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The Meaning of Memorial Day
Friday, May 26, 2017
Let's be clear, this Memorial Day will be very difficult for thousands of families, friends, and military teammates of those American warriors who have died during the last year. Many of these heroes leave behind very young families and all have grieving mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters and others. This will the first Memorial Day since their loved one's death and it will no doubt be a very difficult day.With the pain, though, there will be pride and a sense that the sacrifice was not in vain. For these families know better than any of us the sense of accomplishment, selflessness, and willingness to place the safety of the nation, and of their teammates, above their own that was in the hearts of the fallen. Families will read and re-read letters and emails. They'll recall phone calls and look at video clips. The sense of loss will be great. But also great will be the realization that our country produces young men and women of stout heart and valiant character who volunteered to carry freedom's flag. What a legacy they leave!Memorial Day for me has always been a day both to celebrate and remember: celebration that our country produces people willing to fight and die for something they believe in but can't touch and remembrance that freedom has a very real cost that must be paid over and over again. As I stop to celebrate another Memorial Day, particularly one when we find ourselves again at war, I think about all those ordinary but extraordinary Americans around the world in harm's way.I was lucky to serve my country for more than 30 years in uniform. I am amazed at the quality and spirit of the young people who volunteer today to serve our country, even in time of conflict. They are young (the average age of a Marine recruit is about 19.5 years) and come from all over our country and from almost every country around the world. New immigrants and first-generation Americans volunteer in increasing numbers because they understand exactly what America offers the world. These are smart, capable, dedicated kids - mature beyond their years and totally dedicated to each other and their teams.In my opinion, these newest members of the military represent the leading edge of a new "greatest generation". They understand that there are people, factions, and countries in the world that would see freedom's light snuffed out; that would substitute 13th century thinking in place of 21st century enlightenment. You will rarely hear young Marines, soldiers, airmen or sailors express it in terms like this. They instead talk about their buddies and their team, those with whom they share danger and sacrifice every day in hundreds of places around the world. The key is that these youngest adults in our country are willing to sacrifice their comfort and perhaps their lives for something other than themselves. They are, in a word, selfless and they will lead us into a 21st Century of greater freedom, innovation, growth and human development than did even the Depression Era and World War II generation so sadly passing on in ever greater numbers.The families of our service men and women sacrifice every day. The separations are nearly unbearable, made even harder in time of war. For those families who have recently lost a beloved son or daughter, husband or wife, mother or father this Memorial Day will be bittersweet. As you pause to both remember their sacrifice and celebrate that our country continues to produce such extraordinary and unselfish heroes, please remember the family members that mourn our newest heroes. Then thank God that we live in a country that inspires such sacrifice.

President Donald Trump released his budget proposal on Tuesday, which includes some dramatic changes to higher education funding.While there is still room for improvement, the president's proposals would be a significant first step in reducing the federal government's role in higher education and giving much-needed relief to the U.S. taxpayer.Elimination of Public Service Loan ForgivenessThe president's budget proposal eliminates the costly Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which offers special student loan forgiveness to graduates for performing certain public service jobs.This will be welcome news to taxpayers, who have been picking up the tab for federal employees who, under this policy, have their loans forgiven after just 10 years of payments.Loan forgiveness in general is bad policy-it encourages students to take on large amounts of debt, often without a plan to pay it back. In particular, loan forgiveness for public service elevates public sector work over the private sector.The administration is correct to move away from this misguided policy.Unfortunately, though, the president's budget would allow all students to take advantage of loan forgiveness after 15 years, only reducing it from 20.Loan repayment policies that are based on income already protect students from burdensome loan payments. These generous loan forgiveness policies leave taxpayers on the hook for much of the cost of a college student's education.Year-Round Pell GrantsThe president's budget also allows students to use their Pell Grant dollars year-round, which may offer needed flexibility to students who want to finish their degree faster.However, any changes to the Pell Grant system should focus those funds on truly low-income students, and should not increase overall Pell spending.Consolidation of Federal LoansThis budget consolidates the current five loan programs into a single loan option. This will streamline federal lending, and has the potential to infuse fiscal responsibility to the system if terms are aligned with the current terms of the Graduate Stafford Loan Program.Additionally, all loans should be issued with both an annual and lifetime borrowing cap. These reforms could both help put downward pressure on college tuition prices and insulate taxpayers from high rates of default.As my colleague Jamie Hall and I recently outlined:"Issuing all future direct loans under a single set of terms would simplify the program and eliminate some perverse incentives in current law ... Issuing all new loans under the current terms of Graduate Stafford Loans would generate savings relative to the [Congressional Budget Office] baseline of $9.4 billion under [Federal Credit Reform Act accounting], or a cost of $2.5 billion under [Fair Value] accounting, closer to revenue neutrality than any other loan type."Additionally, this budget proposes the elimination of loan interest subsidies.Many economists have pointed to the heavy subsidization of federal student loans as one of the primary drivers of rising tuition. The elimination of subsidized loans will be a smart first step in deflating the student loan bubble and making college more affordable based on market principles.Consolidating federal student loans into a single option and eliminating loan interest subsidies may help achieve the added benefit of revitalizing the private lending market.The president's proposal overall reduces the federal government's role in higher education and will encourage more students to turn to the private market to finance their loans. That will protect U.S. taxpayers while curtailing runaway tuition prices.Mary Clare Reim is a policy analyst in education policy at The Heritage Foundation.Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by The Daily Signal.

"(What they do)(They smile in your face)All the time they want to take your placeThe back stabbers (back stabbers)(They smile in your face)All the time they want to take your placeThe back stabbers (back stabbers)"- The Back Stabbers (The O'Jays, 1972)The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate should pass legislation to increase cyber security - in both public and private sectors - since the country is involved in a "type of cyber Cold War," former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said during a congressional presentation. The Obama administration's Clapper told the panel of lawmakers that the United States economy is losing upwards of $300 billion per year because of rampant cyber-based corporate espionage. Director Clapper also discussed intrusions on public systems controlling everything from major defense weapons systems and public air traffic to electricity and banking. Speaking at a hearing of the House Select Intelligence Committee on worldwide threats, the intelligence community's top commander urged lawmakers to pass a bill that forces intelligence sharing between the government and the private sector, following the model of the Defense Industrial Base pilot program launched by then-Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn in 2011. In addition to DNI Clapper, former Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Ronald Burgess and former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller also testified before the bi-partisan Intelligence Committee. Mueller is now the independent counselor investigating the so-called Trump-Putin Collusion case. From a counterespionage viewpoint, Mueller said that the importance of dealing with cyber threats is paramount and such attacks "will equal or surpass the threat from terrorism in the near future." Cyberspace touches nearly every part of an American's daily life. It's the broadband networks beneath us and the wireless signals around us, the local networks in our schools and hospitals and businesses, and the massive grids that power our nation, according to the White House cybersecurity report. One of the world's most prolific cyber-espionage perpetrators are the Chinese who routinely "lift" research and development data from major corporations in the U.S. and other industrialized nations. It's the classified military and intelligence networks that keep us safe, and the World Wide Web that has made us more interconnected than at any time in human history. We must secure our cyberspace to ensure that we can continue to grow the nation's economy and protect our way of life, stated officials with the National Security Council The nation's cybersecurity strategy is twofold: improve our resilience to cyber incidents, and reduce the cyber threat.

The anti-Trump venom from the mainstream media has become so virulent that broadcasters and reporters alike risk becoming little more than extensions of the late-night "comedic" lineup, bashing the President without regard for truth or factual accuracy. And above all, most of these journalists realize, and sometimes admit, that they want to help the Democrats win the next election.The comparison between late night show hosts and the news media becomes stark when one compares Joy Reid's new segment on MSNBC, "Flip This House," to Bill Maher's "Flip A District" on HBO in the run-up to the 2014 elections. The goal for both of them was to try to help Democrats win elections, with Maher admitting on his website that he was "outright meddling with the political process.""The 2018 midterm elections are still more than a year away, but the Democrats are already hoping to flip this house," said Reid on her show, telling Democratic candidate Linda Weber, "So we will be paying attention to that race, and we will see if you can flip that House district."This comes very close to an endorsement. Has Reid or MSNBC registered as a Super PAC? Isn't this an example of a corporation, Comcast, making significant donations to a political party?It has gotten to the point with the news media, such as MSNBC and CNN, that broadcasters air anti-Trump messaging as vitriolic as late night show hosts' so-called comedy routines. The point is to ridicule, not to report. And if reporting is necessary, the news media print fake news, as John Nolte documented for The Daily Wire in his article, "8 Facts Contradict the MSM's Serial-Comey Lies." At this point, it's hard to distinguish the late-night comedy fake news from the primetime MSNBC or CNN line-up of fake news.Take, for example, CNN's Anderson Cooper, who said to Trump defender Jeffrey Lord that if Trump "took a dump on his desk, you would defend him." Cooper later apologized, but his comment was indicative of the level of discourse that takes place regularly on MSNBC and CNN, when it comes to Trump. Mika Brzezinski questioned Trump's patriotism. The First Amendment protects all of this speech, but the point is how much hatred and contempt it reveals toward the President and the more than 60 million Americans who voted for him.Consider the coverage of supposed collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. In a May 24 NPR piece, "Why the Russia Investigation Matters and Why You Should Care," the author argues that "Russia is accused, as [former CIA Director John] Brennan said, of not only trying to influence the election by hacking and releasing emails, but engaging in a full-fledged influence campaign through propaganda to get Donald Trump elected." He continues, "That's the assessment of 17 U.S. intelligence agencies."It is not the assessment of "all 17 intelligence agencies," but rather the assessment of the CIA, FBI, NSA and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) only, all four of which were headed up by Obama political appointees. But this oft-repeated soundbite has been used to bolster the left's passionate attempt to impeach Donald Trump. Former DNI James Clapper testified that "there were only three agencies directly involved in this assessment plus my office." As we have reported, Clapper told the Senate that "We had no way of gauging the impact that-certainly the intelligence community cannot gauge the impact-it [Russian cyber activities] had on the choices the electorate made."But Bill Maher, who frequently talks about Trump voters living in a "fact-free bubble," was still repeatedly peddling the "all 17 of our intelligence agencies say that" nonsense just last week, with his usual simian smirk. It had been debunked long ago, but Clapper had done so again just days before."Former CIA director John Brennan testified before the House Intelligence Committee...that he was not sure if there was any evidence of collusion between the Russian government and Donald Trump's presidential campaign," reports Breitbart. This is nearly a year into this phony investigation.It may be that the mainstream media are loath to "normalize" Trump by reporting on him in an objective and fair manner. I recently pointed out how CBS News' Bob Schieffer was challenged for possibly "normalizing" Trump because he called Trump's speech "presidential." Schieffer justified himself as trying to report objectively.The left is still apoplectic that Trump won a presidential election that they believe should have been handed to heir apparent Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Nothing short of impeachment is a sufficient remedy.Perhaps members of the media, aware of this Trump Derangement Syndrome, are wary of the fate of those who embrace, or even treat fairly, President Trump. For example, Jimmy Fallon, the host of NBC's Tonight Show, still suffers from the aftereffects of tousling Trump's hair and giving him what Salon called a "hair-raising softball interview." "Was this Fox News?!?" screamed the Salon headline.In contrast, Bill Maher has kept the hate going. When he brought Trump ally Boris Epshteyn on the show, he made a "gentlemen's" wager that Trump would be "out by Christmas." He also observed that "It looks like he [Trump] is trying to get impeached."CBS's Stephen Colbert has given similar treatment to the President. "Fortunately, folks, there is a band of heroic go-getters who can lead us out of this dark time," he said. "Congressional Democrats," he added, continuing to mock."And as Mr. Fallon is well aware, viewers haven't seen him in quite the same light since an interview he conducted with Mr. Trump in September, which was widely criticized for its fawning, forgiving tone," reports The New York Times in a recent piece. It quotes Fallon as saying that "They have a right to be mad...If I let anyone down, it hurt my feelings that they didn't like it. I got it."Colbert's show has edged out Fallon in total viewership for the first time, but Fallon continues to outperform in the key demographic of adults 18 to 49.What is clear, however, is that anti-Trump reporting boosts ratings. Business Insider reports that Fox fell to third "during primetime in the coveted advertising demographic of 25-54 year-old viewers, the first time it had done so in 17 years..." MSNBC and CNN outperformed Fox.For the time being, Trump hatred drives ratings. But journalists, having stooped so low as to be indistinguishable from third-rate, hostile, buffoonish comedians like Maher and Colbert, should remember what it is they sacrifice in sullying their integrity in an attempt to cash in on Trump Derangement Syndrome. Certainly some of them are sincere, but others may just be giving the network bosses exactly what they want.

More than fifty days after mass civil disobedience began in Venezuela, more than 50 people have died at the hands of the government.People have lost fear and the government is resorting to more measures that are repressive to subdue the population. The idea is to make every effort to stay in power regardless of human casualties. Thus, the Venezuelan government is launching the so-called "Plan Zamora," an unclear plan and has not been published in a written form. This makes the plan even more unpredictable and dangerous. So far, "Plan Zamora" has been applied on three Venezuelan states, Táchira, Carabobo, and now Barinas (Chavez birthplace)."Plan Zamora" consists of a military-civic coalition that includes national guards, the military, militias, and para-military groups. The purpose is "to prevent a coup d'état" and "to restore order" in the face of protests. This means increasing repression, assassination of protestors, and SA-style elimination of opponents.Indeed, in the last several days, five protestors were treacherously murdered under the plan. It is a system aimed at intimidating protestors to the point of dissuading them from further joining demonstrations.Maduro has also proposed a constitutional reform aimed at eliminating the National Assembly, currently dominated by the opposition. A new constitution would be drafted by a new constituent assembly elected by the local city halls and by community groups, carefully picked as stooges of the Maduro regime. The move would secure power consolidation in the hands of Nicolas Maduro.The United States has once again increased its sanctions on Venezuela's chief Supreme Justice and seven other members of the Supreme Court. Such step was taken in reaction to their decision last month, to strip the opposition-controlled National Assembly. Those sanctions will freeze their assets within U.S jurisdiction and no U.S citizen will be allowed to do business with them.This is an important step as it discourages government officers from obeying illegal and unconstitutional orders. However, it remains insufficient given the magnitude of the regime crimes. From now onwards every military officer, every security official, and every government official that follows the government must be sanctioned. Likewise, every single individual involved in the drug business, which is today a huge government business. The purpose of these measures should be to encourage desertion from the government.Furthermore, the Trump Administration should not compromise with lobbyists or with members of Congress that have been lobbied by the Venezuelan government. Most such lobbying is conducted through CITGO, the U.S based company associated with the Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA. So far, CITGO has scored incredible successes, which are scary in terms of how foreign agents can corrupt Washington. Former Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) effectively prevented the Senate from passing sanctions legislation against Venezuelan government officials in 2014. Former Congressman Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) was in charge of Citizens Energy, a non-profit organization that distributed heating oil provided by CITGO to U.S poor neighborhoods, to buy the good will of the U.S establishment.The same applies to U.S business interests that, so far, have prevented full sanctions against CITGO and PDVSA. This step is also long overdue that could have devastating consequences for the Maduro regime.Trump's campaign promises included the curbing of such lobbyists and we hope and expect that the president makes good on his promises.Additionally, Venezuela has its own conscious and unconscious accomplices in its disinformation campaign in the United States. This week the Rev Jesse Jackson warned the Trump Administration not "to help get rid of a regime it does not like," as if Venezuela were not a huge violator of human rights or the number one sponsor of international transnational crime. He praised the regime founded by Hugo Chavez as one that brought about reduction of poverty and improvement in health care services, as if Venezuelans were not facing hunger now or as if they were any safer in the face of government-sponsored violence. Worse, Jackson criticizes the old elite that ruled Venezuela before Chavez and forgets the new class of billionaires that the Chavez regime created by allowing them to benefit from dubious businesses, government connections, and plain corruption. This includes his own vice president, who in his early forties has accumulated a fortune of 3 billion dollars in a supposedly socialist and egalitarian regime.Jackson accuses the United States of mobilizing the Organization of American States (OAS) against Maduro, when in fact the person taking the lead is the OAS Secretary and former Foreign Minister of a Uruguayan president with strong left-wing credentials. Jackson forgets that OAS members are appalled by the violations of the organization's democracy charter and human rights commitment. Furthermore, countries of the region such as Brazil and Colombia are concerned that drug cartels are receiving Russian weapons from Caracas, including MANPADS, a shoulder-launched surface to air missile. The Swedish government also confirmed that such missiles were found in a camp ran by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).Last but not least, Jackson called to follow the initiative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a Caribbean country that has accused the OAS of being a "weapon of destruction" against Venezuela. But Jackson does not mention that St. Vincent as well as other Caribbean countries benefitted from Venezuelan oil largesse in exchange for political support. Furthermore, as I wrote a few years ago, several Caribbean countries that are part of Venezuela's political Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) have issued passports to Iranians, presumably at the request of Venezuela.St. Vincent and the Grenadines itself produced unreliable travel documents, where anybody may obtain a new passport and easily change their names. It is reasonable to assume that Iranians could have taken advantage of this vulnerability. Likewise, St. Vincent forged an alliance with Iran, who sent the island US $7 million for social projects.The Trump Administration, as well as the media and the public, must be aware of these facts and politically fight obstacles that prevent us from carrying out the obligation to protect our national security, the security of the region, and the values for which America stands.Diplomatic and economic efforts must continue until Venezuela recovers its democracy.

Lawsuit Seeks Records Sent to Obama WH Official Susan Rice about Russia Collusion, Surveillance, Hacking Investigation, Unmasking (Washington, DC) - Judicial Watch today announced it filed a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Security Agency (NSA) for information about Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice's communications with the two agencies concerning the alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, the hacking of DNC computers, the suspected communications between Russia and Trump campaign/transition officials, and the unmasking of the identities of any U.S. citizens associated with the Trump presidential campaign or transition team who were identified pursuant to intelligence collection activities (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice and National Security Administration (No. 1:17-cv-01002)).The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the Department of Justice and NSA failed to respond to identical FOIA requests submitted separately to each agency on April 4, 2017 seeking:Any and all requests for information, analyses, summaries, assessments, transcripts, or similar records submitted to the Department of Justice (National Security Agency) or any official, employee, or representative thereof by former National Security Advisor Susan Rice regarding, concerning, or related to the following:Any actual or suspected effort by the Russian government or any individual acting on behalf of the Russian government to influence or otherwise interfere with the 2016 presidential election;The alleged hacking of computer systems utilized by the Democratic National Committee and/or the Clinton presidential campaign;Any or actual or suspected communication between any member of the Trump presidential campaign or transition team and any official or employee of the Russian government or any individual acting on behalf of the Russian government; orThe identities of U.S. citizens associated with the Trump presidential campaign or transition team who were identified pursuant to intelligence collection activities.2. Any and all records created and/or produced in response to any request described in part 1 of this request; and3. Any and all records of communication between any official, employee, or representative of the Department of Justice (National Security Agency) and any member, employee, staff member, or representative of the National Security Council regarding, concerning, or related to any request described in Part 1 of this request.The time frame for this request is January 1, 2016 to the present.This is the fifth Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (see here, here, here and here) related to the surveillance, unmasking, and illegal leaking targeting President Trump and his associates."We want to know about the Obama White House involvement in the unprecedented spying on Donald Trump and other political opponents," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "This intelligence operation may have led to the illegal ‘unmasking' of Americans and the leaking of intelligence information to foment the story of Russian hacking of the DNC and sinister Russian influence on Trump and his associates. The Trump administration has an opportunity to expose what the Obama White House was up to."###

The United States is sailing in uncharted waters today as the intelligence-security community wages an all-but-declared rebellion against President Donald Trump.Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein's decision on Wednesday to appoint former FBI director Robert Mueller to serve as a special counsel charged with investigating allegations of "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump," is the latest and so far most significant development in this grave saga.Who are the people seeking to unseat Trump? This week we learned that the powers at play are deeply familiar. Trump's nameless opponents are some of Israel's greatest antagonists in the US security establishment.This reality was exposed this week with intelligence leaks related to Trump's meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. To understand what happened, let's start with the facts that are undisputed about that meeting.The main thing that is not in dispute is that during his meeting with Lavrov, Trump discussed Islamic State's plan to blow up passenger flights with bombs hidden in laptop computers.It's hard to find fault with Trump's actions. First of all, the ISIS plot has been public knowledge for several weeks.Second, the Russians are enemies of ISIS. Moreover, Russia has a specific interest in diminishing ISIS's capacity to harm civilian air traffic. In October 2015, ISIS terrorists in Egypt downed a Moscow-bound jetliner, killing all 254 people on board with a bomb smuggled on board in a soda can.And now on to the issues that are in dispute.Hours after the Trump-Lavrov meeting, The Washington Post reported that in sharing information about ISIS's plans, Trump exposed intelligence sources and methods to Russia and in so doing, he imperiled ongoing intelligence operations carried out by a foreign government.The next day, The New York Times reported that the sources and methods involved were Israeli. In sharing information about the ISIS plot with Lavrov, the media reported, Trump endangered Israel.There are two problems with this narrative.First, Trump's National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster insisted that there was no way that Trump could have exposed sources and methods, because he didn't know where the information on the ISIS plot that he discussed with Lavrov originated.Second, if McMaster's version is true - and it's hard to imagine that McMaster would effectively say that his boss is an ignoramus if it weren't true - then the people who harmed Israel's security were the leakers, not Trump.Now who are these leakers? According to the Washington Post, the leakers are members of the US intelligence community and former members of the US intelligence community, (the latter, presumably were political appointees in senior intelligence positions during the Obama administration who resigned when Trump came into office).Israel is no stranger to this sort of operation. Throughout the Obama administration, US officials illegally leaked top secret information about Israeli operations to the media.In 2010, a senior defense source exposed the Stuxnet computer worm to the New York Times. Stuxnet was reportedly a cyber weapon developed jointly by the US and Israel. It was infiltrated into the computer system at Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor. It reportedly sabotaged a large quantity of centrifuges at the installation.The revelation of Stuxnet's existence and purpose ended the operation. Moreover, much of Iran's significant cyber capabilities were reportedly developed by reverse engineering the Stuxnet.Obama made his support for the leak clear three days before he left office. On January 17, 2017, Obama pardoned Marine Gen. James Cartwright for his role in illegally divulging the Stuxnet program to the Times.In 2012, US officials told the media that Israel had struck targets in Syria. The leak, which was repeated several times in subsequent years, made it more dangerous for Israel to operate against Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria.Also in 2012, ahead of the presidential election, US officials informed journalists that Israel was operating in air bases in Azerbaijan with the purpose of attacking Iran's nuclear sites in air strikes originating from those bases.Israel's alleged plan to attack Iran was abruptly canceled.In all of these cases, the goal of the leak was to harm Israel.In contrast, the goal of this week's leaks was to harm Trump. Israel was collateral damage.The key point is that the leaks are coming from the same places in both cases.All of them are members of the US intelligence community with exceedingly high security clearances. And all of them willingly committed felony offenses when they shared top secret information with reporters.That is, all of them believe that it is perfectly all right to make political use of intelligence to advance a political goal. In the case of the anti-Israel leaks under Obama, their purpose was to prevent Israel from degrading Iran's nuclear capacity and military power at a time that Obama was working to empower Iran at Israel's expense.In the case of the Trump-Lavrov leak, the purpose was to undermine Israel's security as a means of harming Trump politically.What happened to the US intelligence community? How did its members come to believe that they have the right to abuse the knowledge they gained as intelligence officers in order to advance a partisan agenda? As former CIA station chief Scott Uehlinger explained in an article published in March in The Hill, the Obama administration oversaw a program of deliberate politicization of the US intelligence community.The first major step toward this end was initiated by then-US attorney general Eric Holder in August 2009.Holder announced then that he intended to appoint a special counsel to investigate claims that CIA officers tortured terrorists while interrogating them.The purpose of Holder's announcement wasn't to secure indictments. The points was to transform the CIA politically and culturally.And it worked.Shortly after Holder's announcement, an exodus began of the CIA's best operations officers. Men and women with years of experience operating in enemy territory resigned.Uehlinger's article related that during the Obama years, intelligence officers were required to abide by strict rules of political correctness.In his words, "In this PC world, all diversity is embraced - except diversity of thought. Federal workers have been partisan for years, but combined with the rigid Obama PC mindset, it has created a Frankenstein of politicization that has never been seen before."Over the years, US intelligence officers at all levels have come to view themselves as soldiers in an army with its own agenda - which largely overlapped Obama's.Trump's agenda on the other hand is viewed as anathema by members of this powerful group. Likewise, the notion of a strong Israel capable of defending its interests without American help and permission is more dangerous than the notion of Iran armed with nuclear weapons.Given these convictions, it is no surprise that unnamed intelligence sources are leaking a tsunami of selective and deceptive intelligence against Trump and his advisers.The sense of entitlement that prevails in the intelligence community was on prominent display in an astounding interview that Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, gave to MSNBS in early March.Farkas, who resigned her position in late 2015 to work on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, admitted to her interviewer that the intelligence community was spying on Trump and his associates and that ahead of Obama's departure from office, they were transferring massive amounts of intelligence information about Trump and his associates to Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill in order to ensure that those Democratic politicians would use the information gathered to harm Trump.In her words, "The Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump staff's dealings with Russians... would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that information."Farkas then explained that the constant leaks of Trump's actions to the media were part of the initiative that she had urged her counterparts to undertake.And Farkas was proud of what her colleagues had done and were doing.Two days after Farkas's interview, Trump published his tweet accusing former president Barack Obama of spying on him.Although the media and the intelligence community angrily and contemptuously denied Trump's assertion, the fact is that both Farkas's statement and information that became public both before and since Trump's inauguration lends credence to his claim.In the days ahead of the inauguration we learned that in the summer of 2016, Obama's Justice Department conducted a criminal probe into suspicions that Trump's senior aides had committed crimes in their dealings with Russian banks. Those suspicions, upon investigation, were dismissed. In other words, the criminal probe led nowhere.Rather than drop the matter, Obama's Justice Department decided to continue the probe but transform it into a national security investigation.After a failed attempt in July 2016, in October 2016, a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court approved a Justice Department request to monitor the communications of Trump's senior advisers. Since the subjects of the probe were working from Trump's office and communicating with him by phone and email, the warrant requested - which the FISA court granted - also subjected Trump's direct communications to incidental collection.So from at least October 2016 through Trump's inauguration, the US intelligence community was spying on Trump and his advisers, despite the fact that they were not suspected of committing any crimes.This brings us back to this week's Russia story which together with the media hysteria following Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey, precipitated Rosenstein's decision to appoint Mueller to serve as a special counsel charged with investigating the allegations that Trump and or his advisers acted unlawfully or in a manner that endangered the US in their dealings with Russia.It is too early to judge how Mueller will conduct his investigation. But if the past is any guide, he is liable to keep the investigation going indefinitely, paralyzing Trump's ability to conduct foreign policy in relation to Russia and a host of other issues.This then brings us to Trump and Israel - the twin targets of the US intelligence community's felonious and injurious leaks.The fact that Trump will be coming to Israel next week may be a bit of fortuitous timing. Given the stakes involved for Trump, for Israel and for US national security, perhaps Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can develop a method of fighting this cabal of faceless, lawless foes together.How such a fight would look and what it would involve is not immediately apparent and anyways should never be openly discussed. But the fact is that working together, Israel and Trump may accomplish more than either can accomplish on their own. And with so much hanging in the balance, it makes sense to at least try.A version of this piece also appeared on The Jerusalem Post.

Trump Clearly Has a Plan!
Thursday, May 25, 2017
President Trump is midway in a historic nine-day trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, Brussels for meetings with leaders of NATO and the European Union and Italy for meetings with the G-7, leaders from seven major industrial democracies . . . laying out important policies that will underpin his national, foreign and economic policies, especially in the Middle East and in defeating Islamic terrorism-and seeking allies in that mission.In Riyadh, the centerpiece of the President's challenge to the Saudis and others in the Middle East was summarized in no uncertain terms:"The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children. . . A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists. Drive them out. Drive them out of your places of worship; drive them out of your communities; drive them out of your holy land; and drive them out of this earth. That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism, and the Islamists, and Islamic terror of all kinds."This the President's "as delivered" statement briefly departed from his prepared remarks, which reads, "That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires." I prefer his spoken version, because the essence of the problem is actually rooted in a strict reading of Islamic law - sharia, which is contrary to our Constitution. Click here for his speech via CNN.The President set an important tone for his entire trip in this speech to over 50 Muslim leaders by calling for them to confront "the crisis of Islamic Extremism" with a renewed, joint effort to confront terrorism and, in particular, Iran's influence in the Middle East. Specifically, regarding Iran, he said" . . . The Iranian regime's longest-suffering victims are its own people. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders' reckless pursuit of conflict and terror. Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve. . . " Iran is well known as the world's main global sponsor of Islamic terrorism via its own actions and through its investments in other Islamic terrorist organizations - of both Shia and Sunni persuasions. Click here for former Senator Joe Lieberman's September 7, 2016 Wall Street Journal article reminding us of Iran's role in 9/11 - carried out by originally Saudi-based al Qaeda directed by Saudi Osama bin Laden.Click here for the welcoming speech of President Trump's host, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, which echoed the President's stated concerns and pledged to "stand united to fight the forces of evil and extremism whatever their source" . . . and specifically regarding Iran, he noted that"The Iranian regime and its affiliated groups and organizations such as Hezbollah and the Houthis, as well as ISIS (Daesh) and Al-Qaeda and others . . . spearheads the global terrorism since Khomeini revolution until today. Since 300 years ago, we, in this country, did not witness terrorism or extremism until Khomeini revolution emerged in 1979. Iran has rejected initiatives of good neighborhood provided by our countries based on good faith. Iran replaced these initiatives with expansionist ambitions, criminal practices, interferences in the internal affairs of other countries, flagrant violations of the international law, and violations of the principles of good-neighborliness, coexistence and mutual respect. The Iranian regime erroneously thought that our silence a sign of weakness and our wisdom a retreat. Later on, we had enough of its hostile practices and interventions, as we have seen in Yemen and other countries in the region. We say this, as we confirm, at the same time, our appreciation of and respect to the Iranian people, who will not be blamed for the crimes of their regime. . ."Thus, President Trump left a clear message that America seeks again to be a "strong horse" leader in the Middle East and a potential major partner in future efforts there - with mutual economic benefits as well as political-military common interests. He left $110 billion in "earnest money" and promised $350 billion over ten years - which he said will bring jobs to America and arms to Saudi Arabia to fight Islamic terrorism.In exploiting the mutual interest in dealing with a common enemy in Iran, there are possibilities for forming a Sunni alliance with a leading role for Saudi Arabia, but with very active participation from other Sunni nations and leaders.In particular, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has shown courageous leadership in seeking to move Sunni Islamic leaders toward a Reformation that would be in keeping with President Trump's challenge. Click here for my June 2, 2015 "Sunni, Shia and More Tangled Web" discussion of his important January 1, 2015 meeting to address the clerics at the thousand-year old Al-Azhar University, considered by many to be the epicenter of scholarly Islam, and click here for Jonah Goldberg's USA Today article at the time for an overview, with links to this important speech, perhaps the most important of which follows. President al-Sisi stated:"I am referring here to the religious clerics. ... It's inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!"That thinking - I am not saying ‘religion' but ‘thinking' - that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It's antagonizing the entire world! ... All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective."I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move ... because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost - and it is being lost by our own hands."This "speaking truth to power" was, and is, very encouraging. Al-Sisi then on January 6 attended a Coptic Christian Christmas Mass, the first time anything like that has been done by an Egyptian president. He spoke of his love of Christian Egyptians and the need to see "all Egyptians" as part of "one hand."These initiatives are examples of what Westerners aware of the Islamic terrorist threat have long wanted to see. We should all pay attention to see if President al-Sisi actually follows through on these fine initiatives - and how they fit as extension/modification of the strategy he described in his 2006 thesis at the Army War College. Click here for my August 23, 2013 summary of his thesis.Perhaps most pertinent was his comment that: "[T]o codify the major themes of the Islamic faith, they should be represented in the constitution or similar document. This does not mean a theocracy will be established, rather it means a democracy will be established built upon Islamic beliefs."But sharia law, the basis for "Islamic beliefs," is in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution. Al Sisi's views may have been modified since his days in Carlisle, so we should await clarification before great celebrations. But when coupled with the recent events in Riyadh, they are most encouraging. Certainly, they fit with President Trump's articulated initiative.In concluding my thoughts about the President's stop in Riyadh, please note the poise and grace presented - for all to see - by America's First Lady, Melania, that spoke volumes to a society in which women rarely appear in attending such occasions, as she appears below between King Salman and President Trump. Egypt's President al-Sisi is on the left. President Trump's daughter Ivanki also was a model for all in the predominantly male settings.At this writing, President Trump has completed his second stop in Israel - again in historic meetings in that cradle of our Judeo-Christian heritage as well as holy sites of Islam. Israel is our best and only reliable ally in the Middle East - and President Trump's meetings there illustrated the restoration of welcome U.S.-Israeli common interests, following eight bitter years. And after a brief stop in Rome for a meeting with Pope Francis, he is now in the midst of meetings to gain support for defeating Islamic terrorism and promoting again the U.S. agenda around the world. In conclusion, I can't help but note that the positively perceived events summarized above all but eclipsed the news of last Friday's re-election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani; and that event is worth remembering in the context of what has gone before and how it should be considered in the context of the above hopeful message. Rouhani is called a "moderate," but one should at least wonder what points-of-view he is "moderating" between. If you are inclined to believe his re-election points to more liberal developments in Iran, I think you will be sadly disappointed. It is more likely a replay of an old sad song.Click here for my August 13, 2013 message, "Definitely a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing," written shortly after Rouhani's election the last time when I disputed claims that his alleged "moderate" views indicated a positive sign at that time. First, note that he has been part of the 1979 Khomeini revolution from its early days, as illustrated below.In 2013, Rouhani summed up his purpose of his earlier negotiations intended by Western powers to halt Iran's nuclear program: "We needed time" to complete the uranium enrichment. Iran invited Britain, France and Germany to engage in the so-called E-3 talks and successfully sought to get them to block U.S. efforts to transfer the Iranian nuclear dossier to the United Nations, which might have provided more scrutiny of Iran's programs and inhibiting sanctions. He observed that Iran's number of spinning centrifuges grew from 10 to 1700 while he was the Chief Negotiator. Click here for more in my October 8, 2013 message "Rouhani Rope-a-Dope and Trip Down Memory Lane."Moreover, he had recently boasted of how he hoodwinked those who thought he could be counted on to help reduce the nuclear threat, as reported by an August 2, 2013 World Net Daily article by Reza Kahili, "Video Reveals Deceit of Iran's President." Click here for the article which includes the video of Rouhani boasting about when he led Iran's negotiations with the West on Iran's nuclear programs, between October 2003 and August 2005. Check the full message and video - Rouhani's body language reflects obvious pride in hoodwinking the West while Iran marched ahead, enriching uranium for nuclear weapons.And during his recently completed tour as Iran's President, in keeping with his former style he helped usher in the terrible unverifiable Iranian Nuclear Deal benefiting Iran by releasing around $150 billion for it to buy nuclear weapons from North Korea if it has difficulties developing its own. Click here for my September 3, 2015 message that details the effort by a number of us who tried in vain to block this so-called Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), which at best only delays Iran's development of nuclear weapons.So, what can Rouhani do to add another feather in his cap? Especially given the ailing Supreme Leader, 75-year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei?How stupid will we be this time?Concluding Thoughts.So . . . The President is potentially making progress in his current trip to and through the Middle East. And Monday's Manchester Arena bombing that killed at least 22 mostly very young girls and wounded dozens more illustrated the continuing threat of Islamic terrorism and the urgent requirement for action against such barbarism, now.Focusing on the Shiite Iranian threat will likely help unite the Sunni Arabs into our efforts to combat Islamic terrorism - and that's a good thing. But we should take care not to become too hopeful for great progress quickly contending with Iran-or with Sunni terrorist groups.Iran is nearing a nuclear capability that will threaten U.S. citizens and our allies, if it does already not have it; and is the world's greatest sponsor of Islamic terror, with profound links to terrorist cells within both Shia and Sunni ranks. We should build truly effective defenses against this threat as soon as possible.May the rest of the President's trip go peacefully-and may his plan to defeat Islamic terrorism receive its due support abroad and at home!What can you do? Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us. Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all "powers that be" to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do. Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage www.highfrontier.org for more information.

Monsters are the Real Victims
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Some of you may have observed over the years – perhaps over the decades – that when Hollywood releases a new monster movie that features rampaging “cage –free” dinosaurs or other monsters, it is the reptiles and other hostile beasts that get any sympathetic treatment. It rarely fails, whether it’s Godzilla or talking simians, man is usually the offender and sinner. This has been going on for decades, ever since the first King Kong film debuted in 1933 (actually, in literature, since at least the 19th century). It doesn’t seem to matter how horrible (or implausible) the monster is portrayed –the number of its human victims who are crushed into two dimensions or torn to pieces or chomped on is immaterial.Kong escapes and climbs the Empire State Building, only to fall from the skyscraper after being attacked by airplanes with guns. Denham [the explorer character who brings Kong to New York City] comments, "It was beauty killed the beast," for he climbs the building in the first place only in an attempt to protect Ann Darrow, an actress originally offered up to Kong on Skull Island as a sacrifice.But the very first time I saw the film, in an old movie revival house in New York City years ago (in the 1960s), someone in the audience retorted, angrily and loudly, “No! You killed him!” Obviously, that audience member was fascinated by Kong, perhaps even in love with the idea that Kong was “larger than life” – that is, larger than man. He had somewhere, somehow, been taught to hold contempt for man and for himself.That retort has always stuck in my mind. It was a clue to something larger than a film about an oversized ape going berserk.The theme has almost consistently been that when man encounters a monster, it is man who is responsible for whatever evil or wrong-doing occurs (such as violently inclement weather, global cooling or warming). It’s that, or he is responsible for a monster’s existence. Whether it’s Mary Shelley’s monster, Frankenstein (“the Creature”), or Godzilla or the Alien or the Predator, or Jurassic Park’s raptors, the moral motif is that if man is terrorized or defeated by a monster, he deserves it because he’s “so full of himself.” Man, the theme goes, must be punished for simply existing and perhaps for just being curious. There is nothing special about man. He deserves to be reduced from a sentient, rational being in charge of his actions, his future and his happiness to a shivering gelatin of protoplasm, or put to death, preferably painfully.The ostensible monster at large today is Islam. Islam is a man-created monster. Who or what set it loose to prey indiscriminately on man? Men created Islam, using the lethal weapon of altruism; the moral philosophy that it is one’s duty and moral worth, measured by the extent that one is willing to sacrifice oneself and one’s values, and not only for the “public good” (unless that includes the Islamic Ummah) but also because an all-powerful, malicious ghost, Allah, said so. It’s your duty to become some monster’s meal. That’s why you were created by Allah, to do his bidding, at his vile whim and pleasure.The character of King Kong has become one of the world's most famous movie icons, having inspired countless sequels, remakes, spin-offs, imitators, parodies, cartoons, books, comics, video games, theme park rides, and a stage play. His role in the different narratives varies, ranging from a rampaging monster to a tragic antihero.The antihero archetype can be traced back as far as Homer's Thersites. The concept has also been identified in classical Greek drama, Roman satire, and Renaissance literature such as Don Quixote and the picaresque rogue. Although antiheroes may sometimes do the "right thing", it is often because it serves their self-interest rather than being driven by moral convictions.What accounts for the fascination with monsters?It can’t just be that we have become so enervated by a culture that offers few positive, soul-strengthening values that we welcome being scared out of our wits, or cringing at blood-splattered gore, or seeing the irrational run amok and triumph. Mary Shelley created the Frankenstein Creature as a literary challenge, in 1818, in a time and era, in terms of a cultural spirit, as far away from our time as earth is from Pluto. The Creature became the subject of a 15-minute film in 1910, not long after the successful debut of Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac in 1897. Shelley even later penned a novel about a pandemic that wipes out man, The Last Man, set in 2073, surely a pioneer in a the literary and cinematic genres.Who are the real life monsters? Why do they get a sympathetic pass, and not man?Aside from Islam, the monster, the predator, the man-hating and man-eating creature, is any man who says or thinks that man must sacrifice himself, for the “public good,” or for no reason at all. Ellsworth Toohey in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead is a monster. The collectivist, the career altruist, the jihadist Muslim, is a dedicated antihero. If you are not willing to sacrifice yourself or your values, the monster will sacrifice you and them for you. Today, the monster is a Postmodern nihilist. He is also a member of Antifa, a consummate and violent movement dedicated to nihilistic chaos for the sake of permanently disruptive chaos.But not all monsters look like monsters. Many of them look like the neighbor downstairs or the Muslim next door. They could look like Norman Bates of Psycho or as nondescript as any one of the 9/11 hijackers. All human monsters are nihilists simpatico in motive with their celluloid brethren. If they can’t have what you have, or are unable to achieve a value of their own, they are perfectly willing to destroy what you have. They are the nihilists who wish to inherit the earth, but they are neither meek nor humble, as neither Max Cady of Cape Fear and Preacher Harry Powell of The Night of the Hunter were not. They can be shy, retiring, and unassuming, or they can be as brash, brutal, boastful and glibly talkative as Negan, the chief nihilist of The Walking Dead, the popular TV horror series, and Richard Burton’s O’Brien, or as deceptively humble and soft-spoken as Cyril Cusack’s Mr. Charrington in the Michael Radford remake of 1984.Monsters needn’t be physically grotesque. They can come in all manner of disguises, as widely divergent as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, not to mention the average, anonymous Social Justice Warrior or ISIS jihadist, who wears a mask, not so much to hide his identity from the authorities and avoid arrest, as to express his non-identity as an interchangeable cipher. If you are assaulted, mutilated, eaten, beheaded, chopped into tiny parts, and killed, they want you the victim to know that you were terminated by literally nothing.Nothingness is the goal and state of existence sought by all current monsters. And they often achieve those goals, but want to take you with them.

President Donald Trump's speech at the historic Riyadh summit of 50 Sunni Muslim states called for "a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God." This is not the same thing as calling for a Reformation within Islam. While he did praise a trend towards improved conditions, he did so within the framework of the policies proposed by the governments whose leaders he was addressing. For example, saying "Saudi Arabia's Vision for 2030 is an important and encouraging statement of tolerance, respect, empowering women, and economic development." He used religious references to convey a common regard for the role of faith in both American and Arab society. The jihadists of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS) use Islamic theology to justify their actions and to recruit fighters, but that does mean that those who would destroy these violent movements have to abandon their own faith; which is good because they are not going to do that. President Trump's appeal was more pragmatic and appealed to the Arab leaders own instinct for self-preservation. The jihadists are revolutionaries, bent on overthrowing the governments of the Middle East. Though they hate the decadent and immoral Western values they fear will infect their societies, their attacks in America and Europe are part of their strategy to seize power at home. On September 11, 2001, Ayman al-Zawahiri was second in command of al-Qaeda. He had persuaded his boss, Osama bin Laden, that uprisings could not succeed as long as Muslim leaders were backed by the strength of the United States. America had to be forced to withdraw to render vulnerable the existing political order. Spectacular attacks would terrorize the public into demanding that Washington "cut and run" from its overseas commitments. Zawahiri, who had once been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, had his attempt to foment revolution crushed by the Hosni Mubarak regime. Most of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudis who wanted to overthrow the monarchy and put Bin Laden in power; the way the Shah of Iran had been toppled. There are three fronts in the current war: ISIS, internal security and Iran. The most attention has gone to the battle against the ISIS Caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Even President Barack Obama was willing to take military action against ISIS, though it was his desire to cut and run from Iraq in 2011 that opened the door for ISIS to fill the vacuum. Obama was not, however willing to fight on the other two fronts which pose the greater long run threats. Since the aim of the jihadists is to overthrow the governments with which the U.S. is aligned, internal security is a high priority. Counterterrorism means counterrevolution. Yet, the Obama administration constantly criticized, and in some cases punished, coalition partners for putting down domestic insurrection. Consider these passages from the State Department's 2016 Human Rights report on Egypt, an absolutely crucial ally.There were continued reports of suspected terrorists and other suspected criminals killed during security raids conducted by police. The Interior Ministry claimed police officers fired at suspects only when suspects fired first. Rights groups claimed these shootings might have amounted to extrajudicial killings.Rights groups and international media reported the armed forces used indiscriminate force during military operations that targeted widespread terrorist activity in the northern Sinai Peninsula, resulting in killings of civilians and destruction of property, particularly along the border with Gaza, where there was extensive smuggling of weapons and other equipment to terrorist groups. Though the report acknowledges "Terrorist groups, including Da'esh [ISIS] Sinai Province (formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis) and Ajnad Misr, among others, conducted deadly attacks on government, civilian, and security targets throughout the country, including schools, places of worship, and public transportation" the bulk of the long report is devoted to undermining the effort to combat these attacks. The claims of "rights groups" and the "media" are given credence without any mention of the radical agendas of these sources. It is safe to assume that these sources do not have the security of Egypt or the prosecution of the war against terrorism as their priority. Though all of our allies n the region were subject to attack for "human rights" violations (even Jordan and Israel), Egypt has been singled out because its pro-Western government was actually overthrown in 2011 during the so-called "Arab Spring." President Mubarak, who had kept the 1979 peace agreement with Israel, while combating the extremists, was replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood; a disastrous strategic change which President Obama was willing to accept (or even promote). The revolutionary regime, elected in a misbegotten "democratic" process, proved intolerable to the Egyptian people who overwhelmingly backed a military coup in 2013. Instead of celebrating this fortunate turn of events; President Obama cut military aid to the new government. Obama did finally meet with Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, the general who had led the coup, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in 2014, but only after el-Sissi had resigned his commission and been elected president earlier in the year. Obama would not invite him to Washington. In contrast, President Trump met with the Egyptian leader in the White House on April 3, declaring, "I just want to let everybody know, in case there was any doubt, that we are very much behind President al-Sissi. He's done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt." He was criticized from the Left by groups like Human Rights Watch. "Inviting al-Sissi for an official visit to Washington as tens of thousands of Egyptians rot in jail and when torture is again the order of the day is a strange way to build a stable strategic relationship," said Sarah Margon, the group's Washington director. It is, of course, not strange at all if one is serious about winning the war against brutal and ruthless enemies. The third front is Iran. President Trump told the Riyadh summit, "From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror. It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room." Former Secretary of State John Kerry made this connection in regard to the Syrian Civil War, noting that it was President Bashir al-Assad's despotism against the majority Sunni population that had provoked the violent uprising that allowed ISIS and other extremists to assume the role of Sunni heroes. Shiite Iran's intervention in Syria has saved Assad, but further provoked Sunni resistance. As much as the Sunni extremists hate the cultural rot emanating from a dying Western civilization, it is Shiite expansionism that poses the true existential threat. Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud agreed with President Trump, telling the summit "The Iranian regime has been the spearhead of global terrorism" and citing the 1979 Iranian revolutions as the start of sectarian violence. So did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told Trump, "I want you to know how much we appreciate the change in American policy on Iran.... you have noted so succinctly that common dangers are turning former enemies into partners." The alignment of Israel and the Sunni Arabs goes back to the George W. Bush administration, but President Obama never understood it. He offered carrots to the Tehran regime just when the Shia theocrats needed to mobilize more resources to expand into Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The offer of $110 billion in new arms to Riyadh is important. It has, however, been condemned from the same corners as mentioned earlier. Amnesty International claims, "There is damning evidence that war crimes have been committed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition. The United States must immediately halt all arms transfers to members of the coalition for use in Yemen." This view has been seconded by Medea Benjamin, founder of the notorious "antiwar" (actually anti-America) CODE PINK, who is always ready to defend any enemy of the U.S. She is particularly concerned about a coalition attack to recapture the port of Hodeidah, a stronghold of the Iran-backed Houthi insurgents. Her concern is supposedly civilian casualties from the war; but neglects to mention the war started when Houthi militia seized the capital in 2014. This is the standard liberal approach: wars are not started by aggression but by those who oppose aggression. The Saudis should "end the war" by letting the Houthi win. President Trump, however, will not find such arguments to be persuasive. He focus is on our side winning. An active U.S. partner in the Sunni-Israeli alignment is a necessary response to Iran. A weak, reluctant U.S. fosters anti-Western propaganda that helps the extremists recruit and has forced Sunni states to fund radical groups in Syria like Al-Nusra because they are the ones willing to fight. What is needed is the application of the "awakening" strategy used in Iraq during the Bush administration to the entire region. The U.S. was able to enlist local Sunnis to drive out al-Qaeda by proving that Americans were "the strongest tribe" and could do a better job of protecting the Sunni community from their Shiite enemies. The strategy collapsed when Obama broke that promise. President Trump has renewed it; the best outcome of his trip to the Middle East.

Willa Questions
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Dear Willa, What can Americans do to make the government keep the CIA an active force in protecting us? There are far too many people that want this great country to fail. We do not need another 9/11. Thank you for your 30 years of service.Martin Stemler Dear Martin:Thank you for your question and your kind words.Let me say a few things about your questions. First, I think that you and the American people are doing a good job of supporting the CIA and the Intelligence Community. Wise people know that these organizations are made up of patriotic, hard-working employees who are serving their country and trying to do the best job they can to obtain high-quality intelligence and analyze it for the policy-makers. Since the CIA began in 1947, we have grown to an Intelligence Community of over 16 agencies, and I don't know how many people, but plenty! That number is, and should be, classified. So, I think it is safe to say that the U.S. Intelligence Community will survive and continue to provide critical support to our government and its policy-makers.That said, every effort should continue to be made to prevent leaks from anyone who has access to classified information, whether in the executive or legislative branches of government or from within the Intelligence Community. When leaks occur, the American people should indeed register their concern. During my many years in the CIA, I rarely heard of a leak, a revelation, anything that suggested that classified information was getting out to the press or into the public domain. If and where this has happened in recent years, reforms should be put in place. The bottom line for me would be that anyone who has leaked information should have his or her clearance revoked, no matter what level.As for terrorist threats and the possibility of another 9/11, we do live in a dangerous world, and another event is a possibility. The fact that nothing has occurred "yet" does not give me deep comfort, since it took al Qaeda eight years between attacks at the World Trade Center to accomplish their awful mission on 9/11. I do believe we are more knowledgeable about international terrorism and specific terrorist groups than we were before 9/11, and we are also much more reactive than we were then. In addition, our coordination within and among all U.S. intelligence organizations has been brought up to date. The worry is that it just takes a small group of deeply ill-intentioned individuals with weapons - biological or nuclear - to create another event. We have to work to isolate hostile terrorist elements and to contain the movement and flow of nuclear and biological and chemical weapons. I am confident the U.S. Intelligence Community is focused on this! Regards, Willa Hello Willa,Is it possible that, within the US intelligence network, a rogue group of officers could take over our country? Are there enough protections within the agencies to prevent that? And finally, do you see anything strange going on right now with the new president and his actions?Thank you,KateDear Kate:Thank you for your question. I am a devotee of 24, but I think you should rest assured that a rogue group of officers from within the Intelligence Community neither could nor would take over our country. The clearance process is extensive, and the clearances of all personnel at the CIA are updated on a continuing basis. Further, personnel work together closely. It would be all but impossible for a rogue group to form without its coming to the attention of someone within the organization. There is a lot of overlap and interconnection, even though everyone works within the “need to know” of their own area of focus. There have certainly been rogue agents, such as Rick Ames of the CIA and Robert Hanssen of the FBI. They are rare cases, but they have both been prosecuted and are in prison now. I don't think there is even a shred of evidence of “a rogue group of officers” trying to overthrow our government ever in the history of U.S. Intelligence. Regarding the President, I want to note that the CIA is apolitical and does not engage in policy-making. It is an intelligence collection and analysis organization, and it reports to the President of the United States. I do not see anything strange going on with the new president and his actions. As with all presidents, he has been elected to pursue a set of policies that cover our national security and he relies heavily on U.S. intelligence in formulating those policies. Regards, Willa Dear Readers:Thank you for your questions and interest in American intelligence. I just wanted to take a minute to say that I have received a number of questions which are political in nature, specifically questions about President Obama's birth certificate, about possible martial law in the U.S., and others. Though I'd love to offer my comments on every political topic imaginable, it is not for me to do. I write only about American intelligence. The CIA is an apolitical organization. It reports to the executive branch of the government, and its mission is to "collect" and "analyze" intelligence for the policymakers. Tempting as it is to believe – and to read – otherwise, the CIA collects and analyzes. It does not make policy, and it is not a political organization.Thank you for your questions. Answers to other questions are on their way. Willa Dear Willa, What is your opinion of the release of the so-called torture memos? Will this hurt or hinder CIA operatives in the future?Thank you,JoerJoer:As you know from all the media coverage of this topic, it is complex and deeply challenging. If I could give one answer, I would say that I believe the United States of America should operate within the framework of the Geneva Conventions – or, if not, develop with other nations a new accord which would work in this era of terrorism and nuclear proliferation. We are, after all, the world's great experiment in democracy, a land of high ideals and morality. And we do not want to lose that ground. That said, it is hard to imagine what any of us would do if we were President and had access to captive terrorists with seemingly direct knowledge of al Qaeda (or other terrorist) plans, capabilities and intentions. There is no easy answer, but overall, I believe we should operate within an internationally accepted standard of conduct, particularly when the evidence remains slim that torture produces accurate information. Thank you for your question. Willa Hello Willa,I came across your column on the Family Security Matters website and I wanted to ask you about the CIA.I really want to become an operations officer like you are because I want to serve my country, but I also know the selection process is very competitive. What skills can I develop that would make the CIA interested in recruiting me? Specifically, what kind of language and technology skills are useful? And what types of physical training would be good preparation for training received at the Farm?Thanks for your time! I hope to hear from you soon. Regards,Jenny Liu (Connecticut)Dear Jenny:Thanks for your question. The CIA (I call it the “Agency”) continues to look for people in the critical human intelligence (HUMINT) field, which is the field of the operations or case officer.. As you have no doubt read or heard on the media, the Agency is in the process of significantly expanding its ops officer corps, so this is an excellent time for you to think about applying.In terms of skill sets, I think it is safe to say that you would want to have a foreign language capability in Arabic, Chinese, or any of the South Asian languages—and/or substantive area expertise. In today's world, significant emphasis is being placed on those geographic areas due to the terrorism and nuclear proliferation issues.In addition, you will want to have "people skills," the ability to meet people and develop relationships. I'm sure you have a sense of adventure, or you wouldn't even have sent me the question. But, remember as well, that you will probably have to "serve time" between overseas assignments in the great bureaucracy at Headquarters in the Washington area.As far as the physical aspects of training, I would say that basic athletic skills--are you a runner?--will serve you well, but don’t worry too much about that at this time, just send a resume that describes your background, skills/talents and versatility.If you're ready to apply now, contact the CIA website at www.cia.gov , which has the information you need for the application process. They will eventually recontact you--if they are interested in your resume/background. It’s a pretty straightforward application process. The only negative is that you don’t really get notified if there is no interest.Let me know how it goes and best of luck. Willa. Dear Willa:Can you explain, in specifics, the difference between INFORMATION and INTELLIGENCE in the world of espionage and how, if, they would differ from their respective meanings in the business world?Thank You,Walter – IllinoisWalter:Thank you for the excellent question. I had a strange experience earlier in my career when I met with a potential agent and needed to identify myself to him by “breaking cover,” that is, by letting him know that I was an intelligence officer, not the business person that I claimed to be. So, I confidentially told him that I was “in intelligence.” Not grasping my meaning, he curtly responded that I seemed to be extremely self-confident. I suddenly realized he had no idea what I was really saying and thought that I was bragging to him that I was “intelligent.” Well, I did get that straightened out, but it surely points up the trouble in using that word, “intelligence.”I view “intelligence” as a subcategory of “information,” the latter being the broad field of obtaining and communicating knowledge. “Intelligence”—and I mean of course intelligence in its national security context—is the area of knowledge that covers information that is essentially clandestine—obtained largely via covert methods and maintained within classified channels.As you are probably aware, there are many layers of “intelligence,” the reason for so many different classification levels—from “Official Use Only,” through “Top Secret,” up into the highly classified signals and communications intelligence sectors. But each of these fields is defined by the fact that it is classified—that the information is obtained using discreet and protected sources and methods. In short, “intelligence” is “information” which is not in the public domain.Within the intelligence world, there is a category which is referred to as “open source” material. This is in fact information which is obtained by intelligence analysts as part of their background research on a specific topic, but it is essentially information that is openly available, in the media or public documents.You mentioned the business world. Today companies are increasingly turning to former intelligence and law enforcement officers to help them assess security risks to their business and/or clients. A number of companies have developed in the past two decades which are dedicated to providing these services for private firms. In the past few years, in particular, such companies and services have proliferated. I myself would not refer to the product they obtain strictly as “intelligence” because it does not involve national security. But to the companies concerned, the subjects they want security consultants to review are important to them and generally involve company-sensitive or “proprietary” information.Suffice it to say that “intelligence” is always classified and tightly held. CIA and other intelligence officers refer to their product as “intelligence.” You would rarely hear one say, I just got some good “information.” “Intelligence” is definitely an inside word!Willa Dear Willa:Over the last three decades intelligence agencies in the United States have shifted from human to electronic intelligence gathering. That has meant fewer people on the ground and many more remote eyes and ears scanning the globe. Would you discuss the value of each method of intelligence gathering and share with us your thoughts, especially in the aftermath of the London terrorist bombings, on whether the current, operational balance between the two is an appropriate one. Put more simply, might security agencies benefit more from doing more of their business "the old-fashioned way?"Thank You,Tahlman - OhioDear Tahlman:HUMINT or SIGINT/COMINT? Human Intelligence or Signals and Communications Intelligence, with all of their high technology cousins. Where do we spend our intelligence budget and where should we be spending it? The early July terrorist tragedy in London is a stark reminder of the critical need of HUMINT.You are absolutely right that there has been a significant focus on science and technology (S&T) intelligence, particularly in the 1990’s. It’s pretty hard not to be impressed by the S&T collection sources and methods the U.S. has developed in recent decades. Some of these are among the most sensitive and highly classified of all US Government military and intelligence programs.I myself would come out of a “high tech” briefing absolutely dazzled by the incredible, sophisticated equipment and programs described. I honestly have to say that the S&T efforts represent some of the most impressive and advanced technologies ever known to man. I myself could only understand portions of any of them. I used to imagine that we would someday be able to place a microchip in a Politburo meeting and then read the results from a remote locale in outer space. And I used to wonder if HUMINT would eventually be replaced by these sophisticated, advanced and highly secret programs. Perhaps it would all be the world of James Bond’s M.But, when it is all said and done, the most important information we can obtain comes from human beings, a fairly small number of human beings who are making decisions that are hostile to Americans/American allies and U.S. interests. The only way to know what these people are thinking and planning is to get to them, one human being to another. This is the core of HUMINT. It too is a very complex field, since of course it is not easy to identify, locate and then get direct access to a terrorist, for example. But, it is the only way available to date that will allow us to get the answers to the critical questions of the plans and intentions of hostile elements.As recent history bears out, it has been profoundly challenging to get to the individuals who are planning heinous acts. Clearly, it would have been invaluable to us to have had direct access to Saddam Hussein when he was in power or to any of his key cabinet or staff who might have had any information on Iraqi plans and intentions, much less, Iraqi weapons programs. And of course I mean the kind of access that would have made him want to trust and confide in us. Indeed, all of our lives would have been changed if we had been able to get to and recruit any of the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11, even though each would have had only limited knowledge of the overall plan.There has been a huge debate within the Intelligence Community and the halls of Congress about where and how to spend the intelligence budget. Even though the budget itself remains classified, it is now quite well known that only a very, very small percentage of the budget goes to HUMINT. But as you have probably read, Congress and the intelligence and 9/11 Commissions have given serious consideration to putting more money into HUMINT. The last two Directors of Central Intelligence have urged Congress to allot more money to the expansion and virtual rebuilding of the HUMINT capabilities of the CIA in particular.The bottom line is that we must use and expand all of our capabilities, human and technological. But as 9/11, and now the horrific bombings in London have shown, to prevent terrorist acts, we must identify the people who are planning them, get access to them and then learn their plans and intentions. HUMINT is at the core of this critical search for information. Ultimately, the only way that 9/11, the Madrid and London bombings could have been prevented is if we had had human sources who could provide us the invaluable information we needed to prevent these awful acts.Willa Hi Willa:I was struck by the seeming parallel between your former role and that of Valerie Plame, the deep cover CIA operations officer, who you referred to in your article "What's in a name?"So a couple of questions, please:You described, like Ms Plame, working under cover with your 'psuedo' and 'alias' protecting you. Were you then a clandestine CIA 'Non Official Cover' (NOC) operative?Secondly, Ms Plame, (Mrs Joseph Wilson) was married and had the cover of a 'housewife'. If, as I assume, you are married, how did you manage with being both a 'housewife' and leading the colorful life of a spy? Did your husband know what you were up to? How did he cope with a woman who was constantly practising deceit?Thank you,Garry - ArkansasDear Garry:What an informed question you ask. You sound very knowledgeable. Actually I was not a non-official cover (NOC) officer. I was usually under what is called “official cover,” which means that I was always a U.S. Government employee in my assignments in the Field, as well as when I worked in Headquarters.While in the Field, however, I had numerous occasions where I used a “business cover”, which means that I a short term identification with a company where I used an alias and an alias identity. In those cases I was assigned an alias name and then would create a story that I could support and work with, but which would also provide me some access to my potential target. I would help to structure those so that they would fit with aspects of my life, personality and skill set.Just to be clear, we never ever use a US business without the explicit approval of the committing official of the company involved!As I said in an earlier article, my pseudonym (pseudo) was only used in written correspondence within the Agency. A pseudo, as opposed to an alias, is just a written name. It is a method we use to protect our true identities in case of an exposure of a classified document, which of course shouldn’t happen. Just another layer of protection in this appropriately complex and layered intelligence business.Regarding Valerie Plame, my understanding is that while serving in the Field, she was under deep cover, which would not be U.S. Government. Of course I don’t know what her personal plans are or were, but if, as a current employee she were sent overseas, even on a brief assignment, she would need cover of some sort. The public revelation of her identity by American media essentially took that option away for her, regardless of where she lives or to whom she is married.The whole idea of “housewife” cover was something I had suggested some 30 years ago, early on in my career and when I was married. The idea was pretty innovative at the time and also a non-starter. I doubt very much if Valerie Plame ever used “housewife” cover, but I suspect the Agency is much more creative in approaching cover today with so many working women now accepted in the professional workplace.In my own case, I married a colleague who was also a case officer. That made it easy in terms of his knowing what I did and vice versa. However, it was virtually impossible to get a joint assignment overseas, particularly since housewife cover was not an option. So, you can probably see that I ended up single again. There was no deceit, but there was also no joint assignment, sad to say.You are right that it is difficult if the “significant other” is not an Agency employee. These days, the spouse gets a general clearance or approval, so that there is not really the ugly issue of deceiving one’s spouse.I will say that it is difficult to date “outsiders” for the very reason you say, and indeed over the years, I have found that I cannot have much of a career discussion with anyone outside my old business. That’s why I retired as an “overt” employee when my chance finally came.Thanks, Garry. Regards from Willa Dear WillaI was watching the History Channel (sadly, can't remember the show), and there was a former CIA guy on there (face in the shadow) who grudgingly admitted that the complex shaped charge bomb used on the USS Cole was built using Iraqi explosives and the design was "tutored" by the IIS. Louis Freeh's book, MY FBI, confirms Russia made the explosives, and Russian media says the explosives were Russian that had been sold to Iraq (Freeh's book seems to support this as well). FOIA attempts have failed-no surprise. What do you know about IIS involvement in the bomb for the USS Cole? George in South CarolinaGeorge,Thanks for your question. That’s a good one, and dicey. First, I do respect the History Channel! But, I am very careful what sources I listen to in these interviews, since I like to make my own assessment of the person being interviewed. Basically, I don’t think many retired CIA officers are going to report in the public venue what would essentially be classified information. In spite of all the leaks and stories out there, retired operations officers are loathe to reveal classified information, much less to breach their security commitment.That said, there is a great deal of info in the public domain about the bombing of the USS Cole, and I think the respected analysts have been pretty good on this. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh is a pretty good source! Overall, on this one the Al Qaeda link works for me! Willa

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