Friday, January 31, 2014

Clapper: Iran Ready for Nuclear Breakout



by Tom Wilson


In yesterday’s State of the Union address President Obama spoke stridently of how “American diplomacy … has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program—and rolled back parts of that program.” The president spoke with apparent pride of the “peaceful” efforts being taken to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. How then to explain the fact that less than twenty-four hours after that speech was given, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was being informed that Iran essentially already has breakout capacity for building the bomb should it wish to do so?

While presenting the annual report on the worldwide threat assessment before the committee, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper spoke of Iran’s extensive progress in expanding its nuclear and military infrastructure, including further work on its heavy-water facility at Arak. Clapper stated that “these technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so.” In a roundabout way, it would seem that we are being told that Iran is now ready and able to get the bomb, and all that remains to be seen is whether it is willing. With that comes the implication that this “political willingness” is the last thing that we might have any leverage over.


Under the current agreement, reached in Geneva last fall, Iran commits not to enrich uranium above five percent, rather than going to above twenty percent from which it is a quick and relatively simple process to reach the high weapons-grade materials needed for a bomb. The closest thing to good news that the annual report has on Iran is the claim that Iran would not be able to actually accomplish this final breakout without being detected. Cold comfort indeed, and not only for those countries within Iran’s immediate vicinity, but for all of us. For the annual report also stated that, in addition to its large stock of ballistic missiles, which have the capabilities for carrying a nuclear warhead, Iran’s space program gives it the ability to develop long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles.

What is perhaps most disheartening about this report is that because of the emphasis that it puts on the need to be able to monitor closely whether Iran is taking the final steps toward breakout, Clapper counsels that further sanctions would be counterproductive. In other words, the argument now seems to be that the U.S. must avoid imposing further sanctions, lest it disrupt the Iranians’ willingness to allow inspectors to monitor their ongoing and undismantled nuclear enrichment program. This sits in rather sharp contrast to the six United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for a total halt to Iran’s uranium enrichment.

These sentiments essentially echo the argument being pushed by Obama himself when he says that he would veto Congress should it vote for the implementation of further sanctions against Iran. Having apparently gone to great lengths to prevent Israel from carrying out a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, arguing that the military option threatened to jeopardize efforts on the negotiations and sanctions track, now we are told that sanctions too must be avoided because they threaten to jeopardize efforts on the monitoring track. In this way appeasement naturally necessitates more appeasement until the only thing that stands between Iran and genocidal weapons is Iran’s “political willingness,” or lack of it.

Even if we accept the assessment that places our last hope on our ability to closely monitor Iran’s nuclear activities, there remains the question of what would happen if inspectors discovered Iran to be in breach of any agreement. It would be too late to reassemble the sanctions in time for them to have any effect and by that point Iran’s nuclear network may have progressed beyond anything that could be destroyed by airstrikes. Furthermore, it is not inconceivable that our intelligence is flawed–it wouldn’t be the first time. If Iran has an unmonitored secret site where it is enriching to weapons-grade levels then all of Obama’s efforts to placate Iran by pulling apart the sanctions regime will have been in vain in any case.

It may, however, be worth noting that a poll by the Mellman group released yesterday revealed that 68 percent of American voters prefer the use of a military strike to the prospect of a nuclear Iran. They no doubt have made the commonsense assessment that leads one to conclude that if sanctions are not proving effective then a conventional military confrontation with Iran now, however unpleasant, is still preferable to a nuclear one later. It is sometimes hard to tell if the Obama administration has fully explored that same thought process.  


Tom Wilson

Source: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/01/29/clapper-iran-ready-for-nuclear-breakout/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad Gunmen Now in West Bank



by Khaled Abu Toameh


If anything, the rally that saw Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah join forces in a rare show of power means that Abbas's claim that he is fully in control of the situation in West Bank is baseless.

For the first time since 2007, Hamas and Islamic Jihad militiamen this week made a public appearance in the West Bank, raising fears that the two radical groups continue to maintain a military presence in areas controlled by Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority.

Palestinians were surprised to see Hamas and Islamic Jihad militiamen in broad daylight in an area controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

The masked militiamen made their rare appearance in the Jenin refugee camp during a rally to commemorate Islamic Jihad member Nafi Sa'di, killed by the Israel Defense Forces last December.

Gunman flank a speaker at the Jenin rally staged by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in January 2014.

The Palestinian Authority security forces, which are supposed to be in control of the refugee camp, did not intervene to stop or arrest the Hamas and Islamic Jihad gunmen, even as they fired into the air in honor of Sa'di.

Over the past few years, the US- and EU-backed Palestinian Authority [PA] security forces have been clamping down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters in the West Bank. Hundreds of activists belonging to the two radical groups have been arrested as part of the crackdown.

But this time the PA decided not to take any action against the Hamas and Islamic Jihad gunmen despite the fact that their public appearance is seen as a challenge to Abbas's authority.

One reason for this decision may be attributed to the possibility that the PA is afraid to confront Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The PA is already under attack from many Palestinians for conducting security coordination with Israel.

Last week, Hamas renewed its appeal to the Palestinian Authority leadership to halt all forms for security coordination with Israel.

A statement published by Hamas urged Abbas to "immediately halt security coordination with the Zionist entity."

Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, said that Abbas "was committing a big sin by opting to negotiate with Israel and prevent Palestinian resistance. Abbas's survival depends on continued security coordination with the Zionist enemy. By preventing the resistance, Abbas is weakening himself politically because the resistance supports the political process."

By allowing Hamas and Islamic Jihad militiamen to participate in a public rally in the West Bank, Abbas may also be seeking to send a message of warning to Israel and the US. This is a message that says that Palestinians have not abandoned the option of armed struggle against Israel as a way of achieving their goals.

Abbas may also be seeking to get more financial aid for the Palestinian Authority from the Americans and Europeans. The message he is sending to the American and European donors is that they need to give him more money and weapons, otherwise Hamas and Islamic Jihad would grow stronger and perhaps seize control of the West Bank.

A third message that Abbas seeks to send is one that is directed toward Hamas and Islamic Jihad. By allowing gunmen from the two groups to make a public appearance in the West Bank, Abbas is probably trying to appease the two groups and pave the way for "national reconciliation and unity."

Even more surprising was the fact that Fatah gunmen loyal to Abbas took part in the rally at the Jenin camp alongside Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

The participation of Fatah gunmen in a Hamas and Islamic Jihad rally shows that the PA and Abbas continue to face a serious challenge from their own loyalists. Moreover, it shows that there is coordination between Abbas's Fatah gunmen and Hamas and Islamic Jihad militiamen in the West Bank.

As senior Hamas representative Wasfi Kabaha declared at the rally, "We wanted to send a message to Israel that the Palestinian resistance continues to exist in the West Bank and is prepared for confrontation. We also wanted to affirm the need for national unity."

If anything, the rally that saw Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah join forces in a rare show of power means that Abbas's claim that he is fully in control of the situation in the West Bank is baseless.

Yasser Arafat allowed Hamas to operate freely in the Gaza Strip until Hamas drove the Palestinian Authority out of the area. Abbas is now committing the same mistake and could lose the West Bank to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The question is whether this will happen before or after the establishment of a Palestinian state.


Khaled Abu Toameh

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4148/hamas-islamic-jihad-west-bank

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Day Charade



by Joseph Puder


w-holocaust-day 

President Barack Obama joined in the commemorations of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day (the day the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, January 27, 1945), issuing a statement that urged the nation and the world to remember the victims of the Holocaust.  His statement said “We recall six million Jews and millions of other innocent victims who were murdered in Nazi death camps. We mourn lives cut short and communities torn apart.” Obama added, “In our lives, we always have choices. In our time, this means choosing to confront bigotry and hatred in all its forms, especially anti-Semitism.” Obama’s statement talked about doing our part to ensure that survivors receive some measure of justice.

While President Obama’s words are praiseworthy, his recent actions in striking a deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state, and pressuring Israel to make dangerous concessions to the Palestinians, is placing the Jewish state in jeopardy. The Obama administration must recognize the fact that to ensure survivors receive ‘some measure of justice’ means protecting the Jewish state, and the living Jews from another Holocaust. The anti-Semites of this world, whether in the halls of the U.N. or in Tehran, Ramallah, or Gaza, want nothing better than to annihilate the Jewish state. 

The State of Israel is the “collective Jew,” and home to the majority of Holocaust survivors. The charade that the U.N. puts on annually on January 27, called the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, cannot obscure its deliberate and vicious anti-Semitism practiced by the majority of this body, and its affiliated agencies, targeting exclusively the Jewish state. 

Addressing the U.N. delegates in January, 2005, on the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, Israel’s foreign minister at the time, Sylvan Shalom reminded the delegates that the U.N. Charter meant to insure against another Holocaust. “The very first clauses of the UN Charter bear witness to the understanding of the founders, that this new international organization (The United Nations, JP) must serve as the world’s answer to evil (of the Nazi holocaust JP), that it comes, and I quote: ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the human person.’ ”
The current Israeli ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prosor, had this to say on Monday, January 27, 2014. “The U.N. marks the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, but the hatred that is disseminated by (certain) governments only shows that the organization (the U.N., JP) has yet to internalize the lessons of the Holocaust.  Nearly 70 years since the end of World War II, we are still witnesses to the phenomena of racism and anti-Semitism that rears its head around the world.”  Prosor pointed out that anti-Semitism has not been eradicated, and its venom is being expressed in sermons by Palestinian Authority (PA) clerics, in PA educational institutions, textbooks, and in speeches by leaders around the world. He accused Gaza based Hamas of perpetuating anti-Jewish propaganda, and specified that “Palestinian children learn that the lives of Jews are worth less.”

On the eve of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Israeli government received its annual report on anti-Semitism worldwide. It appears from the report that there has been a worrisome increase in anti-Semitism, according to 76% of the respondents. The report presented by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, shows that the highest percentage of reported anti-Semitic activities are in Hungary, France, Belgium, and Sweden. The situation is less severe in Italy, Germany, and Britain. In Hungary, the respondents pointed to the extreme Right as the most threatening to Jews, whereas in France and Belgium, radical Muslims are the major source of anti-Semitic hate. 69 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, European Jews live once again in fear.

If aliens stumbled upon the U.N. debates, read its resolutions, or walked the U.N. halls, they would clearly conclude that the sole purpose of this world body is to censure a tiny Jewish state called Israel. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which is a non-voting observer to the U.N., is the second largest intergovernmental organization after the U.N, and can count on the votes of 57 Islamic states as its members. Along with the Third World member states, the OIC is almost guaranteed to master an “automatic majority.” Until the fall of the Soviet Union, that majority could add the Soviet Bloc, and in 1975, following a steady drumbeat of anti-Israel declarations, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the resolution that “Zionism is Racism.”  

This January, a few days before UNESCO was to launch a landmark exhibit at its Paris headquarters on The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People and the Land of Israel, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reneged due to Arab League pressure.  UNESCO chief Irina Bokova shamefully surrendered to the Arab demands. Hillel Neuer of the U.N. Watch revealed that “if the notorious UN Human Rights Council dedicates a full 50% of its resolutions to demonizing the Jewish state, at UNESCO the numbers are 100%.”  Neuer added, “Despite the repeated claims by the Obama administration that UNESCO is God’s gift to the Jews, and to humanity, the opposite is true; it is arguably the most anti-Jewish body in the entire U.N.”

With remarkable cynicism, the same Ms. Bokova, UNESCO’s chief, who canceled The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People and the Land of Israel exhibit, attending the International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Paris Shoah Memorial stated, “The future cannot be built on a forgotten past. The history of the Jewish genocide is the history of the Jewish people and it is also the history of humanity as a whole.”

The Guardian piece by Alexander Ryvchin (November 26, 2013) exposes the anti-Israel bias in the U.N.  He wrote, “The need for greater balance in the U.N. treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict recently came to light in the most unexpected of circumstances.  Earlier this month the U.N. General Assembly convened to engage in its annual ritual of passing a series of resolutions condemning Israel. Not a single resolution critical of the Palestinian leadership, or concerning any other global issue for that matter, was adopted during the meeting. The point of interest was the candid reaction of a Spanish-speaking U.N. interpreter, oblivious to the fact that her microphone remained on as she addressed her colleague.” The interpreter complained about 10 anti-Israel resolutions while there’s other really bad things happening around the world, but no one says anything about the other problems. Ryvchin concluded, “Through her frank admission, the interpreter, unencumbered by rank or protocol, was perhaps the only person in the room who had nothing to be embarrassed about. She had spoken an inconvenient truth, and the delegates in the chamber knew it.”

The inconvenient truth is that the U.N. is a major purveyor of anti-Semitism today.  Through its deliberate bias against the Jewish state it has also fostered anti-Jewish bigotry. The only Jews the U.N. undemocratic majority loves are dead Jews, hence the annual lip service to the Holocaust, and condemnation of anti-Semitism. Ambassador Prosor summed it up best when he said “The State of Israel is the only guarantee that the future fate of the Jewish people will be held in our own hands.”

As long as the cabals of undemocratic states hold sway at the U.N. and its affiliated institutions, and President Obama facilitates a stronger and more dangerous Iran, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day must be seen for what it is; lip service to murdered Jews and a charade.


Joseph Puder

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/joseph-puder/the-international-holocaust-remembrance-day-charade/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Politics and the Anti-Sanctions Coalition



by Tom Wilson


With news that support for Iran sanctions may now be showing signs of crumbling among Democrats in the Senate, it’s worth recalling that there have been a host of Jewish and self-titled liberal Zionist groups working tirelessly to make this happen. When UCLA Professor Mark Kleiman recently urged those who “have Jewish sounding names” to lobby their senators against further Iran sanctions, it was because he knew that these calls would seem to carry extra weight and legitimacy if they appeared to be coming from those who are assumed to be pro-Israel.

Several Washington-based lobby groups, claiming to be pro-Israel, have been lending their image of legitimacy to an organized coalition that is working to lobby against Iran sanctions. In joining this group, which also receives its briefings from White House officials, J Street and Americans for Peace Now are putting themselves into coalition with a number of other organizations and individuals who are at best completely indifferent to Israel’s welfare, such as, for instance, the National Iranian American Council.

That said, it is doubtful that these left-wing Jewish groups are being motivated by any explicitly pro-Iranian sentiment. Rather it seems that, in J Street’s case in particular, this action is an expression of shameless partisan loyalty to what is after all a Democrat administration and to the policies generated from the left of the Democratic Party. As recently as July of last year, J Street had been vocally supporting sanctions when the Obama administration was pushing this as an alternative to military action; now that the administration is also setting about dismantling the sanctions J Street has also fallen in line and is advocating precisely the same policy. American’s for Peace Now, hardly to their credit, have been a little more consistent in opposing sanctions against Iran. They even opposed sanctions when the administration thought them a preferable way to encourage Tehran to participate in negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program. 

The coalition was brought together by the Ploughshares Fund, which advocates for a nuclear free world (the irony). Those attempting to justify logically and morally untenable positions often feign sophistication by appealing to the counter-intuitive, yet the fact that this effort against sanctions–sanctions that are specifically designed to prevent a nuclear Iran–is being led by people claiming to be against nuclear weapons is simply beyond paradoxical. It was noteworthy at the time that many of those who campaigned against the war in Iraq, claiming they favored non-violent solutions, had previously protested sanctions against Iraq also. Now, with Iran, those who were against the military option are also lining up to try and prevent the sanctions option. Indeed, in an almost Orwellian inversion, some in this coalition have accused the supporters of sanctions of “warmongering.” The question arises, what kind of pressure for preventing the proliferation of the very nuclear weapons that these people claim to oppose would they consider acceptable?

In the case of both of the supposedly pro-Israel groups in question, their participation in this coalition would seem to suggest that whatever it is that they are committed to, it is hardly Israel’s welfare first and foremost. J Street already made clear that it took its marching orders from the Obama administration when it lobbied hard for Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be secretary of defense. Hagel had made a series of infamously anti-Israel and even anti-Jewish comments and had been concerningly ambiguous in his stance on Iran. J Street not only failed to oppose his nomination, they supported it.

American’s for Peace Now may be less slavish to the dictates of the Obama administration, but their consistent opposition to even peaceful measures for preventing Iran from getting the bomb would seem to betray a general hostility to Western interests as well as to the security and survival of Israel in particular. 

When American Jews and friends of Israel look to AIPAC, or the ZOA, or the Emergency Committee for Israel, they may not agree with all of their tactics or even their policies. Yet, they can be sure that these groups are unequivocally pro-Israel. Of J Street and American’s for Peace Now they know no such thing. 


Tom Wilson

Source: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/01/30/politics-and-the-anti-sanctions-coalition/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Shimon Peres says that Jews can live safely in Palestinian state: “What’s this fear? They’ll kill Jews? Today?”



by Robert Spencer


WEF: YASSER ARAFAT AND SHIMON PERES ATTEND A SESSION ENTITLED ' FROM PEACEMAKING TO PEACEBUILDING'

Uh, yeah. They’ll kill Jews. Today. This could only have been said by someone who has no conception of the nature of the jihad ideology, and of the significance of the epigraph from Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna on the Hamas charter: “Israel will arise and will remain until Islam eliminates it.” The establishment of a Palestinian state with Jews living in it will mean the murder of the Jews living there, and further jihad attacks against Israel.

“Peres: ‘Live Under the PA, What Are You Afraid Of?,’” by Ari Yashar for Israel National News, January 29:
Amid the ongoing crisis between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett over the idea of leaving Jews under Palestinian Authority (PA) rule, President Shimon Peres decided to add his opinion to the debate.
Bennett wrote on his Facebook page Monday “why can’t we let the Palestinians be sovereign over Israelis? Because they’ll kill them.” He added a picture from the notorious lynch in 2000 of two Israeli police officers at the hands of a Palestinian Arab mob in Ramallah.
In response, Peres opined Wednesday morning at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) that Jews would be “safe” living under PA rule.
“What’s this fear that’s struck us suddenly? They’ll kill Jews? Today?” commented the doubtful Peres. “The fear should have been in 1948 when we didn’t have a cannon, tank or plane against seven armies.”
Despite Peres’s appraisal that having a cannon means no Jews will be killed, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) figures note that terrorist attacks skyrocketed in 2013, jumping to 1,271 from 578 the year prior. Of those attacks, 1,042 took place in Judea and 229 took place in Samaria, the areas Peres claims can be abandoned safely.
Ironically, the same day that Peres opined “today they won’t kill Jews,” an Arab terrorist opened fire on an IDF guard post next to the Samaria community of Ateret, which lies near Ramallah. Soldiers returned fire, eliminating the terrorist.

Peres steadfastly supports the establishment of a Palestinian state in the heart of the country, even as the PA refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
“If we want to be a Jewish people we need a Jewish state, and all other reasoning has to bend to that need,” said Peres Tuesday.
In the past Peres has said the PA recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is “unnecessary.”
The president has also warned of “tragic consequences” if Israel does not submit to peace proposals that would require massive territorial withdrawals and a divided internationally-managed Jerusalem.
The president has a history of downplaying the lethal dangers posed by Israel’s terrorist threats.
In 2006, in the midst of massive Kassam rocket attacks on Sderot from Gaza, Peres claimed “[We] have to stop being hysterical about the Kassams. …What’s the big deal? …We have to tell the Palestinians that Kassams, Shmassams, we’re staying.”

Robert Spencer

Source: http://www.jihadwatch.org/2014/01/shimon-peres-says-that-jews-can-live-safely-in-palestinian-state-whats-this-fear-thats-struck-us-suddenly-theyll-kill-jews-today/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Holder Fail: AG can't Explain why Obamacare Executive Orders are Constitutional



by Thomas Lifson


Yesterday was a bad, bad day for the Attorney General of the United States. Senator Mike Lee twice asked Eric Holder to explain the constitutional basis of President Obama's executive orders suspending parts of Obamacare, and the AG fumbled badly, essentially claiming the dog ate his homework. Joel Gehrke of the Washington Examiner:
Attorney General Eric Holder couldn't explain the constitutional basis for executive orders such as President Obama's delay of the employer mandate because he hasn't read the legal analysis -- or at least, hasn't seen it in a long time.
"I'll be honest with you, I have not seen -- I don't remember looking at or having seen the analysis in some time, so I'm not sure where along the spectrum that would come," Holder replied when Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, asked him to explain the nature of Obama's constitutional power to delay the mandate.
Lee had based his question on a standard legal test, first described by Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who said the president's authority to issue executive orders is strongest when he does so with the backing of Congress (category one), more dubious when he issues an order pertaining to a topic on which Congress has not passed a law (category two), and weakest when the executive order is "incompatible with a congressional command" (category three), to use Lee's paraphrase.
Holder assured Lee that Obama's team accounts for Jackson's three-part analysis, but said he couldn't use that test to explain in any detail what kind of authority the president wielded when he delayed the employer mandate.

Here is the video:




John Hinderaker of Powerline comments:

This is a very serious matter. For a president to issue orders for which he has no constitutional authority is the gravest possible abuse of his office. And Holder's assurance that President Obama prefers to "work with Congress," and only issues executive orders when he can't get his way by "working with Congress," is itself outrageous. Congress has the power to enact legislation; the president does not. If Congress chooses not to enact a law that the president wants, that does not empower the president to legislate via executive order.

If Obama were not the first black president, and if the mainstream media were not in his camp, this would be impeachment fodder. But alas, equal justice for all is just a faint memory for the political establishment at this point in time. As Sen. Lee put it:
it is clear the president has "usurped an extraordinary amount of authority within the executive branch."
"This is not precedented," he concluded. "And I point to the unilateral delay, lawless delay in my opinion, of the employer mandate as an example of this. At a minimum, I think he owes us an explanation of what his legal analysis was."


Thomas Lifson

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/01/holder_fail_ag_cant_explain_why_obamacare_executive_orders_are_constitutional.html

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Israeli Defense Official Offers Dark Security Assessment



by IPT News


Israel is entering an "Era of Fire" in which it is threatened by 170,000 rockets and missiles and in which the Syrian civil war has placed "30,000 global jihad terrorists" at its doorstep, Israel's defense intelligence chief said in a speech Wednesday.

"Israel is surrounded by 360 degrees of actual enemies," said Major General Aviv Kohavi at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

Most of those foes have enough internal strife to make any imminent attack unlikely, he said. But if circumstances change, they have the means to threaten Israel more dramatically than ever, and both terrorist groups and governments continue to diversify their arsenals. "The line between a terror organization and a military organization continues to blur."

The fight to topple dictator Bashar al-Assad has been a magnet for jihadis from throughout the world. At some point, they will leave that fight and pose new threats to Europe, North Africa and America. Many will seek to stay in the area, finding camps in Lebanon and Sinai.

"We are talking about extremists clinging to extremist ideologies - anti-Western and anti-Modern ideologies. We are talking about exceptional cruelty and brutality close to our borders," Kohavi said.

Israel is developing medium-range missile defense systems, but the volume and sophistication of rockets controlled by Hizballah in Lebanon means not every rocket can be intercepted. "For the first time the enemy now has the ability to hit Israeli cities hard," Kohavi said.

The Muslim Brotherhood's ouster from power in Egypt and corresponding pressure on Hamas "is a serious opportunity" for Israel, he said. But new threats, such as Iran's nuclear weapons program nearing completion and an increase in cyber-attacks, add to the challenges facing Israeli defense and intelligence officials.

"Cyber​​warfare, in my humble opinion, will soon emerge as a more important discovery than gunpowder," Kohavi said.


IPT News

Source: http://www.investigativeproject.org/4279/israeli-defense-official-offers-dark-security

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

All the President’s Women



by Nonie Darwish


hillary 

It is not a coincidence that most of the Obama administration scandals happened under the leadership of women. The Obama administration chooses to surround itself with “yes men” and “yes women,” but liberal “yes women” have an advantage: it is hard to criticize and grill them when a scandal happens without being accused of sexism and being a bigoted woman-hater.

In our current political environment, liberal politicians in general, men and women, get away with a lot more than conservative politicians because of media liberal bias. But liberal female politicians can get away with a lot more than their male counterparts, and that explains why almost all the Obama scandals have female faces behind them. Under ordinary conditions, men or women should end up becoming fall guys or gals, but many of the women behind the Obama scandals end up rewarded, sometimes even with a better position.

The Benghazi scandal supposedly hurt several women: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ambassador Susan Rice and Charlene Lamb, among others. It is clear that the White House, for an unknown reason, manipulated the State Department’s decision-making process regarding Benghazi and Clinton went along. Hillary, who wants to be president, has recently stated that she regrets Benghazi, but her “regret” would be more accurately described as her “failure” to be her own boss in the State Department.

When the Benghazi scandal exploded, the administration had to quickly find a “yes” liberal woman to take Hillary’s place on TV. Susan Rice thus came to the rescue when Hillary refused to face the music in public. The White House and the media did everything they could to shield Hillary from the scandal — even from her own investigators, the State Department Accountability Review Board. The Review Board issued their report without interviewing the boss, Hillary, but they accused yet another woman, Ms. Lamb, for failure in leadership when her office denied providing extra security to the US Ambassador in Libya. But low and behold, Ms. Lamb, who was accused of dropping the ball, was never fired and instead was rewarded by the same State Department that gave her another key position.

Few men can, with a straight face, expect to get away with yelling back to questions in Congress, “What difference does it make?” Only a liberal woman with an entitlement mentality can get away with something like that without becoming the laughing stock of Saturday Night Live. Nothing works better to manipulate public opinion more than an offended woman questioned by a nasty, bigoted Republican male.

The Affordable Care Act scandal also had many women behind it and could never have passed Congress without Nancy Pelosi who, like Hillary, feels entitled to immunity from criticism. Pelosi bragged she would stop at nothing to pass the bill when she said:
We’ll go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, we’ll go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in but we’re going to get health care reform passed for the America people.
No man could have gotten away without scrutiny for a statement like: “We have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it.” Only in the current liberal environment can the media make a self-made woman like Sarah Palin the subject of ridicule material, while taking someone like Pelosi seriously.

After Pelosi passed the healthcare bill, another woman took over its implementation: Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. While only a few have read or comprehended Obamacare, Sebelius happily took over the job and consistently expressed confidence that everything was under control. She never prepared America for a possible disaster until the opening day of October 1st when the disaster exploded.

Women, who don’t like to be questioned, were also the face of the IRS Scandal. Before taking the 5th, Louis Lerner gave herself the right to state she had done nothing wrong. Lerner’s boss at the IRS, Sarah Ingram, was director of the office that oversaw tax-exempt organizations during the targeting of conservative groups. But again, instead of a demotion, she was promoted to lead the Obamacare office.

While Democrats accuse Republicans of a “War on Women,” they have no problem in using liberal a woman as a shield from scandal. These women act untouchable and entitled and are guarded by a liberal media who will viciously attack Republicans whose job is supposed to be the loyal opposition. But how can you be an effective opposition if your opponent claims gender discrimination every time you question all these liberal women leaders?

Even if these women are exposed to scandal, they act like they have been wronged, deserve to be rewarded, insist on staying the course, claim the 5th and even get promoted. When Hillary Clinton put up with and defended her husband’s accusations of sexual harassment on the job, she managed to appear as the victim who deserved to be elected Senator, Secretary of State and perhaps the Democratic nominee for President. You see, we owe her.

The mainstream media and academia have produced generations of American women with a constant chip on their shoulder, with unrealistic expectations who perceive life’s challenges as a personal attack because they are women. Ironically, these are the same women who ignore Islamic scandals of honor killing, female genital mutilation and killing of apostates. Some of them even go as far as accusing critics of Islam of being “Islamophobes.”

Some liberal women’s feelings of entitlement end up driving them to exaggerate and lie about their background to get special treatment. Two examples are Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and State Senator Wendy Davis of Texas. One can only imagine what kind of work environment these women will create around them.

The current leftist political culture surrounding women is setting them up either to fail or to turn them into female dictators in an authoritarian mommy state that will threaten the fabric of our free society. Under the guise of “we are pro-women” the Left is using women as tools to silence criticism and inquiry of scandals. While the mainstream media places liberal women on a pedestal, it hammers, ridicules and uses vile insults on air to describe conservative women.

And we let them get away with it.


Nonie Darwish is author of “The Devil We Don’t Know.”

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/nonie-darwish/all-the-presidents-women/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Cruz Grills Holder on IRS Scandal Investigation



by Thomas Lifson


Ted Cruz demonstrated again yesterday why he sets conservative hearts aflutter, pointedly questioning Attorney General Eric Holder when he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday over the IRS's going-nowhere investigation of the IRS targeting of Tea Party and conservative nonprofits.  (Video below)  Mackenzie Weinger of Fox News summarized:

"In the 280 days since that inspector general report, nobody has been indicted," Cruz said. "Not a single person. In the 280 days since that inspector general report, it's been publicly reported that no indictments are planned. Today in this hearing, you were unwilling to answer a question whether even a single victim of targeting has been interviewed."

And, Cruz said, "most astonishingly, it has now been publicly reported that the lead lawyer heading the investigation was, No. 1, appointed from the civil rights division, which has historically been the most politically charged division in the Dept. of Justice. And even more astonishingly, is a major Democratic donor and donor to President Obama."

"Did you know the lawyer in charge of this investigation was a major Obama donor?" Cruz asked, referring to the involvement of Justice Department's trial lawyer Barbara Kay Bosserman in the probe.

In his trademark bland and evasive legalese, Holder attempted to deflect concern:

"The characterization of this lawyer as the lead lawyer on the case is not correct," Holder said, adding that "I don't know anything about the political activities of any of the people who are involved in this investigation."

Holder told the committee that he does not "have any basis to believe that the people who are engaged in this investigation are doing so in a way other than investigations are normally done."

"That is by looking at the facts, applying the law to those facts and reaching the appropriate conclusions," he said. "I don't have any basis to believe that anything other than that is occurring."

"No basis to believe" can be roughly translated as "I am averting my eyes."


Holder also stated that he sees no reason to appoint a Special Prosecutor (via Yourhoustonnews.com):


Sen. Cruz asks Attorney General Holder, "I would call upon you to carry out the tradition of independence that attorneys general have honored that office with for centuries and protect the integrity of the Department of Justice, given the political sensitivities, given the fact that individual citizens believe they are being persecuted by the Department of Justice for partisan reasons. It would further Justice and further the integrity of the Department of Justice for you to appoint a special prosecutor with a meaningful degree of independence to investigate and find out what happened, and I would suggest that any special prosecutor should have integrity beyond reproach, and not be a major Obama donor."


General Holder responded, "I don't think that there is a basis for us to conclude on the information as it presently exists that there is any reason for the appointment of the independent counsel...The notion that somehow this has caused a loss of faith in this Justice Department is inconsistent with the facts."


With the cooperation of the media, which regards lane closures on a bridge as more important than the suppression of political opposition by the federal government's most feared agency, Holder and his boss plan to run out the clock, simply delaying any real investigation. The facts of the lackluster investigation are damning on their face - few if any victims have yet been interviewed. Obama and Holder feigned outrage when the scandal came to light, and should be held to their words by every GOP politician.


It is time to demand -- over and over again -- a Special Prosecutor. If Cruz runs for president, he can make a promise to appoint a Special Prosecutor part of his platform -- assuming the IRS hasn't harrassed Tea Party groups out of existence by 2016.


photo credit: screen capture from CBS News


Thomas Lifson

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2014/01/cruz_grills_holder_on_irs_scandal_investigation.html

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Welfare State Madness




by Arnold Ahlert

 

Another dubious record has been set during the Obama administration. As of the end of December, a staggering 10,988,269 Americans were receiving federal disability benefits, a number that exceeds the entire population of Greece. The December totals mark the 202nd straight month that the number of disabled workers in the nation has increased. Furthermore, according to the latest Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, “mental disorder” is the top “diagnostic group,” comprising 35.5 percent of all disabled beneficiaries. Within that category, “mood disorders” is the most prevalent affliction, at 14.1 percent.

Though it is the latest report released, the statistics compiled represent the disabled beneficiaries as of December 2012, when approximately 88,000 fewer Americans were receiving benefits. The overall number of disabled beneficiaries has nearly doubled since December 1995. The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines a disabled worker as a “beneficiary who worked in covered employment long enough to be insured and who had been working recently in covered employment prior to disability onset.” A spouse eligible for benefits must have a child under age 16 or a disabled child in his or her care, or be at least 62 years old. A divorced spouse is also eligible if the marriage lasted at least 10 years.
As of December 2013, the average monthly benefit paid to a disabled worker also hit a record high of $1,146.43, as did the monthly payouts to spouses and children, reaching $308.13 and $341.42 respectively.

No doubt many Americans may wonder why the number of disabled is growing so rapidly. Many analysts contend it is due to a Baby Boomer generation that is now entering retirement and dealing with health problems associated with aging. On the other hand, Mark Duggan and Scott Imberman, disability researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research, have reached an entirely different conclusion. In a study, “Why Are the Disability Rolls Skyrocketing?” the authors reveal that aging accounted for the growth disability benefits in only 13 percent of male recipients and 4 percent of female recipients, with the relatively recent increase in women entering the workforce accounting for the discrepancy. The biggest driver of growth, at 45 percent for men, and 36 percent for women, was the relaxation of medical eligibility criteria. Relaxed criteria that has made it possible for otherwise able-bodied Americans to get a lifetime’s worth of government paychecks. 

Unsurprisingly, politics played the principal role in expanding the definition of “disabled.” In his last year as president, Jimmy Carter signed the Disability Amendments Act of 1980, encouraging stricter oversight of Social Security disability benefits. When Reagan assumed the presidency, he asked the SSA to step up enforcement of the law. As a result, one million Americans lost their benefits. The political backlash led to Congress unanimously passing the Social Security Disability Benefits Reform Act of 1984. The law instructed government to give an applicant’s self-assessment of a disability greater consideration, especially in the areas of pains and discomfort. It also allowed assessments by one’s own doctor to take the place of medical assessments made by the government, and it eased the screening criteria for some categories, including mental illness.

The effects were dramatic. Since subjective assessments by an applicant enabled many people to claim disability — while medical advances lowered the number of disabling medical conditions — disability benefits dramatically increased for people with musculoskeletal and mental disorders, even as benefits for those suffering from conditions such as cancer, strokes, or heart attacks remained constant.

Duggan and Imberman also charted the correlation between the number of disabled and the second biggest driver of growth, increased government payouts. The SSA pays out benefits based on what someone made while they were working, plus means testing. They noted that due to the expansion of income subject to Social Security taxes, and a growth of income dispersion, low-income Americans gain higher levels of disability payments relative to their previous income.

In addition, Americans who qualify for disability insurance via the Social Security program automatically qualify for Medicare after two years, regardless of age. Aaron Yelowitz of the National Bureau of Economic Research and the University of California published research indicating that “13 to 20 percent of the rise in SSI participation may be due to increases in the value of Medicaid.”  

Given these realities, it is unsurprising that disability claims have skyrocketed over the last three decades. Adding to the momentum, a report by National Pubic Radio’s (NPR) Chana Joffe-Walt paints a disturbing picture of what she calls a “disability-industrial complex.” It amounts to little more than members of the legal and medical professions dedicating themselves to getting as many Americans on disability as they possibly can.

The surge in disability recipients is also exacerbated by economic downturns. During the last three recessions, applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) have increased in conjunction with the unemployment rate. ”It’s primarily economic desperation,” said former Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue in 2011. “People on the margins who get bad news in terms of a layoff … have no other place to go and they take a shot at disability.”


NPR’s Joffe-Walt confirms that assessment, noting that “disability has also become a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills.” This is due to the reality that the difference between a minimum wage job and disability payments is only $2000 per year, and the jobs probably don’t include health insurance. Thus she concludes that “disability may be a better option.” 

That option, absent a legitimate disability, amounts to gaming the system. An egregious example of gaming the system was recently uncovered in New York. More than 100 retired cops and firemen allegedly gamed the system out of $400 million in fraudulent disability claims dating back to 1988. Over half the claimants blamed 9/11 for a variety of mental ailments after being coached how to describe their symptoms by four individuals who oversaw the scheme. “Specifically they instructed them on how to intentionally fail memory tests, how to dress when they presented themselves and how to present their demeanor,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

They are hardly an anomaly. A report published by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations following an 18-month investigation reveals that in over a quarter of the cases they reviewed, evidence confirming disabilities was “insufficient, contradictory, or incomplete.” A 2011 internal investigation by the SSA revealed an almost identical error rate at 22 percent. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), a medical doctor, reviewed 100 cases personally. “In about 75 percent of the cases I went through, people were not truly disabled,” he concluded. He further noted huge inconsistencies regarding how administrative judges reviewed evidence contending that “you could flip a coin for anybody that came before the Social Security commission for disability and get it right just as often as the judges.”

The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk contends that the rise in SSDI participation accounts for a reduction of almost one-third in the workforce participation rate between 2007 and 2001. He also implies that gaming the system is part of the equation. “Studies show that a significant number of workers who apply for disability benefits are not entirely disabled,” he writes. “They have medical conditions that qualify them for benefits, but under other circumstances they could work at some type of job. Given the option of receiving benefits, however, they take them.”

And once Americans begin taking disabled benefits, most never return to the labor force. As Sherk reveals, only 9 percent of SSDI recipients who quit the system do so because their health has improved to the point where they’re no longer eligible. As for people who voluntarily leave the system, a “Ticket-to-Work” program created in 1999 that allowed recipients to return to work — while keeping their health insurance — netted fewer than 1,400 claimants over the following seven years.

Given the rapid expansion of claimants and payouts, it should surprise no one that SSDI will run out of money by 2016. Thus, reforming the system would seem to be an urgent priority. Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute, illuminates the reason why it will prove quite difficult for Congress to do so. “Do you want to be the member that has the quote, unquote, ‘disabled’ activists outside of your office protesting?” he asks. “It’s like any other program, you’ve got to be willing to stick your neck out and you’ve got to be willing to find people to go along.”

Another report, “How Some Legal, Medical and Judicial Professionals Abused Social Security Disability Programs for the Country’s Most Vulnerable: A Case Study of the Conn Law Firm,” may provide a great deal of impetus in that regard. Once again Sen. Coburn led the charge. ”In just two years, the Social Security Disability Trust Fund could be depleted,” he explained. “That means millions of disabled Americans will face benefit cuts while every American could see an increase in their payroll taxes. That is unacceptable. What is also outrageous…is how well-heeled and well-connected lawyers, doctors, and judges have gamed the system for their own benefit. Every bogus claim made on behalf of someone who is not truly disabled robs taxpayers and denies or delays benefits for someone who is truly disabled.”

That’s what the ”disability-industrial complex” is all about. Most Americans have no problem whatsoever helping the truly disabled, even as most Americans bristle at the thought of underwriting able-bodied frauds. 

A solution for the problem may be simpler than most people think. As columnist Jonah Goldberg notes, everyone in Great Britain receiving their version of a disability payment was recently asked to submit to a medical examination to confirm they were too disabled to work. A third of them simply dropped out of the program rather than be examined. More than half of those tested were found fit for work, and 25 percent were fit for some work. He suggested the United States do the same thing, believing the results “would be interesting too.” In a nation where “victimhood” has become a way of life, they might be fascinating.


Arnold Ahlert

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/arnold-ahlert/welfare-state-madness/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Intelligence Head: 170,000 Rockets and Missiles Threaten Israel



by JPost.com Staff, Reuters


Gen. Kochavi says conventional threats have not disappeared even if region is not interested in war, Israel is surrounded by active enemies.

 
Aviv Kochavi
Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi. Photo: INSS
 
Israel's ability to deter enemies is strong, but on the other hand, terror is still a challenge, military intelligence head Gen. Aviv Kochavi said on Wednesday during his remarks at the INSS annual security conference.


"We call this period in time the "Era of Fire", in light of the amount of missiles and rockets we face as a constant threat. There are about 170,000 rockets and missiles that threaten Israel," Kochavi said.
"For the first time the enemy now has the ability to hit Israeli cities hard," he commented.
"The state of Israel is surrounded 360 degrees with active enemies. The conventional threats have not disappeared."

Speaking of the challenges of guarding Israel's border's, however, Kochavi said that neighboring countries have little interest in war. 

"The countries around us are busy with themselves, they have less funds to start a war. There is no question that there is a decrease in such threats but they have not given up," he said. 

Regarding Egypt, Kochavi proclaimed "any retreat of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region is significant for Israel."

He also said that Syria had become a vacuum for the Islamic Jihad and that some of the al-Qaida militants going to fight in Syria have bases in neighboring Turkey and can easily access Europe from the NATO member state, stressing that very few countries in the region fully control all of their land and all of their borders. 

Presenting a map of the Middle East marked with areas of al-Qaida presence, Kochavi told a security conference al Qaeda fighters from around the world entered Syria weekly, "but they do not stay" there.

A spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment, but Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly denied Turkey is providing shelter or backing to al-Qaida-linked groups in Syria.

Kochavi declined a request by Reuters to give specific numbers, but his spokeswoman said the map showed the relative strength and location of al-Qaida bases, which appeared to be in the Karaman, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa provinces.

"Syria is projecting its conflict to the whole region. Those blotches (on the map) in Turkey are no mistake by the graphic artist and it is a short way from there into Europe," Kochavi said.

The spots on the map signifying al-Qaida in Turkey were together about half the size of the blotch in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula, which Kochavi said was home to about 200 Jihadi militants.

Khohavi added that the cyber world was a great opportunity for Israel's growth but that the threat of cyber warfare is growing significantly and there have been many attacks on the security establishment.



JPost.com Staff, Reuters

Source: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Intel-head-170000-rockets-and-missiles-threaten-Israel-339737

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.