move that is opposed by many lawmakers and is prohibited by law.

Currently, 80 terrorists are being housed at the prison.

In March, the office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) reported that as of mid-January, about 3 out of every 10 detainees were suspected or confirmed to have re-engaged in terrorist activities after being transferred out of Gitmo.

Although that includes some terrorists released under President Obama, his administration suggests that none have been linked to attacks against the United States or its allies.

“Human rights activists say the statistics are suspect and cannot be verified because the administration provides almost no information about whom it is counting and why,” notes the Post.

Also see:

U.S. Transfers 9 Yemeni Detainees from Guantánamo to Saudi Arabia

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File

Breitbart, by Edwin Mora, April 19, 2016:

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The Pentagon has announced the transfer of nine Yemeni detainees out of Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to Saudi Arabia as President Barack Obama prepares to visit the Gulf kingdom and continues his efforts to shut down the U.S. military prison.

The Pentagon made the announcement of Saturday’s transfers in a statement.

All nine prisoners are from Saudi Arabia’s next-door neighbor, Yemen, home to a war that has been raging since March 2015 between a Saudi-led coalition, backed by the United States, and Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels.

The Saudi alliance, primarily made up of Sunni-led nations, has also been trying to restore the internationally backed government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power.

Overall, the majority of the 80 detainees who still remain at Guantánamo are from Yemen, which borders Saudi Arabia, and finds itself in the middle of a fragile United Nations-brokered ceasefire between warring sides. Peace negotiations were expected to resume Monday, but were delayed.

“Saudi Arabia runs a rehabilitation program to help former jihadists re-enter society. It has only taken in one other Yemeni prisoner, in 2007, and has mostly repatriated its own citizens from the facility,” reports The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). “The nine prisoners involved in the latest transfer had been in the Guantánamo detention center since 2002, and none had been charged with a crime.”

All nine prisoners arrived in Saudi Arabia Saturday evening, the kingdom has reportedly confirmed. A Pentagon statement announcing the transfer indicated that at least one of the individuals will be released without restrictions.

The Pentagon reveals:

On April 17, 2015, the Periodic Review Board consisting of representatives from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and State; the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence determined continued law of war detention of [Mashur Abdullah Muqbil Ahmed] Al-Sabri does not remain necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States. As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, Al-Sabri was recommended for transfer by consensus of the six departments and agencies comprising the Periodic Review Board.

Of the 80 detainees held at Guantánamo, 26 have been cleared for transfer.

Citing unnamed U.S. officials, the WSJ reports that the Obama administration expects to release all prisoners approved for transfer by the end of the summer.

“Many of the prisoners remaining at the facility are Yemeni and are difficult to relocate because the U.S. must find third countries to accept them because of unrest in Yemen,” notes the WSJ. “Saturday’s transfer comes ahead of President Barack Obama’s trip to Saudi Arabia in coming days and is the largest single movement of prisoners in 2016.”

In a statement, the Pentagon expressed gratitude, thanking the Saudis for taking the prisoners:

The United States is grateful to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. The United States coordinated with the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.

Saudi Arabia confirmed that the nine detainees arrived in the kingdom Saturday evening.

The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reports that the Saudi ministry of interior said Yemeni President Hadi requested the transfer, which was approved by Saudi King Salman.

Data compiled by The New York Times (NYT) provides background information on the detainees:

  1. Ahmed Umar Abdullah al Hikimi is a 43-or 44-year-old citizen of Yemen. He was transferred to Saudi Arabia on April 16, 2016.
  2. Abdul Rahman Mohamed Saleh Naser is a 35-or 36-year-old citizen of Yemen. He was transferred to Saudi Arabia on April 16, 2016.
  3. Ali Yahya Mahdi al Raimi is a 32-or 33-year-old citizen of Yemen. As of January 2010, the Guantánamo Review Task Force had recommended him for transfer. He was transferred to Saudi Arabia on April 16, 2016.
  4. Tarek Ali Abdullah Ahmed Baada is a 37-or 38-year-old citizen of Yemen. He was transferred to an undetermined country on April 16, 2016.
  5. Mohammed Abdullah al Hamiri is a 33-or 34-year-old citizen of Yemen. As of January 2010, the Guantánamo Review Task Force had recommended him for transfer. He was transferred to Saudi Arabia on April 16, 2016.
  6. Ahmed Yaslam Said Kuman is a 35-year-old citizen of Yemen. He was transferred to Saudi Arabia on April 16, 2016.
  7. Abdul Rahman Umir al Qyati is a 39-or 40-year-old citizen of Yemen. As of January 2010, the Guantánamo Review Task Force had recommended him for transfer. He was transferred to Saudi Arabia on April 16, 2016.
  8. Mansoor Muhammed Ali Qattaa is a 33-or 34-year-old citizen of Yemen. As of January 2010, the Guantánamo Review Task Force had recommended him for transfer. He was transferred to Saudi Arabia on April 16, 2016.
  9. Mashur Abdallah Muqbil Ahmed al Sabri is a 37-or 38-year-old citizen of Yemen. He was transferred to Saudi Arabia on April 16, 2016.

Soon after assuming the highest office of the land in 2009, President Obama, through executive order, established an interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force to review all cases and release those deemed eligible based on various factors, including security issues.

As required by law, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter informed the Republican-controlled Congress of the Obama administration’s intent to release the prisoners Saturday to Saudi Arabia.

President Obama has pledged to shut down the Guantánamo prison, but has met resistance from a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

Nevertheless, the Pentagon has submitted a proposal to Congress to close down the facility, which includes a provision to transfer prisoners deemed too dangerous for release to U.S. soil.

Transferring Guantánamo prisoners to the U.S. is prohibited by law.

Also see:

Fighting Intensifies Between CIA-Backed Militias and Pentagon-Backed Syrian Rebels

In this photo taken on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, Syrian army rocket launchers fire near the village of Morek in Syria.(AP Photo/Alexander Kots, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Photo via AP)

In this photo taken on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, Syrian army rocket launchers fire near the village of Morek in Syria.(AP Photo/Alexander Kots, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Photo via AP)

PJ MEDIA, BY RICK MORAN, MARCH 27, 2016

Clashes between militias trained by the CIA and the Pentagon are intensifying as bitter fighting has broken out near Aleppo and the Turkish border.

Chicago Tribune:

The fighting has intensified over the past two months, as CIA-armed units and Pentagon-armed ones have repeatedly shot at each other as they have maneuvered through contested territory on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, U.S. officials and rebel leaders have confirmed.In mid-February, a CIA-armed militia called Fursan al Haq, or Knights of Righteousness, was run out of the town of Marea, about 20 miles north of Aleppo, by Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces moving in from Kurdish-controlled areas to the east.

“Any faction that attacks us, regardless from where it gets its support, we will fight it,” said Maj. Fares Bayoush, a leader of Fursan al Haq.

Rebel fighters described similar clashes in the town of Azaz, a key transit point for fighters and supplies between Aleppo and the Turkish border, and March 3 in the Aleppo neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud.

The attacks come amid continued heavy fighting in Syria and illustrate the difficulty facing U.S. efforts to coordinate among dozens of armed groups that are trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad, fight the Islamic State militant group and battle one another all at the same time.

“It is an enormous challenge,” said Rep.Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who described the clashes between U.S.-supported groups as “a fairly new phenomenon.”

“It is part of the three-dimensional chess that is the Syrian battlefield,” he said.

The area in northern Syria around Aleppo, the country’s second-largest city, features not only a war between the Assad government and its opponents, but also periodic battles against Islamic State militants, who control much of eastern Syria and also some territory to the northwest of the city, and long-standing tensions among the ethnic groups that inhabit the area, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.

If anything demonstrates the incompetence, futility, and danger of the president’s policiy in Syria, it’s this almost comic clash between fighters trained by two separate wings of our national security apparatus.

Did it really have to be like this? In late 2011, the main organized force fighting President Assad was the Free Syrian Army. At that time, FSA was made up of deserters from Assad’s army and was almost entirely secular in nature. No Islamist militias. No Gulf state support for extremists. No ISIS. No Hezbollah or the Russians assisting Assad.

It was a critical point. Should the U.S. arm and train the Free Syrian Army? I acknowledge there were serious arguments on both sides of the question. The president feared that supporting the overthrow of Assad would commit the U.S. to a course of action that may eventually have required ground troops. Even back then many people realized that if America were to commit ground troops to Syria, it would force Russia to intervene.

But Assad’s army was falling apart. Thousands were deserting or refusing to fire on civilians. This little history lesson is necessary because we forget there were alternative paths that Hillary Clinton and President Obama didn’t take. A strong show of support for the FSA supplied with heavy American arms might have brought the civil war to a relatively quick end without the fractured, quarrelling  opposition and extremist militias wreaking havoc on anyone who disagrees with them.

But Clinton-Obama played it safe and now we are presented with a Gordian Knot that appears hopelessly tangled. Each strand that is unravelled leads to another strand tightening.

None of the many sides in this conflict appear ready to stop fighting. Perhaps that will only happen when they run out of people to kill or they run out of modern weapons and are forced to fight with sticks and stones.

I don’t envy the next president who has to manage the slaughter to keep it from spilling over Syria’s borders and further embroil the region in conflict.

Emails show DOD analysts told to ‘cut it out’ on ISIS warnings; IG probe expands

investigationFox News, by Catherine Herridge, Nov. 23, 2015:

Analysts at U.S. Central Command were pressured to ease off negative assessments about the Islamic State threat and were even told in an email to “cut it out,” Fox News has learned – as an investigation expands into whether intelligence reports were altered to present a more positive picture.

Fox News is told by a source close to the CENTCOM analysts that the pressure on them included at least two emails saying they needed to “cut it out” and “toe the line.”

Separately, a former Pentagon official told Fox News there apparently was an attempt to destroy the communications. The Pentagon official said the email warnings were “not well received” by the analysts.

Those emails, among others, are now in the possession of the Pentagon inspector general. The IG’s probe is expanding into whether intelligence assessments were changed to give a more positive picture of the anti-ISIS campaign.

The former Pentagon official said there were “multiple assessments” from military intelligence and the CIA regarding the “rapid rise” of ISIS in Iraq and North Africa in the year leading up to the group’s territory grab in 2014.

Similar intelligence was included in the President’s Daily Brief, or PDB – the intelligence community’s most authoritative product — during the same time period. Yet the official, who was part of the White House discussions, said the administration kept “kicking the can down the road.” The official said there was no discussion of the military involvement needed to make a difference.

The IG probe started earlier this year amid complaints that information was changed to make ISIS look more degraded than it really was.

Among the complaints is that after the U.S. air campaign started in August 2014, the metrics to measure progress changed. They were modified to use measures such as the number of sorties and body counts — a metric not used since the Vietnam War — to paint a more positive picture.

Critics say this “activity-based approach” to tracking the effectiveness of strikes does not paint a comprehensive picture of whether ISIS is being degraded and contained.

The New York Times first reported on Sunday that the IG investigation was expanding and adding more investigators, and that the office had taken possession of a trove of documents and emails as part of that probe.

Asked about the report, House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said Sunday that his committee and others are involved in the investigation.

“We heard from a lot of whistle-blowers and other informants who have given us information. And not just … related strictly to the latest allegations,” Nunes said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Citing the renewed focus on ISIS after the Paris terror attacks, he added: “So the president, to have a successful strategy, is going to admit that they’ve got it wrong and they need to relook at a larger strategy that deals with north Africa, the Middle East, all the way over to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and then work closely with our NATO allies with what appears to be a command and control structure that ISIS has created successfully in Europe.”

President Obama, speaking at a press conference in Malaysia over the weekend, said he expects to “get to the bottom” of whether ISIS intelligence reports were altered – and has told his top military officials as much.

“One of the things I insisted on the day I walked into the Oval Office was that I don’t want intelligence shaded by politics. I don’t want it shaded by the desire to tell a feel-good story,” Obama said Sunday. “I believe that the Department of Defense and all those who head up our intelligence agencies understand that, and that I have made it repeatedly clear to all my top national security advisers that I never want them to hold back, even if the intelligence or their opinions about the intelligence, their analysis or interpretations of the data contradict current policy.”

At the same time, he said, “As a consumer of this intelligence, it’s not as if I’ve been receiving wonderfully rosy, glowing portraits of what’s been happening in Iraq and Syria over the last year and a half. … [I]t feels to me like, at my level at least, we’ve had a pretty clear-eyed, sober assessment.”

The president’s call for a thorough investigation was greeted with cynicism by those involved in the 2014 intelligence assessments, since the administration did not act on the earlier raw intelligence that painted a dire picture of developments, especially in Iraq.

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

About Those 50 Centcom Whistleblowers — Where Are All the Others?

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Center for Security Policy,by Fred Fleitz, Sep. 29, 2015:

More than 50 U.S. intelligence analysts working with the U.S. Central Command have filed complaints with the Pentagon inspector general, claiming that their analyses were manipulated by senior officials to downplay the threat from ISIS and the al-Nusra Front (the al-Qaeda branch in Syria), according to a recent Daily Beast story. The journalists reported that authorities have altered intelligence to bolster the Obama administration’s claim that the U.S. is making progress in defeating these Islamist terrorist groups.

Although these are serious complaints that merit an investigation, this story may well be the tip of the iceberg; I believe there is a broad pattern of distorting intelligence analyses to support Obama-administration policy. The real question is why we are not hearing from more whistleblowers.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, for instance, was accused of politicizing intelligence analysis in February 2011 when he said, during a congressional hearing: “The term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ is an umbrella term for a variety of movements — in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.”

Many members of Congress were outraged by this statement, which Clapper later had to walk back. But Clapper was speaking from prepared remarks that conveyed the consensus views of the U.S. intelligence community. Why did no intelligence analysts come forward to allege that the intelligence community was playing down the threat from the Muslim Brotherhood?

The CIA’s official comments on the September 2011 Benghazi terrorist attacks are another example of deliberately skewed talking points. Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee accused acting CIA director Michael Morell of doctoring his statements to promote the Obama administration’s line that the Benghazi attacks had nothing to do with terrorism. Committee Republicans also accused Morell of lying to Congress about his actions. Given this strong criticism of Morell, why did no CIA whistleblowers come forward about this affair? 

The most disturbing example of politicized intelligence analysis during this administration concerns the Iranian nuclear program. I have witnessed several instances of this, but two stick out in my mind.

Just before a hearing on the Iranian nuclear program in 2009 to the House Intelligence Committee (where I was serving as a staff member), one of the CIA witnesses took me aside to lecture me on my disagreement with the CIA’s analysis. This official, who headed the CIA’s Iran Issue office, demanded that I stop disputing the agency’s analysis of the Iranian nuclear program. She also told me that as a former CIA analyst, I should be supporting the agency’s analysis. 

I responded by telling this agency official that I thought the CIA’s analysis of Iran’s nuclear program was dead wrong and politicized, and that I had a responsibility to say this to the committee members. I also said that while I no longer worked for the CIA and therefore was not obligated to support the agency’s take on Iran, I was worried about what kind of pressure CIA management must be putting on current analysts to stick to an analytic corporate line if it was pressuring former analysts such as myself to do so.

And the second striking example of blatant distortion I witnessed came last month, during an unclassified presentation at CIA headquarters by a senior official who works in the agency’s nonproliferation-analysis office. The official began his remarks by saying he and his office took no position on the nuclear deal with Iran, but he proceeded to give a 25-minute talk that sounded as if it were directly drawn from White House talking points. There was no mention of criticism of the Iran deal, the secret side deals, or how sanctions relief could be used to fund terrorism.

This presentation also included misleading and technically inaccurate statements previously made by White House and State Department officials on uranium enrichment and plutonium production; no arms-control expert should have given voice to these errors. Three other former CIA arms-control analysts who attended this talk agreed with me that it was a one-sided and extremely biased presentation. One of these former analysts was quite angry about the talk and accused the CIA official of crossing the line by promoting policy — a cardinal sin for intelligence analysts.

This presentation was consistent with other reports I have heard from intelligence and congressional sources that the Obama administration has been using the U.S. intelligence community to promote the nuclear agreement with Iran. Given the sharp divisions over the Iran deal in Washington, why have we not heard about complaints to inspectors general about this politicization of intelligence?

I can cite many other examples of politicized intelligence analysis during the Obama administration, including the intelligence community’s altering of terrorism terminology to conform with the Obama administration’s agenda. Analysts must now use the term “home-grown violent extremists,” for example, instead of “home-grown terrorists.” Intelligence agencies never use the terms “radical Islam” or “Islamist.” When referring to ISIS terrorists in Syria, the intelligence community’s 2015 worldwide threat report repeatedly refers to them as “Sunni violent extremists.”

This kind of obvious manipulation for political advantage should have led large numbers of intelligence analysts to complain about politicization. Why has this not occurred?

There are at least three reasons for the relative dearth of whistleblowing complaints by intelligence analysts during this administration. They point to political and systemic problems in the U.S. intelligence community that the next president must address.

First, it’s instructive that it was Defense intelligence analysts — probably mostly from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) — who recently lodged complaints of politicization and leaked them to the press; DIA has a history of resisting the consensus-based approach to intelligence analysis that has dominated the U.S. intelligence community in the aftermath of the Iraq War. Former DIA director General Michael Flynn has been clear that he thinks intelligence analysis of terrorism has been distorted for political purposes, and he recently said that DIA analysis of extremist groups in the Middle East and North Africa has “typically been more hard hitting” and has not tried to paint a rosy picture. Flynn reportedly was forced to retire in 2014 because he refused to go along with intelligence-analysis groupthink and other efforts to politicize intelligence.

Second, the problem of liberal bias among U.S. intelligence analysts goes back many years. John Ranelagh documented this in his authoritative 1986 book The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA. In this, he wrote that CIA Vietnam analysts during the Vietnam War “especially wanted to maintain their image with academia, where they one day might seek future jobs.” Abram Shulsky and Gary Schmitt drew a similar conclusion in a 1995 article, asserting that U.S. intelligence analysts “who have any intellectual pretensions do not wish to be seen as ‘Neanderthal’ or ‘out of it’ by those in the much more prestigious realms of academia or the mainstream, national-level media.” Shulsky and Schmitt concluded that “this tends to reinforce a tendency toward the ‘conventional wisdom,’” and that “it is distressing how often highly classified assessments of political issues closely resemble op-ed pieces.”

These observations by Ranelagh, Shulsky, and Schmitt are important because they help explain why intelligence officers sometimes try to undermine Republican administrations but never try to undermine Democratic presidents. The Wall Street Journal famously threw the limelight on CIA officers who were turning against a Republican president in a September 29, 2004, editorial — “The CIA’s Insurgency” — that described how a small number of agency officers resisted the Bush administration’s anti-terror policy and tried to prevent President Bush’s reelection.

The third reason we see few whistleblowers is that — as I know from 19 years’ experience as a CIA analyst and from CIA sources — agency management sometimes pressures analysts to support analytic corporate lines, especially on controversial matters and issues related to presidential policy. Analysts who promote the corporate line get promotions, bonuses, and better assignments. Analysts who don’t are sidelined and can fare much worse.

The bottom line is that analysts’ recent complaints about politicization are a symptom of a much larger problem. The next president needs to take steps to ensure that intelligence is objective and nonpolitical. This should include appointing the best possible managers from outside government to top intelligence jobs to take on the intelligence culture, demand accountability, and reward analysts for challenging conventional wisdom. This will not be easy, as CIA director Porter Goss learned when he attempted such reform efforts, only to face a public onslaught against him by agency officers. Goss failed because the Bush White House did not back him up. The next president must do better.

The CIA should return to Director William Casey’s model of “competitive analysis” and jettison the current practice of consensus analysis by committee. “Red Team” analysis (analyses of alternative scenarios) also needs to be expanded and its products widely disseminated. We also must find better avenues for intelligence whistleblowers so they can raise their concerns without fear of retaliation.

We should also do away with, or drastically cut back, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). In attempting to coordinate all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, DNI has added a thick layer of bureaucracy that only dumbs down intelligence. The Wall Street Journal made a similar point in its editorial September 18:

The general intelligence practice is to produce “estimates” that amount to the lowest-common denominator of agreement among more than a dozen separate intelligence agencies. That these estimates are overseen by a Director of National Intelligence who is close to the president often serves to sanitize them further — another reason we feel vindicated for opposing the Bush administration when it created the DNI in the wake of 9/11.

 The 9/11 Commission cited a lack of imagination as a reason intelligence agencies failed to produce analysis that could have prevented the terrorist attacks that day. I fear we are further from fixing this problem than we were in 2001. Over the past seven years, we’ve seen a sharp increase in politicized, consensus-based, and unimaginative intelligence analysis written to promote Obama foreign-policy objectives. The next president must understand that objective, “outside the box” intelligence analysis is crucial to protecting our nation from new and evolving national-security threats, and she or he must exercise the leadership to ensure that America’s intelligence community starts producing it.

Former CIA and DIA Operatives Warn of Another 9/11 Attack

Plumes of smoke pour from the World Trade Center buildings in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.

Plumes of smoke pour from the World Trade Center buildings in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.

US News, By Sara Carter, Sept. 11, 2015:

The United States could be facing another 9/11 attack as factions grow deeper among the Taliban, al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, especially with the recently confirmed death of the Taliban’s one-eyed leader Mullah Omar, according to a senior U.S. lawmaker, federal law enforcement and intelligence officials.

The tensions between Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and the Taliban is as dangerous a national security threat to the United States as it was before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, said Brian Fairchild, who spent two decades with the CIA and has testified before Congress on terrorism.

“Right now, al-Qaida, under Zawahiri, needs the Khorasan group or some affiliated group to attack the U.S. again like 9/11 in order to lift up his stature and that of the organization,” Fairchild said. “He doesn’t want something small but something big – a big-scale attack like 9/11 to make him relevant again. This is an extremely dangerous time as Islamic State, al-Qaida and the Taliban fight and compete for dominance.”

A 32-page Islamic State recruiting document obtained in Pakistan by American Media Institute detailed the growing division between the Islamic State group and al-Qaida. The document — authenticated by retired Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and two other senior U.S. intelligence officers — called for the Islamic State group to launch a war with India that would draw the United States into battle and end the world.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) also issued two threatening communications in August calling on believers to take action in the U.S. through more lone-wolf attacks, according to SITE Intelligence Group and Middle-East Research Institute, both of which track terror activity.

“Despite many years since 9/11, our enemies in the now Islamic State still see anniversaries as important times to stage attacks,” Flynn said. “And regardless of how far away we get from the original attack against America in 2001, our need to remain vigilant on this coming anniversary is as high as it has ever been. We have had more than sufficient warnings from our FBI in the past few weeks and months. Our nation must never back down from these vicious murderers.”

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told AMI on Sept. 3, the threat emanating from terrorist organizations has evolved since 2001.

“Since the 9/11 attacks we’ve seen the spread of jihadi ideology and the vacuum created under failed states,” McCaul said. “ISIS in Syria and Iraq is an example of that and the growth of the jihad movement has increased exponentially.”

The threat, however, has changed, McCaul said.

“Islamic State has enormous reach through the Internet and its dark space that allows the group to conduct and plan operations,” he said. “It is an area that leaves most of law enforcement and the intelligence community in the dark and its difficult, if not impossible, to combat…We call it terrorism gone viral. Bin Laden had cadres and couriers but with the Internet, they can radicalize thousands of fighters in a matter of minutes.”

BF quote on threatThe issue of “foreign fighters returning and hitting the homeland, which is a similar concern our European allies are facing at the moment, is something we are deeply concerned about as well,” he added.

Flynn explains that the failure to target the radical religious ideas behind the Islamic State group has given the terrorist group room to spread – not only in the Middle East, but throughout the world.

The threat of a “major war in South Asia goes beyond the scale that we have been dealing with in the wars we’ve fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. The likelihood of far more deadly weapons of mass destruction being applied certainly goes up,” Flynn said.

Fairchild said that since 2001, U.S. policy to dismantle safe-havens for terrorist organizations has failed.

“If you look at the world today there are sanctuaries all across the world. ISIS and al-Qaida affiliates are all over the world, in Yemen, Sinai, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Africa to name a few. The very premise of our counterterrorism policy has failed and our domestic security is being directly threatened,” he said.

Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha Catron declined to comment on the current threats or the steps being taken by DHS to mitigate the threats.

Although the Islamic State group’s recruiting document details the deep divisions within the jihadi terror groups, it also states its reverence for Mullah Omar, who had escaped on a motorcycle following a United States mission to capture him in Afghanistan in 2001 and refused to turn Osama bin Laden over to authorities.

Known as the Emir of the Afghan Taliban, Omar rose to power in 1995 and aided and harbored members of al-Qaida before and after Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He reportedly died in 2013, but his death remained a secret until July 29, when the Afghanistan government acknowledged his death just two days before peace talks between the terrorist groups were scheduled to begin.

“In the past, well before the attack on the World Trade Center, the Americans tried to bribe the Emir of the Muslims of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Mullah Muhammad Omar with wealth, power, and better relations with the anti-messianic global brotherhood in exchange for Sheikh Osama bin Laden,” the document states. “After 9/11, when the U.S threatened to attack, the pious Emir of the Muslims of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan said, ‘A momin’s (one who believes in God) honor cannot allow him to hand over his momin brother to infidels, even at the cost of power; a momin’s insurance is his faith which cannot be bargained.'”

Despite the apparent reverence for Omar, the Islamic State group wants to usurp the power in the region by encouraging al-Qaida’s fighters to defect and join their movement, the document said.

A Taliban official told the American Media Institute that Islamic State group leadership in the region is struggling to build recruitment and that the Taliban is engaged in continued fighting with its members.

When asked how the Afghan Taliban views the Islamic State group compared to the U.S. and NATO, the official said, “yes, [Islamic State] is much worse than [U.S. and NATO] – they are like a cancerous cell within the jihadi groups.”

“Mainly we have our alliances with al-Qaida and we host their core leadership in Afghanistan – we have support of Al Nusrah, AQAP and al-Shabab,” the official says. “But only the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria is our sworn enemy. Taliban and al-Qaida has a single enemy among the Jihadi groups worldwide and that is the so-called Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, which is not according to Islam — they are deviants.”

U.S. Intelligence officials, who have direct knowledge of the region, said it is this competition between the various extremist groups has increased the threat to U.S. security both at home and abroad.

“Mullah Omar’s death could present opportunities for other terrorist organizations to recruit disenchanted Taliban members; create splinter groups who may seek peace settlements with the Afghanistan government; or possibly incentivize the Taliban to continue its fighting efforts,” a U.S. Intelligence official said on condition of anonymity.

The threat against U.S. assets, personnel overseas and the possibility of another 911 attack against the homeland “has increased since the rise of ISIL and intelligence agencies are monitoring it closely,” the intelligence official added.

Sara A. Carter is a writer for the American Media Institute. Follow her on Twitter: @SaraCarterDC

ISLAMIC STATE: Big Explosions, Sex Slaves And Female Operatives

150528165043-women-of-isis-zaynab-sharrouf-1-exlarge-169

U.S. considers whether ISIS wives playing key role in operations  (cnn.com)

Washington (CNN)The U.S. is now looking at the possibility that wives of ISIS figures may play a greater role in operations and communications than previously thought because the terror group believes U.S. intelligence pays less attention to them.

Last month, an Army Delta Force raid in eastern Syria killed Abu Sayyaf, a senior ISIS leader involved in finance and other operations, and also led to the capture of his wife. The raid yielded significant intelligence that U.S. officials said adds to their understanding of ISIS’s structure and communications.

Several officials cautioned, however, that all of the intelligence gathered and information gained from the interrogation of the captured wife must be vetted and confirmed.

READ: Carter: ISIS raid a ‘significant blow’ to terror group

As CNN has previously reported, a U.S. official said the raid netted terabytes worth of data in external hard drives and hard copy, a higher volume than had originally been anticipated. The U.S. is reviewing it all to determine if it leads to anything that can be acted upon.

A second official said one U.S. airstrike in eastern Syria just a few days ago that killed a local ISIS emir was conducted on the basis of information gained from the raid.

Read more

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REUTERS/KHALIL ASHAWI

REUTERS/KHALIL ASHAWI

Pentagon: ISIS Using Tunnels to Bomb Targets in Iraq, Syria (breitbart.com)

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and rebels in Syria are using tunnel bombs as a potent new weapon, an upgrade to an ancient tactic, according to a Pentagon organization.

“Updating an ancient tactic, Islamic State militants — as well as rebels in Syria — are digging virtually undetectable tunnels, then planting bombs to blow up buildings and other targets,” reports Defense One, quoting JIEDDO (Joint IED Defeat Organization), the Pentagon arm focused on defeating the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as a weapon.

Defense One learned from Pentagon officials and documents that several dozen tunnel bombs have been used by rebels in Syria while ISIS detonated them last week to capture Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, Iraq’s largest province.

The concept behind detonating a tunnel bomb is reportedly quite simple: dig long enough to reach your intended target, plant explosives, and hit the detonator.

“This below the surface attack is particularly destructive to buildings and is appearing increasingly in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria,” said JIEDDO at a recent briefing, according to Defense One.

“The use of tunnels for IEDs and other purposes will continue to provide a low risk strategic advantage to extremist organizations and therefore requires continued development efforts and fielding of effective mitigation techniques,” it added.

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has designated all groups attempting to topple him, which include ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, as rebels.

ISIS in Iraq and rebels in Syria have detonated at least 45 tunnel bombs in the past two years, JIEDDO said.

Although most have been in Syria, U.S. officials told Defense One that ISIS is building a network of tunnels, as well as bunkers and trenches, in Iraq.

“In Syria, rebels have used tunnels bombs to attack government forces under the control of Bashar al-Assad,” reports Defense One. “Many of these tunnels were dug with hand tools to avoid detection.”

“In Iraq, ISIS used tunnel attacks to devastating effect in their assault on Ramadi. On March 11, ISIS forces detonated a tunnel bomb under an Iraqi army headquarters, killing an estimated 22 people,” it adds. “The blast consumed seven tons of explosives in an 800-foot long tunnel that took two months to dig, according to the JIEDDO briefing. On March 15, a second tunnel bomb was used to attack Iraqi Security Forces. The city fell two months later.”

During the briefing, JIEDDO noted that ISIS frequently disseminates videos on social media showing the use of tunnel bombs on its targets.

“As part of an information operations campaign, these attacks are documented and widely proliferated via social media which increases the likelihood of migration to other conflict areas or adoption by other extremist organizations on a worldwide basis,” reportedly said JIEDDO.

The Pentagon organization revealed that tunnel bombs are being used to target military checkpoints, buildings, and other protected establishments.

It can take less than 30 days to dig a short tunnel, while longer ones (no more than 1 mile in length) can take up to nine months to complete, said JIEDDO.

Defense One notes that tunnels have been weaponized by Iran proxy Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza as a means to smuggle weapons and attack Israel.

“Now their use is spreading, and extending to direct attacks,” explains the article.

“Beyond bombs, ISIS is believed to be using tunnels to move weapons and avoid detection by American and ally fighter jets and drones. (ISIS may even be exploiting Saddam Hussein’s own tunnel network, which is thought to stretch for 60 miles between palaces, military strongholds, and houses,” it adds. “During the U.S. invasion in 2003, Saddam’s forces used these tunnels to move weapons and as hideouts.)”

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Zainab Bangura, UN secretary general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, speaks at the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in London on April 11, 2013. (PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Zainab Bangura, UN secretary general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, speaks at the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in London on April 11, 2013.
(PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

ISIS Sells Sex Slave Girls for ‘as Little as a Pack of Cigarettes’ to Attract Foreign Jihadis With ‘New Girls,’ UN Envoy Warns (christianpost.com)

In continuing to display how little the Islamic State values life and women, ISIS militants are buying and selling sexually enslaved girls and women for as cheap as a pack of cigarettes in hopes of attracting more men to the group, a United Nations envoy declared on Monday.

Zainab Bangura, the United Nations special representative on sexual violence in conflict, told AFP that in order for ISIS to recruit more foreign fighters to join its military ranks, the caliphate continues to capture more girls and women in each new territory it conquers and then sells them at low prices.

“This is how they attract young men — ‘we have women waiting [for] you, virgins that you can marry,'” Bangura said. “The foreign fighters are the backbone of the fighting.”

Bangura, who recently toured through five Middle East countries and interviewed numerous women who were victimized by ISIS but managed to escape, explained that ISIS’ jihad is fueled by the enslavement of women.

“They [ISIS militants] kidnap and abduct women when they take areas so they have — I don’t want to call it a fresh supply, but they have new girls,” Bangura, a native of Sierra Leone, asserted. “This is a war that is being fought on the bodies of women.”

According to April’s estimates, ISIS has approximately 25,000 foreign fighters. But not only does ISIS have “new girls” for foreign fighters to acquire once they reach the caliphate, ISIS’ sex slaves are affordable and priced to meet even the poorest militant’s budget.

Bangura said that captured women and girls are often forced to strip naked and are judged by ISIS militants who gauge how much they are to be sold for. The fighters price some girls as high as a few thousand dollars, while selling others for “as little as a pack of cigarettes,” she stated.

“Some [females] were taken, locked up in a room — over 100 of them in a small house — stripped naked and washed,” Bangura said. “They were then made to stand in front of a group of men who decided ‘what you are worth.'”

After a girl is sold to an ISIS fighter, she is usually beaten, raped against her will and often sold or given away to another militant when the fighter is done abusing her. Should a sex slave refuse to give into her militant’s brutal and abnormal sexual fantasies, she is beaten or sometimes tortured.

In May, Bangura explained that a 20-year-old sex slave was burned alive after she refused to perform an “extreme sex act.”

“We heard one case of a 20-year-old girl who was burned alive because she refused to perform an extreme sex act,” Bangura said. “We learned of many other sadistic sexual acts. We struggled to understand the mentality of people who commit such crimes.”

Bangura also said that ISIS forces some captured women and girls into prostitution.

In a press briefing in early May, Bangura explained that one sex slave, who was sold to 20 different ISIS fighters before she escaped, was forced to undergo virginity repair surgery each time she was sold and raped by the next ISIS fighter.

“ISIL have institutionalized sexual violence and the brutalization of women as a central aspect of their ideology and operations, using it as a tactic of terrorism to advance their strategic objectives,” Bangura said.

Bangura told AFP that ISIS wants to “build a society that reflects the 13th century,” through its systemic sexual abuse of women, which she labeled as a “medieval” practice.

“Sexual violence by ISIL and other extremist groups arises from discrimination and dehumanization based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnic, political or religious identity, in particular the subordination of women and girls,” Bangura wrote in an email to Women eNews. “Indeed, the same ideology and objectives that motivate Boko Haram to abduct women and girls in Nigeria, also spur ISIL to enslave women and girls in Syria and Iraq.”

“Such violence has led to a number of harmful or negative coping mechanisms, such as the early marriage of girls by families that have no other means of protecting them, an increase in polygamy and “survival sex” by those with no economic alternatives, as well as the withdrawal and isolation of women and girls from education and public life,” she added.

Obama Administration Rules of Engagement Stymie Air War against ISIS

Refueling F-22 Raptor in mid-flight in air war against ISIS Source:  US Air Force

Refueling F-22 Raptor in mid-flight in air war against ISIS
Source: US Air Force

NER, by Jerry Gordon, June 1, 2015:

Without boots on the ground providing intelligence feed, the US led coalition air war is failing to “deter, let alone degrade” ISIS.  How else can you explain 7,000 sorties over Syria and Iraq with less than 25% having ‘bomb releases”?   That was the key disturbing finding in a Washington Times (WT) article, U.S. bombers hold fire on Islamic State targets amid ground intel blackout.”

The U.S. conducted 7,319 sorties over Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve in the first four months of 2015. Of those, only 1,859 flights — 25.4 percent — had at least one “weapons release,” according to data provided by United States Air Force Central Command. That means that only about one in every four flights dropped a bomb on an Islamic State target.

There have been reports of frustration by US Air Force, Navy and Marine pilots engaged in the ISIS air campaign who have acquired targets and yet been commanded to stand down from attacking them. That has led to criticism of the Administration ISIS air war from Members of Congress, most notably, Sen. John McCain who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee cited in the WT report:

The Arizona Republican said at a hearing this year that missions that don’t drop bombs needlessly put American pilots in danger and that U.S. boots on the ground would produce better intelligence that could lead to more effective bombing missions.

The level of air sorties in the US-led coalition air war is far below those of Gulf Wars I and II and even the Balkan Air campaigns during the Clinton era.  The question is what is causing this?  Many believe it is the restrictive rules of engagement to spare civilian lives, when ISIS fighters move among columns of civilians, effectively using them as human shields.  Further, some analysts ironically believe that these strict rules of engagement actually contribute to civilian casualties by to ISIS. Perhaps this also reflects the misguided Obama Administration obsession in both avoiding collateral damage and avoiding putting special teams on the ground to provide better target intelligence.

Israel Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel Source: Times of Israel

Israel Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel
Source: Times of Israel

Perhaps, the Central Command planners and air war commanders might best heed Israeli Air Force Commander Major General Eshel who was cited in a Defense News article saying:

“We have an offensive capability that is unprecedented and extremely significant which we’ve been developing over years and are now able to implement.

“In small wars, it’s a very significant challenge for us to reduce collateral damage on the other side when the enemy is using all he has to elevate the damage we’re forced to inflict on him,” Eshel said.

“First of all, it’s a moral challenge. … It sounds like a slogan, but we are constantly thinking, planning and operating with this challenge in mind.”

The demonstration of that approach was what  occurred in Operation Defensive Edge against the Hamas rocket and terror tunnel war threatening Israel when the IAF F-16’s flew missions in attacks against urban targets with precision guided 1 ton bombs within 250 meters of IDF troops.  The key is precision strikes based on precise intelligence.

Note these debates about the Pentagon handling of the ISIS air war campaign in the WT article:

Former US Navy Helicopter Pilot, Cmdr. Harmer:

Without ground forces, argues Cmdr. Christopher Harmer, a retired Navy helicopter pilot, U.S. airmen are essentially flying half-blind and, as a result, are returning to base with their bombs still in the bay.
“As long as the body politic or president or whoever is making decisions absolutely refuses to put American air controllers on ground, essentially pilots are flying with one eye closed,” Cmdr. Harmer said. “It’s almost impossible for pilots to designate between [Islamic State] fighters and coalition fighters.”

Cmdr. Harmer, who now serves as a senior naval analyst with the Middle East Security Project at the Institute for the Study for War, said airstrikes can hit big, static targets such as bridges, runways and tanks without on-the-ground guidance. But to be effective in hitting moving targets such as enemy troops in a firefight, U.S. pilots need American joint terminal attack controllers to give specific directions from the ground to guide their missiles precisely.

Fewer targets of opportunity says CENTCOM:

Col. Pat Ryder, spokesman for U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), told reporters Friday that while pilots can often place bombs on targets “within minutes,” it’s very important to be very precise and exercise tactical discipline to protect civilian populations.

“We’re dealing with a hybrid adversary who often hides among the population,” he said. “It’s more important for us to accurately target the enemy with a high degree of precision in order to minimize civilian casualties than it is to strike with such speed or force that would risk disenfranchising the very population we’re there to protect.”

Richard Brennan of RAND Corporation has a more pragmatic assessment:

But to make things work without a ground force and employing only air power, the rules of engagement must change, argues Richard Brennan, a senior political scientist at RAND Corp.

Mr. Brennan said the Islamic State, in adapting and responding to U.S. airstrikes, has started to intermingle its fighters with civilians to frustrate U.S. attacks from the air.

In an effort to protect civilian lives, the strict rules of engagement are doing the opposite by giving the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, the opportunity to kill civilians, he said.

“Even though the United States isn’t doing the killing, by its inability to use force in all but the cases where they’re sure of not having collateral damage, we’re ceding the advantage to ISIS in many situations,” Mr. Brennan said.

Looks to us that CENTCOM needs to whistle up a session with IAF General Eshel to understand how the Israelis do precision hits against Hamas in heavily urbanized Gaza City and Hezbollah Syrian missile and weapons transfers.  Both Cmdr. Harmer of the Institute for the Study of War and Brennan of the RAND Corporation are correct about the stringent rules for engagement in the air war against. They are generating more collateral civilian casualties.  Something that didn’t dawn on the Metternichean Munchkins in the Obama National Security Council who call the shots over Pentagon objections.

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Pentagon: Bible and U.S. Founding Documents Promote ‘Sexism’

By Raymond Ibrahim, April 14, 2015:

Here again we see why Western “elites,” including the highest echelons of the U.S. military, are clueless and incapable of acknowledging — much less responding to — Islam:

Modern sexism is rooted in the Bible, U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, according to a Pentagon-approved seminar.

In a presentation prepared by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI), a Department of Defense joint services school based in Florida, the Bible, U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, along with Great Man theory, are to blame for “historical influences that allow sexism to continue,” The Daily Caller reported.

“Quotes from the Bible can be misinterpreted as having a sexist influence when brought out of context and not fully understood,” the course says. “In 1776, ‘We the people…’ only included white men: Slaves and women were not included until later in history.”

The course also cites the Declaration of Independence as a historical cause of sexism for referring to only “all men” being created equal.

[…]

“While there is no DoD Policy that requires persons to take these online courses,” the spokesman told The Daily Caller, 2,075 Department of Defense personnel have taken the “Sexism” course since 2011.

Meanwhile, to even hint that Islam’s core texts promote sexism — if not downright misogny — can get one fired.  Yet the Koran declares that women are inferior to men, that men have authority over them and are permitted to beat them, that polygamy is permissible — each man can have four wives — that females only inherit half of males’ inheritance, that female testimony in an Islamic court of law is equivalent to half a man’s.

And every day, in every Muslim country, every woman experiences these very real, “non-abstract” distinctions.

Islamic prophet Muhammad himself likened females to dogs and other animals — “for all are ridden” —  and said that women are deficient in intelligence and make up the majority of hell’s denizens.

Yet, it’s the Bible, U.S. Constitution, and Declaration of Independence that women need fear, says the Pentagon.

Gregory Hicks: Benghazi and the Smearing of Chris Stevens

345WSJ, By GREGORY N. HICKS:

Last week the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued its report on the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. The report concluded that the attack, which resulted in the murder of four Americans, was “preventable.” Some have been suggesting that the blame for this tragedy lies at least partly with Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack. This is untrue: The blame lies entirely with Washington.

The report states that retired Gen. Carter Ham, then-commander of the U.S. Africa Command (Africom) headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, twice offered to “sustain” the special forces security team in Tripoli and that Chris twice “declined.” Since Chris cannot speak, I want to explain the reasons and timing for his responses to Gen. Ham. As the deputy chief of mission, I was kept informed by Chris or was present throughout the process.

On Aug. 1, 2012, the day after I arrived in Tripoli, Chris invited me to a video conference with Africom to discuss changing the mission of the U.S. Special Forces from protecting the U.S. Embassy and its personnel to training Libyan forces. This change in mission would result in the transfer of authority over the unit in Tripoli from Chris to Gen. Ham. In other words, the special forces would report to the Defense Department, not State.

Chris wanted the decision postponed but could not say so directly. Chris had requested on July 9 by cable that Washington provide a minimum of 13 American security professionals for Libya over and above the diplomatic security complement of eight assigned to Tripoli and Benghazi. On July 11, the Defense Department, apparently in response to Chris’s request, offered to extend the special forces mission to protect the U.S. Embassy.

However, on July 13, State Department Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy refused the Defense Department offer and thus Chris’s July 9 request. His rationale was that Libyan guards would be hired to take over this responsibility. Because of Mr. Kennedy’s refusal, Chris had to use diplomatic language at the video conference, such as expressing “reservations” about the transfer of authority.

Chris’s concern was significant. Transferring authority would immediately strip the special forces team of its diplomatic immunity. Moreover, the U.S. had no status of forces agreement with Libya. He explained to Rear Adm. Charles J. Leidig that if a member of the special forces team used weapons to protect U.S. facilities, personnel or themselves, he would be subject to Libyan law. The law would be administered by judges appointed to the bench by Moammar Gadhafi or, worse, tribal judges.

Chris described an incident in Pakistan in 2011 when an American security contractor killed Pakistani citizens in self-defense, precipitating a crisis in U.S.-Pakistani relations. He also pointed out that four International Criminal Court staff, who had traveled to Libya in June 2012 to interview Gadhafi’s oldest son, Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, were illegally detained by tribal authorities under suspicion of spying. This was another risk U.S. military personnel might face.

During that video conference, Chris stressed that the only way to mitigate the risk was to ensure that U.S. military personnel serving in Libya would have diplomatic immunity, which should be done prior to any change of authority.

Chris understood the importance of the special forces team to the security of our embassy personnel. He believed that by explaining his concerns, the Defense Department would postpone the decision so he could have time to work with the Libyan government and get diplomatic immunity for the special forces.

According to the National Defense Authorization Act, the Defense Department needed Chris’s concurrence to change the special forces mission. But soon after the Aug. 1 meeting, and as a complete surprise to us at the embassy, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed the order without Chris’s concurrence.

The SenateIntelligence Committee’s report accurately notes that on Aug. 6, after the transfer of authority, two special forces team members in a diplomatic vehicle were forced off the road in Tripoli and attacked. Only because of their courage, skills and training did they escape unharmed. But the incident highlighted the risks associated with having military personnel in Libya unprotected by diplomatic immunity or a status of forces agreement. As a result of this incident, Chris was forced to agree with Gen. Ham’s withdrawal of most of the special forces team from Tripoli until the Libyan government formally approved their new training mission and granted them diplomatic immunity.

Because Mr. Kennedy had refused to extend the special forces security mission, State Department protocol required Chris to decline Gen. Ham’s two offers to do so, which were made after Aug. 6. I have found the reporting of these so-called offers strange, since my recollection of events is that after the Aug. 6 incident, Gen. Ham wanted to withdraw the entire special forces team from Tripoli until they had Libyan government approval of their new mission and the diplomatic immunity necessary to perform their mission safely. However, Chris convinced Gen. Ham to leave six members of the team in Tripoli.

When I arrived in Tripoli on July 31, we had over 30 security personnel, from the State Department and the U.S. military, assigned to protect the diplomatic mission to Libya. All were under the ambassador’s authority. On Sept. 11, we had only nine diplomatic security agents under Chris’s authority to protect our diplomatic personnel in Tripoli and Benghazi.

I was interviewed by the Select Committee and its staff, who were professional and thorough. I explained this sequence of events. For some reason, my explanation did not make it into the Senate report.

To sum up: Chris Stevens was not responsible for the reduction in security personnel. His requests for additional security were denied or ignored. Officials at the State and Defense Departments in Washington made the decisions that resulted in reduced security. Sen. Lindsey Graham stated on the Senate floor last week that Chris “was in Benghazi because that is where he was supposed to be doing what America wanted him to do: Try to hold Libya together.” He added, “Quit blaming the dead guy.”

Mr. Hicks served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli from July 31 to Dec. 7, 2012.

Sharia’s Protector

569By Mark Steyn:

Rohullah Qarizada is one of those Afghans you used to see a lot on American TV in the immediate aftermath of the Taliban’s fall. Trimly bearded, dapper in Western suit and tie, he heads the Afghan Independent Bar Association in Kabul. Did you know Kabul had a bar association? A few years back, I ran into one of the U.S. prosecutors who helped set it up, with a grant from the Swedish foreign ministry. Mr. Qarizada currently sits on a committee charged with making revisions to the Afghan legal code. What kind of revisions? Well, for example: “Men and women who commit adultery shall be punished based on the circumstances by one of the following punishments: lashing, stoning.”

As in stoning to death. That’s the proposed improvement to Article 21. Article 23 specifies that said punishment shall be performed in public. Mr. Qarizada gave an interview to Reuters, explaining that the reintroduction of stoning was really no big deal: You’d have to have witnesses, and they’d better be consistent. “The judge asks each witness many questions,” he said, “and if one answer differs from other witnesses then the court will reject the claim.” So that’s all right then.

Stoning is making something of a comeback in the world’s legal codes — in October the Sultan of Brunei announced plans to put it on his books. Nevertheless, Kabul has the unique distinction of proposing to introduce the practice on America’s watch. Afghanistan is an American protectorate; its kleptocrat president is an American client, kept alive these last twelve years only by American arms. The Afghan campaign is this nation’s longest war — and our longest un-won war: That’s to say, nowadays we can’t even lose in under a decade. I used to say that, 24 hours after the last Western soldier leaves Afghanistan, it will be as if we were never there. But it’s already as if we were never there: The last Christian church in the country was razed to the ground in 2010.

At this point, Americans sigh wearily and shrug, “Afghanistan, the graveyard of empire,” or sneer, “If they want to live in a seventh-century s***hole, f*** ’em.” But neither assertion is true. Do five minutes’ googling, and you’ll find images from the Sixties and early Seventies of women in skirts above the knee listening to the latest Beatles releases in Kabul record stores. True, a stone’s throw (so to speak) from the capital, King Zahir’s relatively benign reign was not always in evidence. But, even so, if it’s too much to undo the barbarism of centuries, why could the supposed superpower not even return the country to the fitful civilization of the disco era? The American imperium has lasted over twice as long as the Taliban’s rule — and yet, unlike them, we left no trace.

Seven years ago, in my book America Alone, I quoted a riposte to the natives by a British administrator, and it proved such a hit with readers that for the next couple of years at live stage appearances, from Vancouver to Vienna, Madrid to Melbourne, I would be asked to reprise it — like the imperialist version of a Beatles cover band. The chap in question was Sir Charles Napier, out in India and faced with the practice of suttee — the Hindu tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Napier’s response was impeccably multicultural: “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”

Read more at Steyn Online

 

U.S. Appeals Court Allows Citizens to Sue Saudi Arabia for 9/11

twin towers impactClarion Project:

In a  landmark decision, a federal court overturned a previous court decision that had banned  private citizens from suing Saudi Arabia directly for damages incurred during the 9/11 terrorist attack.

A previous federal court ruling had denied any lawsuits against the kingdom in a 2002 ruling that said the kingdom had sovereign immunity.

The new ruling, made by a three-judge panel from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, overturned that ruling saying that lawsuits against Saudi Arabia were in the “interest of justice” due to the fact that much of the funding for the hijackers (the majority of whom were from Saudi Arabia) came from the Saudi Arabia.

The new ruling means that families who lost loved ones in the September 11, 2001 attack on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as those who insured businesses that were destroyed in the attack, will be able to sue Saudi Arabia directly for monetary damages.

“I’m ecstatic…. For 12 years we’ve been fighting to expose the people who financed those [killers],” said William Doyle. Doyle’s son, Joseph Doyle was just 25 when he was killed in the North Tower of the World Trade Center while working for Cantor-Fitzgerald.

The original lawsuit, filed ten years ago by Cozen O’Conner (a firm out of Philadelphia) accused members of the Saudi government as well as the royal family of serving on charities that bankrolled Al Qaeda operations. The suit alleges that these government officials and royals knew the money from these “charities” would be used for terrorism.

“We conclude that the circumstances of this case are extraordinary,” the judges said in the new ruling. The judges further concluded that the lower court judge who made the original ruling “rested on an error of law” when he originally disallowed law suits against the kingdom.

The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Jerry S. Goldman, commented, “This is a big step forward in the process of obtaining fair justice for the victims of this tragedy.” Goldman added that the decision was “soundly grounded and restores this case to the proper procedural posture.”

 

 

Lessons of Iraq and A-Stan: Infidel Armies Can’t Win Islamic Hearts and Minds

Karzai and Rohani in Tehran, December 8, 2013

Karzai and Rohani in Tehran, December 8, 2013

by Diana West:

I am reposting a couple of columns below from 2009, written at a time before the Obama “surge” in Afghanistan, based on Bush’s “surge” in Iraq, was in full swing.

I have long argued that the Bush surge failed (explanation in three parts here). TheObama surge has failed, too, and for the same basic reason that has nothing to do with leaving Iraq “too soon,” or, I deeply hope, “leaving Afghanistan” in 2014. It is vital to stress that these failures are not due to the bravery and sacrifice and skill of our military forces. These forces have resolutely fufilled their impossible missions, to say the very least. The failures lie in war-planning and political strategy, ignorance and fecklessness, at the highest levels of the Bush and Obama White Houses, in the Pentagon, and in the Congress that failed to check them.

(To such ignorance and fecklessness we may also add an epic show of institutional callousness.)

The simple fact is that an army from Judeo-Christian lands cannot fight for the soul of an Islamic land.

This is the obvious but untaught and thus unlearned lesson of these past twelve years of tragic, costly wars. They call us “infidel.” We think that doesn’t matter. The Koran is their guide and they build their constitutions upon its laws. We help them do so and order our soldiers to risk their lives upholding theses sharia-supreme documents in the fantasy-name of  “universal” rights that exist nowhere but in the West. (See the madness begin here back in 2004). Meanwhile, sharia norms and masked Marxism are eroding liberty in the West while 99 percent of our political leaders do nothing.

They learn nothing, too. They set post-9/11 strategy in Iraq without seeing sharia norms and jihad doctrine as obstacles to “nation-building” on a (flawed) Western model — as though sharia and jihad can be eliminated as the authoritative foundations of Islamic culture by wish or denial. Such a  see-no-Islam strategy was doomed to fail, and so it did. But instead of retooling this failed strategy (which served mainly to the benefit of Iran, China and other enemies), they turned around and implemented it in Afghanistan.

We must win the people’s “hearts and minds,” Gen. Petraeus urged his men back in Iraq.

We must win the Afghans’ “trust,” Adm. Mullen and others   stressed (or buy it).

Thus, our soldiers were ordered to take hills of the Islamic mind-world that infidel armies can never attain.

We must respect their culture, the generals insisted, seeking more and more common ground, but ceding ground (metaphorical and real) instead. Vital ground.

We must protect the Afghan people (at the expense of our own), ordered the COIN corps generals, led by Petraeus, who infamously ordered:

“Walk. Stop by, don’t drive by. Patrol on foot whenever possible and engage the population. Take off your [ballistic] sunglasses. Situational awareness can be gained only by interacting face to face, not separated by ballistic glass or Oakleys.

Such “situational awareness” came at a great and tragic cost — but with little if any lasting benefit. Neither “protecting the population,” nor restricting ROEs, nor insanely profligate public works projects have permitted the infidel counterinsurgency to achieve its goals — winning Islamic hearts, minds or trust.

Cultural prostration hasn’t worked either, but not for want of trying.

We must respect their culture (no matter how barbaric). We must uphold their culture (no matter how vile). We must protect Islam, too. We must submit to its laws, and punish Americans who don’t. And punish Americans.

“Handle the Koran as if it were a fragile piece of delicate art,” a memo to Joint Task Force Guantanamo ordered in January 2003. That wasn’t enough. “We will hold sacred the beliefs held sacred by others,” ISAF declared in 2012.

Soon we will have new and enduring allies in the war on “terror.” What difference will it make if we can only fight together for the other side?

From April and August 2009 — over one thousand combat dead and thousands of combat wounded ago.

From April 3, 2009:

“What Do You Mean: If We Ever Want to Leave Afghanistan?”

From August 14, 2009:

“All Those Boots on the Ground and No Imprint.”