Tag: obama scandals

WALLENBERG: A SHINING EXAMPLE OF HOW TO CONFRONT EVIL IN OUR CRUEL, & INCREASINGLY VIOLENT WORLD

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 

 

Contents:

 

In Dark Times, Remember Wallenberg: Irwin Cotler, Algemeiner, Jan. 18, 2015— It has been a dark January.

While the World Has Been Looking Elsewhere, Boko Haram Has Carved Out its Own, Brutal Country: David Blair, National Post, Jan. 14, 2015— You might not have noticed, but the world has acquired a new country.

Let us Mourn for Paris – And No Less for Nigeria: Globe & Mail, Jan. 12, 2015— Millions gathered in Paris this weekend as a tribute to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and in defiance of the Islamic extremists who murdered them..

This Is Obama’s Last Foreign Policy Chance: Leslie H. Gelb, Daily Beast, Jan. 14, 2015 — Here’s why America’s failure to be represented at the Paris unity march was so profoundly disturbing.

Obama: Charlie Who?: Charles Krauthammer, National Review, Jan. 15, 2015 — On Sunday, at the great Paris rally, the whole world was Charlie.

 

On Topic Links

 

Satellite Images Show Boko Haram Massacre in Nigeria: Drew Hinshaw,  Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 2015

Chad Soldiers to Fight Boko Haram in Cameroon: Emmanuel Tumanjong & Drew Hinshaw, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 2015

Boko Haram’s Campaign of Terror in Nigeria is Only Getting Worse: Washington Post, Jan. 14, 2015

When Normal Is Deadly: How Boko Haram Made Us Ok With Slaughter:  Joe Randazzo, Daily Beast, Jan. 18, 2015

                                                     

                            

IN DARK TIMES, REMEMBER WALLENBERG                                                                       

Irwin Cotler                                                                                                                             

Algemeiner, Jan. 18, 2015

 

It has been a dark January. Thus far, 2015 has brought tragic and infuriating terrorism, anti-Semitism, and assaults on liberty in France; a car bomb in Yemen that killed and injured dozens; and the massacre of thousands in Nigeria by Boko Haram, as well as yet another of the group’s mass kidnappings. This is in addition to continuing mass atrocities and humanitarian crises in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Central Africa, Sudan, and elsewhere, and it comes on the heels of the deadly hostage-taking in Sydney, and the barbarous terrorist attack on a school in Pakistan that left more than a hundred dead, most of them children.  At times like these, the evil in the world can feel overwhelming, and it can be tempting to cede to despair, aggravating the problem of the international community as bystander to atrocity and injustice. How appropriate, then, that January 17 was Raoul Wallenberg Day in Canada, in remembrance and tribute to this disappeared hero of humanity.

 

Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, was a beacon of light during the darkest days of the Holocaust, and his example remains so today. Prior to his arrival in Budapest in July 1944, some 430,000 Hungarian Jews had been deported to the Auschwitz death camp in the space of ten weeks – the fastest, cruelest, and most efficient mass murders of the Nazi genocide. Yet Wallenberg rescued more Hungarian Jews from the Nazis than any single government, notably saving 20,000 by issuing Schutzpasses – documents conferring diplomatic immunity. He even went to the trains as mass deportations were underway, distributing Schutzpasses to people otherwise consigned to death. Other diplomatic missions followed suit, saving thousands more.

 

Wallenberg saved an additional 32,000 by establishing dozens of safe houses in a diplomatic zone protected by neutral legations. He organized hospitals, soup kitchens, and childcare centres, providing human dignity along with the essentials of life. Moreover, when thousands of Jews were sent on a 125-mile death march in November 1944, Wallenberg followed alongside, distributing improvised Schutzpasses, as well as food and medical supplies. To Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi desk murderer who organized the mass deportations to Auschwitz, Wallenberg was the judenhund, the Jewish dog; to thousands of survivors and their families – many of whom have shared their stories of Wallenberg’s bravery with me – he was a guardian angel. Finally, with the Nazis preparing to liquidate the Budapest ghetto as the war neared its end, Wallenberg warned Nazi generals that they would be held accountable and brought to justice, if not executed, for their crimes. The Nazis desisted, and 70,000 more Jews were saved.

 

Regrettably, 70 years ago on January 17, Wallenberg was arrested by the Soviets, who had entered Hungary as liberators. He disappeared into the Gulag, and his fate remains unknown. Initial Soviet claims that he died in custody in July 1947 have since been contradicted by investigations, including the International Commission on the Fate and Whereabouts of Raoul Wallenberg, a group I chaired in 1990, and which included Nobel peace laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, Soviet scholar Mikhail Chelnov, former Israeli attorney general Gideon Hauser, and Wallenberg’s brother, Guy von Dardel, who was the driving force behind the commission’s establishment. In 1985, a U.S. Federal Court found the evidence “incontrovertible” that Wallenberg lived past 1947, “compelling” that he was alive in the 1960s, and “credible” that he remained alive into the 1980s; but precisely what became of him remains a mystery.

 

It is tragic that, while too many of the Holocaust’s guilty have lived out their lives in peace, this saviour of the innocent was detained and disappeared. Indeed, the person who saved so many was not saved by so many who could. Yet, while we pursue the moral obligation of discovering the truth of Wallenberg’s fate, his legacy endures, reminding us of the power of an individual with the compassion to care and the courage to act to confront evil, resist, and transform history. In recognition of his heroism, Canada named Wallenberg our country’s first honorary citizen 30 years ago. He has been granted the same distinction in Hungary, Australia, Israel, and the USA – where many states mark Wallenberg Day on October 5. There are monuments to him in cities around the world, as well as streets and schools that bear his name. In Paris, there has been a Rue Raoul-Wallenberg since 2007.

Wallenberg is a shining example of how to confront overriding evil. By intervening to save civilians, he personified what today we call the Responsibility to Protect; by giving out food and medical supplies, he provided what today we call humanitarian relief and assistance; and by issuing his warning to Nazi generals, he prefigured the Nuremberg principles and what today we call international criminal law. At a time when it seems as though each day brings a new heart-wrenching catastrophe, let us be inspired by Raoul Wallenberg, who came face to face with the horrors of Nazism, and was moved not to despair, but to action.

                                                           

Contents                                                                            

                                     

WHILE THE WORLD HAS BEEN LOOKING ELSEWHERE,                                  

BOKO HARAM HAS CARVED OUT ITS OWN, BRUTAL COUNTRY                                                          

David Blair                                                                                                                                           

National Post,  Jan. 14, 2015

 

You might not have noticed, but the world has acquired a new country. With its own capital, army and self-styled “emir,” this domain possesses some of the features of statehood. But don’t expect an application to join the United Nations: the consuming ambition of this realm is to reverse just about every facet of human progress achieved over the past millennium. Boko Haram, the radical Islamists responsible for enslaving the Chibok schoolgirls and killing hundreds of people in the past week alone, have carved out a heartland in the plains of northern Nigeria. Every insurgency tries to graduate from launching hit-and-run attacks to controlling territory. Boko Haram has now crossed this vital threshold. Scores of towns and villages have fallen into the hands of its gunmen across the states of Borno and Yobe. Today, Boko Haram rules a domain the size of Belgium with a surface area of about 32,000 square kilometers and a population of at least 1.7 million people. The capital, incidentally, is a town called Gwoza. The terrorist state’s army comprises Boko Haram’s fearsomely well-equipped insurgents and the “emir” is a maniacal figure called Abubakar Shekau.

 

For the second time in less than three years, an African government has been sufficiently absent-minded to lose a swathe of its country. Ever since the attacks on September 11, a central goal of Western counter-terrorism policy has been to prevent al-Qaida or its allies from controlling territory. But, somehow, it keeps happening – over and over again. Back in 2012, al-Qaida’s affiliate in North Africa managed to take over two thirds of Mali, achieving mastery over an area three times the size of Britain. France’s brilliantly executed intervention broke al-Qaida’s grip on that domain in 2013, but there is no prospect of Boko Haram being similarly defeated in Nigeria. As Shekau proclaims the birth of his new African “Caliphate” – to go with the similar creation of Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS) in the Middle East – three questions arise: How did it come to this? How dangerous is the world’s newest country? And, most vitally of all, what is to be done?

 

The first question is easiest to answer: Boko Haram achieved its advances because of the corruption and incompetence of the Nigerian state. Now that a string of towns has fallen, the failure of the country’s army to stand up to the insurgents is glaring. Partly, that is explained by the fact that the Nigerian armed forces are relatively small: the army has only 62,000 soldiers to defend a country four times bigger than Britain, with no fewer than 180 million people. But that is not the sole reason for the failure. Instead of spending their generous security budget – almost $8 billion in 2014 – on proper weapons and equipment, Nigerian generals tend to pocket the money themselves or blow it on showpiece helicopters that attract generous commissions but are of precious little use against Boko Haram. The result is that the beleaguered 7th Division, which has primary responsibility for fighting Boko Haram, confines itself to mounting a static defence of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. Back in 2013, the Islamists managed to destroy most of this unit’s helicopters. Lacking the means to wage a mobile war and crippled by a venal and inept leadership, the 7th Division has made no serious effort to recapture territory from Boko Haram…

 

As for the dangers posed by the birth of Boko Haram-land, the immediate threat is that the new state will become a base for more conquests. That has already happened, with the town of Baga falling last Wednesday and the Islamists launching regular raids over the border into neighbouring Cameroon. Does this pose a wider peril, stretching beyond West Africa? At the moment, the answer is probably not. Boko Haram shares the anti-Western fanaticism of al-Qaida, but the insurgency stubbornly fails to conform to neat categories. Even its name is not what it seems. Boko Haram is generally taken to mean “Western education is banned,” but “Boko” means book in the Hausa language, so “books are banned” would be a more accurate translation. By implying that their campaign is motivated by an objection to “Western education,” we risk allowing Boko Haram to appear less atavistic than they actually are…                                 

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

Contents                                                                  

                                                            

LET US MOURN FOR PARIS – AND NO LESS FOR NIGERIA                                                                  

Globe & Mail, Jan. 12, 2014

 

Millions gathered in Paris this weekend as a tribute to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shootings and in defiance of the Islamic extremists who murdered them. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, Islamic extremists continued the grim work of slaughtering innocents. The heavily armed Islamist group known as Boko Haram has cut a bloody swath through the country since 2009. It now controls a territory of roughly the same size as the one that suffers under the yoke of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

 

It’s not yet known how many people died during a vicious, week-long rampage in and near Baga, a fishing town in the strife-ridden northeast. Estimates vary, but it’s claimed that between 600 and 2,000 were killed. The weekend toll from the towns of Potiskum and Maiduguri is more precise: 19 dead and 26 injured, after a pair of explosions in crowded outdoor markets. It’s believed the suicide bombers were 10-year-old girls. Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that “the international jihadist movement has declared war” and that countries like Canada must face it head on. International jihadists may or may not amount to one monolithic enemy. But Mr. Harper is right. With the Nigerian military on the run in Baga – where the national army has itself been accused of mass killings in the past – and as calls multiply for greater international involvement, this is a good opportunity for Canada to define more clearly how this country could contribute to thwarting radical Islamist violence. Ideally, it would go beyond the modest military involvement in Iraq. It’s not realistic to send on its own a Canadian mission, military or otherwise, to Africa’s most populous nation. But surely Canada has a role to play. Mr. Harper and the other party leaders should urgently sketch out their conceptions of it.

 

The insurgency led by Boko Haram – which explicitly rejects Western niceties like public education, gender equality and democracy – is precisely the sort of thing a country serious about opposing violent, obscurantist zealots ought to help stamp out. It’s time to break with the West’s scandalous pattern of inaction in the face of large-scale loss of life in Africa. Millions proclaim, “Nous sommes Charlie.” Let’s also be Baga.                               

                                        

Contents                                                                                     

                                                   

THIS IS OBAMA’S LAST FOREIGN POLICY CHANCE                                                                            

Leslie H. Gelb                                                                                                     

Daily Beast, Jan. 14, 2015 

 

Here’s why America’s failure to be represented at the Paris unity march was so profoundly disturbing. It wasn’t just because President Obama’s or Vice President Biden’s absence was a horrendous gaffe. More than this, it demonstrated beyond argument that the Obama team lacks the basic instincts and judgment necessary to conduct U.S. national security policy in the next two years. It’s simply too dangerous to let Mr. Obama continue as is—with his current team and his way of making decisions. America, its allies, and friends could be heading into one of the most dangerous periods since the height of the Cold War.

 

Mr. Obama will have to excuse most of his inner core, especially in the White House. He will have to replace them with strong and strategic people of proven foreign policy experience. He’ll also need to seed the Defense and State Departments with new top people serving directly as senior advisers to the secretaries. And he also will need to set up regular consultations—not the usual phony ones—with the two key Senate leaders in this field, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, two people who can really improve his decisions and bolster his credibility. Many will be tempted to dismiss these crash solutions as several bridges too far, as simply unrealistic. But hear me out. It can be made much more plausible than it seems at first blush. What’s more, if Mr. Obama doesn’t do something along the lines of what’s proposed here, he and we are in for unmanageable trouble. Before I continue, I have to tell you that I’ve never made such extreme and far-reaching proposals in all my years in this business. I’ve never proposed such a drastic overhaul. But if you think hard about how Mr. Obama and his team handled this weekend in Paris, I think you’ll see I’m not enjoying a foreign policy neurological breakdown. It was an absolute no-brainer for either Mr. Obama or Mr. Biden personally to show the American flag on the streets of Paris. Of course every senior staff person should have recommended it three seconds after the news of the Parisian horrors. So far as we know, none did. Sure, this was an inexplicable and utter staff failure, but the president and the vice president shouldn’t have required anyone to tell them what to do in this situation. It was, after all, about terrorism, the main issue of the era. If all these top officials blew this obvious decision, shudder at how they’ll handle the hard ones.

 

First, Mr. Obama will have to thank his senior National Security Council team and replace them. The must-gos include National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, chief speech writer/adviser Ben Rhodes, and foreign policy guru without portfolio Valerie Jarrett. They can all be replaced right away, and their successors won’t require senatorial confirmation. Here’s who could succeed them and inspire great confidence immediately at home and abroad: first rate former top officials and proven diplomats Thomas Pickering, Winston Lord, and Frank Wisner; Republicans with sterling records like Robert Zoellick, Rich Armitage, Robert Kimmitt, and Richard Burt; or a rising young Democrat of proven ability and of demonstrated Cabinet-level quality, Michele Flournoy. Any one of them would make a huge difference from Day 1 in a top role. Others among them could be brought on to the NSC as senior advisers without portfolio to take the lead on specific problems. These are not just my personal opinions about these individuals; they are practically universal ones.

 

The State Department really needs help, too. Anthony Blinken, the new No. 2 there, is quite good and should stay. But Secretary of State John Kerry has been described even by the faithful in this administration as quixotic. Any of those mentioned above for the top NSC job could also serve as senior advisers without portfolio to Kerry and Blinken. But they would have to be given real access and authority. Even if they could only do their advising two or three days a week, these are the kind of people who carry most of the relevant information in their heads already, and their experience is unmatched. Ashton Carter, the defense secretary to be, will be very strong and very good, but he too could use some senior national security/foreign policy advisers to help him through the long list of problems. Particularly good in this role would be Dov Zakheim, a Pentagon undersecretary in a Republican administration. He knows budgets and policy. Carter could also take aboard first rate retired military minds such as Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Jack Keane, the former vice chief of staff of the Army.

 

And Mr. Obama also has a great opportunity that he should try his best to pursue: establishing a genuine working relationship with two new senatorial power brokers. Bob Corker and John McCain really know their stuff and are very good heads. Nothing can stop McCain from going beyond acceptable limits of critiquing Mr. Obama, and if he’s determined to do it so be it, but he has the knowledge and often the good instincts to really improve the president’s defense policies. This can work only if McCain accepts that he is not president of the United States and commander in chief. At some point, he’d have to be a team player as he has proved he can be. Corker is much more self-controlled and a very wise head on foreign policy. The more Americans get to know him in the coming years, the more this gem of a public servant will be recognized. Finally, Mr. Obama will need the usual wise men for regular informal consultation: Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and James Baker. These suggestions are all ad hoc and a bit helter-skelter. But no one can figure out how to make the present Obama team work, and I haven’t heard other solutions.

 

In the end, making the national security system work comes down to one factor, one man—Barack Obama. He’s the key problem, and he’s the only one who can bring about a solution. He’s such a closed person. He’s first rate as an intellectual thinker, but he thinks about problems as an intellectual and not as a policy maker and a leader. Alas, that’s just too clear. He also doesn’t like to be challenged with give and take. If he were to bring in the kind of people I suggest, he would have to resolve at the outset to give them a full hearing and tangible respect for their views. The world’s challenges to America today are not mere distractions from domestic priorities. They are gut challenges to our national security in the Middle East, with Russia and China, and with the terrorist threat inside and outside our borders. The terrorism and cyber warfare challenges in particular imperil our very survival. Mr. Obama will not be a lesser man but a greater man if he recognizes what’s at stake and accepts the help he must have to ensure our survival. End of story.

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

                                                             

OBAMA: CHARLIE WHO?                                                                                                

Charles Krauthammer                                                                                                  

National Review, Jan. 15, 2015 

 

On Sunday, at the great Paris rally, the whole world was Charlie. By Tuesday, the veneer of solidarity was exposed as tissue thin. It began dissolving as soon as the real, remaining Charlie Hebdo put out its post-massacre issue featuring a Muhammad cover that, as the New York Times put it, “reignited the debate pitting free speech against religious sensitivities.” Again? Already? Had not 4 million marchers and 44 foreign leaders just turned out on the streets of Paris to declare “No” to intimidation, and to pledge solidarity, indeed identification (“Je suis Charlie”), with a satirical weekly specializing in the most outrageous and often tasteless portrayals of Muhammad? And yet, within 48 hours, the new Charlie Hebdo issue featuring the image of Muhammad — albeit a sorrowful, indeed sympathetic Muhammad — sparked new protests, denunciations, and threats of violence, which in turn evinced another round of doubt and self-flagellation in the West about the propriety and limits of free expression. Hopeless.

 

As for President Obama, he never was Charlie, not even for those 48 hours. From the day of the massacre, he has been practically invisible. At the interstices of various political rallies, he issued bits of muted, mealy-mouthed boilerplate. These were followed by the now-famous absence of any U.S. representative of any stature at the Paris rally, an abdication of moral and political leadership for which the White House has already admitted error. But this was no mere error of judgment or optics or, most absurdly, of communication, in which we are supposed to believe that the president was not informed by his staff about the magnitude, both actual and symbolic, of the demonstration he ignored. (He needed to be told?) On the contrary, the no-show, following the near silence, precisely reflected the president’s profound ambivalence about the very idea of the war on terror. Obama began his administration by purging the phrase from the lexicon of official Washington. He has ever since shuttled between saying (a) that the war must end because of the damage “keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing” was doing to us, and (b) that the war has already ended, as he suggested repeatedly during the 2012 campaign, with bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda “on the run.” Hence his call in a major address at the National Defense University to “refine and ultimately repeal” Congress’s 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force, the very legal basis for the war on terror. Hence his accelerating release of Gitmo inmates, in full knowledge that about 30 percent will return to the battlefield. (Five more releases were announced Wednesday.) Which is why, since, oh, the Neolithic era, POWs tend to be released only after a war is over.

 

Paris shows that this war is not over. On the contrary. As it rages, it is entering an ominous third phase. The first, circa 9/11, involved sending Middle Eastern terrorists abroad to attack the infidel West. Then came the lone wolves — local individuals inspired by foreign jihadists to launch one-off attacks, as seen most recently in Québec, Ottawa, and Sydney. Paris marks Phase 3: coordinated commando strikes in Western countries by homegrown native-speaker Islamists activated and instructed from abroad. (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] has claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo killings, while the kosher-grocery shooter proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State.)…

 

The War on Terror 2015 is in a new phase with a new geography. At the core are parallel would-be caliphates: in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State; in central Africa, now spilling out of Nigeria into Cameroon, a near-sovereign Boko Haram; in the badlands of Yemen, AQAP, the most dangerous of all the al-Qaeda affiliates. And beyond lie not just a cast of mini-caliphates embedded in the most ungovernable parts of the Third World from Libya to Somalia to the borderlands of Pakistan, but also an archipelago of no-go Islamist islands embedded in the heart of Europe. This is serious. In both size and reach it is growing. Our president will not say it. Fine. But does he even see it?

Contents           

On Topic

 

Satellite Images Show Boko Haram Massacre in Nigeria: Drew Hinshaw,  Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 2015

Chad Soldiers to Fight Boko Haram in Cameroon: Emmanuel Tumanjong & Drew Hinshaw, Wall Street Journal, Jan. 15, 2015—Chad began deploying troops on Friday to fight Boko Haram in neighboring Cameroon, officials from the two countries said, drawing the landlocked, Central African nation into a now-regional conflict against the Islamic militants.

Boko Haram’s Campaign of Terror in Nigeria is Only Getting Worse: Washington Post, Jan. 14, 2015 —While the world fixated on the murder of 17 people by Islamic terrorists in and around Paris last week, another slow and grisly massacre was taking place in Nigeria, at the hands of the Islamist militants of Boko Haram.

When Normal Is Deadly: How Boko Haram Made Us Ok With Slaughter:  Joe Randazzo, Daily Beast, Jan. 18, 2015—In the first few days after Boko Haram’s recent attack in the remote village of Baga, most of the news coverage I saw about it concerned the lack of news. Why, the media wondered, was the media not more interested? As many as 2,000 people had been slaughtered, a figure that, if true, would dwarf the number killed in Paris around the same time.

           

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

FOR OBAMA & CO., BENGHAZI SCANDAL REPRESENTS NOT ONLY A COVER-UP, BUT ALSO AN INEPT FOREIGN POLICY “OF DENIAL”

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

Why Benghazi Matters: National Review, May. 5, 2014— Watergate defines the vocabulary for American political scandals…

Hillary Clinton Should Be Worried as Benghazi Coverup Unravels: Kenneth R. Timmerman, New York Post, May 3, 2014— Make it go away! That was the message of the Obama administration and their friends in the media for the past two years, and now we know why: Benghazi is the scandal they always denied it was.

Obama’s Foreign Policy of Denial: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, May. 1, 2014— Barack Obama’s 949-word response Monday to a question about foreign policy weakness showed the president at his worst: defensive, irritable, contradictory and at times detached from reality.

A New Russian Riddle: Clifford D. May, Washington Times , Apr. 29, 2014 — “A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” is how Winston Churchill famously described Russia in 1939. Churchill less famously added: “But perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

 

On Topic Links

 

Obama’s ‘Blame the Video’ Fraud Started in Cairo, Not Benghazi: Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, May. 1, 2014

Benghazi, Lies and Videotape: Nonie Darwish, Frontpage, May 2, 2014

Benghazi Emails: Despite Spin, Not Just a Fox Story Any More: Howard Kurtz, Fox News, May 2, 2014

Former CIA Deputy Denies Politics in Benghazi: David Lerman, Bloomberg, Apr. 2, 2014

Libyan Oil at Heart of Conflict With Roots in Country’s East: Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, Apr. 13, 2014

                                               

WHY BENGHAZI MATTERS                                                       

National Review, May 5, 2014

 

Watergate defines the vocabulary for American political scandals, and so it was no surprise that former Obama-administration communications operative Anita Dunn took to the airwaves yesterday morning to pour derision upon the notion that a “smoking gun” has been uncovered in the form of recently released e-mails documenting the White House’s disinformation campaign following the Benghazi attack. A dozen Democrats have asked, “Where’s the scandal?” But the question here is not whether the administration’s misleading statements in the wake of the attacks on U.S. installations in Egypt and Libya are a political scandal in the style of President Nixon’s infamous burglary; they aren’t. But that the administration’s misdeeds here seem to fall short of felony burglary hardly makes the matter a less serious one: The White House misled the American public about a critical matter of national interest, and it continues to practice deceit as the facts of the case are sorted out. That, to answer Hillary Clinton’s callous question, is what difference it makes.

 

The Benghazi dishonesty did not end with Susan Rice’s now-infamous 2012 Sunday-show storytelling circuit, in which she blamed the attack on an Internet video that Muslims found insulting but that in fact had nothing to do with what was an organized jihadist attack. Last week, press secretary Jay Carney managed to annoy the usually pliant White House press corps with his embarrassing attempt to explain away the withholding of documents sought by Congress, saying that the e-mails in question were not about Benghazi, despite the fact that there is a section thereof titled “Benghazi.” He has labeled investigation into the matter evidence of a “conspiracy theory.” It is nothing of the sort, and getting a picture of the administration’s failures and dishonesty in the matter requires no leap of logic or supposition of unknown forces at work.

There were coordinated attacks against American diplomatic facilities abroad, carried out by terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda, scheduled for the anniversary of the September 11 hijackings and announced by a series of threats from Islamist organizations that were reported, among other places, in the Egyptian newspapers the day before the attack. The Obama administration took insufficient precautionary measures. In Cairo, the U.S. embassy was overrun and the American flag hauled down while the black banner of al-Qaeda was raised. In the Libyan city of Benghazi, there was disciplined and organized assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in which Ambassador Christopher Stevens and another diplomat were murdered; a few hours later, a similar assault was carried out on a CIA installation about a mile away, in which two security personnel were killed.

 

Faced with this dramatic evidence of its incompetence six weeks before an election, the Obama administration distorted a kernel of truth — Cairo’s grand mufti had in fact denounced the video — and told the public a story in which the attacks were not acts of jihadist terrorism organized with malice aforethought by al-Qaeda partisans but rather were riots resulting from spontaneous protests by Muslims angered by an obscure YouTube video that was disrespectful of their faith and their prophet. The video was at most a minor factor in the Cairo riots, which were orchestrated by Mohammed al-Zawahiri, brother of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The video was not a significant factor in any way in Benghazi, but the administration insisted on its own version of events, downplaying the role of Islamic extremism and removing references to specific jihadist organizations from CIA-provided materials. The deputy director of the CIA, Michael Morell, told Congress that the video was “not something the analysts have attributed this attack to,” but the Obama administration was less interested in intelligence than in politics: Victoria Nuland of the State Department warned that acknowledging the role of organized terrorist groups might encourage members of Congress to “beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings.” The purpose of the video-protest narrative was to convince the American public that the bloodshed in the Middle East was the result of protests sparked by boobish Christians, and not a broader failure of policy. We know that because President Obama’s deputy national-security adviser, Ben Rhodes, helpfully put those precise words into an e-mail, describing U.N. ambassador Susan Rice’s storytelling session on the Sunday talk shows as intended “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”

 

President Obama’s failures of policy here are considerable, and they run from the specific to the general. U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Middle East should enjoy extraordinary security measures at all times, but they should be fortresses when September 11 comes around on the calendar. And the usual high level of security that should mark that day should have been intensified by the presence of specific threats against our embassies. The events of September 11, 2012, are ipso facto evidence of a catastrophic failure to protect American facilities abroad, and that this happened despite the warnings of our intelligence agencies compounds the failure. That is one part of the “broader failure of policy” that the video narrative was intended to obscure. Another part is the administration’s lack of coherent policy in Egypt, Libya, and the greater Middle East, which has left our allies wary and our enemies encouraged…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

                                                                         

Contents
                                        

HILLARY CLINTON SHOULD BE WORRIED

AS BENGHAZI COVERUP UNRAVELS                                      

Kenneth R. Timmerman                                                                  

New York Post, May 3, 2014

 

Make it go away! That was the message of the Obama administration and their friends in the media for the past two years, and now we know why: Benghazi is the scandal they always denied it was. Thanks to a lawsuit by watchdog group Judicial Watch, the administration last week released correspondence about the terrorist attack in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012 that left US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others dead.

 

One memo, from Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security director for strategic communications, shows how the administration was trying to spin the attack as something other than their own strategic failures.

“Reinforce the president and administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges,” he wrote to UN Ambassador Susan Rice. He instructed her to “underscore” that the events in Benghazi were “protests . . . rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”

 

Beyond the callousness of this message, and the fact that officials already knew this was the work of terrorists, that this document is just coming out now shows the depth of the administration’s cover-up.

Despite numerous subpoenas from Congress, Obama’s people never handed over the e-mail. Make it go away means hiding evidence from the American people.  “Why aren’t we talking about something else?” whined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Because the Obama administration ignored legal requirements and a pursued a possibly criminal cover-up, they’ve just ensured Congress is going to talk about nothing but. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Friday he’ll be forming a select committee to investigate Benghazi. He’ll find plenty.

 

The Rhodes memo is just the beginning. It and other e-mails were obviously selected from a much larger set of internal administration communications on the Benghazi cover-up that remains hidden from the public and from Congress. The person who should worry most is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. For example, until now we have seen zero documentation to explain how Clinton out of the blue concocted the statement she issued on the evening of the attacks, which first raised the notion that the attacks came “as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.” In all the material released by the administration to date, there are no notes, e-mails or drafts of Clinton’s Sept. 11, 2012 statement similar to the back-and forth e-mail chain released last year showing how the CIA talking points evolved during three days of inter-agency discussion. And yet surely such documents exist. We know from the public record that Clinton was getting real-time information on the attacks. She understood — because her own officials were telling her — that there were no protests in Benghazi and that the attacks on the Special Mission Compound and on the Annex were a well-planned terrorist assault.

 

And yet, after consulting by phone with President Obama at 10 that night, Hillary decided to blame it all on an Internet video. Similarly, the administration has released no notes, e-mails or other communications that describe the substance of that phone call, so we still don’t know who first floated the idea of blaming it all on a non-existent video. Nor has the White House revealed, despite repeated requests, what the president was doing that night as he prepared for his fund-raiser the next day in Las Vegas. Dialing for dollars, perhaps?

 

In testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee on Thursday, Brig. Gen. Robert Lovell, the chief of intelligence (J-2) for US Africa Command at the time of the attacks, revealed that his “analysts worked through chat” all night long. None of those documents have been turned over to congressional committees. Top military officials at Africom headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, told me they watched live video feed from a Predator drone over the Special Mission Compound and later, over the Benghazi airport and the Annex, which clearly showed there were no protests. So far, that footage has not been released. We know that orders were issued, then recalled, to deploy a 50-man Special Forces unit from Croatia that could have reached Benghazi within hours. But no documents on who ordered that unit to stand down have yet been released.

 

The American people deserve the truth. With four Americans returning home in body bags, this scandal is no garden-variety cover-up. And despite Hillary Clinton’s fervent hope, no, it’s not going to go away.

 

Contents
                                  
              

OBAMA’S FOREIGN POLICY OF DENIAL

Charles Krauthammer

 Washington Post, May 1, 2014

 

Barack Obama’s 949-word response Monday to a question about foreign policy weakness showed the president at his worst: defensive, irritable, contradictory and at times detached from reality. It began with a complaint about negative coverage on Fox News, when, in fact, it was the New York Times’ front page that featured Obama’s foreign policy failures, most recently the inability to conclude a trade agreement with Japan and the collapse of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Middle East negotiations.

 

Add to this the collapse of not one but two Geneva conferences on Syria, American helplessness in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine and the Saudi king’s humiliating dismissal of Obama within two hours of talks — no dinner — after Obama made a special 2,300-mile diversion from Europe to see him, and you have an impressive litany of serial embarrassments.

 

Obama’s first rhetorical defense, as usual, was to attack a straw man: “Why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force?” Everybody? Wasn’t it you, Mr. President, who decided to attack Libya under the grand Obama doctrine of “responsibility to protect” helpless civilians — every syllable of which you totally contradicted as 150,000 were being slaughtered in Syria? And wasn’t attacking Syria for having crossed your own chemical-weapons “red line” also your idea? Before, of course, you retreated abjectly, thereby marginalizing yourself and exposing the United States to general ridicule. Everybody eager to use military force? Name a single Republican (or Democratic) leader who has called for sending troops into Ukraine.

 

The critique by John McCain and others is that when the Ukrainians last month came asking for weapons to defend themselves, Obama turned them down. The Pentagon offered instead MREs, ready-to-eat burgers to defend against 40,000 well-armed Russians. Obama even denied Ukraine such defensive gear as night-vision goggles and body armor. Obama retorted testily: Does anyone think Ukrainian weaponry would deter Russia, as opposed to Obama’s diplomatic and economic pressure? Why, averred Obama, “in Ukraine, what we’ve done is mobilize the international community. . . . Russia is having to engage in activities that have been rejected uniformly around the world.” That’s a deterrent? Fear of criticism? Empty words? To think this will stop Putin, liberator of Crimea, champion of “New Russia,” is delusional. In fact, Putin’s popularity at home has spiked 10 points since the start of his war on Ukraine. It’s now double Obama’s. As for the allegedly mobilized international community, it has done nothing. Demonstrably nothing to deter Putin from swallowing Crimea. Demonstrably nothing to deter his systematic campaign of destabilization, anonymous seizures and selective violence in the proxy-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk, where Putin’s “maskirovka” (disguised warfare) has turned Eastern Ukraine into a no-man’s land where Kiev hardly dares tread. As for Obama’s vaunted economic sanctions, when he finally got around to applying Round 2 on Monday, the markets were so impressed by their weakness that the ruble rose 1 percent and the Moscow stock exchange 2 percent.

 

Behind all this U.S. action, explained the New York Times in a recent leak calculated to counteract the impression of a foreign policy of clueless ad hocism, is a major strategic idea: containment. A rather odd claim when a brazenly uncontained Russia swallows a major neighbor one piece at a time — as America stands by. After all, how did real containment begin? In March 1947, with Greece in danger of collapse from a Soviet-backed insurgency and Turkey under direct Russian pressure, President Truman went to Congress for major and immediate economic and military aid to both countries.

 

That means weaponry, Mr. President. It was the beginning of the Truman Doctrine. No one is claiming that arming Ukraine would have definitively deterred Putin’s current actions. But the possibility of a bloody and prolonged Ukrainian resistance to infiltration or invasion would surely alter Putin’s calculus more than Obama’s toothless sanctions or empty diplomatic gestures, like the preposterous Geneva agreement that wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Or does Obama really believe that Putin’s thinking would be altered less by antitank and antiaircraft weapons in Ukrainian hands than by the State Department’s comical #UnitedforUkraine Twitter campaign? Obama appears to think so. Which is the source of so much allied anxiety: Obama really seems to believe that his foreign policy is succeeding. Ukraine has already been written off. But Eastern Europe need not worry. Obama understands containment. He recently dispatched 150 American ground troops to Poland and each of the Baltic states. You read correctly: 150. Each.                           

                                                                                   

Contents
                                  
  

A NEW RUSSIAN RIDDLE

Clifford D. May

Washington Times, Apr. 29, 2014

 

“A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” is how Winston Churchill famously described Russia in 1939. Churchill less famously added: “But perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” Determinedly modernist Western leaders have tried hard to convince Vladimir Putin that Russia’s national interest — and his personal interest, as well — is to be a member in good standing with the so-called “international community,” someone praised by President Obama and not admonished by John F. Kerry who, following Russia’s seizure of Crimea, exclaimed: “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext.”

 

Being regarded as unfashionable by the American secretary of state is a punishment the Russian president is apparently willing to endure in order to redraw the borders of Eurasia. Under both czars and commissars, the occupant of the Kremlin commanded an empire. I’d wager that Mr. Putin sees it as his mission — perhaps his destiny — to re-establish the status quo ante. If the polls are to be believed, most Russians are solidly behind him. How far will Mr. Putin go? He’s no communist, but I do think he learned from Lenin, who famously said that when you probe with your bayonet and hit steel, you back off, but when you hit mush, you continue moving forward. Raise your hand if you think Mr. Putin has so far hit anything other than mush from the United States, the European Union and NATO (and the United Nations, but that goes without saying).

 

Some questions to which I don’t think we yet have answers: Does Mr. Putin want all of Ukraine or just the most productive slices, leaving the remainder an impoverished ward of the West? Will he settle for an expanded sphere of influence, with the countries on Russia’s borders, the “near abroad,” retaining de jure independence — as long as they don’t forget to whom they must kowtow? Or does he, perhaps, harbor grander ambitions? It is not inconceivable that Mr. Putin thinks he can — and therefore should — precipitate NATO’s collapse. He could accomplish this by following his invasion, on a trumped-up pretext, of Ukraine with an invasion on a trumped-up pretext of one or more of NATO’s smaller members — nations that once were Soviet republics and still have sizable Russian populations. If NATO should prove unwilling or unable to defend Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania, that would be the death of the venerable but increasingly feeble alliance. Even if Mr. Putin goes no further — and few bookmakers would give odds on that — he has demonstrated that Russia in the Age of Putin is a power that must again be reckoned with. He also has cast further doubt on America’s determination and reliability, thereby making a mockery of what was supposed to be the Age of Obama.

 

A yawning gap separates Mr. Obama’s worldview from reality. That was vividly illustrated last month when he addressed “European Youth” at the ornate Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels. He had crossed the Atlantic, he told the young men and women of the Continent, “to insist that we must never take for granted the progress that has been won here in Europe and advanced around the world, because the contest of ideas continues for your generation.” He immediately added: “And that’s what’s at stake in Ukraine today. Russia’s leadership is challenging truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident — that in the 21st century, the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force, that international law matters, that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future.” You see the contradiction? Taking progress for granted is exactly what Mr. Obama did when he assumed that the advent of a new century brought with it new and improved rules — that with the flip of a calendar page, borders somehow became inviolable, international law suddenly “mattered” (whatever that means), and tyrants could no longer determine the fate of nations. The president went on to reassure his audience that “this is not another Cold War that we’re entering into. After all, unlike the Soviet Union, Russia leads no bloc of nations, no global ideology. The United States and NATO do not seek any conflict with Russia.”

 

All three of those assertions strike me as dubious. First, we may indeed be entering into something akin to the Cold War — if the definition of that term is a period of prolonged tension, low-intensity and proxy conflicts, and the possibility of a spark setting off a larger conflagration. Second, though Mr. Putin may not be leading a bloc of nations, he is aligning with regimes based on anti-Western and anti-democratic ideologies, such as Iran, Syria and North Korea. Islamism — which, in its Iranian expression, Mr. Putin is enabling — is as much a global ideology as was communism. Third, if the president is implying that the Cold War came about because the United States and NATO sought conflict with the Soviet Union, he’s dead wrong: The root cause was Soviet empire-building and the dropping of an Iron Curtain over Eastern Europe. Finally, Mr. Putin does not need to be reminded that America and NATO are not seeking conflict with him. He is confident that both fear conflict much more than he does, more than Iran’s rulers do, more even than the young dynastic dictator of North Korea. That’s a good reason for all of them to drive hard bargains, demand significant concessions and impose serious humiliations on America. Does Mr. Obama grasp any of this, and is he even attempting to develop a strategy to deal with it? That’s the real puzzle, isn’t it?

 

On Topic

 

Obama’s ‘Blame the Video’ Fraud Started in Cairo, Not Benghazi: Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, May. 1, 2014—Here is the main point: The rioting at the American embassy in Cairo was not about the anti-Muslim video.

Benghazi, Lies and Videotape: Nonie Darwish, Frontpage, May 2, 2014 —Shocking White House emails released to the public Tuesday by government watchdog group Judicial Watch shed new light on the Obama administration’s brazen dishonesty with the public about the deadly Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Benghazi Emails: Despite Spin, Not Just a Fox Story Any More:Howard Kurtz, Fox News, May 2, 2014—The story on Page 8 of yesterday’s New York Times amounts to an admission of journalistic error.  

Former CIA Deputy Denies Politics in Benghazi: David Lerman, Bloomberg, Apr. 2, 2014—A former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency said politics played no role in the flawed initial account of the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Libyan Oil at Heart of Conflict With Roots in Country’s East: Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, Apr. 13, 2014 —For nine months, a Libyan militia has occupied massive oil compounds in the desert and along the eastern Mediterranean coast, obstructing this nation’s lifeblood.

                                               

 

 

 

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

OBAMA TRAMPLES RIGHTS & RULE OF LAW, IRS SCANDAL REACHES HIS TOP APPOINTEE

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

 Download an abbreviated version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

A Bombshell in the IRS Scandal: Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2013— The IRS scandal was connected this week not just to the Washington office—that had been established—but to the office of the chief counsel. That is a bombshell—such a big one that it managed to emerge in spite of an unfocused, frequently off-point congressional hearing

 

Where Did Our ‘Inalienable Rights’ Go?: Max Frankel, New York Times, June 22, 2013— Now that we sense the magnitude of our government’s effort to track Americans’ telephone and Internet transactions, the issue finally and fully before us is not how we balance personal privacy with police efficiency.

 

Obama’s Dangerous Contempt for the Rule of Law: Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg, May 27, 2013— Whatever the investigation into misconduct at the Internal Revenue Service reveals, we already have all the evidence we need to understand President Barack Obama’s fundamental attitude toward the rule of law. That evidence is right there in the public record, and what it shows is indifference and contempt.

 

On Topic Links

 

Poll: Obama’s Job Approval Plunges: David Lightman, McClatchy Washington Bureau, July 22, 2013

IRS Scandal: One Step Removed From the White House: Arnold Ahlert , Front Page Magazine, July 23, 2013

Will IRS Scandal Lead all the Way to Obama?: Jay Sekulow, FoxNews, July 19, 2013

The Hollow Core of Obamaism: Jonah Goldberg, National Review, June 3, 2013

How Spying Will Sink the [U.S]Trade Pact with Europe: Patrick Smith, The Fiscal Times, July 22, 2013

 

A BOMBSHELL IN THE IRS SCANDAL

Peggy Noonan

Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2013

 

The IRS scandal was connected this week not just to the Washington office—that had been established—but to the office of the chief counsel. That is a bombshell—such a big one that it managed to emerge in spite of an unfocused, frequently off-point congressional hearing in which some members seemed to have accidentally woken up in the middle of a committee room, some seemed unaware of the implications of what their investigators had uncovered, one pretended that the investigation should end if IRS workers couldn't say the president had personally called and told them to harass his foes, and one seemed to be holding a filibuster on Pakistan.

 

Still, what landed was a bombshell. And Democrats know it. Which is why they are so desperate to make the investigation go away. They know, as Republicans do, that the chief counsel of the IRS is one of only two Obama political appointees in the entire agency.

 

To quickly review why the new information, which came most succinctly in a nine-page congressional letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, is big news:  When the scandal broke two months ago, in May, IRS leadership in Washington claimed the harassment of tea-party and other conservative groups requesting tax-exempt status was confined to the Cincinnati office, where a few rogue workers bungled the application process. Lois Lerner, then the head of the exempt organizations unit in Washington, said "line people in Cincinnati" did work that was "not so fine." They asked questions that "weren't really necessary," she claimed, and operated without "the appropriate level of sensitivity." But the targeting was "not intentional." Ousted acting commissioner Steven Miller also put it off on "people in Cincinnati." They provided "horrible customer service."

 

House investigators soon talked to workers in the Cincinnati office, who said everything they did came from Washington. Elizabeth Hofacre, in charge of processing tea-party applications in Cincinnati, told investigators that her work was overseen and directed by a lawyer in the IRS Washington office named Carter Hull. Now comes Mr. Hull's testimony. And like Ms. Hofacre, he pointed his finger upward. Mr. Hull—a 48-year IRS veteran and an expert on tax exemption law—told investigators that tea-party applications under his review were sent upstairs within the Washington office, at the direction of Lois Lerner.

 

In April 2010, Hull was assigned to scrutinize certain tea-party applications. He requested more information from the groups. After he received responses, he felt he knew enough to determine whether the applications should be approved or denied. But his recommendations were not carried out. Michael Seto, head of Mr. Hull's unit, also spoke to investigators. He told them Lois Lerner made an unusual decision: Tea-party applications would undergo additional scrutiny—a multilayered review. Mr. Hull told House investigators that at some point in the winter of 2010-11, Ms. Lerner's senior adviser, whose name is withheld in the publicly released partial interview transcript, told him the applications would require further review:

 

Q: "Did [the senior adviser to Ms. Lerner] indicate to you whether she agreed with your recommendations?"

 

A: "She did not say whether she agreed or not. She said it should go to chief counsel."

 

Q: "The IRS chief counsel?"

 

A: "The IRS chief counsel."

 

The IRS chief counsel is named William Wilkins. And again, he is one of only two Obama political appointees in the IRS.

 

What was the chief counsel's office looking for? The letter to Mr. Werfel says Mr. Hull's supervisor, Ronald Shoemaker, provided insight: The counsel's office wanted, in the words of the congressional committees, "information about the applicants' political activities leading up to the 2010 election." Mr. Shoemaker told investigators he didn't find that kind of question unreasonable, but he found the counsel's office to be "not very forthcoming": "We discussed it to some extent and they indicated that they wanted more development of possible political activity or political intervention right before the election period."

 

It's almost as if—my words—the conservative organizations in question were, during two major election cycles, deliberately held in a holding pattern. So: What the IRS originally claimed was a rogue operation now reaches up not only to the Washington office, but into the office of the IRS chief counsel himself.

 

At the generally lacking House Oversight Committee Hearings on Thursday, some big things still got said. Ms. Hofacre of the Cincinnati office testified that when she was given tea-party applications, she had to kick them upstairs. When she was given non-tea-party applications, they were sent on for normal treatment. Was she told to send liberal or progressive groups for special scrutiny? No, she did not scrutinize the applications of liberal or progressive groups. "I would send those to general inventory." Who got extra scrutiny? "They were all tea-party and patriot cases." She became "very frustrated" by the "micromanagement" from Washington. "It was like working in lost luggage." She applied to be transferred.

 

For his part, Mr. Hull backed up what he'd told House investigators. He described what was, essentially, a big, lengthy runaround in the Washington office in which no one was clear as to their reasons but everything was delayed. The multitiered scrutiny of the targeted groups was, he said, "unusual."

 

It was Maryland's Rep. Elijah Cummings, the panel's ranking Democrat, who, absurdly, asked Ms. Hofacre if the White House called the Cincinnati office to tell them what to do and whether she has knowledge of the president of the United States digging through the tax returns of citizens. Ms. Hofacre looked surprised. No, she replied. It wasn't hard to imagine her thought bubble: Do congressmen think presidents call people like me and say, "Don't forget to harass my enemies"? Are congressmen that stupid? Mr. Cummings is not, and his seeming desperation is telling. Recent congressional information leads to Washington—and now to very high up at the IRS. Meaning this is the point at which a scandal goes nowhere or, maybe, everywhere.

 

Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, finally woke the proceedings up with what he called "the evolution of the defense" since the scandal began. First, Ms. Lerner planted a question at a conference. Then she said the Cincinnati office did it—a narrative that was advanced by the president's spokesman, Jay Carney. Then came the suggestion the IRS was too badly managed to pull off a sophisticated conspiracy. Then the charge that liberal groups were targeted too—"we did it against both ends of the political spectrum." When the inspector general of the IRS said no, it was conservative groups that were targeted, he came under attack. Now the defense is that the White House wasn't involved, so case closed.

 

This is one Republican who is right about evolution. Those trying to get to the bottom of the scandal have to dig in, pay attention. The administration's defenders, and their friends in the press, have made some progress in confusing the issue through misdirection and misstatement. This is the moment things go forward or stall. Republicans need to find out how high the scandal went and why, exactly, it went there. To do that they'll have to up their game.

Contents

 

 

WHERE DID OUR ‘INALIENABLE RIGHTS’ GO?

Max Frankel

New York Times, June 22, 2013

 

NOW that we sense the magnitude of our government’s effort to track Americans’ telephone and Internet transactions, the issue finally and fully before us is not how we balance personal privacy with police efficiency.

 

We have long since surrendered a record of our curiosities and fantasies to Google. We have broadcast our tastes and addictions for the convenience of one-button Amazon shopping. We have published our health and financial histories in exchange for better and faster hospital and bank services. We have bellowed our angers and frustrations for all to overhear while we walk the streets or ride a bus. Privacy is a currency that we all now routinely spend to purchase convenience.

 

But Google and Amazon do not indict, prosecute and jail the people they track and bug. The issue raised by the National Security Agency’s data vacuuming is how to protect our civil liberty against the anxious pursuit of civic security. Our rights must not be so casually bartered as our Facebook chatter. Remember “inalienable”? 

 

I envy the commentators who, after a few days of vague discussion, think they have heard enough to strike the balance between liberty and security. Many seem confident that the government is doing nothing more than relieving Verizon and AT&T and Facebook of their storage problems, so that government agents can, on occasion, sift through years of phone and Internet records if they need to find a contact with a suspicious foreigner. Many Americans accept assurances that specific conversations are only rarely exhumed and only if the oddly named Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allows it. Such sifting and warrants — in unexplained combination with more conventional intelligence efforts — are now said, by President Obama and his team, to have prevented several dozen potential terrorist attacks, with elliptical references to threats against New York City’s subways and stock exchange.

 

Even if true and satisfying, these assurances are now being publicized only because this huge data-gathering effort can no longer be denied. Whatever the motive for the leaks by Edward J. Snowden, they have stimulated a long-overdue public airing. Although the government’s extensive data-hauling activity was partly revealed by diligent reporters and a few disapproving government sources over the last seven years, the undeniable proof came only from Mr. Snowden’s documents. Until then, the very existence of the enterprise was “top secret” and publicly denied, even in Congressional hearings. Even now, the project remains a secret in every important respect. As those of us who had to defend the 1971 publication of the secret Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War have been arguing ever since, there can be no mature discussion of national security policies without the disclosure — authorized or not — of the government’s hoard of secrets.

 

How many thousands have access to these storage bins? Who decides to open any individual file and who then gains access to its content? Is there ever a chance to challenge the necessity of opening a file? And what happens to gleaned information that has no bearing whatsoever on terrorism?

 

Given the history of misused “secrets” in Washington, such questions are by no means paranoid. J. Edgar Hoover used F.B.I. investigations and files to smear the reputations of individuals — even to the point of intimidating presidents. Throughout the government, “security” monitors leaked personnel files to Congressional demagogues like Senator Joseph R. McCarthy to wreck the careers of officials and blacklisted citizens with claims of disloyalty. President Lyndon B. Johnson and other officials used secret files from the Internal Revenue Service to harass and intimidate political opponents. President Richard M. Nixon tried to use the C.I.A. to cover up his Watergate crimes. Information that is gathered and managed in secret is a potent weapon — and the temptation to use it in political combat or the pursuit of crimes far removed from terrorism can be irresistible.

 

President Obama and other defenders of the amassing of data insist that no individual conversation or transaction is ever examined without “court” approval, meaning a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But the court authorizes the scrutiny of more Americans than foreigners, and it is no court in the customary sense: it operates entirely in secret. Its members are federal judges from around the country, any one of whom may authorize the opening of files. Lacking any real challenge to the evidence, they function more as grand jury than court. Mr. Obama has conceded that only a handful of warrant requests have ever been turned down (a few have been modified), a success rate he attributes to government restraint.

 

Yet most federal judges are predisposed to defer to executive claims of national security. They are generalists with little experience in evaluating intelligence, and they are reluctant to hamper government operatives sworn to defend the nation. The same reluctance is evident among members of Congress, who pose as watchdogs but melt when they hear appeals to patriotism from the managers of the intelligence services.

 

In theory, Americans are in the habit of resisting government intrusions on their rights of free speech and association. Accordingly we should be skeptical of such overweening exertions. But the data-hauling has gone on for years without real challenge. When asked whether the government could not simply log individual suspicious calls without amassing a national database, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency, said he was open to discussing that approach, though it might delay work in a crisis. A delay of hours? Days? Weeks? Did President George W. Bush or Mr. Obama ever ask the question?

 

What ought to compound our skepticism is the news that there is money to be made in the mass approach. We are learning that much of the snooping is farmed out to profit-seeking corporations that have great appetites for government contracts, secured through executives who enrich themselves by shuttling between agency jobs and the contractors’ board rooms. We have privatized what should be a most solemn government activity, guaranteeing bloat and also the inevitable and ironic employ of rebellious hackers like Mr. Snowden.

 

Where then can we find the skeptical oversight that such a radical challenge to our freedom demands? Presidents beholden to their own bureaucracies seem disinclined to play the skeptic or even to create an elite independent commission, like the Warren Commission, which examined the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, to assess the conflict between liberty and security and point the way to reasonable balance.

 

Despite the predilections of federal judges to defer to the executive branch, I think in the long run we have no choice but to entrust our freedom to them. But the secret world of intelligence demands its own special, permanent court, like the United States Tax Court, whose members are confirmed by the Senate for terms that allow them to become real experts in the subject. Such a court should inform the public about the nature of its cases and its record of approvals and denials. Most important, it should summon special attorneys to test the government’s secret evidence in every case, so that a full court hears a genuine adversarial debate before intruding on a citizen’s civil rights. That, too, might cost a little time in some crisis. There’s no escaping the fact that freedom is expensive.

 

Max Frankel was The New York Times’s editorial page editor from 1977 to 1986 and executive editor from 1986 to 1994.

Contents

 

 

OBAMA’S DANGEROUS CONTEMPT FOR THE RULE OF LAW

Ramesh Ponnuru

Bloomberg, May 27, 2013

 

Whatever the investigation into misconduct at the Internal Revenue Service reveals, we already have all the evidence we need to understand President Barack Obama’s fundamental attitude toward the rule of law. That evidence is right there in the public record, and what it shows is indifference and contempt.

 

The Constitution gives the president the power to appoint officials to fill vacancies when the Senate isn’t in session. In 2012, Obama made such “recess appointments” to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — even though the Senate had stayed in session precisely to keep him from doing so.

 

Obama’s lawyers argued that the Senate wasn’t really in session even though it claimed to be: It was going through the motions to block Obama, but it wasn’t taking up bills or nominations. No previous president had ever tried this maneuver, and an appeals court has just ruled that it was unconstitutional.

 

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the sweeping health-care law that Obama signed in 2010, asks state governments to set up health exchanges, and authorizes the federal government to provide tax credits to people who use those exchanges to get insurance. But most states have refused to establish the online marketplaces, and both the tax credits and many of the law’s penalties can’t go into effect until the states act.

 

Obama’s IRS has decided it’s going to apply the tax credits and penalties in states that refuse, even without statutory authorization. During the recent scandal over the IRS’s harassment of conservative groups, many Republicans have warned that the IRS can’t be trusted with the new powers that the health law will give the agency. They are wrong about the verb tense: It has already abused those powers.

Overriding Objections

 

Another provision of the health law authorized the secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, to require employers to cover preventive services in their insurance policies. She decided that almost all employers would have to cover contraception, sterilization and possibly abortion-causing drugs, such as Ella, whether or not the employers objected on religious grounds.

 

That edict flew in the face of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which stipulated that the government can override religious conscience only when it is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling interest. Republican senators had warned Sebelius of this issue before she imposed the rule. She has admitted that even after their letter, her department imposed it without either requesting a legal analysis from the Justice Department or producing its own memo. Most judges who have ruled on this issue, including some Democratic appointees, have found that the regulation does violate the law.

 

Last summer, Obama directed immigration agencies not to deport some illegal immigrants who were brought to America as children, and to give them work-authorization permits. In effect, he implemented much of the DREAM Act that Congress has long debated, but never enacted. Defenders of this action said he was merely prioritizing scarce law-enforcement resources, but that excuse won’t wash: It would mean that a future Republican president could announce, for example, that he isn’t going to burden the bureaucracy with collecting capital-gains taxes.

 

Even if Obama were right about these policies — and I’m sympathetic to the goal of the DREAM Act — he went about them the wrong way, disregarding laws he swore to execute. Complaints about Republican obstructionism are no excuse. Even if the Republicans are behaving badly, they have at least acted lawfully in opposing the president.

 

Obama is not, of course, the first president to flout the law. His supporters will surely respond to this litany by repeating the charge that President George W. Bush “shredded” the Constitution. The Bush administration claimed that the Constitution gave the president powers as commander-in-chief, trumping laws that tried to restrict his ability to protect national security. It was a debatable, but not frivolous, argument. Obama is making no similar constitutional claim, and his defiance of constraints on his power isn’t confined to one area of policy. Again and again, he has imposed liberal policy preferences rather than follow the law.

 

In 2011, Obama was asked why he hadn’t imposed the DREAM Act unilaterally. “America is a nation of laws, which means I, as the president, am obligated to enforce the law,” he responded. “There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.” That Obama was right.

 

The president’s routine violation of the law that he is supposed to uphold isn’t covered in the media as a scandal. It ought to be.

 

 

Contents

On Topic

IRS Scandal: One Step Removed From the White House: Arnold Ahlert , Front Page Magazine, July 23, 2013—Last week, while much of the nation’s attention was turned toward the Zimmerman verdict and the antics of the racial grievance industry, the IRS scandal got far more intense. According to top IRS lawyer Carter Hull, the Chief Counsel’s office of the IRS, headed by Obama appointee William Wilkins, was instrumental in the agency’s campaign of harassment and discrimination against conservative and certain pro-Israel groups.

 

Poll: Obama’s Job Approval Plunges: David Lightman, McClatchy Washington Bureau, July 22, 2013—Stung by Americans’ persistent worries about the economy and a capital gripped by controversy and gridlock, President Barack Obama is suffering his lowest job approval numbers in nearly two years, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

 

Will IRS scandal lead all the way to Obama?: Jay Sekulow, FoxNews, July 19, 2013—It took a mere two months and eight days for the Obama administration’s spin on the growing scandal of the IRS targeting Tea Party and conservative groups to completely collapse.

 

The Hollow Core of Obamaism: Jonah Goldberg, National Review, June 3, 2013—Longtime readers of mine will recall that one of my bugaboos is the liberal obsession with the “moral equivalent of war.” Ever since William James coined the phrase, liberalism has essentially become a cargo cult to the idea.

 

How Spying Will Sink the Trade Pact with Europe: Patrick Smith, The Fiscal Times, July 22, 2013—It is supposed to be the largest trade agreement ever forged between two countries. But the Trans–Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership never looked promising. And now that the US and Europe have completed a first round of talks, it is possible to predict with confidence that it will never see the light of day.

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org