Powered by WebAds

Monday, April 27, 2015

Iran's nuclear map - much more than you knew about

There's a great map of Iran's nuclear facilities that's been posted here.

It's by Olli Heinonen, a senior fellow with the Belfer Center at Harvard University's Kennedy School and a former deputy director-general for safeguards at the IAEA, and by Simon Henderson is the Baker fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute, specializing in energy matters and the conservative Arab states of the Persian Gulf.

If you click the link, you can even download a pdf version (which I did).  I had no idea that there were this many facilities and I suspect that most of you didn't know either (I thought there were four or five facilities). Most of these facilities will remain intact if President Obama's agreement with Iran goes through and is implemented.

What could go wrong?

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Finally: Bush lets loose on Obama

I've been waiting for this for a long time, and I'm sure many of you have as well: Former President George W. Bush - the man who is blamed for everything seven years after he left office - finally let loose on Barack Hussein Obama (Hat Tip: Zvi S).
One attendee at the Republican Jewish Coalition session, held at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas with owner Sheldon Adelson in attendance, transcribed large portions of Bush’s remarks. The former president, who rarely ever criticizes Obama in public, at first remarked that the idea of re-entering the political arena was something he didn’t want to do. He then proceeded to explain why Obama, in his view, was placing the U.S. in "retreat" around the world. He also said Obama was misreading Iran’s intentions while relaxing sanctions on Tehran too easily. 
According to the attendee's transcription, Bush noted that Iran has a new president, Hassan Rouhani. “He's smooth," Bush said. "And you’ve got to ask yourself, is there a new policy or did they just change the spokesman?”
Bush said that Obama’s plan to lift sanctions on Iran with a promise that they could snap back in place at any time was not plausible. He also said the deal would be bad for American national security in the long term: “You think the Middle East is chaotic now? Imagine what it looks like for our grandchildren. That’s how Americans should view the deal.”  
...
Obama promised to degrade and destroy Islamic State's forces but then didn’t develop a strategy to complete the mission, Bush said. He said that if you have a military goal and you mean it, “you call in your military and say ‘What’s your plan?’ ” He indirectly touted his own decision to surge troops to Iraq in 2007, by saying, “When the plan wasn’t working in Iraq, we changed.”
“In order to be an effective president ... when you say something you have to mean it,” he said. “You gotta kill em.”
...
Regarding Hillary Clinton, Bush said it will be crucial how she plays her relationship with the president. She will eventually have to choose between running on the Obama administration’s policies or running against them. If she defends them, she's admitting failure, he said, but if she doesn't she's blaming the president.
For George W. Bush, the remarks in Vegas showed he has little respect for how the current president is running the world. He also revealed that he takes little responsibility for the policies that he put in place that contributed to the current state of affairs.
I disagree with the last sentence. It isn't that Bush takes little responsibility for the policies he put in place, but rather that he takes no responsibility for the way Obama has implemented them. Americans aren't using to hearing that since 2009.

Read the whole thing.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Report: Israeli strike in Syria meant to avoid being dragged into war

A report in a Kuwaiti newspaper - sourced to a Western diplomat - indicates that an IAF strike against a Syrian missile base on Friday night thwarted a plan to launch long-range missiles against Israeli targets in the Golan Heights in a bid to draw Israel into a war.
The Western diplomatic source was quoted by Al-Jarida as saying that the alleged Israeli raid targeted two brigades of the Syrian Army, which housed long-range strategic weapons to be transferred to Hezbollah.

The Western diplomatic source confirmed to Al Jarida on Sunday that IDF fighter jets were behind the attack in the Qalamun Mountain region near the Syria-Lebanon border. The IDF has refused to address the claims, saying that its policy is not to respond to foreign reports.

The source told Al Jarida that the "the raid was a preemptive strike to prevent a plan to hit strategic targets in the Golan, which would draw Israel into a war with Syria, and shuffle the cards."
Hmmm.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Israel sends search and rescue team, field hospital to Nepal, ramping up to do more

Israel has sent a search and rescue team and a field hospital to Nepal, just as you might recall the Jewish state sending one to Haiti five years ago

But first, here's video of the moment of impact of Saturday's horrific earthquake in Nepal. Let's go to the videotape.


Israel is preparing to do more.
The Israeli army was preparing to send a rescue mission to Nepal Sunday that includes 260 people who will fly to Katmandu and set up a field hospital there.
The military delegation from the Home Front command has three tasks: to search for survivors of the earthquake and to operate a rescue team; to set up a field hospital to provide medical assistance to the injured; and to establish contact with the Israelis who have been incommunicado.
Forty doctors and about 80 members of a medical team will operate the military field hospital, which will include operating rooms, X-rays, an emergency room, a room for expectant mothers and more. Three rescue teams, each of them with 20 rescuers, will also be included in the military delegation, as well as three dogs from the Oketz canine special forces unit and their handlers.
The delegation will bring with it 95 tons of equipment for 14 full days of operation. It will take off this evening from Ben Gurion International Airport for Kathmandu in two El Al Boeing planes. One will be a transport plane and the other a passenger plane that will also carry equipment.
"We plan to take off at 10:30 P.M., due to the travel time and the weather in the Kathmandu area," said the delegation commander, Col. Yoram Laredo.
The Foreign Ministry says it estimates around 600 Israelis are in Nepal, and has secured contact with 400, most of them sheltering at the embassy in Kathmandu.
These include 25 couples in Nepal to bring home babies born to surrogates.
Of the nearly two dozen countries whose citizens were in Nepal at the time of the earthquake, Israel has the third highest number of citizens there after India and South Korea.
Nepal is a very popular post-army destination for Israelis....
Israeli-based humanitarian organization IsraAID is also responding to the crisis in Nepal, coordinating with government officials, UN agencies and other international groups to provide assistance to the Himalayan country that is still reeling from aftershocks.
IsraAID is dispatching a disaster team to Nepal on Sunday to provide relief supplies and medical services, the group said in a statement. It also plans to set up "child-friendly" spaces and send psychologists to the disaster-stricken area.
"We already have an emergency team in place and hopefully we'll put them on a plane later," the group's Founding Director Shachar Zahavi told Israel National News on Sunday. "Just like in Haiti and in other places we have worked, it has medical aspects, opening up field hospitals parallel to those of the IDF. Of course, like in Haiti, we'll do anything in our power to coordinate our efforts with the IDF and the Israeli government."
There are other countries that are sending assistance, but I haven't seen any details on what they're sending. 

Labels: , , ,

Not just one raid on Syria-Lebanon border

I have now resolved at least some of the confusion regarding reported IAF raids on Syrian missile facilities over the past few days. There wasn't just one raid. There were at least two.
The first set of strikes (which also remains the least confirmed) targeted a Hezbollah weapons convoy traveling in the border area on April 22, hitting at least three trucks and killing at least one commander. The second set of strikes occurred during the overnight hours of April 24-25, and are believed to have hit at least three targets in heavily militarized areas of eastern Qalamoun, north of Damascus, which host some of the Assad regime’s most loyal and well-equipped units. The units hit include the 155th Scud missile brigade which has bases near the Damascus suburb al-Qutayfa, and the 65th Armored Brigade in areas around the Qalamoun town of Yabroud. In total, claims by Syrian rebels and foreign media outlets suggest that this set of strikes included at least three targets throughout the Qalamoun region, killing a number of Syrian and Hezbollah troops.
...
In the past, these strikes have targeted anti-aircraft missiles, advanced Yakhont anti-ship missiles, and long range surface-to-surface missiles, with last night’s attacks likely aimed at targeting Scud B or Scud D missiles from being transferred to Hezbollah.
That said, these strikes are the first of their kind to occur after several key local and regional developments, mainly the launching of Saudi-led intervention against Iranian proxies in Yemen, significant losses by the Assad regime in northern and southern Syria, and Hezbollah’s January 2015 announcement that the “rules of the game” with Israel had changed. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah made that announcement after Hezbollah attacked an Israeli military convoy in broad daylight, from Lebanese territory, in which Israel refrained from retaliating. Nasrallah claimed that the attack was an ‘eye-for-an-eye’ styled response to an Israeli attack on a Hezbollah-Iranian command convoy in the Golan Heights on January 18th. Israel’s hesitancy to respond was hailed by the group as a testament to its regional stature, and had left many wondering how Hezbollah would respond to future Israeli attacks against its interests in Syria.
Israel’s alleged airstrikes this week pose a major challenge to the regional deterrence of the Iranian axis, particularly as an emboldened Saudi Arabia increasingly hints at intervening in Syria. Unlike past attacks, Hezbollah and the Assad regime have refrained from making public threats or even confirming that the strikes took place. On the one hand, this silence may signal that Nasrallah and Assad seek to refrain from committing to retaliation against Israel and risking an escalation. However, it is more likely that they do seek to retaliate against Israel in some way, shape, or form, reserving the right to claim responsibility at a time which suites them, and reduces the risk of a massive Israeli response.
And this may only be the beginning. Read the whole thing

Labels: , , , ,

More on Israeli raid on Syrian missile position

In an earlier post, I blogged a cryptic report on an Israeli raid on a Syrian missile storage site along that country's border with Lebanon.

Here are a few more details.
Hmmm.

Labels: , , , ,

Obama makes one joke using Netanyahu's name, Haaretz turns it into 'starring role'

I just watched President Obama's entire 22-minute response to the White House correspondents' dinner on Saturday night. I watched it because Haaretz tweeted out a headline that claimed that Prime Minister Netanyahu had a 'starring role.' The one and only joke at Netanyahu's expense was just past the 3-minute mark, and it was really more at House Speaker John Boehner's expense and not Netanyahu's.
"I am determined to make the most of every moment I have left," Obama said Saturday at the annual dinner that raises funds for scholarships for budding journalists. "After the midterm elections, my advisors asked me 'Mr. President, do you have a bucket list?' And I said, 'Well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list.'"
Obama said that he still has tasks on hand, including issuing veto threats and negotiating with Iran. "All while finding time to pray five times a day," he quipped, "Which is strenuous."
"And it is no wonder that that people keep pointing out how the presidency has aged me," Obama continued. "I look so old John Boehner’s already invited Benjamin Netanyahu to speak at my funeral."
The good news is that Obama has finally found some decent joke writers.  I'm not going to embed a 22-minute video so you can see one joke in the first three minutes, but if you have nothing better to do on a Sunday (unfortunately, I do), click through the first link above and you will find the video embedded.

Labels: , , , , ,

Issam Fares: Supporter of Hezbullah and Hillary Clinton

A large donor to the Clinton Foundation is also a large donor to Hezbullah and a former Deputy Prime Minister of Lebanon. His name is Issam Fares.
One of the contributors to the Clinton Foundation, according to an analysis of known donors by Joseph Schoffstall of the Washington Free Beacon, is Issam Fares, a Lebanese billionaire and philanthropist who has donated between $1 million and $5 million.
Some would question the sincerity of his philanthropy, since he is very selective about which of his fellow human beings he wishes to benefit and which he wants to see wiped off the face of the earth.
His connections to the Iranian terrorist sock-puppet Hezbollah and his animus towards our ally Israel speak volumes about his true intentions.
Fares was deputy prime minister of Lebanon and part of the pro-Syrian government of Prime Minister Omar Karami from 2001 to 2005. He was also a close associate of Maj. Gen. Ghazi Kanaan of Syrian intelligence during the time the Syrian army occupied Lebanon.
Two weeks after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri on Feb. 14, 2005, the Karami government resigned. Hariri's assassination at the hands of Syrian supporters and operatives inspired the Cedar Revolution, spontaneous protests that forced the withdrawal of Syrian forces and led to a brief period of calm before Hezbollah rushed in to fill the void left by Syria.
Fares is a longtime friend and supporter of Hezbollah, which before Sept. 11, 2001, had been responsible for more American deaths than any terrorist group on the planet. Hezbollah was responsible for the bombing in Beirut on Oct. 24, 1983, which killed 220 U.S. Marines and 21 other service personnel.
Fares has denied any Hezbollah connection to that event and calls Hezbollah the "National Resistance Movement" to Israel and "a resistance party fighting the Israeli occupation" of Arab lands.
To be fair, Fares has used his business and "philanthropy" to gain influence on both sides of the aisle, but one gets the impression that he is not about to curry favor with any of the pro-Israel 2016 GOP candidates anytime soon, having been busy donating to the Clinton Foundation.
Read the whole thing

Labels: , ,

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Report: Israeli raid hits Syrian missile site on Syria-Lebanon border

Something doesn't quite smell right about this (an article dated Saturday describing a report from Thursday and I had not seen it on Twitter until about two minutes ago), but take it for what it's worth. The report claims an IAF strike on a Syrian missile facility along the Syrian-Lebanese border.
An overnight Israeli raid has hit a missile depot in the strategic western Syrian region of al-Qalamoun, Al Arabiya News’ sister channel Al Hadath reported Thursday.
Qalamoun is located near the region bordering Lebanon.
Sources also told Al Hadath that two Israeli raids had on Wednesday targeted a convoy carrying arms belonging to Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

This is apparently the same area in which Hezbullah has an airstrip on the Lebanese side of the border. Hmmm.

Labels: , ,

More 'Palestinian' terrorism: Molotov cocktail thrown at bus on main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway - UPDATED X2

Not sure whether this is Route 1 or Route 443. The latter seems more likely.

UPDATE 11:09 PM

In a tweeted response to me @LTCPeterLerner says that the bus was plying Route 443.

You might recall that Route 443 was closed to 'Palestinian' traffic during the intifada and reopened at the insistence of the 'Supreme Court' in 2010. 

UPDATED 11:24 PM

The bus was near the Dor-Alon gas station, which means it was probably on the long uphill heading towards Jerusalem.

Labels: , ,

Breaking: Terror attack in 'east' Jerusalem - UPDATED x3

Developing....

UPDATE 11:13 PM

There are now three police officers hurt. Here are more details
According to Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, one of the officers is in moderate-to-serious condition, while the other two are in light-to-moderate condition. All three were treated at the scene by Magon David Adom paramedics before being rushed to an area hospital, he said.

As of 11 p.m. he said the suspect has not been apprehended.

"Police have blocked off roadways in A-Tur and are actively searching for the suspect," he said.

Last week an Palestinian from east Jerusalem was arrested for for running over and killing Shalom Yohai Cherki, 25, and seriously injuring a young woman in the capital.  

Under investigation the suspect told police that he was intent on “seeking out Jews to murder.”
The driver apparently fled the scene. The JPost article has a picture of the car.

UPDATE 11:29 PM

But give them a 'state' and they'll stop behaving like this.
UPDATE 11:37 PM

20-year old woman moderately wounded, two other people lightly wounded.

Labels: ,

The US is sending a million dollars. Here's what Israel is sending

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

There was a catastrophic earthquake in Nepal over the Sabbath (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). The United States is sending a million dollars in emergency assistance. Here's what Israel is sending.
Midnight is less than two hours from now and about four hours after the Sabbath ended.

Which do you think will save more lives?

Labels: , ,

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hezbullah's drone airstrip in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley

Jane's Defence News reports that Hezbullah has constructed an airstrip for drones in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
Located in a remote and sparsely populated area 10 km south of the town of Hermel and 18 km west of the Syrian border, the airstrip was built sometime between 27 February 2013 and 19 June 2014, according to imagery that recently became publicly available on Google Earth.
It consists of a single unpaved strip with a length of 670 m and width of 20 m. Material has been excavated from a nearby quarry to build up the northern end of the strip so that it is level. It is built over a shorter strip that had been in existence since at least 2010.
The short length of the runway suggests the facility is not intended to smuggle in weapons shipments from Syria or Iran as it is too short for nearly all the transport aircraft used by the air forces of those countries. One exception could be the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC's) An-74T-200 short take-off transports, but landing one with a useful load on a 670 m strip in the mountains would be considered dangerous by most operators.
An alternative explanation is that the runway was built for Iranian-made UAVs, including the Ababil-3, which has been employed over Syria by forces allied to the Syrian regime, and possibly the newer and larger Shahed-129.
Hizbullah sources have confirmed to IHS Jane's that the organisation is using UAVs to support operations against rebel forces in Syria, particularly over the mountainous Qalamoun region on Lebanon's eastern border.
...
Hizbullah has operated UAVs from Lebanese airspace since at least November 2004, when it dispatched one that it identified as a Mirsad-1 for a brief reconnaissance mission over northern Israel. It then flew attempted to fly at least three UAVs into Israel during the July-August 2006 war.
Hizbullah said it was responsible for the UAV that was shot down over southern Israel on 6 October 2012. It said it used an Iranian-made aircraft that it had designated as the Ayoub for the incursion.
...
The Saudi Al-Watan newspaper claimed in March 2014 that Hizbullah had built a "military airport" for its UAVs in the Bekaa Valley. Lebanese media reports erroneously claimed the location was at Iaat in the central Bekaa Valley, apparently mistaking a long-abandoned Second World War-era Royal Air Force airfield for the Hizbullah facility.
What could go wrong?

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

Labels: , , ,

Surprise: Gazans preparing for war


What a surprise. The Financial Times of London reports that Gaza is once again preparing for war.
International donors, analysts, and political figures in Gaza say warning signs of a new conflict have appeared less than a year after last summer’s war, the bloodiest of three Israel and Hamas have fought since 2009. Dubbed Operation Protective Edge by the Israelis, it killed more than 2,200 people, mostly Palestinians, and ended without a long-term truce between the two sides.
On Thursday evening sirens sounded in southern Israel after a rocket was fired from inside Gaza, Israel’s military said, underscoring the tension at the border.
“Since the end of the recent aggression of the Israelis in Gaza, we have begun preparations for the next war,” a PFLP leader who calls himself Abu Jamal says at a café in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza. “We expect at any time that there might be an aggression on Gaza, especially in light of the changes in the Middle East and the result of Israeli elections where the extreme right wing gained popularity.” 
Six months after the international community pledged $3.5bn to rebuild Gaza, barely a quarter of the funds have been released and “further conflict is inevitable”, a group of 46 aid agencies warned last week. Donor fatigue with the conflict, and misgivings about a frozen reconciliation process between Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah, have stalled the rebuilding process.
According to Basil Nasser, acting head of the UN development programme’s Gaza office, only Qatar and Kuwait have begun paying in money to rebuild some of the more than 10,000 houses destroyed or severely damaged during the war.
“If something dramatic doesn’t happen in the Gaza Strip with regard to the reconstruction process, the probability of another violent round is higher,” says Kobi Michael, an analyst with the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
In addition to its training exercises at the northern border, Hamas has been rebuilding its arsenal and firing test rockets into the sea.
I'm shocked - just totally shocked.

By the way, when was the last time you heard about a terrorist leader sitting in a cafe in Iraq or Afghanistan? Must be those cruel Jews' fault for letting him out of his hole.

Labels: , , , ,

Israel denies visa to S. African communist seeking to visit 'Palestinian Authority'

Israel has denied a visa to South African Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, who wanted to visit the 'Palestinian Authority.' The denial has caused a row between the South African Communist party and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. This is from the first link.
A senior official in Jerusalem said that the reason that the minister's visa request was turned down was because he intended to pass through Ben-Gurion International Airport for the purposes of visiting the Palestinian Authority, rather than visiting Israel.
Another reason, the official said, was Nzimande's radically anti-Israel stance.
Nzimande is a communist who serves in the South African parliament as a member of the ANC coalition. In the past he has supported an academic boycott against Israel and on one occasion he demanded the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Pretoria.
Nzimande was invited to Ramallah by his Palestinian counterpart to promote research collaboration between the University of Johannesburg and Palestinian institutions in Palestine. He was due to be there from April 25 – 29.
The minister responded harshly to the decision not to give him a visa. "The Israeli government is trying to use all the means at its disposal to hide its atrocities against the Palestinians and to ensure that only the smallest number of people see what is really happening in the land under its control," he told the South African media.
Nzimande added that he would call on all higher education institutions in his country to immediately freeze their contacts with Israeli universities.
At this stage, Nzimande has not received the support of South African President Jacob Zuma or that country's foreign ministry. Until now, no government minister has come to his defense.
But the South African Communist party came to Nzimande's defense and that drew a strong reaction from Israel's Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.
“The wild attacks by the South African Community Party against Israel following our refusal to allow the higher education minister to pass through Israel en route to the Palestinian Authority is hypocrisy,” Liberman said.

“It was only a few days ago that a violent, racist attack was perpetrated against foreigners in Johannesburg,” the foreign minister said. “There was also vandalism and destruction of property. The end result was many deaths and wounded.”

“As part of the rioting, South African police fired rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades at other migrants from neighboring African countries,” Liberman said. “These events and others prove once again that South Africa remains a country with serious problems of racism and violence.”

“That’s why it would behoove the South African government and the Communist Party to stop preaching morality and attacking Israel, which is a great democracy that is exceptionally coping with threats and terrorist elements while making maximal effort to preserve human rights and international norms of behavior.”

If South Africa was forced to contend with Israel’s security predicament, “blood would be awash in the streets there,” Liberman said.

“In this light, it’s no surprise that the Communist Party prefers the Palestinians over Israel,” he said. “It is a case of like attracting like.”
I can think of some other politicians who think the same way as Nzimande. One of them is the President of the United States. But as I have said many times, no country is obligated to allow unfettered access to its borders. Certainly not Israel.


Labels: , , ,

A Jew murdered in Aghanistan... by Barack Obama

Barack Hussein Obama admitted on Thursday that contractor Warren Weinstein, an American Jew who was kidnapped because he was Jewish and was being held by al-Qaeda for ransom, was killed in a January by a US drone strike. Sadly, the US had no clue where Weinstein was. This is from the first link and was written by former Congressman Allen West (R-Fl).
As reported by USA Today, “President Obama expressed “grief and condolences” Thursday for a January drone strike against suspected terrorists in Pakistan that accidentally killed two hostages, including an American aid worker. Obama said he took full responsibility for the operation and apologized to the families of the hostages. “I profoundly regret what happened,” he said. The two Western hostages — one American, one Italian — were killed during a drone strike that targeted members of al-Qaida, the White House said. They were Warren Weinstein, 73, an aid worker from Maryland who was a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Giovanni Lo Porto, 39, an Italian citizen working for a German aid agency. Both were kidnapped by al-Qaida in Pakistan — Weinstein in 2011 and Lo Porto in 2012. The White House said the counterterrorism operation, and another this year in the same region, also killed two other Americans believed to be working with al-Qaida. In an extraordinary eight-minute statement to reporters, a solemn Obama halted at points during his brief remarks, looking down at notes. “I cannot begin to imagine the anguish that the Weinstein and Lo Porto families are enduring today,” he said.”
The first issue has to be, why is the family just now finding out about this fratricide by drone strike, which occurred in January? I thought this was supposed to be the most transparent administration in American history. 
...
I understand Clausewitz’s “Fog of War” but I also realize that something went terribly wrong in the decision-making authorizing this strike.
“The site of the attack had been under surveillance for hundreds of hours, and that surveillance was “near-continuous” in the days just before the attack, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. The spying used a variety of methods, including drone imagery, and discovered a known al-Qaida operative driving into the compound, said U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity. Based on that intelligence, Earnest said, intelligence analysts concluded with “near certainty” that al-Qaida leaders were present and that civilians were not.”
What is apparent is that HUMINT intelligence assets were not used to validate imagery. Then again, why would anyone want to support U.S. intelligence gathering in Pakistan after how this administration has treated Dr. Shakil Afridi who assisted in the identification of Osama bin Laden’s hideout?
The preeminent question must be, who granted approval? If we are restricting drone usage to the U.S. military, it is fairly easy to ascertain the chain of command in the decision-making for this engagement. But, if this was not within the military operational command chain emanating out of Afghanistan — then we have a bureaucratic, administration issue.
And based on the lack of transparency and length of time before this was revealed, — it leads me to believe this decision came from the latter, not the former. And that ladies and gents, is the reason why the president of the United States took the podium.
Josh Rogin reports that the US had no clue Weinstein was there. That's because - as West noted as well - the  US has no intelligence assets on the ground in the area.
One of the biggest questions following President Barack Obama’s startling revelation Thursday that a U.S. drone strike had killed Weinstein (and Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto) is how the intelligence community could have been unaware that he was at the al-Qaeda site where he became collateral damage in the effort to fight terrorism. A lack of human resources on the ground and a total lack of intelligence on Weinstein’s location contributed to the accident that now has the administration and Congress rethinking how the U.S. will conduct its secret war.
“We put a high priority in tracking and finding him and seeing what we could do to rescue him,” Dan Benjamin, the State Department’s ambassador for counterterrorism from 2009 to 2012, told me Thursday. “The trail went cold quickly and we didn’t know where he was.”
...
Several officials told me that Weinstein, who worked as a business development contractor for United States Agency for International Development in Lahore, was nervous about his security just before his capture. He had built a safe room in his house and told friends he was hoping to leave Pakistan soon.
In 2012 and 2013, al-Qaeda release several hostage videos of Weinstein begging the Obama administration to do more to retrieve him. Several officials told me that although U.S. authorities repeatedly raised his case with their Pakistani counterparts, there was no direct interaction with al-Qaeda about any ransom or trade and no real information on where the terrorist group was holding him for the three years he was in captivity.
“I don’t think there was any attempt to rescue him because I don’t think we had the slightest idea where he was,” said Rand Corporation’s James Dobbins, who was the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2013 to 2014. “I don’t believe there were any real leads.”
Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter said Thursday that Weinstein’s death was the result of a broken interagency process in which a Pentagon official, Jason Amerine, developed a plan for a trade that would have included the return of Weinstein along with Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl was released by the Taliban in 2014 in exchange for five Taliban commanders being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“Warren Weinstein did not have to die," Hunter said in a statement. "His death is further evidence of the failures in communication and coordination between government agencies tasked with recovering Americans in captivity — and the fact that he’s dead, as a result, is absolutely tragic.”
But several officials told me today that a trade that included Weinstein was never seriously entertained by the interagency team tasked with retrieving him, which was led by the FBI and included the CIA, State Department and Pentagon.
“It never struck us as a plausible option,” Dobbins said, noting that Bergdahl was being held by the Taliban while Weinstein was being held by al-Qaeda. The U.S. had extensive negotiations with the Taliban over the years, but not with al-Qaeda, he pointed out.
This is why you can't lead from behind, and you can't pretend you're not fighting a war when your options are fight or surrender. 


Labels: , , , , , ,

Brady skips White House ceremony

Israel's Football Team (I'm sure he didn't know they were called that) went to visit President Hussein Obama at the White House on Thursday. Obama's joke about Deflategate fell flat. But most important, star quarterback Tom Brady (in the sunglasses behind owner Bob Kraft and an IDF soldier from the Boston area a few years ago) didn't show up.
"I usually tell jokes at these events, but I was worried 11 of 12 of them would fall flat,” Obama joked during a ceremony honoring the Patriots' Super Bowl title on the South Lawn.
The crowd let out an audible groan at the president's jab. 
The president conceded that the "whole story got blown a little out of proportion."
 
The Patriots' championship run was clouded by allegations that a team employee deflated 11 out its 12 footballs during the AFC Championship game. 
Team owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and starting quarterback Tom Brady, who was not in attendance at the White House ceremony, have denied any wrongdoing.
In February, an NFL.com report found that only one football was severely deflated.
Good for Brady. Reminds me of another Boston sports hero who didn't show up at the White House during Obama's term.

Labels: , , , , ,

An Independence Day blast

As Independence Day came to a conclusion here in Israel, 'Palestinian' terrorists in Gaza fired two rockets between Sderot and Netivot, east of Beit Hanoun. In response, the IDF hit what Hamas claims is an empty building and the IDF says is 'part of the terrorist infrastructure.'
The IDF on Thursday night, shortly before midnight, launched an airstrike which targeted a “terrorist infrastructure” in northern Gaza, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.
According to the statement, the airstrike was in retaliation for an earlier rocket attack by Gaza terrorists on southern Israel. 
In addition, said the IDF, the entry of worshipers from Gaza into Israel will be prevented on Friday.
“The IDF will not permit any attempt to harm the security of the citizens of Israel,” the statement said.
The IDF confirmed earlier that at least one terrorist rocket had been fired from Gaza at southern Israel.
There were no reports of physical injuries or damage. The remains of one rocket were located in an open area in the Sha'ar Hanegev region.
The last time a Color Red siren was heard in the Gaza Belt region was in late December – four months ago.
 It starts again?

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, April 23, 2015

'Never has the threat been so high'

French Prime Minister Manuel Walls says that five Islamist attacks have been foiled in France since January's attacks on the Charlie Hebdo office and on a Paris Kosher supermarket.

French police have thwarted five attacks, including a suspected plan to target church-goers foiled in recent days, since the Islamist killings at a satirical weekly and Jewish food shop in January, Prime Minster Manuel Valls said on Thursday.
"Never has the threat been so high," Valls told France Inter radio, noting the fact that hundreds of French nationals were now in Syria where they risked being radicalized.

Valls was speaking a day after authorities said they had arrested a 24-year-old Algerian national in Paris suspected of the murder of a woman at the weekend and an aborted plan to launch an armed attack on at least one church.
These people don't seem to get that first they come for the Jews, but it never ends there. 

Labels: , , ,

Obama tells Jewish leaders Netanyahu not invited until Iran talks conclude

Talk about a closed mind. President Hussein Obama told Jewish leaders last week that Prime Minister Netanyahu will not be invited to the White House until after negotiations with Iran conclude, because... he doesn't want to hear Netanyahu's concerns about the impending deal.
He told the group that a face-to-face meeting at the White House would probably end with Mr. Netanyahu publicly venting his complaints about the president’s policies, particularly his efforts to forge a nuclear agreement with Iran, according to people familiar with the private meeting who would provide details about it only on the condition of anonymity.
So for now, the president said, he would speak with the prime minister over the telephone, and an Oval Office invitation would wait until after the June 30 deadline for negotiating the details of the Iran deal.
...
Instead, the White House is engaged in an aggressive effort to assuage the concerns of American Jewish groups and pro-Israel members of Congress over the nuclear agreement with Iran, and to limit the potential political fallout for Democrats of what has become a bitter rift in the American and Israeli relationship.
Haaretz adds:
Obama spent an hour with leaders of various major Jewish organizations during the day's first meeting, described by the Washington Post as "positive" and "very moving."
Among the attendes were representatives from civil defense groups like the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, umbrella groups like the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Jewish Federations of North America, pro-Israel groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and J Street, and the major religious streams.
One of the meeting's attendees told the Post that the president was "heartfelt about his connection to Israel."
Another said that “the president talked about how deeply he feels about Israel and the Jewish people and anti-Semitism. It was not just about Iran. It was much, much deeper in terms of the president sharing with us how he felt."
The New York Times article, the Haaretz article and the Washington Post article cited by Haaretz strike me as White House spin of this meeting, part of which is an attempt to make it sound less bad than it was by mixing it up with this meeting.

Please don't fall for the spin.

Labels: , , ,

The parallels are striking: China estimates N. Korea will have 40 nukes by 2016 and 75 by the end of the decade

The parallels are striking.

In 1994, the Clinton administration signed a deal that it claimed would stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. The deal was negotiated by Wendy Sherman, the same Democratic party hack who is now in charge of the Iran file. North Korea abrogated the agreement when it felt able to do so, and has gone on to test nuclear weapons. Iran has participated in North Korea's nuclear tests.

Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that China, which is not known for being alarmist, says that North Korea will have 40 nuclear weapons - double the number it has now - by 2016 and 75 by the end of the decade.
China’s top nuclear experts have increased their estimates of North Korea’s nuclear weapons production well beyond most previous U.S. figures, suggesting Pyongyang can make enough warheads to threaten regional security for the U.S. and its allies.
The latest Chinese estimates, relayed in a closed-door meeting with U.S. nuclear specialists, showed that North Korea may already have 20 warheads, as well as the capability of producing enough weapons-grade uranium to double its arsenal by next year, according to people briefed on the matter.
A well-stocked nuclear armory in North Korea ramps up security fears in Japan and South Korea, neighboring U.S. allies that could seek their own nuclear weapons in defense. Washington has mutual defense treaties with Seoul and Tokyo, which mean an attack on South Korea or Japan is regarded as an attack on the U.S.
“I’m concerned that by 20, they actually have a nuclear arsenal,” said Siegfried Hecker, a Stanford University professor and former head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, who attended the closed-door meeting in February. “The more they believe they have a fully functional nuclear arsenal and deterrent, the more difficult it’s going to be to walk them back from that.”
Chinese experts now believe North Korea has a greater domestic capacity to enrich uranium than previously thought, Mr. Hecker said.
The Chinese estimates reflect growing concern in Beijing over North Korea’s weapons program and what they see as U.S. inaction while President Barack Obama focuses on a nuclear deal with Iran.
In Washington, some Republican lawmakers said the pending White House deal with Iran could mirror the 1994 nuclear agreement the Clinton administration made with North Korea. The deal was intended to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons capabilities, but instead, they allege, provided diplomatic cover to expand them. North Korea tested its first nuclear device in 2006.
“We saw how North Korea was able to game this whole process,” U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Iran had its hands on the same playbook.”
The pace of North Korea’s nuclear arms growth depends on its warhead designs and its uranium-enrichment capacity, Mr. Royce said: “We know they have one factory; we don’t know if they have another one.”
China, which is North Korea’s largest investor, aid donor and trade partner, has for most of the past decade underestimated Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities, nuclear experts said, including its capacity to produce fissile material.
Estimates of North Korea’s capabilities by Chinese experts began to align with those in the U.S. after 2010, and moved beyond after 2013, according to people familiar with exchanges on the matter between China and the U.S.
Until recently, the Chinese “had a pretty low opinion of what the North Koreans could do,” said David Albright, an expert on North Korea’s nuclear weapons and head of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. “I think they’re worried now.”
China’s foreign and defense ministries didn’t respond to requests for comment. Diplomats at North Korea’s mission to the United Nations didn’t respond to attempts to seek comment. The White House, State Department and Pentagon declined to provide U.S. estimates of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.
“We have been and remain concerned about North Korea’s nuclear program and believe China should continue to use its influence to curtail North Korea’s provocative actions,” said Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council.
He said the U.S. was working with other countries to implement U.N. sanctions designed to press North Korea “to return to credible and authentic denuclearization talks and to take concrete steps to denuclearize.”
After all, that's worked so well until now. /sarc

In an email, the Israel Project's Omri Ceren breaks it down into politics and policy implications.
Politics -- why it will matter: The parallels write themselves. The Agreed Framework was negotiated by Wendy Sherman and the Iran deal is being negotiated by Wendy Sherman. The Agreed framework lasted a decade and the Iran deal is slated to last a decade. The Agreed Framework relied on IAEA verification and the Iran deal relies on IAEA verification. And now the North Koreans have a full-blown nuclear arsenal, which the Americans don't even know about ("U.S. officials didn’t attend the meeting but some expressed surprise when they were later briefed on the details"). It's a disaster on any number of levels.
Policy -- why it should matter even more: the Iran deal will flood the Islamic Republic with hundreds of billions of dollars, potentially including the $50 billion signing bonus. But in every meaningful sense, the North Korean nuclear program is an Iranian nuclear program, albeit beyond Iran's territorial borders. The Iranians pay for the program. The Iranians receive knowledge and technology from the program. The Iranians are on hand to observe every major nuclear and missile test. Etc. Seen in this light, the nuclear deal with Iran will become a multi-billion dollar jobs program for North Korean nuclear engineers, who will use the money to create and miniaturize more nuclear warheads, which they will then give back to Tehran. The deal doesn't stop Iran's nuclear weapons program. It finances the program.
What could go wrong?

Labels: , , , ,

It's come to this: ROTC cadets forced to walk around campus in red high heels

How much has the American military been degraded by Barack Hussein Obama? This much.
Via the Washington Times:
Army ROTC cadets are complaining on message boards that they were pressured to walk in high heels on Monday for an Arizona State University campus event designed to raise awareness of sexual violence against women.
The Army openly encouraged participating in April’s “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes” events in 2014, but now it appears as though ROTC candidates at ASU were faced with a volunteer event that became mandatory.
“Attendance is mandatory and if we miss it we get a negative counseling and a ‘does not support the battalion sharp/EO mission’ on our CDT OER for getting the branch we want. So I just spent $16 on a pair of high heels that I have to spray paint red later on only to throw them in the trash after about 300 of us embarrass the U.S. Army tomorrow,” one anonymous cadet wrote on the social media sharing website Imgr, IJReview reported Monday.
Disgraceful. 

Labels: ,

Google