Issues of the Day
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Don’t you love school photographs? It must be wonderful to look back in years to come and recognize all your old classmates and the memories of all the fun times you had together.
Does anyone remember the name of the fourth from the left in the front row?
House, Senate intel chiefs emphasize Islamic State risk
By Associated Press
Leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees on Sunday prodded President Barack Obama to take decisive action against what they say are growing threats from Islamic State militants on U.S. soil.
The lawmakers, one Republican and one Democratic, offered bipartisan pressure on the White House to turn back the hazard of Islamist fighters who have taken control of vast swaths of Syria and Iraq. Those militants now are looking toward the United States or Western Europe for their next targets, lawmakers said.
Without offering specifics on any threats or suggestions how to confront them, the lawmakers said Obama soon needs to develop a comprehensive strategy to crush the Islamic State fighters.
"His foreign policy is in absolute free-fall," said Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who heads the House Intelligence Committee.
In another TV interview, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Senate intelligence panel, said Obama is perhaps "too cautious" in his approach to combatting the Islamic State group.
"This is a group of people who are extraordinarily dangerous," Feinstein said. "And they'll kill with abandon."
The pair of lawmakers, who have access to some of the nation's most sensitive secrets and receive regular and detailed briefings from U.S. spy agencies, offered dire predictions of an attack on the United States or its European allies if the militants are not confronted.
"They have announced that they don't intend to stop," Feinstein said. "They have announced that they will come after us if they can, that they will, quote, 'spill our blood.'"
The threat, Rogers said, could include Americans who have trained with Islamic State fighters. He said there are hundreds of Islamic State-trained Americans who can return to the United States with their American passports.
"I'm very concerned because we don't know every single person that has an American passport that has gone and trained and learned how to fight," Rogers said.
Rogers said U.S. intelligence agencies were tracking the Americans who are known to have traveled to the region. Those people, he added, should be charged under existing laws that prohibit Americans from aiding terrorists.
An attack on a Western nation is the next goal for the group, Rogers said.
"ISIL would like to have a Western-style attack to continue this notion that they are the leading jihadist group in the world," Rogers said, using another name for the group.
The top Democrat on his intelligence panel, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, was more skeptical about an attack from Islamic State fighters in the United States. He said more needs to be known before judging whether they plan to commit terrorist acts here any time soon. Islamic State fighters are taking over territory and their priority for the moment seems to be to hold on to that land rather than export violence.
"It is extremely urgent, but you don't just rush in," he said.
It was a view shared by Rep. Adam Smith, a Washington state Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee: "We can't simply bomb first and ask questions later."
Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged fast action and said Islamic State fighters "must be defeated, not contained," because they represent a direct threat to the U.S.
Added Homeland Security Committee member Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican: "The longer we wait, the more dangerous" the group becomes.
Feinstein said she has seen nothing that compares to the viciousness of the militants who have overrun large portions of Iraq, killed civilians and beheaded American journalist James Foley. The Islamic State group has financing, military structure and weapons unlike any other militants, she said.
Obama said Thursday that he did not yet have a strategy for dealing with the Islamic State group, a remark that brought criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. In an interview published early this year by The New Yorker magazine, the president appeared to minimize the Islamic State group by comparing it to a junior varsity basketball team. The White House later said he was speaking about a different threat posed by a range of extremists across the world.
Feinstein said she thought the basketball analogy was wrong — "I think it's a major varsity team" — but would not say whether she thought not having a strategy yet, as Obama acknowledged on Thursday, projected weakness from the White House.
"I think I've learned one thing about this president, and that is he's very cautious," she said. "Maybe in this instance, too cautious. I do know that the military, I know that the State Department, I know that others have been putting plans together. And so hopefully, those plans will coalesce into a strategy."
Feinstein spoke to NBC's "Meet the Press." Rogers appeared on "Fox News Sunday." Ruppersberger was on CNN's "State of the Union." McCain, Smith and King were interviewed on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Lieutenant Colonel Allen West calls President Obama an Islamist
This week Lieutenant Colonel Allen West blogged that Obama is an Islamist supporter. He indicated the only plausible explanation for many actions taken by President Obama and his administration is that they are working counter to the security of the United States of America and named several instances of anti-American support, and Americans should consider this very seriously.
1. The unilateral release of five senior Taliban back to the enemy while the enemy is still fighting us.
2. Providing weapons of support to the Muslim Brotherhood-led Egyptian government — F-16s and M1A1 Abrams tanks — but not to the Egyptian government after the Islamist group has been removed.
3. Negotiations with Qatar and Turkey, two Islamist-supporting countries.
4. Negotiations with Hamas, a terrorist group.
5. Returning sanction money, to the tune of billions of dollars, back to the theocratic regime led by Iran’s ayatollahs and allowing them to march on towards nuclear capability.
6. Obama’s evident support of Islamists in Libya.
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And then there is Benghazi. We can certainly look back at Benghazi and Obama’s lack of concern. In my article dated May 8, 2013 I wrote that on the morning of the attacks, Information Management Officer, Sean Smith, reported to security in Tripoli, indicating that around 6:40 a.m., one of the guards saw troubling activity. Near their main gate, a member of the police force was seen in the upper level of a building across from the compound, photographing the inside of the U.S. special mission. Even more troubling, the man was part of the police unit sent to protect the mission, and the car number was 322.
In Benghazi, Stevens’ meetings throughout the day were all held within the confines of the gated compound for security reasons with no problems. Fears started to escalate.
At approximately 6:30, Libyan time, 12:30 pm East Coast time, Ambassador Chris Steven’s team warned Washington that “a Libyan Militia was gathering weapons and gathering steam.”
Stevens’ last appointment was at 8 p.m., or 2 p.m. EST, and that meeting was with the Turkish Consul General Ali Akin Sait. More than likely they were talking about the current Libya shipment of weapons headed for Syria but docked in Turkey. The shipment reportedly weighed 400 tons and included SA-7 surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades. If these weapons were used to defeat Assad, what guarantee is there that they would eventually be used against the United States?
Around the same time as Stevens’ meeting with Ali, according to the AP, which would be 2 p.m. EST, neighbors near the compound in Libya described activists who installed checkpoints around the compound. According to neighbors, these checkpoints were manned by bearded jihadists with trucks equipped with heavy machine guns, and flashing the logo of al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia. The activists sealed off the streets leading to the compound. They set up roadblocks with pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns, according to witnesses. Neighbors said that no one could get in or out.
The meeting with the Turkish Consul General Ali Akin Sait ended around 8:30 pm and, afterwards, Stevens escorted the Consul General to the main gate chatting briefly with the guards. All was quiet at the compound. There were no protests or problems, and Stevens was relieved. The heat of the summer day had cooled somewhat, and the Ambassador decided to go to bed after a long, trying day. Also in the residence was Sean Smith and 4 agents, all armed with nothing more than pistols. There was another agent a nearby tactical information center also armed with a pistol.
Suddenly, the Libyan security forces, that were protecting the Ambassador and the compound, quickly fled around 9:40. Within a minute, a well-armed mob, some with foreign accents, broke through the main gate. Neighbors describe the scene as “150 bearded gunmen, some wearing the Afghan-style tunics favored by Islamic militants. They indicated that the trucks bore the logo of Ansar al-Shariah, a powerful local group of Islamist militants who worked with the municipal government to manage security in Benghazi.
What about Ali? The Turkish Consul General had to go through the blockade of jihadists as he left the vicinity of the ‘consulate.’ Did the Turk call Stevens to warn him of the impending danger? Apparently not! There is no trace of phone call. Moreover, how could the Turk himself have walked through the blockade unless he was protected?
It was well planned. Heavily armed gangs of men charged towards the barracks and immediately torched it. Some were carrying AlQaeda flags. After torching the barracks, others lit the embassy cars. They were yelling and running throughout the compound.
Upon hearing the gun shots and yelling, a diplomatic security agent in the tactical operations center of the compound immediately activated the diplomatic danger notification system through a Flash call, which alerted (1.) the nearby 17th February brigade, (2.) the embassy in Tripoli and (3.) the diplomatic security command center in Washington.
A flash call is a digital point to point message, like an Instant Message. According to military protocol, a message would be sent directly to the 3 locations sited above. When received in the situation room of the Whitehouse, someone immediately transmits it to an Obama aide who WALKS the information immediately to POTUS and verifies delivery. It doesn't matter where the POTUS is; he always has an aide with him. This wasn’t just an attack, there was a missing Ambassador who has a priority 4-stars rank and is representing the President in Libya. Obama knew about the attack immediately.
Charlene Lamb at the State department also received the call and was able to watch the attacks in real time. Immediately, a Quick Reaction Force was deployed from the embassy in Tripoli to Benghazi. Glen Doherty, a former Navy Seal, was on his way from Tripoli by helicopter.
In the Benghazi compound, Special Agent David Uben quickly ran to get Stevens from his bedroom and brought Stevens and Sean Smith into the Safe Room. They made sure the gate was locked so no one could enter. They stayed quiet amid the chaos.
By this time, the Libyan security, the Embassy in Tripoli, the state department and the President knew of the attack.
Uben communicates with others in the compound to make sure they understand the situation. He radios the others in the compound that they are fine. Other agents throughout the compound try to gather weapons and body armor to fight the attackers but are forced back into the second residence by the fighters.
The Whitehouse Situation Room and the State Department watched in real time.
The Islamic fighters ransacked the main residence and then ran to the locked gate of the safe room. They looked inside; it’s dark, and they can’t see anything. The three men inside hold their breaths and watch the attackers from the darkness of the safe room. The attackers are unable to open the gate. Agent Uben has a gun trained on them and ready to shoot if necessary.
The fighters, unable to crack open the gate, decide to go outside, pour diesel fuel around the perimeter of the building and light it on fire. Fire and smoke engulfs the main residence, and dark smoke pours into the safe room with the three men waiting to be rescued.
The Whitehouse situation room and the State Department watched the chaos in real time. At no time did the President issue a CBA, or Cross Border Authority giving the OK for our military to rescue the Ambassador and others. By ignoring the situation, the President allowed the Islamists to win.
West goes on to say, “Sorry, but I can only explain this one way: Barack Hussein Obama is an Islamist in his foreign policy perspectives and supports their cause. You can go back and listen to his 2009 speech in Cairo, where Muslim Brotherhood associates were seated front and center.”
1 COMMON LINK AMONG WORLD'S MOST BRUTAL TERRORISTS
Radical Islam expert Brigitte Gabriel says ISIS is capable of anything from shopping-mall shooting sprees to nuclear attacks in the U.S. and believes the best way to ward off calamity is for Americans to wake up their elected officials and demand they “throw political correctness in the garbage can” and confront the radical threat as it truly exists.
She also revealed the one common link motivating the worst terrorists in the world today: the words of the Quran.
Gabriel was a victim of terrorism in her native Lebanon. She is founder and president of ActForAmerica.org and is author of numerous books, including “They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It.” She said the danger to the U.S. posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is significant but the threat is nothing new.
“We know that radical Islamists have been trying to attack the United States,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what organization they identify with, whether it’s al-Qaida or ISIS or whatever name du jour that’s exciting and dominating the news. Since President Obama became president, we have arrested on American soil 226 home-grown terrorists. And that was before ISIS.”
She does acknowledge a significant difference with ISIS: the deep pockets of the terrorist army. Gabriel said those kind of resources can finance a whole lot of trouble for the U.S. and other Western nations.
“ISIS has their hands on biological weapons. They have captured the oil fields. They have their hands on nuclear material. And they certainly have the money to be able to buy the technology to put missiles together with nukes on top of them or be able to smuggle something into our country. We cannot afford to let our president, even though he is blind to the issue, to let the issue go ignored,” said Gabriel, who added that ISIS can strike a devastating psychological blow to Americans with far less complicated plots.
“It doesn’t take a mega-attack. All they need is a few crazies to strap bombs to their bodies and walk into malls in different states across the United States. That would literally strike terror in the hearts of Americans,” she said.
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Brigitte Gabriel:
The Obama administration and many other public officials and organizations are taking great pains to insist ISIS does not speak for Islam or any other religion. Gabriel Islam and radicalism are seamlessly intertwined throughout the past 1,400 years.
“They are basing their actions on the words of the Quran,” she explained. “What IS is doing right now is no different than what Prophet Muhammad himself did.”
Gabriel added, “They are using scriptures from the Quran. For example, Quran 8:12 talks about striking fear into the hearts of disbelievers. Therefore, they cut off their fingers and toes because they disobeyed Allah. So what ISIS is doing is no different than what any other group or devout followers of the Quran will do.”
She said the U.S. has seen the rise of numerous radical Muslim groups just since the 2001 terrorist attacks. Gabriel pointed to mass executions and stonings in Afghan soccer arenas by the Taliban, the al-Qaida beheading of Daniel Pearl, the terrorist beheadings of Nick Berg and 35 other people in just one year in Iraq and the horrific murders, rapes, abductions and church burnings carried out by Boko Haram in Nigeria.
“When you look at these different groups across the world, whether they are Al Shabab in Somalia, or Boko Haram in Nigeria, or Lashkar-e-Taiba in India, or Hamas in Gaza, or Hezbollah in Lebanon or al-Qaida, the name doesn’t matter,” she said. “They all are operating out of the same manual, sharing the same ideology and the same goal.”
Speaking of Hamas, Gabriel said the recently announced cease-fire in Gaza is nothing but a chance for the terrorists to regroup and eventually pose a greater threat than before.
“Israel has got to decapitate Hamas and destroy its infrastructure,” she said. “Otherwise, Hamas is going to come back stronger than ever. It may take them a year, two years, three years. They’re going to come back, and we’re going to see the same thing.”
“They Must Be Stopped” is New York Times bestselling author Brigitte Gabriel’s warning to the world: We can no longer ignore the growth of radical Islam – we must act soon, and powerfully.
Act for America is hosting its annual security conference in Washington, a three-day event beginning on Sept. 11. Gabriel said elected officials need to understand the gravity of the terrorist threat facing our country and the urgency with which it must be confronted. However, she said it’s up to the American people to make sure Washington takes notice and takes decisive action.
“The American public must come together and put pressure on our elected officials to throw political correctness in the garbage where it belongs and start speaking the truth about the threats we are facing,” Gabriel said. “(We need to) remind our elected officials as to the importance of securing the United States, securing American lives, protecting American cities and doing what is right to fight evil.”
Part of that, she said, is working to thwart the rise of home-grown terrorists. She said rudderless young people are especially attracted to the cause.
“What we’re suffering in the West today is the lack of structure in the family, the lack of guidance. Many families are broken. Young people feel disenfranchised,” Gabriel said. “What Islam offers is a way to tell you how to live your life, down to the simple things and to how many times you can wash your hands and how many times to pray and everything to that detail. That’s what they’re attracted to.
“A lot of people are also resentful of America. A lot of the youth are very easily drawn to very attractive recruitment videos on the Internet,” said Gabriel, noting that ISIS is even recruiting people most would consider the least likely to join its cause.
She said, “Right now ISIS is focused on recruiting women on the Internet, offering them safety and security and stability and a home life if they would come and marry a jihadist and take care of a jihadist’s needs.”
Charlie Verde sent us the following great commentary.
Imagining President Reagan’s Response to the ISIS Threat
Instead of merely criticizing President Barack Obama's lack of an effective national security policy, it might be helpful to imagine the speech President Ronald Reagan might have given in response to the videotaped beheading of American journalist James Foley.
There are many things a great power can do if it has leadership.
August 29, 2014
Speaking at Point Mugu Naval Base, near the Reagan Ranch where he is vacationing, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation on the beheading of James Foley and the threats from the Islamic State (also known as ISIS).
This was also the site of his address to the nation after the Soviet Union shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 with an American congressman aboard.
Text of Reagan Address
My fellow Americans:
We have all been saddened and outraged by the vicious videotape of Islamic State terrorists beheading an American journalist. Our hearts go out to James Foley's family.
However, anger and sympathy are not solutions.
We, the American people, must come together in a righteous determination to defend freedom and civilization from barbarism, savagery, and terrorism.
We must calmly, methodically, and with the same grim determination we brought to winning World War II, implement strategies that eliminate the growing worldwide threat of radical Islamists prepared to kill us as individuals and our values as a civilization.
Some will suggest this exaggerates the threat from the Islamic State. Let me remind them of some hard facts.
There are now an estimated 12,000 terrorists from over 50 countries in the Islamic State-controlled parts of Iraq and Syria. Britain estimates that more than 500 British citizens have joined the Islamic State. Our government estimates that more than 100 Americans are now engaged in enemy activities.
When we remember the death and destruction 19 terrorists achieved on 9/11, we have to take very seriously the threat from more than 12,000 terrorists.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, has warned that the Islamic State "has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision that will eventually have to be defeated."
He has expanded on the danger, saying their vision of a fundamentalist caliphate could "fundamentally alter the face of the Middle East and create a security environment that would certainly threaten us in many ways."
Furthermore, General Dempsey has warned that the Islamic State cannot be defeated only in Iraq. He asserted: "Can they be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria? The answer is no."
In fact, the very existence of terrorists from over 50 countries means we must be thinking in terms of a global campaign to eradicate the virus of Islamic extremism and the spirit of terrorism and barbarism that it is fostering. This is fully as grave a threat to our survival as was Nazism or Communism. With appropriate strategies and consistent policies executed energetically, we can defeat and eliminate the Islamic State and its various allied factions.
The Islamic State and its worldwide terrorist allies have become the focus of evil in the modern world.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel warned that we must take the Islamic State seriously when he reported "they are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything we have seen." He went on to assert that "they marry ideology and a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess."
That is the scale of the opponent we must defeat.
Yet defeating terrorists and blackmailers is nothing new in American history.
In the very first years of the new American Republic, in May 1791, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson sent Thomas Barclay, American consul to Morocco, a letter of instructions for a new treaty with Morocco, stating that it is "lastly our determination to prefer war in all cases to tribute under any form, and to any people whatever."
Jefferson hated war and loved peace. He also understood that there were times when vicious opponents give peace-loving people no choice but to engage in a just war. As president he sent the Navy and the Marine Corps to the shores of Tripoli to reject blackmail, defeat piracy, and establish that even a young America could project power in defense of principle and its citizens.
We were saddened but not surprised by the barbaric video of the killing of James Foley. Back in January we noted that the Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, gave a speech in which he warned America: "Soon we'll be in direct confrontation, so watch out for us, for we are with you, watching." Islamic State spokesmen have promised to raise their black flag over the White House.
Because I take very seriously the security of the United States and believe that my highest obligation as president is to protect America, I responded to this direct challenge with a series of quiet steps.
We moved intelligence assets and began monitoring potential Islamic State targets throughout Iraq and Syria.
We began re-establishing ties with both the Sunni tribes in Western Iraq and the Kurdish allies with whom America has worked for decades.
We created an anti-ISIS intelligence network working with Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
We informed the weak, chaotic government in Baghdad that defeating the Islamic State is a higher priority than Iraqi political maneuvering, and we reserved the right to arm, train, and coordinate with any effective group prepared to help defeat the Islamic State.
We moved strategic assets including B-1 and B-2 bombers into position to be prepared to respond decisively to any ISIS outrage.
In response to the deliberately vicious killing of James Foley, we began hitting Islamic State targets in both Syria and Iraq. In the last hour over 200 targets have been hit.
The air campaign in coordination with Kurdish and Sunni Arab ground forces will continue until the Islamic State disintegrates and is incapable of holding territory.
The 12,000 terrorists from over 50 countries should understand as of this date that they can surrender or we will hunt them down. Terrorists who videotape beheadings operate outside the rule of law and in the tradition of eliminating piracy they will be dealt with as outlaws.
We will coordinate with Britain, Egypt, Jordan, and every willing partner to develop a strategy and a set of operating principles for the destruction of extremist terrorism.
When Congress returns I will work directly with its leaders in a bipartisan effort to establish rules for protecting America and defeating this growing cancer of barbarism.
With the bipartisan help of Congress and our allies we will pursue our campaign to destroy the Islamic State with the four principles I outlined immediately after the bombing in Beirut: We will have a clear plan to win. We will develop overwhelming forces among the combined civilized world. We will report to you regularly and work every day to keep the support of the American people for the campaign to destroy terrorism. We will define clearly who the enemy is and they will have no sanctuaries.
In confronting an evil that seeks to kill us and destroy our civilization, our goal must be complete and decisive victory.
The Foley family needs your prayers in this difficult time.
America and the forces of freedom need your prayers in this daunting campaign.
Together, civilization will prevail and barbarism will return to the dustbin of history.
Thank you and good night.
On the other hand...what did your current so-called leader say?