April 4th, 2015
The Blaze / Kevin Mooney
Source: Mad Magazine
What piece of evidence persuaded former U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that the five terrorists released from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are no longer dangerous to the U.S.?
The answer to that question matters a lot now since the one-year deal the Obama administration reached with government of Qatar concerning the five former Gitmo inmates is set to expire in just a few weeks.
Under federal law, the U.S. secretary of defense can transfer or release prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba “if the secretary determines, following a review…that the individual is no longer a threat to the national security of the United States.” This provision can be found in Section 1035 (a)(1) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, which President Barack Obama signed into law on Dec. 26, 2013.
Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made use of this provision when he traded five terrorists held at Gitmo for Bergdahl who was recently charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Bergdahl left his post and was held captive by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Afghanistan from June 2009 until May 2014.
A court date of July 8 has been set for a hearing on the charges against Bergdahl at the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in Texas where the Army sergeant served. Those are some of the latest developments.
But there’s another date concerning Bergdahl story that should raise alarms. That would be the deadline for the one-year deal top U.S. officials struck with the Gulf nation of Qatar that set the terms for the supervised release of the prisoners. This deal is set to expire at the end of May.
Fortunately, Judicial Watch, the non-partisan government watchdog group based in Washington D.C., is stepping up to ask the right questions and pull out pertinent information Obama administration officials are working to conceal.
One big question that stands out here is what persuaded Hagel to conclude that the five terrorists are no longer a danger to the U.S.?
In November, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense seeking “any ‘determinations’” made by Hagel that the terrorists now in Qatar are “no longer a threat to U.S. national security.” Earlier this year, Judicial Watch filed another FOIA lawsuit against the U.S. State Department asking for copies of the Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Qatar concerning the prisoner exchange.
Contrary to Hagel’s expectations, it has been reported that three of the five Taliban terrorists who were exchanged for Bergdahl have attempted to contact their former terrorist networks. This news adds further impetus to the Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuits. At least some of the terrorists the Obama administration saw fit to release to Qatar will very likely be back on the battlefield taking aim at U.S. forces. The names of the five terrorists are Mohammad Nabi Omari, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mullah Mohammad Fazl and Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa.
Bergdahl’s attorney, Eugene Fidell, says Begdahl left his base to report wrongdoing, not because he intended to desert. Bergdahl is entitled to a strong legal defense, but the American people are entitled to the truth. We still don’t know why Bergdahl left his post and why Team Obama decided the exchange was in the best interests of the U.S.
This is where the FOIA process takes on a heightened importance. Most recently, Judicial Watch filed a new FOIA lawsuit in February against the DOD to obtain a copy of the “initial report” of the U.S. Army’s review of the disappearance of Bergdahl. Judicial Watch has now filed at total of five FOIAs in the case.
How the exchange advances the national security interests of the U.S. is unclear. There may be good reasons behind the decision-making and the Obama administration deserves to have its side told. So why not answer some of the lingering questions? It would seem there is ample room for the the DOD and the State Department to answer the FOIA requests without disclosing sensitive information. On the surface, the arrangement appears to be a loser to the U.S. and an advantage to the terrorists.
There is good reason to believe the administration will be less than forthcoming with the information requests. The Government Accountability Office found that the Obama administration violated the “clear and unambiguous” law affecting prisoner swaps. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 says that all prisoner transfers from Guantanamo Bay require 30 days’ notice to Congress. Such notice was not provided in Bergdahl’s case.
So, if the Obama administration is going to violate the clear letter of law where the exchange process is concerned, should we really expect that it will honor the federal transparency law?
Kevin Mooney can be reached at Kevin.MooneyJ@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @KevinMooneyDC. Please visit KevinMooney.Info for additional information and previous reports.
April 3rd, 2015
UK Daily Mail
Up to 150 people have been murdered by masked al-Shabaab terrorists who stormed a Kenyan university and shot and beheaded Christians in the worst attack in the country in 17 years.
The group raided the Garissa University College campus shortly after 5am local time yesterday, overwhelming guards and murdering people they suspected of being a Christian.
The death toll rose to 147 last night and the 13-hour siege ended. A total of 79 were injured and 587 were led to safety.
Most of those killed were students but two police officers, one soldier and two watchmen are among the dead.
Kenya's interior minister, Joseph Nkaissery said the four terrorist gunmen had strapped themselves with explosives. When officers shot at them, they exploded 'like bombs' and shrapnel injured officers.
Kenyan security officials at the scene said dozens of hostages were freed and four of the gunmen, believed to be armed with AK-47s, were killed.
Last night, Kenya's National Disaster Operations Center said all students were accounted for.
The attack is believed to be the worst terrorist attack on Kenyan soil since the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in 1998 which killed more than 200 people.
The terrorists stuck mid-way through Holy Week, the most solemn period in the Christian calendar. Last night, the Christian students were planning to celebrate the Last Supper in preparation for Good Friday.
Pictures on social media of one of the dorms showed bloodstained floors, bodies of male students and splintered wooden chairs.
Kenyan security officials said one of the terrorists was arrested after he tried to escape the compound.
They have also offered a £145,000 bounty for Mohammed Mohamud, known as Dulyadin, alias Gamadhere, who they suspect of masterminding the attack.
Kenyan intelligence officials believe that Mohamud is in charge of al-Shabaab's external operations against the country.
He is believed to have spent time teaching in a hard-line madrassa before becoming a senior member of the Somali terror organisation.
He claimed responsiblity for an earlier attack in Makka, Kenya on November 22, 2014, when 28 people were murdered....
April 3rd, 2015
Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
According to NASA, the total phase of the eclipse will only last about five minutes, making it the shortest lunar eclipse of the century. In the West, the total eclipse will begin at 4:58 a.m. Pacific Time and end 5 minutes later.
In the East, the partial eclipse lasts from 6:15 a.m. ET until the moon sets.
YOUR TAKE: Share your eclipse photos with the nation!
According to Slooh.com, this eclipse will be a "Pacific Ocean spectacle" and it will be best seen from eastern Australia, Japan, Hawaii, northeastern Russia and western Alaska.
For a total lunar eclipse to happen, the moon must be full, which means it is directly opposite the sun, with Earth in between, NASA reports. The eclipse happens when the moon moves into the shadow cast by the sun shining on Earth.
A special treat: Most of the moon will glow some shade of intense orange or red, thus the "blood" moon nickname.
"That red light shining onto the moon is sunlight that has skimmed and bent through Earth's atmosphere: that is, from all the sunrises and sunsets that ring the world at any given moment," said Alan MacRobert of Sky and Telescope magazine.
As for viewing conditions, central and southern California should be clear while clouds could ruin the view in the Pacific Northwest, according to AccuWeather. Most of the central U.S. will be okay, but much of the East and South will be socked in with clouds.
The next — and final — lunar eclipse of 2015 will be on Sept. 28.
April 3rd, 2015
Are we beginning to see the rather fragile facade crack concerning the myth that most followers of Islam are moderate peace-loving people?
Sure Seems that way....especially when a terrorist bomber has close ties to a supposedly peaceful 'social justice' Islamic group....
One of the two women indicted Thursday for allegedly plotting to bomb New York City had ties to the group the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and spoke at the group’s events along with Indiana U.S. Rep. Andre Carson and the controversial imam Siraj Wahhaj.
Noelle Velentzas, 28, and her roommate, 31-year-old Asia Siddiqui, are accused of plotting a terrorist attack on New York City.
An indictment filed by the U.S. Attorneys Office in the Eastern District of New York alleges that Velentzas and Siddiqui, who are both American citizens and lived together in Queens, had obtained materials to make a bomb out of a pressure cooker, similar to the one used in the Boston Marathon bombing.
Siddiqui was in possession of propane tanks as well as instructions on how to convert them into explosives, according to the complaint. Both had been in communication with members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and had watched ISIS beheading videos. Siddiqui was also friends with the former editor of the Al Qaeda magazine, Inspire.
Velentzas allegedly espoused jihadist ideology and told an undercover agent that becoming a martyr guarantees entrance into heaven. The agent also reported that Velentzas showed him her cell phone which contained a picture of Osama bin Laden holding an AK-47. The agent also relayed evidence that both women became increasingly interested in bomb-making and did research on how to make explosives.
The indictment says that Velentzas also expressed outrage at U.S. attacks on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). She also told the agent that she and Siddiqui are “citizens of the Islamic State.”
But before she began conspiring to blow up the Big Apple, Velentzas lived in an ICNA homeless shelter in Jamaica, a neighborhood in Queens. Velentzas was such a success that ICNA used her as a poster-child to help with its fundraising activities...
April 3rd, 2015
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is helping employees who are uncomfortable with Indiana's controversial religious freedom law to transfer out of the state.
Benioff told CNN's Poppy Harlow on Wednesday that several employees have asked for transfers -- and he has agreed, even supplying relocation packages.
"I just got an email on the way to studio from another employee who said, 'look I don't feel comfortable living in this state anymore, you have to move me out,' and I gave him a $50,000 relocation package and said, 'great, you're clear to go.' "
Benioff acknowledged that Salesforce (Tech30) won't be able to completely pull out of Indiana, given the size of the company's operations there. But the company is helping individual employees who feel oppressed to leave. ,
The move is in response to a law signed last week by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence that allows businesses to refuse service to gay, lesbian and transgender people on religious grounds.
Benioff had already pledged to reduce his company's investments in Indiana, calling the law "brutal," "unfair" and "unjust." The cloud computing CEO said he is working with state officials in hopes of changing the statute.
Moving employees out of the state is a new step, however, and one of the most aggressive corporate actions taken in response to the new law.
Big business has been at the forefront of the backlash against the Indiana law, and similar legislation pending in states around the U.S.
Apple (Tech30), , Yelp (, the NCAA, )Eli Lilly (, NASCAR, )General Electric (, Angie's List and PayPal are among the companies that have raised concerns. Leaders from some 39 tech companies and organizations have also condemned the legislation. )
"This is a really important point that, you know, CEOs have a lot of power and control on investment in states and we want to invest in states where there is equality," Benioff said.
"One thing that you're seeing is that there is a third [political] party emerging in this country, which is the party of CEOs," he said.
More from CNN Money