September 6th, 2014
Task Force Black, a force of US special ops warriors, appears to be actively engaged against ISIS in Iraq despite Obama's assertion of "no military solution in Iraq"
While some point to the safety of US forces in not reporting the engagements, the truth lies in the fact that the Obama administration merely does not wish to admit its severe blunder in not stopping ISIS much earlier.......placing many more US troops in harm's way, now.....
Written by Jack Kenny
A reporter for Newsweek's online publication, The Daily Beast, described the goings-on in and around the battle in Zumar in northern Iraq on Monday, noting in particular "multiple armored Toyotas sweeping down the mountain" and passing within a few feet of the reporter's position. "The Toyotas were packed with what appeared to be bearded Western Special Operations Forces.
I watched the trucks pass and saw for myself the crews inside them. They didn't wear any identifying insignia but they were visibly Western and appeared to match all the visual characteristics of American special operations soldiers."
The Daily Beast, perhaps out of concern for the reporter's safety, gave no byline to the article and did not identify its author. A British publication, referring to the Daily Beast story, said it was written by a young journalist with some impressive credentials.
"This particular journalist should know," the Daily Mail observed. "He's a 27-year-old former U.S. Army Ranger who served three tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan."
The report did not rest entirely on the journalist's first-hand observation, however. "Ranking members of the Kurdish military and intelligence service said that one team of U.S. Special Operations was on the ground in Zumar along with several German counterparts, working in conjunction with [Kurdish] Peshmerga units," the dispatch said.
"According to the Kurdish sources, U.S. and German special operations teams had taken up positions in Zumar that allowed them to coordinate with U.S. aircraft." The Daily Beast's effort to get confirmation from the Pentagon was not nearly as successful.
"There are no U.S. troops on the ground in or around Zumar," was the official response, with a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, saying U.S. involvement in the fighting Monday consisted only of "one strike destroying several vehicles in the vicinity of Zumar." That implicitly presented the journalist and his Kurdish sources with the question posed by Chico Marx in Duck Soup. "Well, who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?"
September 6th, 2014
Which is more believeable? Bigfoot, Nessie, The New World Order, or the one that the IRS has accidentally lost only those emails which are pertinent in an IRS targeting Congressional probe?
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service has lost emails from five more employees who are part of congressional probes into the treatment of conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status, the tax service disclosed Friday.
The IRS said in June that it could not locate an untold number of emails to and from Lois Lerner, who headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. The revelation set off a new round of investigations and congressional hearings.
On Friday, the IRS issued a report to Congress saying the agency also lost emails from five other employees related to the probe, including two agents who worked in a Cincinnati office processing applications for tax-exempt status.
The disclosure came on the same day the Senate's subcommittee on investigations released competing reports on how the IRS handled applications from political groups during the 2010 and 2012 elections.
The Democratic report, released by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, said both liberal and conservative groups were mistreated, revealing no political bias by the IRS. The Republican report, issued by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, said conservative groups were clearly treated worse.
The IRS inspector general set off a firestorm last year with an audit that said IRS agents singled out tea party and other conservative groups for inappropriate scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
Lerner's lost emails prompted a new round of scrutiny by Congress, the Justice Department, the inspector general and at least two federal judges.
The IRS blamed computer crashes for all the lost emails. In a statement, the IRS said all the crashes happened well before Congress launched its investigations.
The IRS first told Congress in June that other employees involved in the probe also had computer problems. At the time, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen promised lawmakers a report on whether any had lost emails. The report was issued Friday.
"Throughout this review, the IRS has found no evidence that any IRS personnel deliberately destroyed any evidence," said the IRS statement. "To the contrary, the computer issues identified appear to be the same sorts of issues routinely experienced by employees within the IRS, in other government agencies and in the private sector."
When Congress started investigating the IRS last year, the agency identified 82 employees who might have documents related to the inquiries. The IRS said 18 of those people had computer problems between September 2009 and February 2014. Of those employees, five probably lost emails — in addition to Lerner — the agency said Friday.
September 6th, 2014
A year after an airman at Maxwell Air Force Base was allowed to take an oath without saying "so help me God," the Air Force has quietly reversed course and once again made the phrase mandatory.
"Reciting 'So help me God' in the reenlistment and commissioning oaths is a statutory requirement under Title 10 U.S.C. §502," Air Force spokesperson Rose Richeson toldMilitary.com, adding that Air Force Instruction on the oath is consistent with the language mandated in the law.
"Airmen are no longer authorized to omit the words 'So help me God'," she said.
The issue first came up last year when an officer candidate at Maxwell threatened to sue if made to say "so help me God" as part of graduation events. Airman Jonathan Bise was later allowed to take a secular oath and was reissued a new version of the written oath with any reference to God removed. At the time, Maxwell officials said they had operated under the mistaken assumption the phrase was required.
Air Force: Congress would have to change oath
The Air Force's instruction spells out the active-duty oath of enlistment and ends with the phrase "so help me God." The old version included an exception: "Note: Airmen may omit the words 'so help me God,' if desired for personal reasons." That section now only lists the active-duty oath of enlistment without any options to leave out "so help me God."
The Air Force told Air Force Times it cannot change the oath unless Congress takes action to mandate such an alteration.....
September 5th, 2014
The Daily Beast / Josh Rogin
In recent days, leading lawmakers in both parties have been talking tough about forcing the Obama administration to devise and then reveal its strategy to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, as President Obama has promised. There have been public calls for hearings and votes on whether Congress should formally give Obama the authority to do what he’s already doing in Iraq and what he might soon want to do in Syria.
But behind the scenes, there’s no clear plan for Congress to exert its will or even make its wishes known. Lawmakers, staffers, and officials told The Daily Beast that the administration’s refusal to tell anyone its strategy and work with Congress on a bill to authorize military action means the task of passing such a bill is a Sisyphean effort likely to fail. The Hill may not even be able to muster a vote, they say.
“Members will certainly have discussions about the path forward on [ISIS] when they return next week, but how could Congress vote to authorize some action when the president hasn’t even made a compelling case to the American people about what our national objective and strategy should be?” a senior House GOP aide told The Daily Beast.
There’s widespread frustration in both chambers and both parties about President Obama’s admission that “we don’t have a strategy yet” to deal with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. But now the lack of strategy is actually protecting Obama from oversight because Congress can’t authorize or reject what it can’t understand.
In fact, the White House has been totally mum on how it plans to legally justify the air war in Iraq after the temporary authority granted to it in the War Powers Resolution expires. According to the 1973 law, the president must report to Congress when he uses U.S. military force in a hostile environment; Congress must then specifically authorize such action within 60 days or the president has to stop. The president can invoke a one-time, 30-day extension.
But, so far, there have been no substantial consultations with Congress about such an authorization. The White House declined to say whether it even cared if Congress acts or not.
“The administration will continue to consult with the Congress on the way forward in Iraq and our efforts against [ISIS], and we will continue to provide appropriate reports to the Congress consistent with the War Powers Resolution. Beyond that, I don’t have anything to announce. Thanks!” Caitlin Hayden, press secretary for the National Security Council, told The Daily Beast.
The administration has now reported to Congress three times under the War Powers Resolution about U.S. military force in Iraq; the first report was filed Aug. 8 and the most recent was filed Sept. 1. The reports notified Congress that the U.S. was waging war in Iraq for four distinct reasons: to protect American personnel in Erbil; to save the Yazidi minorities trapped on Mount Sinjar; to protect the Mosul Dam; and to save the people of the Shiite town of Amirli.
The War Powers clock expires Oct. 8, with a possible extension to Nov. 8. But the administration could argue that each new notification resets the clock and gives the president ongoing authority to attack in Iraq. To most in Congress, that’s disingenuous at best, because the strikes are all part of the same operation and are all against the same foe in the same country.
“It’s called the War Powers Act, not the Single Attack Powers Act. Technically you are not restarting the 60-day clock,” said a senior Senate aide involved in the debate.
During Obama’s war on Libya in 2011, he used military strikes well past the 60- or even 90-day deadline. Then he tried to claim there were no “hostilities” in Libya, to nullify the War Powers Resolution. This time around, Obama’s lawyers were more clever.
“The Libya episode taught him the lesson you can trust on 60 to 90 days, so instead they are trying to press the reset button on the clock,” the aide said. “In the end, the administration wants to hang this on the president’s authority under Article 2 (of the Constitution). The problem is, some of these strikes don’t fall under Article 2.”
“It’s a legal shell game,” a senior GOP senate aide said. “But more than that, it’s an ad hoc reaction to a threat. And so, the legal rationale that flows from that is minimal because what he’s doing is minimal.”
There’s a growing consensus in both parties that the president has to do more to combat the growing ISIS threat and come to Congress for some kind of legal endorsement. Even GOP doves like Sen. Rand Paul have changed their tunerecently and pledged to grant Obama permission to strike the terror group.
“I think we all agree that having a national strategy for defeating the Islamic terrorist state is imperative,” House Speaker John Boehner told his caucus on a conference call Wednesday, according to a source on the call. “America is at risk of another 9/11 unless we confront and defeat this terrorist threat. The safety and security of the American people, and that of our allies, is at stake.”
But with only two weeks in September to legislate, there’s little to no chance Congress will act before its next recess, which means the issue will be punted to the post-election lame duck session. During that session, several senators will try to add amendments authorizing Obama’s ISIS war to the National Defense Authorization Act—the bill that sets policies for the Pentagon—which is seen on Capitol Hill as a must-pass.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has drafted legislation that would authorize the president to use military force against ISIS, and is conferring with Senate colleagues about what changes would be required to gather bipartisan support.
"The only way to get the House to change their mind would be either the Senate sends a strong bipartisan message by passing an AUMF [Authorization of Military Force], or by passing an amendment to the NDAA," said Donelle Harder, an Inhofe aide.
Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, has also drafted legislation that would specifically authorize Obama to strike ISIS inside Syria, where Florida-born journalist Steven Sotloff was murdered this week. Nelson wants to add his legislation to the Defense Authorization bill as well, his spokesman Ryan Brown said.
“This will ensure there’s no question that the president has the legal authority he needs to use airstrikes in Syria,” Nelson said in a statement Wednesday. “Let there be no doubt, we must go after ISIS right away because the U.S. is the only one that can put together a coalition to stop this group that’s intent on barbaric cruelty.”
Senate Foreign Relations heads Bob Menendez and Bob Corker are sure to want to fight for jurisdiction over any authorization of military force, which would traditionally fall under their committee. But they haven’t weighed in yet. For a long time, they have been trying to repeal and replace the original 2001 AUMF that authorizes the president to go after al Qaeda. That effort could potentially be connected to the ISIS war. But for now, the path forward is uncertain.
Menendez and Corker are trying to schedule a hearing on Iraq this month with Secretary of State John Kerry. Earlier this year, Kerry cancelled scheduled appearances before his old committee multiple times and there is still bad blood over what senators felt was disrespect on Kerry’s part.
Many lawmakers still feel burned from the episode last year when Obama pushed them to vote for a strike against Syria, only to cancel the strike last minute and leave them hanging. For some, weighing in on Obama’s ISIS war now would just give the president political cover for a policy they think is incomplete, striking ISIS one truck at a time in Iraq and ignoring them in Syria. If senators vote for that, they would be agreeing to share the blame if and when that strategy fails.
“If you are going to come to Congress, come to Congress to ask for a real authority to take on something that is a direct threat to the national interests of the United States and link that authority to an overall strategy. You could get congressional support or something like that,” said another senior GOP Senate aide. “The president has to be the prime mover. He has to come to Congress and say, ‘Look, guys, here’s what we need to do and here’s what we need to do it.’ And that hasn’t happened yet.”
September 5th, 2014
By Barry Secrest
The White House website hails Palestinian-American-Muslim activist Linda Sarsour as a woman who is " Ambitious, outspoken and independent, Linda shatters stereotypes of Muslim women while also treasuring her religious and ethnic heritage. "
In addition to being an honored member of Obama's 'Champions of Change' the White House states:
"Currently she is the Advocacy and Civic Engagement Coordinator for the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), a network of 22 Arab American organizations in 11 states including the District of Columbia, nationwide where she conducts trainings nationally on the importance of civic engagement in the Arab and Muslim American community."
"Locally she serves as the Director of the Arab American Association of New York, a social service agency serving the Arab community in NYC. Linda’s strengths are in the areas of community development, youth empowerment, community organizing, civic engagement and immigrants’ rights advocacy."
However, when looking at Sasour's tweet post she seems to advocate something a bit more than just peace:
"Israel steals more land and they expect the Palestinians to sit back? Then Palestinians are the terrorists? I am beyond words."
"What the hell is a "former jihadist"? How are they walking around the US saying "I am a former jihadist" - how do u become former? Smh. @CNN"
Now comes the story from the UK Guardian where Ms. Sarsour is threatened in much the same way as ISIS both threatens and kills Americans, and HAMAS, an organization Sarsour champions, threatens Jews:
A drunken man chased two female Arab-American community organisers in Brooklyn, New York, threatening to behead them and throwing a large metal garbage can at them.
Despite two separate 911 calls, the New York police department took more than 45 minutes to respond. The department sent top hate crime investigators after one of the women, a prominent activist, told her story at an NYPD community relations meeting that happened soon after the incident on Wednesday.
Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, said she initially found the man leaning against the wall near her social services agency.
“I was leaving to a meeting and I went outside and found a man leaning up against our storefront,” said Sarsour. “So, I went back inside and I said to my deputy director, ‘Hey, can you call 911 and just tell them there’s a man in front of our storefront and can they remove him?’”
“I’m literally giving these instructions, next thing you know — boom! He gets up out of nowhere, like a surge of energy, and he starts chasing me and my colleague up the street,” said Sarsour. “He’s like, ‘You’re cutting people’s heads off! I’m going to cut your head off and see how your people feel about it!’”
While running, Sarsour said, she and her colleague again called 911, saying the man they had requested be removed was violent and chasing them down busy 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. While chasing them, the man picked up a department of sanitation metal garbage can and threw it at the women. Sarsour said she believed the man may have had a tool in his back pocket.
She and her colleague fled into a nearby business and locked the door, where they stayed until the man wandered off, on to a residential street. “Just literally walked away, went up a residential street because of course law enforcement didn’t show up,” said Sarsour.