State Department Waging “Open War” on White House

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, 

  • “It’s not clear to me why the Secretary of State wishes to at once usurp the powers of the Congress and then to derail his boss’s rapprochement with the Israeli government.” — Foreign policy operative, quoted in the Washington Free Beacon.
  • Since he was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Rex Tillerson and his advisors at the State Department have made a number of statements and policy decisions that contradict President Trump’s key campaign promises on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.
  • “Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.” — Veteran foreign policy analyst, quoted in the Free Beacon.

The U.S. State Department has backed away from a demand that Israel return $75 million in military aid which was allocated to it by the U.S. Congress.

The repayment demand, championed by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was described as an underhanded attempt by the State Department to derail a campaign pledge by U.S. President Donald J. Trump to improve relations with the Jewish state.

The dispute is the just the latest example of what appears to be a growing power struggle between the State Department and the White House over the future direction of American foreign policy.

The controversy goes back to the Obama administration’s September 2016 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Israel, which pledged $38 billion in military assistance to Jerusalem over the next decade. The MOU expressly prohibits Israel from requesting additional financial aid from Congress.

Congressional leaders, who said the MOU violates the constitutional right of lawmakers to allocate U.S. aid, awarded Israel an additional $75 million in assistance in the final appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017.

Tillerson had argued that Israel should return the $75 million in order to stay within the limits established by the Obama administration. The effort provoked a strong reaction from Congress, which apparently prompted Tillerson to back down.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) “strongly warned the State Department that such action would be unwise and invite unwanted conflict with Israel,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Speaking to the Washington Examiner, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) added:

“As Iran works to surround Israel on every border, and Hezbollah and Hamas rearm, we must work to strengthen our alliance with Israel, not strain it. Congress has the right to allocate money as it deems necessary, and security assistance to Israel is a top priority. Congress is ready to ensure Israel receives the assistance it needs to defend its citizens.”

A veteran congressional advisor told the Free Beacon:

“This is a transparent attempt by career staffers in the State Department to f*ck with the Israelis and derail the efforts of Congressional Republicans and President Trump to rebuild the US-Israel relationship. There’s no reason to push for the Israelis to return the money, unless you’re trying to drive a wedge between Israel and Congress, which is exactly what this is. It won’t work.”

Another foreign policy operative said: “It’s not clear to me why the Secretary of State wishes to at once usurp the powers of the Congress and then to derail his boss’s rapprochement with the Israeli government.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) and President Donald J. Trump (right) on February 1, 2017. (Image source: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

Since he was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Tillerson and his advisors at the State Department have made a number of statements and policy decisions that contradict Trump’s key campaign promises on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.

August 10. The State Department hosted representatives of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), an umbrella group established by the Muslim Brotherhood with the aim of mainstreaming political Islam in the United States. Behind closed doors, they reportedly discussed what they said was Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and the removal of all Israeli control of the Temple Mount and holy areas of Jerusalem. Observers said the meeting was part of larger effort by anti-Israel organizations to drive a wedge between the Trump administration and Israel. The USCMO includes a number of organizations, including American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which promote “extreme anti-Israel views” and “anti-Zionist” propaganda, and which support boycotts of the Jewish state.

July 19. The State Department’s new “Country Reports on Terrorism 2016” blamed Israel for Palestinian Arab terrorism against Jews. It attributed Palestinian violence to: “lack of hope in achieving statehood;” “Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank;” “settler violence;” and “the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount.” The report also characterized Palestinian Authority payments to the families of so-called martyrs as “financial packages to Palestinian security prisoners…to reintegrate them into society.”

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) called on the State Department to hold the PA accountable in State Department Country reports: “The State Department report includes multiple findings that are both inaccurate and harmful to combating Palestinian terrorism…. At the highest level, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership incites, rewards, and, in some cases, carries out terrorist attacks against innocent Israelis. In order to effectively combat terrorism, it is imperative that the United States accurately characterize its root cause — PA leadership.”

June 14. Tillerson voiced opposition to designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, saying that such a classification would complicate Washington’s relations in the Middle East. During his confirmation hearings on January 11, by contrast, Tillerson lumped the Brotherhood with al-Qaeda when talking about militant threats in the region. He said:

“Eliminating ISIS would be the first step in disrupting the capabilities of other groups and individuals committed to striking our homeland and our allies. The demise of ISIS would also allow us to increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and certain elements within Iran.”

June 13. During testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson said he had received reassurances from President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinian Authority would end the practice of paying a monthly stipend to the families of suicide bombers and other attackers, commonly referred to by Palestinians as martyrs. One day later, Palestinian officials contradicted Tillerson, saying that there are no plans to stop payments to families of Palestinians killed or wounded carrying out attacks against Israelis.

May 22. Tillerson sidestepped questions on whether the Western Wall is part of Israel, while telling reporters aboard Air Force One they were heading to “Tel Aviv, home of Judaism.” Asked directly whether he considers the Western Wall under Israeli sovereignty, Tillerson replied: “The wall is part of Jerusalem.”

May 15. In an interview with Meet the Press, Tillerson appeared publicly to renege on Trump’s campaign promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:

“The president, I think rightly, has taken a very deliberative approach to understanding the issue itself, listening to input from all interested parties in the region, and understanding what such a move, in the context of a peace initiative, what impact would such a move have.”

Tillerson also appeared to equate the State of Israel and the Palestinians:

“As you know, the president has recently expressed his view that he wants to put a lot of effort into seeing if we cannot advance a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine. And so I think in large measure the president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process.”

Critics of this stance have argued that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would, instead, advance the peace process by “shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”

March 8. The State Department confirmed that the Obama administration’s $221 million payment to the Palestinian Authority, approved just hours before Trump’s inauguration, had reached its destination. The Trump administration initially had vowed to freeze the payment.

In July 2017, the Free Beacon reported that Tillerson’s State Department was waging an “open political war” with the White House on a range of key issues, including the U.S.-Israel relationship, the Iran portfolio, and other matters:

“The tensions have fueled an outstanding power battle between the West Wing and State Department that has handicapped the administration and resulted in scores of open positions failing to be filled with Trump confidantes. This has allowed former Obama administration appointees still at the State Department to continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House’s own agenda.”

A veteran foreign policy analyst interviewed by the Free Beacon laid the blame squarely on Tillerson:

“Foggy Bottom [a metonym for the State Department] is still run by the same people who designed and implemented Obama’s Middle East agenda. Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.”

Notable holdovers from the Obama administration are now driving the State Department’s Iran policy:

Michael Ratney, a top advisor to former Secretary of State John Kerry on Syria policy. Under the Trump administration, Ratney’s role at the State Department has been expanded to include Israel and Palestine issues. Ratney, who was the U.S. Consul in Jerusalem between 2012 and 2015, oversaw $465,000 in U.S. grants to wage a smear to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office in 2015 parliamentary elections, according to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Ratney admitted to Senate investigators that he deleted emails containing information about the Obama administration’s relationship with the group.

Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., a career foreign service officer who serves as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Shannon, the State Department’s fourth-ranking official, has warnedthat scrapping the Iran deal would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. “Any effort to step away from the deal would reopen a Pandora’s box in that region that would be hard to close again,” he said. His statement indicates that Shannon could be expected to lead efforts to resist any attempts to renege or renegotiate the deal; critics of the deal say that Iran’s continued missile testing has given Trump one more reason to tear up his predecessor’s deal with the Islamist regime.

Chris Backemeyer is now the highest-ranking official at the State Department for Iran policy. During the Obama administration, Backemeyer made his career by selling the Iran deal by persuading multinational corporations to do business with Iran as part of an effort to conclude the Iran nuclear deal.

Ratney, Shannon and Backemeyer, along with Tillerson, reportedly prevailed upon Trump twice to recertify the Iran nuclear deal. The Jerusalem Post explained:

Washington was briefly abuzz on the afternoon of July 17 when rumors began to circulate that President Trump was eager to declare that Iran was in breach of the conditions laid out in the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA).

Those receptive antennas were further heightened given the previous signals sent. After all, the State Department already released talking points to reporters on the decision to recertify Iran. The Treasury Department also had a package of fresh sanctions on over a dozen Iranian individuals and entities ready to announce to appease the hawks who were eager to cut loose from the deal.

But Trump didn’t want to recertify Iran, nor did he want to the last time around in April. That evening, a longtime Middle East analyst close to senior White House officials involved in the discussions described the scene to me: “Tillerson essentially told the president, ‘we just aren’t ready with our allies to decertify.’ The president retorted, ‘Isn’t it your job to get our allies ready?’ to which Tillerson said, ‘Sorry sir, we’re just not ready.'” According to this source, Secretary Tillerson pulled the same maneuver when it came to recertification in April by waiting until the last minute before finally admitting the State Department wasn’t ready. On both occasions he simply offered something to the effect of, “We’ll get ’em next time.”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone InstituteFollow Soeren Kern on Twitter and Facebook

Also see:

America’s Unelected ‘Deep State’ Pushes Hidden Agenda, Says Judicial Watch Panel

The U.S. Capitol Building is lit at sunset in Washington on Dec. 20, 2016. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo)

Epoch Times, by Joshua Philipp, Sept. 17, 2017:

A group of career politicians often referred to as the “Deep State” or the “permanent government” is pushing an agenda that goes against the Constitution and U.S. law, while also selectively leaking information to manipulate public perception.

These were among the claims from a panel of experts in a Sept. 15 video from the conservative, nonpartisan watchdog group Judicial Watch, which followed its publication of a report that exposed the unelected government of the United States often referred to as the Deep State. [CJR – Be sure to read that report!]

According to Judicial Watch, the Deep State is a bureaucracy of permanent officials in branches across the U.S. government who share a common far-left agenda, and use their positions to selectively enforce or block actions based on their own interests. Being in unelected positions, the Deep State is able to continue its activities regardless of who the sitting president is.

Key Issues

Diana West, journalist and author of the book “American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character,” said during the panel that the Deep State represents “unconstitutional powers, exercised by strange, illegitimate branchlets of the U.S. government that are in no way restrained by the balance of powers.”

The Deep State came to the surface during the presidential campaign, mainly to challenge Donald Trump, and it has continued to operate relatively in the open while trying to undermine Trump’s presidency.

A few key issues appear to have irked the Deep State, West noted, which are Trump’s positions on immigration, national trade and tariffs, radical Islam, his bid to end wars not fought over American core interests, and the restoration of American sovereignty.

These issues are typically not on the table during political debates of government candidates belonging to the establishment. She said, “These issues have essentially been taken from us by the powers that always seem to be, they were settled, and then along came Trump.”

She noted that these issues provide clues to the ideology of the Deep State: “[The Deep State] shows itself to be fanatically globalist and anti-nationalist. It is interventionist. It favors mass immigration and even open borders. It supports free trade.” She said the Deep State also appears to support radical and political Islam.

Its policies, she said, “are building blocks of a Socialist ‘paradise.’” Members of this permanent structure appear to exist not just among Democrats but also among Republicans, she said.

“During my own campaign coverage, I was able to find striking similarities between the beliefs of mainstream, anti-Trump Republicans and the programs set forth in a 1932 book called ‘Towards Soviet America,’” she said, referring to the 1932 book written by William Foster, who was chairman of the Communist Party USA, which is believed to have operated under the auspices of the Soviet Union.

White House as ‘Enemy’

Dr. Sebastian Gorka, former Deputy Assistant to the President who only recently left his job in the White House, shared his own experiences with the Deep State from his position in the Trump Administration.

“I’ve seen the worst of the worst, the first seven months, of how the bureaucracy responded to the administration of Donald J. Trump,” he said, noting that within the government, the Deep State operates overtly, in plain view.

“It was in our faces. It was arrogant. It was right there in the surface of our policy discussions at the White House,” he said. “This is not just a reaction to a New York mogul who became president. This has been brewing for decades, truly decades.”

Among the ways the Deep State has reacted to the Trump presidency is with selective leaks to the media. Gorka noted there were 125 national security leaks in the first 126 days of the Trump administration, and at least 60 of those leaks were of “serious national security matters.”

Gorka explained one of his own encounters with the Deep State, noting that as a former professor he has taught many young men and women in the national security field. When he entered the White House, he wanted to bring over some of his students who were now members of the intelligence community.

“I identified the three best individuals, and requested—as a deputy assistant to the president—that these people be detailed over to me at the White House to work on key projects of importance to Steve [Bannon] and the President,” he said.

“In the six months I was in office, not one of those people was detailed over to me from an unnamed sister agency,” he said.

Not only were the individuals not moved, as requested, but Gorka said he later discovered, “not only did the sister agency stop their detailing, every single individual was taken off their current duty roster and punished, and put into menial tasks.”

“Why?” he said. “Because the seventh floor of that agency, to quote a senior individual, ‘looks at the White House as the enemy.’”

The ‘Shadow Government’

While Gorka did not name the agency, he did mention the “seventh floor.” It has long been known that individuals on the seventh floor of the State Department operate what the FBI has referred to in its reports as “The Shadow Government.”

The FBI described The Shadow Government in a 2016 report on the investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It stated “There was a powerful group of very high-ranking STATE officials that some referred to as ‘The 7th Floor Group’ or ‘The Shadow Government.’” It said the group met every Wednesday afternoon to discuss public information requests and “everything CLINTON-related to FOIA/Congressional inquiries.”

The FBI gave a partial list of individuals who regularly attended meetings of The Shadow Government that included former Secretary of State John Kerry and his Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Planning Jonathan Finer, Deputy Chief of Staff Jennifer Stout, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom, Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Julia Frifield, and an individual referred to only as “Kennedy.” Several other names were redacted.

The FBI report also noted the group changed protocols on how documents on Clinton were released, and noted the group “did have control of the release process for the approximately 30,000 emails, or 52,455 pages related to the CLINTON FOIA request, and it was decided to be a rolling release.”

The permanent bureaucrats on the State Department’s seventh floor also have a notorious reputation among members of the U.S. intelligence community, who refer to them as “bow ties,” “Mandarins,” and “Black Dragons.”

The Black Dragons were described in a 2010 report from geopolitical intelligence company Stratfor as “a powerful element within the State Department that is averse to security and does its best to thwart security programs.”

Anti-American Agenda

Todd Shepherd, an investigative reporter at the Washington Examiner, said the Deep State violates a basic duty of the American government, sharing information with the people.

“Under the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of representative government that adheres to the principle that government is the servant and not the master of the people,” Shepherd said, “it is the policy of this state that each person is entitled, unless expressly provided by law, at all times to complete information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees.”

“The people, in delegating that authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is good for them not to know,” Shepherd said. “The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”

James Peterson, senior attorney at Judicial Watch, noted the Deep State aggressively blocks freedom of information requests on select information. In his own experience, they have continued to selectively block information regardless of who the sitting president is.

“The permanent state, the Deep State, the bureaucracy is intent to remain, and is planning to,” Peterson said.  In spite of efforts through the courts to obtain information, Peterson said, “it is difficult at each stage.”

Gorka noted that the functions of the Deep State go against the Constitution and its guidelines on the structures and functions of government. Government agencies, he said, are supposed to work for the White House, which is supposed to represent the American people. He noted, “they co-opt the media into being willing or unwitting agents in a very selective flow of information.”

In these agencies, “you are there to serve the interests of the President who has been duly elected by the electoral college, which represents the American people,” he said, and noted the Deep State’s view that a presidential administration is its enemy “leads to very, very dangerous things.”

“The philosophical underpinnings of what put Donald J. Trump into the White House is sovereignty—that a sovereign nation is a healthy nation. And the swamp vehemently, philosophically disagrees with that,” he said.

In the government today, Gorka said, there are a large number of people who have already been in power for many years, and believe they’ll still be in power regardless of the sitting president, and so they play by their own rules. He noted, “That’s not democracy, and that’s not the American way.”

CJR: Interestingly, the core value of Sovereignty is being heavily used now in the talking points by White House spokespersons. Also mentioned by Gorka are the “Sherpas” that guide the new cabinet appointees into each agency. Go to 42 min. in the main video where Gorka dramatically turns to the camera and addresses the “good guys” in the audience on the importance of having your people in place in these roles before you undertake a political insurgency such as Trump’s.

***

He are some shorter clips:

Are Mattis & McMaster embracing Obama’s do-nothing Iran strategy?

traffic_analyzer | Getty Images

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, Sept. 12, 2017:

National security adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis are known advocates for the nuclear deal with the terror state of Iran. But many also assumed that they at least sought a departure from the Obama-era strategy of allowing Iran to pursue its regional and global ambitions with full force.

McMaster purged the Iran hawks from his National Security Council. However, this effort was mostly written off as the national security adviser wanting to bring in his own people, rather than a clash of ideologies.

Mattis has publicly stated that Iran is the world’s “biggest state sponsor of terrorism,” leading analysts to infer that as Pentagon chief, he would attempt to quash Iranian efforts to take over half of the Middle East.

Since the election of Donald Trump as president, Iran has doubled down on its anti-U.S. posture.

Iran continues to assert dominance over Iraq. Its own fighters and proxy units have infiltrated much of Syria. Tehran resumed its aggressive funding and arming of Hezbollah and Hamas. In the Gulf, its warships continue to recklessly confront U.S. vessels. And Iran-backed fighters and armed drones are targeting U.S. soldiers on the battlefield.

So what are our respected cabinet officials doing about the increasing Iranian threat? Apparently, they’ve decided to ignore it.

An insightful report from Reuters Monday night specifically names Mattis and McMaster as the cabinet officials who oppose taking a tough stance against Iran’s regional ambitions.

“Mattis and McMaster, as well as the heads of the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Forces Command, have opposed allowing U.S. commanders in Syria and Iraq to react more forcefully to provocations by the IRGC, Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed Shiite militias,” the Reuters report said. “The advisers are concerned that more permissive rules of engagement would divert U.S. forces from defeating the remnants of Islamic State, they said.”

The Reuters report, however, leaves open the possibility that President Trump may overrule the restrictions recommended by Mattis and McMaster and allow our commanders in the field to target Iran’s proxies and its support for jihadi militias.

By singling out ISIS and ignoring the rest of America’s national security threats, Mattis and McMaster have apparently endorsed the Obama administration’s “balancing act” strategy that gives Tehran unchecked dominance over the land from its borders to the Mediterranean Sea.

Allowing Iran to conquer and hold territory and encroach further to the west puts our allies in Israel and in the Levant and the Gulf on high alert. By only focusing on ISIS, the U.S.-led coalition has shifted the balance of power in Iran’s favor. The “only ISIS” strategy has allowed Iran to station troops right across from Israel’s territory in the Golan Heights.

Defeating ISIS is a noble and worthy endeavor, but doing so without a grand strategy that holds Iran in check is hazardous and detrimental to U.S. national security interests. Iran is hell-bent on not only dominating the region, but also acquiring a nuclear weapon. By opposing action against Iran-backed forces, Mattis and McMaster are tying the hands of our commanders in the field, which was a primary complaint leveled against President Obama’s military strategy, one that President Trump campaigned on reversing.

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.

HOW CAN WE DEFEAT AN ENEMY WE CAN’T IDENTIFY?

aliven | Getty Images

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, Sept, 11, 2017:

Sixteen years after 9/11, Washington is still afraid to the name the enemy.

It continues to be painfully difficult for our leaders to utter the words “radical Islam” or any substitute meant to connote that there is a religious element to the global jihad being waged upon us. As with Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, presidents since 9/11 have chosen not to name the enemy, instead referring to our jihadi adversaries as “extremists” or “terrorists” and countless other boilerplate terms determined by our representatives in government as politically appropriate.

The whitewashing of the very Islamic nature of jihadi terror not only misleads the public, but makes it impossible for government and military officials to focus on what is motivating our enemies and how to stop them from continuing to threaten us. What is it that connects the ISIS leader in Raqqa to the hate-preaching U.S.-born Imam in California to the Uighur militants in western China? To our 21st century leadership, it’s not radical Islamic doctrine, but some kind of widespread mental disorder without a name.

From Presidents Bush 43 to Obama and now President Trump, the leader of the free world since 9/11 has pointedly refused to name the enemy that seeks our demise.

And although Osama bin Laden justified the killings of Americans in the name of Islam (through religious declarations known as fatwas), discussion about the radical Islamic component of 9/11 were immediately quashed. We were told there are no issues with Islam whatsoever, even as millions and millions took up arms against the West, citing Islam’s call for war against infidels.

Everyone had their excuses for failing to define the enemy.

To Presidents Bush and Obama, groups like al-Qaeda and other jihadist entities were merely a bunch of deranged, bloodthirsty maniacs who were not linked by any particular doctrine.

President Bush took pains to ignore the dangerous components of Islam and define it wholly as a “religion of peace.”

Just six days after the attacks, Bush remarked at the Islamic Center of Washington: “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

Bush 43’s gross abdication of responsibility in defining our enemies continued into the Obama era.

President Obama became famously known for making sure to censor language that could possibly be interpreted as connecting our Islamic enemies (such as the terror state in Iran and the Islamic State terror group) to the Muslim faith.

“ISIL is not Islamic … ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple, and it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way, ” President Obama said in a 2014 speech.

To both Obama and Bush, jihadist groups killed for the sake of killing, and nothing more, at least according to their public messaging.

“There is no doubt, and I’ve said repeatedly, where we see terrorist organizations like al Qaeda or ISIL — They have perverted and distorted and tried to claim the mantle of Islam for an excuse for basically barbarism and death,” Obama said in a 2016 town hall.

And then came President Trump.

On the campaign trail, Trump ran as a candidate who had no issue with defining our enemy as “radical Islamic terrorists.” But since becoming president, he has fallen prey to the D.C. Swamp’s way of thinking on the issue.

Comparable to his predecessors, Trump has largely refrained from addressing the ideology that motivated the 9/11 hijackers. In his most recent speech on Afghanistan, Trump did not once discuss radical Islam, but only the “evil ideology” of our enemies. Like Bush and Obama, Trump has taken to understanding global jihadists as just a bunch of random lowlives.

“Terrorists who slaughter innocent people will find no glory in this life or the next. They are nothing but thugs and criminals and predators and — that’s right — losers,” Trump said in his Afghanistan speech.

We must never forget that the 9/11 hijackers were not poor, delusional individuals, as previous administrations tried to frame them. They were motivated by a specific doctrine. It wasn’t a coincidence that they used the Islamic war cry “Allahu Akbar” as they carried out by far the deadliest terror attack in American history.

But you can’t begin to defeat an enemy when you refuse to identify what it stands for. Even our Arab Muslim partners have come to determine and point out that there is a branch of Islamic doctrine that is growing at an exponential rate. Now is the time for our leaders to stand with them and take on this ideological enemy.

Sixteen years after 9/11, our leaders continue to pretend that there is no interconnectedness to the global threat of radical Islamic terror. If the politically correct policies of shielding Islam from the implications of terror continue, America’s long war will become its forever war.

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.

Swamp Creatures Series

Center for Security Policy, by Frank Gaffney, Sept. 6, 2017:

The Center for Security Policy has launched a new “Swamp Creatures Series” to identify individuals in the national security establishment starting with the National Security Council (NSC) itself. National Security Adviser (NSA) H.R. McMaster has repeatedly hired, retained and promoted staff whose records suggest their hostility towards President Trump’s policies and the agenda he ran on.

Center for Security Policy President Frank J. Gaffney unveiled the new series in an interview with Breitbart Radio host Raheem Kassam. He warned that, when combined with NSA McMaster’s rank insubordination (for example, his rejection of President Trump’s term “radical Islamic terrorism”) and his serial and often public repudiations of the President’s policies (notably, with respect to Iran, Qatar, Syria, Afghanistan, Israel and the Muslim Brotherhood), McMaster is surrounding President Trump with individuals on the NSC who oppose the Trump agenda – and purging those that support Trump – amounts to a “coup d’etat with respect to foreign and defense policy.”

With the release of the first installment in the Swamp Creatures Series, Mr. Gaffney announced:

President Trump ran for office on a platform that is, in important respects, at odds with the views of Lieutenant General McMaster and virtually all of those now populating the National Security Council staff. Ronald Reagan understood that “personnel is policy.” If those who are nominally Mr. Trump’s personnel actually support policies he ran against, the people who elected him will be grievously disappointed – and disserved. So will Donald Trump.

The Center intends to provide on an ongoing basis evidence of the degree to which President Trump has been saddled with staff who may be loyal to Gen. McMaster’s vision and priorities and, for example, those of Barack Obama, but would be hard-pressed faithfully to advance those of the incumbent Commander-in-Chief.

An example of how this works in practice can be found in the disagreement between President Trump and Gen. McMaster regarding the Obamabomb deal with Iran. Mr. Trump has repeatedly reviled what then-Secretary of State John Kerry finally confessed was just a “political understanding” as the worst agreement ever negotiated. McMaster, nonetheless, has aggressively supported continued U.S. adherence to the Iran Deal. In April, the President reportedly ordered his subordinates to prepare for him an alternative to certifying that Iran was in compliance with the deal and that it is in the interest of the United States. He is said to have been furious when no such option was provided ninety days later, compelling him once again to affirm such an inaccurate certification.

#1 Fernando Cutz – National Security Council

Administration Sources: Creepy Tweet Was a Coded Message to General McMaster About Leakers

National security adviser H.R. McMaster speaks during the news briefing at the White House, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

PJ Media, by David Steinburg, Sept. 6, 2017:

A story fantastically strange, dancing between lowbrow and stupid, and it matters: this masterwork of a news item belongs in a time capsule, one day making the case to our descendants that we were, at least, blessed to live in interesting times.

Because this sort of thing happens in 2017, an alt-right crank who hasn’t won anyone’s trust beyond that of his loyal travelers seems to have become the white-whale obsession of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

Also, a multi-national public relations campaign which occupied much of August — a campaign seemingly intended to repair General McMaster’s reputation with the President of the United States, to sully the reputation of Trump loyalists whom McMaster had removed from the National Security Council, and to drive out Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, all in one shot — may have been unintentionally destroyed by said alt-Right crank tweeting the words …

“Spirit Animal” :

Mike Cernovich posted this tweet on August 11. To an objective observer, that’s inscrutable nonsense. And — also objectively — it’s creepy.

But when considered with its actual context, and pivotally, its timing, that rational observer should be driven to conclude that, ahem, the “McMaster what’s your spirit animal” tweet is a political thunderbolt with ramifications much beyond what Cernovich appears to have intended.

Here goes:

Sources within the Trump Administration claim that the “spirit animal” tweet is a reference to a small meeting that McMaster and select others within the National Security Council held in the days prior to August 11.

At that meeting, attendees reportedly joked about each other’s “spirit animals.” Indeed, as of this writing, I cannot neither confirm nor deny that a prominent member of the NSC is imbued with the soul of a platypus.

Since August 11, Cernovich has offered other information that also points to him having sourcing within the NSC. However, the “spirit animal” tweet reportedly represented a more concerning breach. Yet even so, the breach itself is of less evident concern to McMaster and his supporters than is the fact of its August 11 publication.

Why?

Because if Cernovich still had a source leaking to him on that date or in the days immediately prior, then the tweet necessarily deconstructs much of the past month’s administration-orchestrated media defense of General McMaster’s personnel decisions.

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In early August, General McMaster came under enormous pressure — spearheaded by the Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick and the Zionist Organization of America’s Morton Klein — for having seemingly purged the NSC of all members who aligned with candidate Trump’s Mideast policy. “Radical Islamic terror” and the destruction of the Iran nuclear deal was out; the continuance of Obama-era policies behind the “Arab Spring” catastrophe had apparently returned.

Wrote Glick on August 2:

McMaster disagrees and actively undermines Trump’s agenda on just about every salient issue on his agenda. He fires all of Trump’s loyalists and replaces them with Trump’s opponents, like Kris Bauman, an Israel hater and Hamas supporter who McMaster hired to work on the Israel-Palestinian desk.

He allows anti-Israel, pro-Muslim Brotherhood, pro-Iran Obama people like Robert Malley to walk around the NSC and tell people what to do and think. He has left Ben (reporters know nothing about foreign policy and I lied to sell them the Iran deal) Rhodes’ and Valerie Jarrett’s people in place.

And he not only is remaining at his desk. He is given the freedom to fire Trump’s most loyal foreign policy advisers from the National Security Council.

On August 9, Morton Klein released a statement on behalf of the ZOA which included this passage:

The duties of the National Security Council (NSC) include “coordinat[ing] and direct[ing] the activities of the United States Government relating to combating transnational threats.” 50 U.S.C. § 3021(i). It is thus alarming that National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster purged from the NSC those officials who were carrying out President Trump’s policies of combating Iranian and radical Islamist transnational threats, and purged from the NSC those officials who support the U.S.-Israel alliance — an alliance that is vital to America’s ability to combat radical Islamist terrorism.

Instead, General McMaster has appointed officials who are holdovers from the Obama administration, who favor the Iran nuclear deal and are hostile to Israel — officials who are diametrically opposed to President Trump’s policies. Moreover, new revelations demonstrate that General McMaster’s ideology is antagonistic to the President’s policies on these vital issues.

Since then, McMaster and a large contingent of administration and media allies have chosen to defend his behavior primarily as the restoration of Executive Branch decorum and as the necessary removal of “alt-Right” thinkers. These defenses included implications that the purged members had been leaking to the disreputable Mike Cernovich.

With “spirit animal,” however, Cernovich managed the improbable feat of wiping out several weeks of PR crafted by some of the administration’s most powerful figures, because the fact of his tweet’s August 11 publication date establishes the following truth:

On the date of the “spirit animal” meeting, NO ONE with fealty to Trump’s aggressively pro-Israel, anti-Obama/Iran nuclear deal campaign platform — without which, he likely loses to Hillary — remained at the NSC.

Yet Cernovich’s source was still in the room.

So we now have a strong repudiation of the narrative component of the purge which — with the later resignation of Sebastian Gorka (who had long been unwelcome at the NSC) and his public resignation note confirming that such a purge had indeed been afoot — successfully removed every Trump Administration official aligned with Trump’s campaign promises regarding national security.

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On August 11, I published a story at PJ Media identifying the National Security Council officials whom administration sources claim had been coordinating August’s public relations defense of McMaster. My concern at that time was the apparent dishonesty in how McMaster’s defenders have attacked both his critics and the members of NSC whom McMaster has fired or otherwise helped remove:

Deputy National Security Adviser Rick Waddell, Senior Director for Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Gulf States Joel Rayburn, and Yll Bajraktari, a former special assistant to the deputy secretary of defense during the Obama administration, have been coordinating an extensive public relations campaign in support of embattled National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, according to multiple sources.

Members of the national security community who spoke with PJ Media describe the talking points used during this effort to defend McMaster’s tenure as NSA as “absurd,” “dishonest,” and “comically inaccurate.” But sources primarily expressed anger regarding insinuations that NSC members fired by McMaster or otherwise no longer in their positions — such as K.T. McFarland, Rich Higgins, Adam Lovinger, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, and Derek Harvey — are gone for reasons other than ideology.

Over the past week, several media accounts have painted them as “conspiratorial” members of the “alt-right,” possibly leaking information to the controversial Mike Cernovich, and possibly working in tandem with Russian social media accounts. Such claims, which have been picked up by several outlets, are reportedly doing lasting damage to reputations and careers.

Further, multiple sources believe McMaster and his allies within the administration are using such “career-ending” “swamp” tactics with the knowledge that the fired members and supportive colleagues — due to the nature of their careers within the national security realm — do not necessarily have the option of defending themselves in the public sphere.

Yes, Mike Cernovich does indeed have sourcing within the administration. And apparently he has occasionally released accurate information regarding the workings of the NSC. However, I’m hard-pressed to find anyone who was aware of this situation prior to reading of it in this August 4 piece in The Atlantic. And that should lead our objective observer towards identifying cynical motives behind Cernovich receiving unwarranted attention from McMaster.

In that article, the Atlantic’s Rosie Gray revealed that — among the myriad leaks to various outlets that are assumed to have originated from the NSC, including the Washington Post’s atrocious decision to publish transcripts of President Trump’s phone calls with two foreign statesmen — McMaster had seemingly prioritized plugging the leak to the popular-within-the-alt-Right-but-otherwise-irrelevant Cernovich. Sources could only speculate as to why McMaster has been so concerned with the one voice that could be most simply dispatched as a purveyor of false information. Indeed, Cernovich — recall “Pizzagate”? — has otherwise carried out that mission on his own.

But it’s clear that, as August came, Cernovich was a useful foil for defending McMaster against charges of purging the NSC of conservatives.

Suddenly, America was being told that McMaster had not been systematically removing those who questioned his embrace of the Obama-era policy of discounting the Islamic roots of terror and jihad. Instead, as we were told, McMaster was indeed tough on Iran and Mahmoud Abbas, and had actually been doing Trump’s bidding by removing “alt-Right” liabilities suspected of leaking to a man with the reputation of a conspiracist kook.

Throughout August, elements of this narrative were spread by influential outlets and think tanks, by Sunday morning talk shows, by Senator John McCain, by the U.S. ambassador to Israel, and even by a friendly in the Netanyahu administration.

Perhaps Senator McCain’s contribution most shamelessly embraced the smear tactic. McCain released a statement declaring that the outside pressure to have General McMaster removed from the NSC — which, as all of D.C. knew at the timepresumably including McCain, had been spearheaded by former IDF captain Caroline Glick and Morton Klein, child of Holocaust survivors and president of the Zionist Organization of America — instead arose “from the same purveyors of hatred and ignorance who precipitated the recent violence in Charlottesville.”

Yes — Senator McCain employed shameless expediency to turn “Glick and Klein” into … the Klan.

And until now, that disingenuous campaign had been remarkably successful.

“McMaster is purging the alt-Right leakers” soon became “McMaster can’t work with alt-Right leaker Steve Bannon and alt-Right leaker Sebastian Gorka.” Both are out. Truly, everyone who had been brought on as complementary to Trump’s Mideast campaign promises is now out, as Sebastian Gorka summarized in his public resignation letter.

But Cernovich’s leaker is still there.

—————-

So America is now presented with two options to consider regarding what has transpired throughout 2017 at the NSC under National Security Adviser McMaster:

A. Either McMaster has chosen to restaff the NSC only with people loyal to Mideast policy he has embraced throughout his recent career, even though his policy preferences are in intractable opposition to those of the current Commander-in-Chief; or —

B. Several career intelligence officials of high regard, all of whom shared the distinction of having been selected for duty at the NSC because they were loyalists to Trump’s Mideast platform, somehow became Trump antagonists once McMaster, the real Trump loyalist, was appointed to lead them.

Then some of these officials, concerned about McMaster’s leadership, decided to risk their careers by leaking private, even confidential, information to the media.

Having made this decision, they then considered which outlet was the wisest choice for disseminating their concerns, and lo, they went with … Pizzagate guy.

So August’s narrative needs to end now, and wondrously, it’s all due to a creepy tweet from an apparent conspiracist who may or may not have realized what he was doing. While normal, everyday Americans hopefully get a kick out of that, the media needs to return to demanding McMaster answer everyone’s initial questions:

  1.  Why did you purge the NSC of every official loyal to Trump’s Middle East campaign platform?
  2. Why have you instead placed Obama administration holdovers in key positions?

McMaster brings top Obama admin officials into NSC, sources say

INFLUENTIAL OBAMA PENTAGON STAFF MEMBERS NOW HOLD SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL ROLES.

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, Aug. 31, 2017:

National security adviser H.R. McMaster has quietly pulled in high-ranking officials from the Obama administration into senior positions on his staff, current and former administration officials told Conservative Review.

In recent months, McMaster has hired influential members of the Obama Pentagon. One of these individuals was assigned to boost the Iran nuclear deal with Tehran, while the other became a trusted aide to former defense chief Ash Carter.

The recent hires are Ylli and Ylber Bajraktari, Albanian-Kosovan brothers who elevated to the top of government in the Obama administration.

A 2016 Medium profile of the brothers describes the major influence they have had in crafting policies for the previous administration.

“I have never heard of a story of two brothers playing such a critical behind-the-scenes role at the Pentagon,” Carl Woog, a senior Obama NSC adviser, commented to Partnership for Public Service.

“Ylber travels with [Sec. Carter] to international destinations and attends all his Pentagon meetings on foreign policy matters,” the article said.

At the time, Ylber (pronounced ill-BEAR) was deputy chief of staff to Secretary of Defense Carter, where he helped develop the Obama administration’s foreign policy, focusing on Iran and Iraq. Ylber also worked on the administration’s highly controversial nuclear deal with the Tehran regime.

Ylli (pronounced ill-lee) served as a special assistant to the Obama Pentagon’s deputy secretary, Robert Work, and his job was to “make sure” that the top Obama officials’ “visions are being completed,” Ylli told Medium.

Less than four months after their glowing profile on Medium, Ylber and Ylli witnessed the election of Donald J. Trump. Since the Democrats were no longer in power, their bosses lost their powerful jobs in government.

But H.R. McMaster has recently adopted a good many Ash Carter protégés, bringing Obama administration officials back into power. At the same time, McMaster got rid of much of President Trump’s initial wave of hires upon entering government.

Yll now serves as a close confidant to McMaster, in a position described by a current officialas a gatekeeper to the national security adviser (comparable to the role of a chief of staff). Ylli reviews all requests before they reach McMaster’s desk.

Meanwhile, Ylber is the National Security Council’s senior director for defense policy.

After initial reports surfaced on social media pertaining to the brothers’ role in the White House, figures from left-wing institutions and think tanks quickly emerged to defend them.

“Ylli’s story is what makes America great. It was an honor to serve with him,” said Carl Woog.

“Ylli is a patriot. He embodies the American dream & served the US in non-political DoD roles for years,” said Colin Kahl, the national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Ylli Bajraktari is a kind, honest & dedicated civil servant,” adds Jacqueline Ramos, a fellow at the left-wing Center for a New American Security.

Though the national security adviser continues to populate the NSC with individuals and influences from the past administration, not everyone is convinced that the White House is a lost cause for President Trump’s base.

“I know the president will very rapidly come to understand that people around him at the senior levels of government are not serving him properly and honorably with regard to the advice and options they’re giving him,” Dr. Sebastian Gorka, who recently stepped down as special assistant to the president, tells Conservative Review.

“The president doesn’t just rely upon the counsel of those inside the White House,” Gorka said, predicting that Trump will “make some personnel decisions in the short to medium term that will strengthen the base that actually got the president elected.”

The National Security Council has not responded to a request for comment on this story. Should that change, this story will be updated to include the comment.

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.

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