Obama Condemned Warrantless Wiretaps of Terror Suspects
Denouncing the Bush administration's warrantless wiretaps of terror suspects, candidate Obama said in 2007: “This administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not.”
Obama Accused the Bush Administration of Trampling on the Constitution
“I taught constitutional law for ten years at the University of Chicago,” said candidate Obama in 2008. “... Your next president will actually believe in the Constitution, which you can’t say about your current president.”
Senator Obama Denounced the Troop Surge That Ultimately Turned the Tide of the Iraq War
In January 2007—three weeks after President Bush announced that he would deploy an extra 20,000 troops to Iraq in a “surge” strategy designed to crush the enemy with overwhelming force—then-Senator Obama derided the surge in unequivocal terms. “I don’t know any expert on the region or any military officer that I’ve spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground,” he said prior to its implementation. Soon after the surge had been initiated, Obama declared prematurely: “Here’s what we know. The surge has not worked.”
The surge proved to be a spectacular success and enabled the U.S. to win the war in Iraq.
New Limits on Interrogating Terrorists
Two days after his inauguration, President Obama issued an executive order requiring all U.S. agents who interrogate high-value detainees to abide by the guidelines set forth in the Army Field Manual (AMF), whose limits on interrogation practices are much stricter than those traditionally followed by the CIA. For example, the AMF prohibits interrogators from subjecting detainees to “excessive noise,” “excessive dampness,” or “excessive or inadequate heat, light or ventilation”; it bans any sleep deprivation that does not permit a detainee at least four hours of sleep per night; it states that “all prisoners and detainees, regardless of status, will be treated humanely”; and it forbids interrogators from taunting detainees by such means as mocking those passages of the Koran that serve as the basis for the jihadists’ fanatical beliefs.
“Man-Caused Disasters,” Not “Terrorism”
In March 2009, Obama's Department of Homeland Security broke with its traditional practice of warning the American public about potential “terrorist” threats, and instead began referring to acts of terrorism as “man-caused disasters.”
Miranda Warnings for Suspected Terrorists
In June 2009 the Obama Justice Department, demonstrating its preference to treat terrorism as a law-enforcement issue rather than as a military matter, ordered the FBI to give Miranda warnings to enemy combatants captured at war in Afghanistan.
Obama Refers to Jihadist Mass Murder As "Workplace Violence"
On November 5, 2009, U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan -- a Muslim convert who had previously made his jihadist objectives known -- went on a shooting rampage inside the Fort Hood military post in Texas, killing 13 people and wounding at least 31 others. According to eyewitnesses, he shouted "Allahu Akbar!" ("God is Great!") while he was shooting. The Obama administration characterized the incident as "workplace violence."
Obama Releases 12 Prisoners from Guantanamo
In December 2009, President Obama released twelve more jihadists from the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba: four Afghanis, two Somalis, and six Yemenis. One of the ex-prisoners, a Somali named Mohamed Saleban Bare, had ties to Al-Ittihad Al-Islamiya, a Somali Islamist movement that produced many leaders of the al Qaeda-linked Shebab terror group.
Obama's Reluctance to Use the Word “Terrorist”
On Christmas Day of 2009, a Nigerian al Qaeda operative boarded a Northwest Airlines flight (from Amsterdam to Detroit) and attempted, without success, to blow up the plane in midair with a chemical bomb. In public remarks soon after the incident, President Obama referred to the man as an “isolated extremist” rather than as a terrorist or a jihadist. In subsequent days the administration announced that it would offer the perpetrator a plea agreement to persuade him to reveal what he knew about al Qaeda operations in Yemen; if such an arrangement could not be worked out, the government planned to try him in federal civilian court.
Obama Condemns Waterboarding
On the matter of using enhanced interrogation techniques (such as waterboarding) on high-level terrorist suspects, in 2008 candidate Obama emphatically pledged to end that practice, which he viewed as “torture.”
Betraying CIA Personnel, Obama Releases Highly Classified “Torture” Memos
In April 2009, against the protestations of former CIA director Michael Hayden, President Obama released a number of legal memos detailing the types of enhanced-interrogation techniques that U.S. authorities had used on suspected terrorists in the past. According to the declassified memos, waterboarding had been used on both Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (mastermind of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa and the 9/11 attacks) and Abu Zubaydah (al Qaeda’s operational planner).
In an interview, Hayden said that anyone who objected to the CIA’s use of such methods was avoiding a very “inconvenient truth”: “[T]he use of these techniques against these terrorists made us safer.... [O]ne detainee led to another, led to another, with the use of these techniques.... At the tactical level, what we have [now] described [with the release of the memos] for our enemies in the midst of a war are the outer limits that any American would ever go to in terms of interrogating an al-Qaeda terrorist. That’s very valuable information.”
President Obama later stated that while the “enhanced interrogation” techniques had indeed produced valuable intelligence, the same information could have been obtained in other ways—though he did not specify how.
Obama Threatens to Prosecute Bush Administration Officials and CIA Interrogators Who Condoned and Practiced Waterboarding
On April 21, 2009, the Obama administration announced that it would entertain the idea of prosecuting Bush administration officials who had crafted legal opinions that led to the use of methods (such as waterboarding) that Obama considered to be torture.
In late August 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he would soon launch a criminal probe of former CIA interrogators who, during the Bush administration, may have used techniques such as waterboarding, which Obama had recently banned. Former Vice President Dick Cheney reacted to Holder’s announcement as follows: “It’s an outrageous political act that will do great damage, long-term, to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult jobs, make difficult decisions, without having to worry about what the next administration is going to say…. It’s a very, very devastating, I think, effect that it has on morale inside the intelligence community.”
On September 18, 2009, seven former CIA chiefs—John Deutch, Porter Goss, Michael Hayden, James R. Schlesinger, George Tenet, William Webster and R. James Woolsey—sent a letter to President Obama urging him to call off the investigation of the agency's interrogation methods, on grounds that it would weaken the government's intelligence-gathering abilities and deter other nations from working with the United States. Said the letter: “Success in intelligence often depends on surprise and deception and on creating uncertainty in the mind of an enemy. But, the administration must be mindful that public disclosure about past intelligence operations can only help al Qaeda elude U.S. intelligence and plan future operations…. Those men and women who undertake difficult intelligence assignments in the aftermath of an attack such as Sept. 11 must believe there is permanence in the legal rules that govern their actions.”
Obama responded by saying that he had no intention of calling off the investigation.
Trying Terrorists in Civilian Court Rather Than in Military Tribunals
In November 2006 Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, formally authorizing the adjudication of war crimes and terrorism cases in military courts. According to the Defense Department, military tribunals, where military officers serve as the judges and jurors, are designed to deal with offenses committed in the context of warfare. The issue of whether it is appropriate to try someone accused of the aforementioned transgressions in a military court depends upon how one answers a single overriding question: Is terrorism a matter of war, or is it a legal issue where redress should be pursued via the criminal-justice system—like robbery, vandalism, or murder?
In Obama’s view, the creation of military commissions to try terror suspects captured in the War on Terror was, from its inception, “a bad idea.” From the beginning of his presidency, he articulated his belief that civilian courts were the proper venue in which terrorism cases should be tried.
Obama and his fellow critics of military commissions accuse the latter of trampling on the civil rights and liberties of defendants who, the critics contend, should be entitled to all the rights and protections afforded by the American criminal court system—where they would enjoy the enhanced rights and protections that such courts afford to all defendants (particularly with regard to the admissibility of secret evidence).
Immediately following his inauguration, Obama's first act as U.S. President was to order the suspension of all military tribunals that had been established to adjudicate the cases of terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, which continued to house more than 200 al Qaeda and Taliban combatants captured by the American military during its post-9/11 wars in the Mideast.
In November 2009, the Obama administration announced that it planned to try five Guantanamo detainees with alleged ties to the 9/11 conspiracy in a civilian court.
In November 2010, al Qaeda terrorist Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani—responsible for the deaths of 224 people in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania—became the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in civilian court and was acquitted on all but one of the charges against him.
Avoiding Political Suicide, Obama Announces That 9/11 Conspirators Will Be Tried in Military Tribunal Rather Than Civilian Court
On April 4, 2011, the Obama administration announced that, in a reversal of its November 2009 decision, it would now proceed to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (and four co-conspirators) in a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay. This move was made because the policy of civilian trials for terrorists was proving to be immensely unpopular with the American public. As former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy observed: “[Obama's] reversal comes not because the administration wanted to abandon the push for a civilian trial. It comes because the president ... is seeking reelection. Trying to force a civilian trial of the 9/11 attacks would doom that effort.... [I]t was the president who, as a candidate, campaigned on returning the country to the pre-9/11 counterterrorism model that regarded al-Qaeda’s onslaught as a mere law enforcement problem. That policy was a debacle.... Never in the history of the United States have our wartime enemies been invited into our civilian courts, clothed in the majesty of our Constitution, enabled by our due process rules to comb through our intelligence files, and given a platform to put our government, our troops, and our society on trial.”
Obama Says He Would Have Tried Bin Laden in Civilian Court if Captured Alive
On October 3, 2012, The Hillreported that according to President Obama, if Osama bin Laden had been captured alive rather than killed in May 2011, he would have been sent to a civilian U.S. court for a criminal trial. Obama was quoted as having said: “We worked through the legal and political issues that would have been involved, and Congress and the desire to send him to Guantánamo, and to not try him, and Article III…. I mean, we had worked through a whole bunch of those scenarios. But, frankly, my belief was if we had captured him, that I would be in a pretty strong position, politically, here, to argue that displaying due process and rule of law would be our best weapon against al Qaeda, in preventing him from appearing as a martyr.”
Mastermind of the USS Cole Bombing Is Released
In early February 2009, President Obama announced that all charges against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, mastermind of the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole (which killed 17 American servicemen), would be dropped. Nashiri, who had issued confessions under the duress of such procedures as waterboarding and mock executions, was slated to be tried by a military commission, where evidence obtained by means of those measures would have been admissible. But because Obama had now outlawed military commissions, that evidence would no longer be admissible. Thus the defendant was released.
Obama Has Continued Bush-Era Anti-Terrorism Policies That He Condemned As a Senator
Contrary to campaign pledges he made in 2008, President Obama has continued a number of Bush-era policies, such as detaining suspected terrorists without trial; keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention center open (on this issue Congress gave him virtually no choice); calling for limits on habeas corpus in countries like Afghanistan; using robotic killer drones in nations with which America is not at war (e.g., Pakistan); emphasizing surveillance and secrecy in tracking down terrorists; and, as discussed above, trying terrorists in military tribunals rather than civilian courts.
Releasing a Guantanamo Terrorist Who Later Returns to the Battlefield As a Jihadist
In July 2010, the Obama administration's U.S. military prosecutors struck a plea bargain with Ibrahim al-Qosi, a Sudanese native who had once served as Osama bin Laden's cook, chauffeur and bookkeeper, and who was then in custody at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The prosecutors emphasized that the support of people like Al-Qosi was crucial to al Qaeda, and that al-Qosi's assistance to the terror group amounted to war crimes. In the deal, al-Qosi pled guilty to providing material support to terrorism and conspiracy. In exchange for that plea/conviction, al-Qosi's possible 14-year sentence was shortened to just two years. According to Fox News: "Al-Qosi was believed to have been with Bin Laden at Tora Bora in Afghanistan in late 2001, when the U.S. narrowly missed taking out the terrorist kingpin and his entourage. He was one of the so-called 'Dirty 30' [whom] the U.S. hotly pursued in the aftermath of 9/11, and was nabbed in Pakistan in 2002. Military prosecutors said Al-Qosi became close to Bin Laden while the Al Qaeda founder lived in Sudan, prior to his moving operations to Afghanistan. In a leaked, 2007 Joint Task Force Guantanamo threat assessment, U.S. intelligence analysts described Al-Qosi as a 'high' risk to the U.S. and its allies. 'Detainee is an admitted veteran jihadist with combat experience beginning in 1990 and it is assessed he would engage in hostilities against U.S. forces, if released,' the assessment stated."
Under the terms of his plea deal, Al-Qosi was freed in July 2012. Some three-and-a-half years later, in December 2015, al-Qosi resurfaced, via video, on the field of battle in Yemen, where he had established himself as a top leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). As Fox News reported: "In the video from Yeman, entitled 'Guardians of Sharia,' Al-Qosi and other AQAP commanders are shown discussing the terror group's policy of encouraging attacks against the West by individuals and small cells. The video also emphasizes the importance of following the teachings of experienced terror ideologues -- a likely reference to ISIS, whose rise over the past 18 months has overshadowed Al Qaeda's long-running terror campaign." Changing the Curricula and Training of FBI Agents Regarding Jihad and Islam
On October 19, 2011, Farhana Khera, president and executive director of the organization Muslim Advocates, sent CIA official John Brennan a letter charging that the FBI was a bigoted agency which kept "antiquated and offensive documents about Muslims and Islam" on its intranet, and that some of the Bureau's new recruits were taught "that Islam is a religion that 'transforms a country's culture into 7th-century Arabian ways.'" Within two weeks, Brennan capitulated to Khera's demand that the FBI eliminate its "offensive" curriculum/training materials; i.e., he called for a purge of materials that made reference to "jihad" and "radical Islam." In a written response to Khera, Brennan said: "I am aware of the recent unfortunate incidents that have highlighted examples of substandard and offensive training that some United States Government elements have either sponsored or delivered. Any and all such training runs completely counter to our values, [and] our commitment to strong partnerships with communities across the country..."
Brennan added that the Obama administration had already initiated a review of all FBI and Department of Homeland Security training materials on the subject of "countering violent extremism." He also assured Khera that the administration would do everything in its power to improve "cultural competency training across the United States Government," and to emphasize "cultural awareness."
Soon thereafter, on February 22, 2012, Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) reported:
"It was just revealed two days ago that FBI Director Mueller secretly met on February 8 at FBI headquarters with a coalition of groups including various Islamist and militant Arabic groups who in the past have defended Hamas and Hizballah and have also issued blatantly anti-Semitic statements. At this meeting, the FBI revealed that it had removed more than 1,000 presentations and curricula on Islam from FBI offices around the country that [were] deemed 'offensive.' The FBI did not reveal what criteria was used to determine why material was considered 'offensive' but knowledgeable law enforcement sources have told the IPT that it was these radical groups who made that determination. Moreover, numerous FBI agents have confirmed that from now on, FBI headquarters has banned all FBI offices from inviting any counter-terrorist specialists who are considered 'anti-Islam' by Muslim Brotherhood front groups.
"The February 8 FBI meeting was the culmination of a series of unpublicized directives issued in the last three months by top FBI officials to all its field offices to immediately recall and withdraw any presentation or curricula on Islam throughout the entire FBI. In fact, according to informed sources and undisclosed documents, the FBI directive was instigated by radical Muslim groups in the US who had repeatedly met with top officials of the Obama Administration to complain, among other things, that the mere usage of the term of 'radical Islam' in FBI curricula was 'offensive' and 'racist.' And thus, directives went out by Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Mueller to censor all such material. Included in the material destroyed or removed by the FBI and the DOJ were powerpoints and articles that defined jihad as 'holy war' or presentations that portrayed the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization bent on taking over the world—a major tenet that the Muslim Brotherhood has publicly stated for decades."
The FBI's decision to change its training materials and methods went on to have serious, real-world consequences. A particularly noteworthy case involved jihadist Omar Mateen, who in June 2016 entered a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida and murdered 49 people and wounded 53 others. As Andrew C. McCarthy writes: "Mateen was investigated not once but twice by the FBI in the three years before he turned the Pulse nightclub into an abattoir. The first time because, while working as a security guard, he claimed to have ties to both al-Qaeda and Hezbollah — two infamous jihadist organizations that have killed more Americans than any others. Mateen also claimed mutual acquaintances with the Tsarnaev brothers, who bombed the Boston Marathon. He spoke of longing for a martyr’s death — meaning: He wanted to be killed while waging jihad against Allah’s enemies, the Americans. The FBI further learned that within a two-year period starting in 2011, Mateen had made two pilgrimages to Islamic sites in Saudi Arabia. In Islamic terms, both pilgrimages were considered lesser ones — umrah, which is not required and can be done any time of year, as opposed to hajj, the visit to Mecca, which all physically and financially capable Muslims are required to make at least once in a lifetime, during the last month of Islam’s annual lunar calendar."
Notwithstanding all this evidence of Mateen's radicalism, the FBI closed his file and stopped investigating him. As the Daily Callerreports:
"The FBI reportedly canceled its 2013 investigation into Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen after only 10 months because they viewed the terroristic threats he made as a reaction to 'being marginalized because of his Muslim faith,' by his coworkers. According to Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, the revelation came during a closed door meeting with FBI Director James Comey.... 'Director Comey confirmed to reporters ... that there was a full FBI investigation of Omar Mateen in 2013,' she explained. 'It was 10 months in length, and it was opened after he told his co-workers that he had family connections to Al Qaeda, that he was a member of a Shi’a terrorism organization, and that he hoped law enforcement would raid his home and assault his wife so that he could then retaliate and martyr himself.' 'That investigation was very extensive,' Herridge continued. 'It involved the use of confidential informants — also surveillance — by the FBI as well as two in person interviews with Mateen.'"
"Herridge noted that during the 10 month investigation, 'he was on a watch list, and if he attempted to buy a firearm during that period the FBI would have been flagged to that purchase.' Finally, Herridge explained the reasons why the FBI called off the probe. 'At the end of 10 months the investigation was closed with no further action. They took Mateen’s statements he was trying to taunt his co-workers because he thought he was being marginalized because of his Muslim faith.'"
"Countering Violent Extremism" (CVE)
The Obama administration implemented new CVE policies in 2011, specifically at the demand of U.S. Muslim groups. The program was officially launched that December. It prevents the FBI and law-enforcement from conducting surveillance of mosques or other Muslim-community institutions. It also prevents them from using the social-media posts -- even posts that specifically declare support for violent jihad -- of suspected jihadists as evidence of the danger that such people may pose, or as a justification for ongoing surveillance of those suspects. The only information that can be used in such investigations, according to CVE guidelines, is information provided to authorities by Muslim "partners" -- individuals and organizations -- in various Muslim communities. Key to this are "outreach efforts" by the FBI to Muslim communities.
In March 2014, Patrick Poole provided an excellent explanation of CVE and its development:
Tonight’s episode of For The Record investigates a series of policies established by the Obama Administration during 2011-2012 that effectively neutered FBI counter-terrorism training and blinded our nation’s intelligence agencies to the threat from Islamic terrorism. In what some experts have termed a hostile “political warfare campaign” driven by an alliance between the administration, Islamic organizations and cooperating media figures, analysts and subject matter experts were blacklisted, and books and training materials were purged from official counter-terrorism training programs government-wide. This “purge” has contributed to clues being missed by the FBI in major terrorism cases, including last year’s bombing of the Boston Marathon ...
One of the first indicators of these efforts was the cancellation of an anti-terrorism conference scheduled for August 10-12, 2011 hosted by the CIA’s Threat Management Unit. As reported by veteran Pentagon reporter Bill Gertz at the Washington Times, the conference was cancelled at the demand of Islamic groups who objected to presentations that were to be conducted by former Joint Chiefs of Staff intelligence analyst and international law expert Stephen Coughlin ... and Steve Emerson of The Investigative Project on Terrorism. An email sent to conference registrants explained that the Department of Homeland Security would be formulating new guidelines for vetting speakers and screening presentation content.
The cancellation of the CIA terrorism conference was followed in September 2011 by a series of articles by far-Left blogger Spencer Ackerman at WIRED Magazine that claimed counter-terrorism trainers and materials used by the FBI were promoting “Islamophobia.” One of Ackerman’s targets was books in the library at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, that he deemed offensive. It should be noted that as a general rule banning books in government-funded libraries is considered rank censorship.
While a number of claims made by Ackerman in his series of articles were later found to be manifestly false, inside U.S. government agencies individuals targeted by Ackerman’s articles were prohibited from speaking publicly in defense of themselves and their work and “The Purge” continued apace. Then in October 2011, a remarkable series of events dramatically shifted U.S. government policies largely fueled by Ackerman’s reporting.
Among other “don’ts” declared by DHS was this warning: "Don’t use training that relies on fear or conspiracies to motivate law enforcement. Don’t use training premised on theories with little or no evidence to support them. Examples (from the report 'Manufacturing the Muslim Menace') of unsubstantiated theories include…Mainstream Muslim organizations are fronts for Islamic political organizations who true desire is to establish Sharia law in America."
Remarkably, some of the very organizations that the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties had partnered with had been identified by the Justice Department as fronts for international terrorist organizations in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial in 2007 and 2008, including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). At the time these guidelines were published, the president of ISNA, Imam Mohamed Majid, was serving on the DHS Countering Violent Extremism Working Group.
Not only had the Justice Department named these organizations as unindicted co-conspirators during the trial, but federal prosecutors had outline in court documents that these organizations were integral parts of an international conspiracy to funnel money to the terrorist group HAMAS. In one Justice Department filing, prosecutors noted that “numerous exhibits were entered into evidence establishing both ISNA’s and NAIT’s intimate relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestine Committee, and the defendants in this case.” In another filing they observed: "ISNA and NAIT, in fact, shared more with HLF than just a parent organization. They were intimately connected with the HLF and its assigned task of providing financing support to HAMAS. Shortly after HAMAS was founded in 1987, as an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, Govt. Exh. 21-61, the International Muslim Brotherhood ordered the Muslim Brotherhood chapters throughout the world to create Palestine Committees, whose job it was to support HAMAS with 'media, money and men.' Govt. Exh. 3-15. The U.S. Muslim Brotherhood created the U.S. Palestine Committee, which documents reflect was initially comprised of three organizations: the OLF (HLF), the IAP [Islamic Association for Palestine], and the UASR [United Association for Studies and Research].CAIR was later added to these organizations. Govt. Exh. 3-78 (listing IAP, HLF, UASR and CAIR as part of the Palestine Committee, and stating that there is '[n]o doubt America is the ideal location to train the necessary resources to support the Movement worldwide…'). The mandate of these organizations, per the International Muslim Brotherhood, was to support HAMAS, and the HLF’s particular role was to raise money to support HAMAS’ organization inside the Palestinian terrories."
During the Holy Land trial, FBI Agent Lara Burns testified in court that CAIR was a front for HAMAS. One trial exhibit submitted by federal prosecutors – and stipulated to by the defense in the case – explained that these organizations were dedicated to a “civilizational-jihadist process” to destroy America from within and replace the Constitution with sharia (Islamic law): "The Ikhwah [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion [Islam] is made victorious over all other religions."
Federal prosecutors specifically cited this internal Muslim Brotherhood planning document as the strategic goal of these U.S.-based Islamic groups – the very same group advising the Obama Administration. The federal judge in the Holy Foundation case agreed with the case presented by the federal prosecutors had made regarding these organizations, stating in one ruling that “the Government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations with CAIR, ISNA and NAIT with HLF…and with HAMAS.”
The net effect of the DHS guidelines was to effectively ban any discussion of the facts about their outreach partners presented by the Justice Department in federal court and to blacklist any counter-terrorism trainer who raised the issue. Coincidentally, the guidelines currently on the DHS website have since removed the directions banning “Muslim reformers” and “conspiracy theories” discussed above.
But “the purge” was about to get worse.
On October 19, 2011, three separate events would occur that would demonstrate the coordinated effort between the administration and its Islamic outreach partners to institutionalize the guidelines set out just days before by DHS.
The first event was the publication of an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Salam al-Marayati, a Democratic Party operative, Obama adviser and president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), calling for a ban on so-called “anti-Muslim” trainers and materials, claiming that such endangered the partnerships between Islamic organizations and law enforcement.
The hypocrisy of al-Marayati’s demands is seen when considered that he had previously been removed from a U.S. government terrorism commission in 1999 for his statements in support of a terrorist organization. Immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, al-Marayati came under fire again forcomments he made on a Los Angeles radio program just hours after the attacks saying that the chief suspects should be “the state of Israel.”
MPAC as an organization has been criticized for publications defending terrorist organizations and equating Islamic suicide attacks with Patrick Henry and “American freedom fighters.” On September 11, 2012 – the same day that mobs stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and Al Qaeda terrorists attacked the U.S. Consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi – MPAC published a report of 25 speakers, academics and subject matter experts they demanded be blacklisted from giving counter-terrorism training (myself included, with MPAC accusing me of being a “pseudo-expert” in an area that I have never taught nor have I declared myself to be an expert).
An October 19 event featuring Islamic groups and sponsored by the Justice Department (the same agency that had identified several of the organizations and Islamic leaders in attendance at the event) was held at George Washington University on the topic of “Post 9/11 Discrimination.” One of the speakers at the event was Deputy Attorney General James Cole, and his speech at the event is published on the Justice Department’s website. Also in attendance was the head of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division Tom Perez (now secretary of the Commerce Department).
The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro was also at the DOJ conference and reported that some Islamic leaders called for the criminalization of criticism of Islam under discrimination laws without any reference to how such rules would run afoul of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. According to Munro, ISNA’s Mohamed Magid openly called for “Perez to change the federal government’s rules governing terror investigations, for more private meetings with top justice department officials, for the reeducation of FBI agents, and for more people to oppose criticism of Islam, which he labelled ‘religious bigotry and hate.’”
These sentiments were formalized that same day in a seven-page letter signed by fifty-seven U.S. Islamic groups, including ISNA, CAIR and MPAC, to Obama’s “counterterrorism czar” John Brennan (now CIA director) again invoking Spencer Ackerman’s reporting. Among the demands made in the letter were:
“Purge all federal government training materials of biased materials”
“[M]andatory re-training program for FBI agents”
“[A]ll trainers and other government employees who promoted biased trainers and training materials are effectively disciplined”
Purges, blacklists, book banning, mandatory “re-education” and punishment would otherwise sound like a program by the Khmer Rouge, not so-called U.S. “civil rights” organizations. But these events of “Black October” would set in motion a radical shift in our nation’s national security and counter-terrorism policies.
The October 19th letter by the fifty-seven Islamic groups received a reply from Brennan two weeks later (which one former White House official described to me as “lightning speed”) acceding to their demands and promising swift action by the administration.
The White House was true to its word. Just days later the Pentagon’s issued a Joint Staff Action Directivedirected at multiple elements within the Defense Department, including academic institutions, calling for the vetting of all “CVE trainers.” Curiously, the directive was drafted on October 14 – prior to the Islamic groups’ letter being sent to the White House – but was embargoed until November 15, presumably to give time for Brennan’s response to be sent and received.
The directive stated that “the intent is to determine the criteria used to establish professional qualifications for teachers and lecturers providing instruction on countering violent Islamic extremism; with particular focus on Military Information Support Operations, Information Operations, and Military Intelligence curriculum.” Yet again, the sole reason cited for such efforts was Spencer Ackerman’s reporting and a copy of one of his articles was added as an attachment.
In December 2011, the White House issued the “Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States” – the local partners, of course, being Islamic organizations, including those cited by the Justice Department as working to aid foreign terrorist organizations. All national security and law enforcement agencies on the federal, state and local level would now have to consult these groups and rely on “local partners” as a matter of policy. And as made clear in Salam al-Marayati’s Los Angeles Times op-ed, Islamic groups complaining about counter-terrorism policies or training would disrupt government efforts to “counter violent extremism” gave them an implicit veto over counter-terrorism policies.
The State Department under Hillary Clinton got into the game as well. Earlier in the year Clinton had made remarks at a meeting with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on the topic of “Combatting Religious Intolerance,” saying that the U.S. government would employ “old fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming” in addressing “Islamophobia” with a vow to “promoting interfaith education and collaboration” to those ends. She specifically invoked a pending UN Human Rights Council Resolution (HCR 16/18) sponsored by the OIC on “combatting intolerance” that the OIC unashamedly said was intended to create a global regime to stifle criticism of Islam. Clinton failed to explain how these could be taken in the absence of any constitutional mandate for “peer pressure and shaming,” or how her plans for “interfaith education and collaboration” and de facto Islamic blasphemy laws avoided the First Amendment’s prohibition of separation of church and state.
Clinton met with OIC leaders for three days behind closed doors at the State Department in December 2011, where one of the stated topics of discussion with these foreign leaders was “training government officials on religious and cultural awareness.” Not only would U.S.-based Islamic groups have a direct say in the counter-terrorism training of U.S. government officials and agents, but it would also be done now in consultation with foreign Islamic states.
The State Department would later publish a report on those December consultation proceedings with the OIC. That December the OIC’s UNHCR Resolution 16/18 was approved with the support of the Obama Administration and the State Department, however the free speech implications of this new U.S.-backed regime did not go unnoticed....
That these new speech codes are now being translated into official Obama Administration policy can be seen in the statements by a U.S. attorney, who told a group of Muslim activists that statements made on social media outlets, such as Facebook, critical of Islam could be considered civil rights violations.
One of the stated primary objectives in the Islamic groups’ demands for action by the Obama Administration was the fundamental transformation of the FBI’s counter-terrorism training and investigative policies. And ultimately, they got what they wanted.
On February 8, 2012, a number of leaders from the Islamic organizations that had signed the October 19 demand letter met with FBI Director Robert Mueller, including representatives from ISNA and MPAC. Their intent was to check the progress of their demands for a “purge” (the term they used) of the bureau’s counter-terrorism training materials, again invoking Spencer Ackerman’s articles. They were told that more than 700 documents and 300 presentations had been purged from the FBI’s training.
But as Dr. Sebastian Gorka, a professor at the Institute Of World Politics and a trainer for numerous military and law enforcement agencies, recounts in tonight’s episode of For The Record, as “the purge” was being implemented during this period a demand was made for his presentation on Al Qaeda delivered repeatedly during FBI training events for review. A week later his powerpoint presentation was returned with instructions to remove several slides on the demand of an anonymous reviewer. Not only was Dr. Gorka afforded no opportunity to appeal or explanation of why certain elements had been deemed “inflammatory,” but the identity of the reviewer was never disclosed.
As complaints from inside the national security, intelligence and law enforcement community of these “Star Chamber” procedures began to reach Capitol Hill, several members of Congress began to make inquiries to the FBI as to why these trainers were being denied due process to defend their training and their work.
The result was a March 23, 2012, meeting between a representative from the FBI responsible for purging the counter-terrorism training materials, and attorneys and staffers with the House Judiciary Committee. For The Record has obtained a transcript of that conversation based on an audio recording made of the meeting. That transcript reveals that questions were raised about the identities and qualifications of the three anonymous outside contractors who were hired by the FBI to review all of their counter-terrorism training materials.
When one congressional staff attorney asked given the poor historical record of the FBI in selecting Muslim advisers and outreach partners, how the bureau knew they were “good guys,” the jaw-dropping response from the FBI agent tasked with overseeing the department’s purge was, “Well I mean – I guess we – ultimately, I don’t.”
Even more troubling was a document the FBI presented to the congressional staffers that was represented as the “guiding principles” by which the materials were reviewed. But a review of the “FBI’s Guiding Principles” document shows an even more shocking shift in U.S. government policies: "Training must clearly distinguish between constitutionally protected statements and activities designed to achieve political, social, or other objectives, and violent extremism, which is characterized by the use, threatened use, or advocacy of use of force or violence (when directed at and likely to incite imminent lawless activity) in violation of federal law to further a movement’s social or political ideologies. This distinction includes recognition of the corresponding principle that mere association with organizations that demonstrate both legitimate (advocacy) and illicit (violent extremism) objectives should not automatically result in a determination that the associated individual is acting in furtherance of the organization’s illicit objective(s)."
One congressional staff attorney described to me the implications of the FBI’s new “touchstone” policy: "The FBI is clearly saying here that if you support a designated terrorist organization or group that engages in violence, but that same organization engages in some kind of non-violent activity, like religious or ideological instruction, your support for that terrorist organization is deemed by this administration as constitutionally protected. There are two immediate problems with the FBI’s policy. First is that it is in direct conflict with federal law and the Supreme Court’s decision in the Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project that found that even non-violent support for a terrorist group is a violation of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. The second problem is practical. For all the talk by this administration about countering violent extremism, if that violent extremist group engages in non-violent activity there’s no ability for the government to ever counter its extremism because they have thrown a constitutional cloak over everything. They’ve undercut virtually all basis to do CVE. Look, it’s clear the real reason for this policy is that the administration had to rehabilitate their Muslim outreach partners, like ISNA and CAIR, who the Justice Department had proved during the Holy Land Foundation trial had supported terrorism. That’s a matter of court record. And the net effect of this and the whole government-wide purge has been to hamstring our counter-terrorism agencies and shut down terrorism investigations. So we shouldn’t be surprised when Americans get killed because of this political correctness."
The meeting between the FBI and House Judiciary Committee staff resulted in raising more questions than it answered. But when Congress began asking questions about the FBI’s questionable standards for purging their training materials and who was doing the reviewing, the FBI began throwing up obstacles....
[W]hen members of Congress began asking about the identities and background of the FBI’s outside “subject matter experts” (SMEs), the FBI took the unprecedented step of classifying their names....
And when members of Congress asked to review the documents and presentations that had been purged, rather than providing them for review, the FBI made them sign confidentiality agreements and they had toreview the purged materials in a secure room at FBI headquarters under the watchful eye of multiple FBI minders.
But the absurd lengths taken by the FBI were just beginning. On May 10, 2012 Congressman Louie Gohmert (TX-01) gave a speech on the House floor using a graph prepared by Stephen Coughlin comparing the terms used in the 9/11 Commission Report with the National Security Intelligence Strategy and the FBI’s Counter-Terrorism Analytical Lexicon, noting terms such as “jihad,” “Islam,” and even “Al-Qaeda” that had been repeatedly used by the 9/11 Commission had now been virtually eradicated in the later documents.
Remarkably, the following day a staffer in the FBI’s congressional liaison office called the House Judiciary Committee to claim that the FBI Counter-Terrorism Analytical Lexicon noted in Rep. Gohmert’s presentation didn’t actually exist. As I reported at the time, the FBI lexicon is not only publicly available, it is repeatedly referred to in other U.S. government documents.
And when Rep. Gohmert asked FBI Director Mueller during a House Judicial Committee oversight hearing about the identities of the outside experts used to purge the training, Mueller said that the names would only be disclosed to members of Congress in a classified setting:
Government watchdog Judicial Watch finally obtained redacted copies of the purged FBI materials last year only after filing a lawsuit against the bureau, discovering that some materials that the unnamed reviewers found to be factually accurate were nonetheless rejected based on highly subjective criteria, such as the reviewer objecting that the “tone” of the presentation was inappropriate.
What can be seen from these episodes is that in less than a year, the Obama Administration instituted policies – driven directly from the White House – that censored counter-terrorism trainers and training on the basis of whether certain Muslim groups (some of which with highly questionable records) deemed them offensive. The arbitrariness with which this campaign has been conducted raises serious questions about the dubious constitutionality and legality of these efforts. And yet the result of these policies has wrought a fundamental transformation of how our nation’s national security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies conduct counter-terrorism.
ISIS Takes Control of Fallujah
In January 2014, the barbaric terrorist group ISIS took control of the western Iraqi city of Fallujah, raising its flag over government buildings and declaring an Islamic state there. A Washington Post report underscoored the significance of this catastrophic development: "In Fallujah, where Marines fought the bloodiest battle of the Iraq war in 2004, the militants appeared to have the upper hand, underscoring the extent to which the Iraqi security forces have struggled to sustain the gains made by U.S. troops before they withdrew in December 2011. The upheaval also affirmed the soaring capabilities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the rebranded version of the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that was formed a decade ago to confront U.S. troops and expanded into Syria last year while escalating its activities in Iraq. Roughly a third of the 4,486 U.S. troops killed in Iraq died in Anbar trying to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq, nearly 100 of them in the November 2004 battle for control of Fallujah, the site of America’s bloodiest confrontation since the Vietnam War. Events Friday suggested the fight may have been in vain."
Obama Refers to ISIS as "a Jayvee Team"
In January 2014, when journalist David Remnick asked Obama to square his claim that al Qaeda had been “decimated,” with the fact that its outgrowth -- ISIS -- was now in control of Fallujah, Obama replied: “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”
U.S. Passively Watches ISIS Overrun Ramadi
In mid-May 2015, ISIS seized control of the Iraqi city of Ramadi, easily routing the Iraqi troops who were stationed there. As massive convoys of ISIS fighters, vehicles, and heavy equipment had gathered on the outskirts of that city just prior to launching their assault, the U.S. military watched passively while the Obama administration elected not to order any airstrikes against those convoys.
In a Bloomberg.com report, journalist Eli Lake wrote: “The Islamic State had been contesting territory in and around Ramadi for more than a year and had spoken of the importance of recapturing the city. The U.S. intelligence community had good warning that the Islamic State intended a new and bolder offensive on Ramadi because it was able to identify the convoys of heavy artillery, vehicle bombs and reinforcements through overhead imagery and eavesdropping on chatter from local Islamic State commanders. It surprised no one, one U.S. intelligence official told me.”
As Derek Harvey, a former intelligence adviser to David Petraeus in Iraq, put it: “The operations on Ramadi have been ongoing for 16 months. Everyone knew that Ramadi for some reason was a major focus.”
Obama's Restrictive Rules-of-Engagement Undermine Battle Against ISIS
The Obama administration greatly hampered the military effort against ISIS by imposing highly restrictive rules-of-engagement on American bombers capable of striking terrorist targets from the air. As of May 2015, the U.S. was launching a mere 15 airstrikes per day against ISIS in Syria and Iraq – a far cry from the 800 daily airstrikes that were launched in the Iraq War twelve years earlier. “We have not taken the fight to these guys,” said the pilot of an American A-10 attack plane. “We haven’t targeted their centers of gravity in Raqqa. All the roads between Syria and Iraq are still intact with trucks flowing freely.” According to the New York Times: “These critics describe an often cumbersome process to approve targets, and they say there are too few warplanes carrying out too few missions under too many restrictions.”
“American intelligence analysts have identified seven buildings in downtown Raqqa in eastern Syria as the main headquarters of the Islamic State. But the buildings have gone untouched during the 10-month allied air campaign. And just last week, convoys of heavily armed Islamic State fighters paraded triumphantly through the streets of the provincial capital Ramadi in western Iraq after forcing Iraqi troops to flee. They rolled on unscathed by coalition fighter-bombers.
“American and allied warplanes are equipped with the most precise aerial arsenal ever fielded. But American officials say they are not striking significant, and obvious, Islamic State targets out of fear that the attacks will accidentally kill civilians.... But many Iraqi commanders and some American officers say that exercising such prudence with airstrikes is a major reason the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or Daesh, has been able to seize vast territory in recent months in Iraq and Syria. That caution — coupled with President Obama’s reluctance to commit significant American firepower to a war the White House declared over in 2011, when the last United States combat troops withdrew from Iraq — has led to persistent complaints from Iraqi officials that the United States has been too cautious in its air campaign.”
ISIS Takes Control of Mosul
In June 2014, ISIS terrorists seized control of most of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, overrunning the western bank of the city after U.S.-trained Iraqi soldiers and police officers abandoned their posts and fled.
Obama Had No Contingency Plan in the Event That Mosul Might Fall
In a May 2015 interview with PBS, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked: “For all the contingency planning that you routinely do here at the Pentagon, were there plans for how to react to the fall of Mosul to ISIS?” Acknowledging that the Pentagon had not anticipated the fall of Mosul, he replied: “Well, no, there were not.... Look, there were several things that surprised us about ISIL. The degree to which they were able to form their own coalition, both inside of Syria and inside of northwestern Iraq; the military capability that they exhibited; the collapse of the Iraqi Security Forces.… Yeah, in those initial days, there were a few surprises.”
Obama Trades 5 Guantanamo Prisoners for the Last American POW from Iraq War
In early June 2014, President Obama made a deal with the Taliban to win the release of American POW Bowe Robert Bergdahl. Some of the men who had served with Bergdahl claimed that he had deserted his post, and that six American soldiers had died because of his actions. As former Sergeant Matt Vierkant told CNN: "Bowe Bergdahl deserted during a time of war and his fellow Americans lost their lives searching for him." According to the Daily Mail, the men who died looking for Bergdahl were: "Staff Sergeant Clayton Bowen, 29, and Private First Class Morris Walker, 23, who were killed in an IED explosion on August 18, 2009;Staff Sergeant Kurt Curtiss, a 27-year-old father of two, who died in a firefight on August 26, 2009; Second Lieutenant Darryn Andrews, 34, and Private First Class Matthew Michael Martinek, 20, [who] died after a rocket-propelled grenade ambush on September 4, 2009; and Staff Sergeant Michael Murphrey, 25, [who] was killed in an IED blast on September 5, 2009." Michelle Malkin subsequently reported that in fact eight -- not six -- American soldiers were killed in the process of trying to locate and recover Bergdahl.
In exchange for Bergdahl's release, Obama agreed to free five Guantanamo Bay detainees. The Los Angeles Times gave details of who the five released Taliban prisoners were:
The five released prisoners were all senior Taliban commanders and were imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay in 2002 after the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban government. Before the exchange Saturday, none were deemed eligible for release by the Pentagon.
Muhammad Fazl, 47, served as Taliban deputy defense minister during the U.S. invasion and commanded troops fighting the U.S. forces in northern Afghanistan, according to a 2008 Defense Department document on his case. He was wanted by the United Nations for "possible war crimes, including the murder of thousands of Shiites," the document said. "If released, the detainee would likely rejoin the Taliban," it added.
Khairullah Khairkhwa, according to another 2008 Defense Department document, served as the Taliban government's interior minister and as governor of Herat province, and he was "directly associated" with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammed Omar, the fugitive Taliban leader. Khairkhwa also "was associated" with a military training camp run by Abu Musab Zarqawi, a notorious Al Qaeda-linked leader later killed by U.S. forces in Iraq. In addition, he was "probably one of the major opium drug lords in western Afghanistan," the document said.
Mullah Norullah Noori, according to a similar 2008 document, was the senior Taliban commander in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif during the 2001 invasion. He was wanted by the U.N. for possible war crimes, including the deaths of thousands of Shiite Muslims, the document said. He was "associated" with Omar and senior Al Qaeda leaders, it said.
Abdul Haq Wasiq, according to a 2008 document on his case, served as deputy minister of intelligence during the Taliban rule and was involved in recruiting other militant groups to fight against the U.S. after the 2001 invasion. He used his office to support Al Qaeda and "arranged for Al Qaeda personnel to train Taliban intelligence staff," it said.
Mohammed Nabi was a "senior Taliban official" with close ties to Al Qaeda, the Haqqani network and other groups that fought the U.S. in Afghanistan, according to a 2008 Defense Department document. He was part of a militant cell in Khowst that attacked U.S. troops and facilitated the smuggling of weapons and fighters, the document said.
The Weekly Standard offered the following profiles of the released Taliban:
Mullah Mohammad Fazl (Taliban army chief of staff): Fazl is “wanted by the UN for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiites.” Fazl “was associated with terrorist groups currently opposing U.S. and Coalition forces including al Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), and an Anti-Coalition Militia group known as Harakat-i-Inqilab-i-Islami.” In addition to being one of the Taliban’s most experienced military commanders, Fazl worked closely with a top al Qaeda commander named Abdul Hadi al Iraqi, who headed al Qaeda’s main fighting unit in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 and is currently detained at Guantanamo.
Mullah Norullah Noori (senior Taliban military commander): Like Fazl, Noori is “wanted by the United Nations (UN) for possible war crimes including the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims.” Beginning in the mid-1990s, Noori “fought alongside al Qaeda as a Taliban military general, against the Northern alliance.” He continued to work closely with al Qaeda in the years that followed.
Abdul Haq Wasiq (Taliban deputy minister of intelligence): Wasiq arranged for al Qaeda members to provide crucial intelligence training prior to 9/11. The training was headed by Hamza Zubayr, an al Qaeda instructor who was killed during the same September 2002 raid that netted Ramzi Binalshibh, the point man for the 9/11 operation. Wasiq “was central to the Taliban's efforts to form alliances with other Islamic fundamentalist groups to fight alongside the Taliban against U.S. and Coalition forces after the 11 September 2001 attacks,” according to a leaked JTF-GTMO threat assessment.
Khairullah Khairkhwa (Taliban governor of the Herat province and former interior minister): Khairkhwa was the governor of Afghanistan’s westernmost province prior to 9/11. In that capacity, he executed sensitive missions for Mullah Omar, including helping to broker a secret deal with the Iranians. For much of the pre-9/11 period, Iran and the Taliban were bitter foes. But a Taliban delegation that included Kharikhwa helped secure Iran’s support for the Taliban’s efforts against the American-led coalition in late 2001. JTF-GTMO found that Khairkhwa was likely a major drug trafficker and deeply in bed with al Qaeda. He allegedly oversaw one of Osama bin Laden’s training facilities in Herat.
Mohammed Nabi (senior Taliban figure and security official): Nabi “was a senior Taliban official who served in multiple leadership roles.” Nabi “had strong operational ties to Anti-Coalition Militia (ACM) groups including al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG), some of whom remain active in ACM activities.” Intelligence cited in the JTF-GTMO files indicates that Nabi held weekly meetings with al Qaeda operatives to coordinate attacks against U.S.-led forces.
In an email to his father just days before he deserted the U.S. military in 2009, Bowe Bergdahl wrote: “I am sorry for everything here. These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid.” He thundered: “I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools. I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.” His father replied: “OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!” (Emphasis in original.)
Former Army Sgt. Evan Buetow, who served with Bergdahl and was present the night he disappeared, says that days after Bergdahl vanished from the U.S. base, there were reports that he was in a nearby village looking for someone who spoke English, so that he could establish communications with the Taliban. Soon afterward, Buetow recalls, “IEDs started going off directly under the trucks. They were getting perfect hits every time. Their ambushes were very calculated, very methodical.” Buetow believed that this turn of events was due to the fact that Bergdahl knew where the trucks would be going and when, and was passing this information on to the Taliban, to help them place their bombs most effectively.
On May 28, 2014, Bergdahl’s father, Robert, tweeted the following: "I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners. God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, ameen!" [sic]
On May 31, 2014, Robert Bergdahl and his wife joined President Obama in the Rose Garden of the White House to speak to reporters about the release of their son. In the course of his remarks, Mr. Bergdahl recited the most frequent phrase in the Koran — “Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim” —which means “In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Compassionate.” A moment later, he finished his statement and Obama hugged him.
Barack Obama broke a federal law that he signed just six months ago when he authorized the release of five high-ranking Taliban terror targets from the Guantanamo Bay detention center in exchange for the return of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, senior congressional Republicans claimed today.
And the president may also have written a new chapter in the case for his own impeachment, according to a former federal prosecutor who helped bring the 1993 World Trade Center bombers to justice.
'The return of senior terrorists to the Taliban [is] ... a "high crime and misdemeanor",' author Andrew C. McCarthy told MailOnline.
Obama 'clearly violated laws which require him to notify Congress thirty days before any transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay, and to explain how the threat posed by such terrorists has been substantially mitigated,' House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Buck McKeon of California and Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Sen. JIm Inhofe of Oklahoma said Saturday....
The law Obama is accused of breaking, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2013, requires Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to 'notify the appropriate committees of Congress ... not later than 30 days before the transfer or release' of detainees from Guantanamo. Hagel is required to explain why prisoners are being let go, why it's 'in the national security interests of the United States,' and what the administration has done 'to mitigate the risks' that the terror targets will 're-engage' in war against the U.S.
Obama signed the lengthy law in December – it sets budgets and policy for the entire Defense Department – but issued a statement saying that he thought the notification requirement was unfair.
'[I]n certain circumstances,,' he wrote, it 'would violate constitutional separation of powers principles. The executive branch must have the flexibility, among other things, to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers.'
According to Andrew C. McCarthy, transferring the five high-value prisoners to Qatar, as Obama authorized, "violates the law against material support to terrorism. And because high crimes and misdemeanors are not statutory offenses but political wrongs that endanger the United States, the return of senior terrorists to the Taliban while we still have soldiers in harm’s way is, in my view, a 'high crime and misdemeanor'."
President Obama's June 2, 2014 claim that the U.S. would "be keeping eyes" on the five freed Taliban leaders, was immediately challenged by a senior Gulf official who said that they would in fact be permitted to "move around freely" and then be allowed to travel outside Qatar after a year -- and even "go back to Afghanistan if they want to." The official further contradicted Obama's claim that U.S. officials would be involved in monitoring their movements.
"U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl at one point during his captivity converted to Islam, fraternized openly with his captors and declared himself a 'mujahid,' or warrior for Islam, according to secret documents prepared on the basis of a purported eyewitness account and obtained by Fox News....These real-time dispatches were generated by the Eclipse Group, a shadowy private firm of former intelligence officers and operatives that has subcontracted with the Defense Department and prominent corporations to deliver granular intelligence on terrorist activities and other security-related topics, often from challenging environments in far-flung corners of the globe."
"Bergdahl has converted to Islam and now describes himself as a mujahid. Bergdahl enjoys a modicum of freedom, and engages in target practice with the local mujahedeen, firing AK47s. Bergdahl is even allowed to carry a loaded gun on occasion. Bergdahl plays soccer with his guards and bounds around the pitch like a mad man. He appears to be well and happy, and has a noticeable habit of laughing frequently and saying 'Salaam' repeatedly."
At a June 5, 2014 press conference, President Obama was asked about the backlash over the Bergdahl deal. He replied: "I'm never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington." Added Obama: “We saw an opportunity and we seized it. And I make no apologies for that. We have a basic principle: we do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind'”
On June 6, 2014, NBC News reported: "One of the five Taliban leaders freed from Guantanamo Bay in return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release has pledged to return to fight Americans in Afghanistan, according to a fellow militant and a relative. 'After arriving in Qatar, Noorullah Noori kept insisting he would go to Afghanistan and fight American forces there,' a Taliban commander told NBC News via telephone from Afghanistan."
In an August 21, 2014 report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that President Obama had violated a “clear and unambiguous” law by releasing the 5 detainees in exchange for Bergdahl. “[The Department of Defense] violated section 8111 because it did not notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the transfer,” said the report. “In addition, because DOD used appropriated funds to carry out the transfer when no money was available for that purpose, DOD violated the Antideficiency Act. The Antideficiency Act prohibits federal agencies from incurring obligations exceeding an amount available in an appropriation.”
Rejecting the Obama administration's suggestion that the law was unconstitutional, the GAO report said: “It is not our role or our practice to determine the constitutionality of duly enacted statutes. In our view, where legislation has been passed by Congress and signed by the President, thereby satisfying the bicameralism and presentment requirements in the Constitution, that legislation is entitled to a heavy presumption in favor of constitutionality.”
On September 21, 2014, the New York Postreported the following about Bergdahl:
Before slipping away, Bergdahl shipped much of his gear, including a personal computer, back home to Idaho. In e-mails to his parents, excerpted in Rolling Stone, he complained he was “ashamed to even be American” and was “sorry for everything here,” adding: “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live.”
When he left his outpost near the Pakistan border, he left behind his body armor and weapon and only took with him water and a backpack with a camera, notebook and writing materials — bizarre, given the hostile territory around his post.
He left a farewell note in which he stated he was deserting and explained his disillusionment with the war, according to The New York Times; other reports say he sought to renounce his American citizenship. Within 24 hours, the Taliban confirmed they had picked him up, whereupon he expressed his displeasure with his countrymen and “wanted to accept Islam,” two Afghans who were Taliban commanders at the time told NBC News.
Bergdahl converted to Islam during his captivity and declared himself a “mujahid,” or warrior for Islam, according to secret military documents obtained by Fox News.
Soon after his rendezvous with the Taliban, the improvised explosive devices the enemy used to attack US convoys became more accurate and lethal. “IEDs started going off directly under the trucks; they were getting perfect hits every time,” Beutow recalled, suggesting Bergdahl shared military intelligence with his captors.
The Pentagon never classified Bergdahl a POW during his five years in captivity.
Bergdahl Charged with Desertion
On March 25, 2014, U.S. Army officials announced that Bergdahl would be charged with desertion.
The 5 Terrorists Who Were Traded for Bergdahl, Will Now Be Released
On May 12, 2015, Breitbart.com reported: "The five senior Taliban Commanders released from Guantanamo in exchange for the return of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are set to be freed from their “luxurious” confinement in Qatar effective June 1. These five hard-core terrorists are Mullah Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Khairullah Khairkhwa and Mohammend Nabi Omari. There is little doubt that these five Taliban commanders will return to the Afghanistan battlefield."
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is set to plead guilty Monday to charges he endangered comrades by walking away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009 -- the court case wrapping up just three years after a stunning Rose Garden spectacle in which former President Barack Obama, flanked by Bergdahl's parents, triumphantly announced the soldier's release from captivity.
Bergdahl was released in May 2014 after a highly-criticized deal in which five Taliban terrorists were set free. At the time, Obama administration officials said Bergdahl had "served with honor and distinction."
The U.S. Army said Bergdahl asked to enter his plea before the military judge at Fort Bragg. The Associated Press previously reported that he's expected to plead guilty to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
It's not clear if Bergdahl, 31, has a deal with prosecutors to limit his punishment, or if he's simply pleading guilty in hopes of leniency from the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance. The misbehavior charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, while the desertion charge is punishable by up to five years.
Bergdahl's lawyers are expected to reveal in court Monday whether there's a plea agreement in place to cap his punishment, or if he's pleading guilty without such a deal in what's known colloquially as a "naked plea." In either scenario, his punishment won't be known until after the judge holds the sentencing hearing that's expected to start on Oct. 23. Bergdahl, who's from Hailey, Idaho, previously chose to have his case heard by a judge alone, rather than a jury.
A naked plea would be a risky move, Eric Carpenter, an assistant law professor at Florida International University and a former Army defense attorney and prosecutor, told Task & Purpose.
“It can backfire,” Carpenter said. “If he doesn’t have a deal, they could go in there and enter this naked plea and come out with a life sentence.”
Guilty pleas would bring the highly politicized saga closer to an end eight years after Bergdahl's disappearance in Afghanistan set off search missions by scores of his fellow service members. President Obama was criticized by Republicans for the 2014 Taliban prisoner swap that brought Bergdahl home, while President Donald Trump harshly criticized Bergdahl on the campaign trail.
Serious wounds to service members who searched for Bergdahl are expected to play a role in his sentencing. While guilty pleas would allow him to avoid a trial, he'd still face a sentencing hearing in late October. Bergdahl's five years of captivity by the Taliban and its allies also will likely play a role in what punishment he receives.
At one point during his captivity, Bergdahl converted to Islam, fraternized openly with his captors and declared himself a "mujahid," or warrior for Islam, Fox News reported in 2014, citing secret documents prepared on the basis of a purported eyewitness account.
Obama Says It Is Vital Not to Overinflate the Importance of Terrorist Networks
In a February 1, 2015 interview with CNN, Obama was asked about the magnitude of the terror threat against the United States. He replied:
"What I do insist on is that we maintain a proper perspective and that we do not provide a victory to these terrorist networks by overinflating their importance and suggesting in some fashion that they are an existential threat to the United States or the world order. You know, the truth of the matter is that they can do harm. But we have the capacity to control how we respond in ways that do not undercut what's the -- you know, what's essence of who we are. That means that we don't torture, for example, and thereby undermine our values and credibility around the world. It means that we don't approach this with a strategy of sending out occupying armies and playing Whac-A-Mole wherever a terrorist group appears because that drains our economic strength and it puts enormous burdens on our military. What's required is a surgical, precise response to a very specific problem. And if we do that effectively, then ultimately these terrorist organizations will be defeated because they don't have a vision that appeals to ordinary people."
Administration Says ISIS Cannot Be Stopped Militarily, But by Helping Them to Get Jobs
In a February 16, 2015 interview with MSNBC's Chris Matthews, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf delivered the Obama Administration's position on how the U.S. should deal with the barbaric terrorist group ISIS:
MATTHEWS: How do we stop this? I don’t see it.... If i were ISIS, I wouldn’t be afraid right now. I can figure there is no existential threat to these people. They can keep finding places where they can hold executions and putting the camera work together, getting their props ready and killing people for show. And nothing we do right now seems to be directed at stopping this.
HARF: Well, I think there’s a few stages here. Right now what we’re doing is trying to take their leaders and their fighters off the battlefield in Iraq and Syria. That’s really where they flourish.
MATTHEWS: Are we killing enough of them?
HARF: We’re killing a lot of them and we’re going to keep killing more of them. So are the Egyptians, so are the Jordanians. They’re in this fight with us. But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs, whether —
MATTHEWS: We’re not going to be able to stop that in our lifetime or fifty lifetimes. There’s always going to be poor people. There’s always going to be poor muslims, and as long as there are poor Muslims, the trumpet’s blowing and they’ll join. We can’t stop that, can we?
HARF: We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people. You're right, there is no easy solution in the long term to preventing and combating violent extremism. But if we can help countries work at the root causes of this -- what makes these 17-year-old kids pick up an AK-47 instead of trying to start a business -- maybe we can try to chip away at this problem....while at the same time going after the threat, taking on ISIL in Iraq in Syria and helping our partners around the world.
Obama Says Terrorist Groups May Have "Legitimate Grievances," and Suggests That Economic Measures May Help to Moderate Them
In February 2015, during a three-day White House summit on combating "violent extremism," President Obama published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times titled, "Our fight against violent extremism." In it, he wrote: "Governments that deny human rights play into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way to achieve change. Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies. Those efforts must be matched by economic, educational and entrepreneurial development so people have hope for a life of dignity."
Obama Says Many Muslim Americans Feel Threatened, and He Suggests, Without Evidence, That the Recent Murders of 3 Muslim Americans May Have Been Due to Religious Hatred
In his February 2015 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, titled "Our fight against violent extremism," Obama wrote: “… all of us have a role to play by upholding the pluralistic values that define us as Americans … That pluralism has at times been threatened by hateful ideologies and individuals from various religions … We do not yet know why three young people, who were Muslim Americans, were brutally killed in Chapel Hill, N.C. [on the campus of the University of North Carolina]. But we know that many Muslim Americans across our country are worried and afraid.”
Obama's Reaction to ISIS Beheadings
On February 16, 2015, ISIS terrorists in Libya beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were among among thousands of unemployed Egyptians who had gone to Libya desperately seeking work. ISIS then released a videotape of the barbaric mass murder. In the video (titled A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross), a masked, English-speaking jihadi declared: "Oh people, recently you've seen us on the hills of Al-Sham [Greater Syria] and on Dabeq's Plain, chopping off the heads that had been carrying the cross delusion for a long time, filled with spite against Islam and Muslims, and today we… are sending another message: oh crusaders, safety for you will be only wishes. Especially when you're fighting us all together, therefore we will fight you all together until the war lays down its burdens and Jesus peace be upon him will descend, breaking the cross, killing the swine." The speaker concluded with a reference to the late Osama Bin Laden: "The sea you've hidden Sheikh Osama Bin Laden's body in, we swear to Allah, we will mix it with your blood." The extremely graphic video then ended with a shot of sea water red with the blood of the murdered Copts, while jihadist hymns played in the background.
In response to this incident, the Obama administration released the statement below. Notably (see bold-faced words), the statement does not identify the victims as Christians, but rather as "citizens" and "innocents." It also asserts that a political (rather than military) solution must be pursued with ISIS, a terror group dedicated to wanton slaughter:
"The United States condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists. We offer our condolences to the families of the victims and our support to the Egyptian government and people as they grieve for their fellow citizens. ISIL’s barbarity knows no bounds. It is unconstrained by faith, sect, or ethnicity. This wanton killing of innocents is just the most recent of the many vicious acts perpetrated by ISIL-affiliated terrorists against the people of the region, including the murders of dozens of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai, which only further galvanizes the international community to unite against ISIL.
"This heinous act once again underscores the urgent need for a political resolution to the conflict in Libya, the continuation of which only benefits terrorist groups, including ISIL. We call on all Libyans to strongly reject this and all acts of terrorism and to unite in the face of this shared and growing threat. We continue to strongly support the efforts of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General Bernardino Leon to facilitate formation of a national unity government and help foster a political solution in Libya."
During the three-day Presidents' Day weekend (February 15-17) on which the beheadings occurred, President Obama was on a golf vacation in Palm Springs, California.
Though Obama Said Nothing About the Anti-Christian Motivation Behind the Libya Beheadings, He Speculated Openly About the Anti-Muslim Motivations Behind a North Carolina Triple Murder
On February 10, 2015, a white North Carolina man murdered three young Muslims, execution style, in an incident that police said was apparently related to a long-simmering dispute over a parking space -- not religious hatred. In response to the killing, Obama issued a statement saying that “[t]he brutal and outrageous murders” would be investigated by the FBI as possible hate crimes, and that “no one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.” “Michelle [Obama] and I offer our condolences to the victims’ loved ones…. we are all one American family,” the statement added.
Just As Obama Said Nothing About the Anti-Christian Motivation Behind the Libya Beheadings, He Was Likewise Silent on the Religious Motivations Behind Two Murders in Denmark
On February 14, 2015, a machine-gun-wielding Muslim man in a Copenhagen, Denmark cafe murdered a movie director at a public event celebrating the free-speech right to criticize Islam or any other religion -- an event which was held in the wake of the infamous Charlie Hebdo murders by two Muslims -- and then gunnned down a young Jewish man in a Danish synagogue. Obama later issued a brief, three-sentence statement regarding the cafe murder: “The United States condemns today’s deplorable shooting in Copenhagen. We offer our condolences… [and] stand ready to lend any assistance necessary to the investigation.” He said nothing about the synagogue murder.
Pentagon Officials Call out Obama's "Pathetic" ISIS Strategy
In May 2015, The Washington Timesreported on what it called "deep-seated doubts" among Pentagon brass regarding President Obama's strategy in degrading and defeating ISIS. This revelation undercut the official White House line that indicated a unified front between the president and military officials. One Pentagon official, said to be involved in counterterrorism analysis, asked incredulously, “What strategy?” He went on to say, “We are now floating along, reacting to ISIS.”
The general consensus among top military officials was that the president would never activate their recommended plan of deploying ground troops, which the officials believed to be the only way to defeat ISIS. Although the Times could not speak of this dissent reaching the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one of the paper's sources said the White House was "running the campaign" and that the Pentagon was "furious" about that. According to the source, some of the White House strategy involved leaving fighter pilots circling targets for hours before they were approved to drop their payload, if they got approval at all. And though these surgical strikes had been going on for nearly a year, the Times stated that "the battlefield outcome [is] no better." “This is worse than pathetic,” the source said, adding that a more robust strategy "could defeat the Islamic State in weeks."
"Another official said a constant theme inside the Pentagon is that the White House does not seem committed to winning. The frequent public relations spin is that this will be a long process to take down the Islamic State when, in fact, officers say, it does not have to be."
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn was quoted urging the Obama administration to take a more aggressive approach if it wished to achieve its stated goals:
"Unless the United States takes dramatically more action than we have done so far in Iraq, the fractious, largely Shiite-composed units that make up the Iraqi army are not likely to be able, by themselves, to overwhelm a Sunni stronghold like Mosul, even though they outnumber the enemy by ten to one. We must engage the violent Islamists wherever they are, drive them from their safe havens and kill them. There can be no quarter and no accommodation."
Obama Releases al Qaeda Torturer from Guantanamo
In June 2016, the Obama administration released Mohammed Ali Salem al Zarnuki, who formerly worked as a torturer for Osama bin Laden in Kandahar, from the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Salem had also attended meetings with bin Laden and was reportedly present during plans for follow-up attacks for the USS Cole bombing.
Obama Administration Blocks Arab Attempt to Fly Heavy Weapons Directly to Kurds to Fight ISIS
On July 2, 2015, the London Telegraph reported:
"The United States has blocked attempts by its Middle East allies to fly heavy weapons directly to the Kurds fighting Islamic State jihadists in Iraq, The Telegraph has learnt. Some of America’s closest allies say President Barack Obama and other Western leaders, including David Cameron, are failing to show strategic leadership over the world’s gravest security crisis for decades. They now say they are willing to 'go it alone' in supplying heavy weapons to the Kurds, even if means defying the Iraqi authorities and their American backers, who demand [that] all weapons be channelled through Baghdad. High level officials from Gulf and other states have told this newspaper that all attempts to persuade Mr Obama of the need to arm the Kurds directly as part of more vigorous plans to take on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) have failed.... The officials say they are looking at new ways to take the fight to Isil without seeking US approval.
"'If the Americans and the West are not prepared to do anything serious about defeating Isil, then we will have to find new ways of dealing with the threat,' said a senior Arab government official. 'With Isil making ground all the time we simply cannot afford to wait for Washington to wake up to the enormity of the threat we face.'
"The Peshmerga have been successfully fighting Isil, driving them back from the gates of Erbil and, with the support of Kurds from neighbouring Syria, re-establishing control over parts of Iraq’s north-west. But they are doing so with a makeshift armoury. Millions of pounds-worth of weapons have been bought by a number of European countries to arm the Kurds, but American commanders, who are overseeing all military operations against Isil, are blocking the arms transfers....
"The U.S. has also infuriated its allies, particularly Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states, by what they perceive to be a lack of clear purpose and vacillation in how they conduct the bombing campaign. Other members of the coalition say they have identified clear Isil targets but then been blocked by US veto from firing at them. 'There is simply no strategic approach,' one senior Gulf official said. 'There is a lack of coordination in selecting targets, and there is no overall plan for defeating Isil.'"
Another 40,000 Troops to Be Cut from U.S. Army
In July 2015, it was reported that some 40,000 active troops and 17,000 civilian employees would be cut from the U.S. Army over the ensuing two years. The 40,000 troop layoffs would reduce the size of the Army from 490,000 to 450,000 soldiers. As recently as 2012, the figure stood at 570,000.
Lying About Intelligence on Terror Threats
In September 2015, more than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command formally complained that senior officials were altering their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, in order to paint an unrealistically positive picture of the effort to thwart the terrorist activities of those organizations. According to a report in the Daily Beast:
"The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command charged with the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State assesses intelligence. 'The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command,' one defense official said.
"Two senior analysts at CENTCOM signed a written complaint sent to the Defense Department inspector general in July alleging that the reports, some of which were briefed to President Obama, portrayed the terror groups as weaker than the analysts believe they are. The reports were changed by CENTCOM higher-ups to adhere to the administration’s public line that the U.S. is winning the battle against ISIS and al Nusra, al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the analysts claim.
"That complaint was supported by 50 other analysts, some of whom have complained about politicizing of intelligence reports for months. That’s according to 11 individuals who are knowledgeable about the details of the report and who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.
"The accusations suggest that a large number of people tracking the inner workings of the terror groups think that their reports are being manipulated to fit a public narrative."
Obama Releases the "20th 9/11 Hijacker" from Guantanamo
In September 2015, the Obama administration quietly released Abdul Shalabi, the 39-year-old former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden, from Guantanamo Bay and shipped him to Saudi Arabia. Shalabi had trained to be the 20th hijacker for the Sept. 11, 2001 al Qaeda terrorist attacks against the United States. Shalabi was set free even though military officials deemed him too dangerous to be unleashed on the world and too valuable as an intelligence asset to be released from U.S. custody. In May 2008 when George W. Bush was president, Rear Admiral David M. Thomas Jr., then the commander of the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo, recommended in a since-unclassified memo that Shalabi's detention be continued. Spelling the word high in block capitals and boldfacing it for emphasis, Thomas warned that Shalabi was "[a] HIGH risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the U.S., its interests and allies[,]" "[a] HIGH threat from a detention perspective[,]" and "[o]f HIGH intelligence value."
Nuclear Black Market
On October 7, 2015, the Associated Press reported the following story, particularly ominous in light of: (a) President Obama's failure to thwart the rise of the terror group ISIS, (b) the president's decision not to enforce American immigration laws, (c) Obama's recently negotiated nuclear deal with Iran, and (d) the demise of U.S.-Russian relations:
"In the backwaters of Eastern Europe, authorities working with the FBI have interrupted four attempts in the past five years by gangs with suspected Russian connections that sought to sell radioactive material to Middle Eastern extremists, The Associated Press has learned. The latest known case came in February this year, when a smuggler offered a huge cache of deadly cesium — enough to contaminate several city blocks — and specifically sought a buyer from the Islamic State group.
"Criminal organizations, some with ties to the Russian KGB's successor agency, are driving a thriving black market in nuclear materials in the tiny and impoverished Eastern European country of Moldova, investigators say. The successful busts, however, were undercut by striking shortcomings: Kingpins got away, and those arrested evaded long prison sentences, sometimes quickly returning to nuclear smuggling, AP found.
"Moldovan police and judicial authorities shared investigative case files with the AP in an effort to spotlight how dangerous the nuclear black market has become. They say the breakdown in cooperation between Russia and the West means that it has become much harder to know whether smugglers are finding ways to move parts of Russia's vast store of radioactive materials — an unknown quantity of which has leached into the black market.
"'We can expect more of these cases,' said Constantin Malic, a Moldovan police officer who investigated all four cases. 'As long as the smugglers think they can make big money without getting caught, they will keep doing it.'
"In wiretaps, videotaped arrests, photographs of bomb-grade material, documents and interviews, AP found a troubling vulnerability in the anti-smuggling strategy. From the first known Moldovan case in 2010 to the most recent one in February, a pattern has emerged: Authorities pounce on suspects in the early stages of a deal, giving the ringleaders a chance to escape with their nuclear contraband — an indication that the threat from the nuclear black market in the Balkans is far from under control.
"Moldovan investigators can't be sure that the suspects who fled didn't hold on to the bulk of the nuclear materials. Nor do they know whether the groups, which are pursuing buyers who are enemies of the West, may have succeeded in selling deadly nuclear material to extremists at a time when the Islamic State has made clear its ambition to use weapons of mass destruction....
"The Moldovan operations were built on a partnership between the FBI and a small team of Moldovan investigators — including Malic, who over five years went from near total ignorance of the frightening black market in his backyard to wrapping up four sting operations.
"'In the age of the Islamic State, it's especially terrifying to have real smugglers of nuclear bomb material apparently making connections with real buyers,' says Matthew Bunn, a Harvard professor who led a secret study for the Clinton administration on the security of Russia's nuclear arsenal....
"Wiretapped conversations repeatedly exposed plots targeting the United States, the Moldovan officials said. At one point the middleman told an informant posing as a buyer that it was essential that the smuggled uranium go to Arabs.
"'He said to the informant on a wire: I really want an Islamic buyer because they will bomb the Americans,' said Malic, the investigator."
Sparing ISIS Targets Due to Environmental Concerns
In a November 8, 2015 interview with Charlie Rose, President Obama's former acting CIA director Michael Morell said that the Obama administration's concern about the environment had caused it to refrain from destroying the oil facilities that served as the primary source of income for the terrorist organization ISIS. In the course of the interview, the following exchange took place:
ROSE: "How do we attack that, rather than retaking territory, attack the funding that they have, attack the ability to sell the oil? We've seen attacks on that oil transfer taking place now after Paris that didn't take place before Paris [a reference to a series of November 2015 terror attack that had killed at least 129 people in the French capital] ..."
MORELL: "Right. This is one of the collateral damage questions, right? So prior to Paris, there seemed to be a judgment and I don't sit in the room anymore there seemed to have been a judgment that, look, we don't want to destroy these oil tankers because that's infrastructure that's going to be necessary to support the people when ISIS isn't there anymore, and it's going to create environmental damage and we didn't go after oil wells -- actually hitting oil wells that ISIS controls because we didn't want to do environmental damage and we didn't want to destroy that infrastructure."
Dropping Leaflets to Warn ISIS of the Impending Attacks; American Military Restraint Because Obama Actually Favors ISIS Over Assad
“The Obama White House is giving ISIS a 45 minute warning before bombing their oil tankers by dropping leaflets advising potential jihadists to flee before air strikes in Syria. 'Get out of your trucks now, and run away from them. Warning: air strikes are coming. Oil trucks will be destroyed. Get away from your oil trucks immediately. Do not risk your life,' the leaflet reads.
“The leaflet drops are justified under the premise that the oil tanker drivers might be civilians and not ISIS recruits, although it’s an explanation that doesn’t wash with critics. 'It’s not like these drivers are innocent, uninvolved civilians like children or sick people,' writes J.E. Dyer. 'They’re waging ISIS’s war, just like the other non-uniformed participants who make up 100% of ISIS’s ranks. This is how far the Obama administration is going to avoid collateral damage — and who knows, it may be worse.” …
“Compare the Obama White House’s approach to fighting ISIS to that of Russia. While it took the U.S. fifteen months to even begin targeting ISIS’ oil refineries and tankers, air strikes by Moscow destroyed more than 1,000 tankers in a period of just five days. In comparison, Col. Steve Warren said that the U.S. had taken out only 116 tanker trucks, the 'first strike' to target ISIS’ lucrative black market oil business, which funds over 50 per cent of the terror group’s activities.... U.S. military pilots have also confirmed that they were ordered not to drop 75 per cent of their ordnance on ISIS targets because they could not get clearance from their superiors....
“Numerous analysts claim that the Obama White House’s fifteen month wait before it began targeting the primary funding mechanism behind ISIS was part of a tacit policy to help the Islamic State overthrow Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Earlier this year a document emerged confirming that the Pentagon foresaw the rise of ISIS and that western support for Al-Qaeda groups and other anti-Assad rebels in Syria would lead to the emergence of a 'Salafist Principality' that would help to 'isolate' Assad.
“'The bottom line – the almost irrefutable truth – is that the US and its regional allies were all-in on the use Sunni extremists to bring about regime change in Syria strategy from the word go, and the direct result of that strategy is ISIS,' reports Zero Hedge, adding, 'The US didn’t want to cut off Islamic State’s funding, because without money, the group couldn’t fight Assad.'”
Terrorism Deaths Quadruple Under Obama
On November 24, 2015, Breitbart.com reported: "The worldwide number of annual terrorist deaths has more than quadrupled since President Barack Obama was inaugurated in January 2009." Added the report:
"Deaths from terrorism increased 80 percent last year to an all-time-record of 32,658 people killed, compared to 18,111 in 2013. The number is up about 426 percent from the 7,654 killed by terrorists in 2008 under President Bush, according to the latest report from ‘Vision of Humanity.’
"The 2014 economic cost of 13,370 terrorist attacks in 93 countries included property damage, medical costs, lost income for victims, and the indirect costs of preventing and responding to terrorist acts. The annual “Global Terrorism Index” report estimated those costs hit an all-time-high in 2014 of $52.9 billion.
"Boko Haram and Islamic State of Iraq and Levant were jointly responsible for 51 percent of all claimed global terrorist fatalities in 2014. About 57 percent of all the attacks and 78 percent of all the deaths occurred in the five nations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria.
"But the number of nations suffering over 500 or more deaths from terrorism increased in 2014 by approximately 120 percent, to 11 countries.
"Nigeria experienced the largest increase in terrorist activity with 7,512 deaths in 2014, a jump of over 300 percent over the prior year. But Iraq continued as the worst place for terrorist attacks in 2014, with 9,929 killed, setting another new all-time-record for a single nation.
"The number of countries suffering at least one terrorist fatality spread significantly last year, from 59 in 2013 to 67 in 2014. Advanced Western nations suffering at least one terrorist death included Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada and France.
"As the Middle East destabilized from 2011 through 2014, global terrorist attacks set a new record each year. Over the three-year period, the total number of people killed by terrorism was approximately 63,214.
"The 2015 year was on track through mid-June (latest data available) to set another all-time record, with the IntelCenter tracking '5,209 terrorist and rebel incidents' that killed a total of 14,193 people."
Obama Tries to Downplay Terrorism Angle of Mass Murder in California
After Islamic terrorists with guns murdered 14 civilians and wounded at least 21 others in San Bernardino, California on December 2, 2015, President Obama and FBI Director James Comey clashed about how to characterize the nature of the shooting. While the FBI believed that it was an act of terrorism from the start, the White House applied strong political pressure on investigators to avoid using the term “terrorism,” with Obama saying: “It is possible that this is terrorist related, but we don’t know…. It is also possible that this was workplace related." According to the Special Operations Forces Report: "[A]fter the shooting, Obama held a meeting in the Oval Office with his National Security Council, the attorney general, and the directors of the DHS, FBI, and NSA, in which a directive was given to downplay the terrorism angle. Such meetings are not held for mass shootings."
Obama Releases 17 Guantanamo Prisoners
On January 5, 2016, it was reported that the Obama administration would soon be releasing 17 detainees, including “al Qaeda followers” who had been cleared for release to other countries by a board established by Obama.
Saying That "Right-Wing Extremists" Are Just As Dangerous As Islamists
In Department of Homeland Security meeting held in January 2016, just days after an Islamist gunman had murdered 14 civilians in San Bernardino, California, DHS secretary Jeh Johnson opined that "right wing extremists" pose just as much of a threat to national security as Islamic extremists. The Daily Caller reports: "Johnson made the comments during the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s (HSAC) January meeting. City of Austin Mayor Art Acevedo, whom Johnson appointed to HSAC, shifted the discussion to the threat of right-wing extremists, according to the official meeting minutes. 'Member Acevedo reminded the Council that the threat from right-wing extremists domestically is just as real as the threat from Islamic extremism,' the minutes state. Johnson echoed the sentiment. 'Secretary Johnson agreed and noted that CVE [Subcommittee on Combating Violent Extremism], by definition, is not solely focused on one religion,' the minutes state."
Obama Says Guantanamo Is Recruitment Tool for Terrorists
In February 2016, President Obama announced that he was planning to bring 60 of the 91 terrorists remaining at Guantanamo to U.S. prisons. "With this plan," he said, "we have the opportunity, finally, to eliminate a terrorist propaganda tool [and] enhance our national security." He said that images of Muslims shackled in orange jumpsuits serve as a “recruitment tool" for terrorists. "It’s counterproductive to our fight against terrorists," added Obama, "because they use it as propaganda in their efforts to recruit."
Obama Claims That Guantanamo Should Be Closed Because It Is Too Costly to Keep Open
Said Obama in February 2016: "It [Guantanamo] drains military resources, with nearly $450 million spent last year alone to keep it running, and more than $200 million in additional costs needed to keep it open going forward for less than 100 detainees." (NOTE: At the time of Obama's statement, the U.S. national debt had increased by approximately $9 trillion during the course of his presidency. This means that the federal government had engaged in approximately $3.5 billion of deficit spending each and every day since the start of Obama's presidency. In other words, the $450 million annual cost of keeping Guantanamo open was equivalent to about 4 hours worth of deficit spending by the government.)
Obama Releases 2 Al Qaeda Explosives Experts from Guantanamo
In April 2016, the U.S. government released two Libyan prisoners from Guantanamo Bay -- Salem Abdu Salam Ghereby and Omar Khalif Mohammed Abu Baker Mahjour Umar -- transferring them to Senegal. Both were former explosives experts for al-Qaeda. In 2008, Umar had been judged likely to “immediately seek out prior associates and reengage in hostilities and extremist support activities.” “We are taking all possible steps to reduce the detainee population at Guantanamo and to close the detention facility in a responsible manner that protects our national security,” said Secretary of State John Kerry when commenting on the two prisoner releases.
Obama's Remarks After Jihadist Murders 49 in Orlando, Florida
Shortly after a Muslim jihadist used an AR-15 rifle to murder 49 people and wound 53 others in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, President Obama issued the following remarks. Notably, he refrained from mentioning Islam, he depicted the incident as a crime rather than an act of jihad, and he emphasized the need for stricter gun-control measures:
"... We are still learning all the facts. This is an open investigation. We’ve reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer. The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism. And I’ve directed that we must spare no effort to determine what — if any — inspiration or association this killer may have had with terrorist groups. What is clear is that he was a person filled with hatred. Over the coming days, we’ll uncover why and how this happened, and we will go wherever the facts lead us....
"This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends — our fellow Americans — who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live. The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub — it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.
"So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American — regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation — is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country. And no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.
"Today marks the most deadly shooting in American history. The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle. This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well."
FBI Warns Against Threats Aimed at Muslims
A few days after the jihadist mass slaughter in Orlando, Obama administration authorities warned that retaliatory threats against Muslims would not be tolerated, and possibly would be prosecuted. “Civil rights violations are a priority for the FBI,” assistant special agent Ron Hopper told reporters. “We will investigate reported incidents against individuals based upon any class, any protected class, to include race, religion, and sexual orientation.” U.S. attorney Lee Bentley added: “Making these threats is not only wrong, in most cases, making these threats is illegal. Stop it. Any threats like this detract from what we’re doing in law enforcement.”
Obama Says ISIS (ISIL) Is Degraded; CIA Chief John Brennan Then Says the Opposite
“We are making significant progress. ... This campaign at this stage is firing on all cylinders. ... ISIL is under more pressure than ever before.
"Our B-52 bombers are hitting ISIL with precision strikes. Targets are being identified and hit even more quickly -- so far, 13,000 airstrikes. This campaign at this stage is firing on all cylinders."
“ ISIL is under more pressure than ever before. ISIL continues to lose key leaders. ... ISIL continues to lose ground in Iraq. ... ISIL continues to lose ground in Syria as well.
“As ISIL continues to lose territory, it also continues to lose the money that is its lifeblood. ... ISIL is now effectively cut off from the international financial system.
“ISIL’s ranks are shrinking as well. Their morale is sinking. ... The flow of foreign fighters -- including from America to Syria and Iraq -- has plummeted.
“In fact, our intelligence community now assesses that the ranks of ISIL fighters have been reduced to the lowest levels in more than 2-1/2 years.”
"ISIL is also losing ground in Libya. Forces of the Libyan unity government are going after ISIL in their stronghold in Sirte. And we’ll continue to assist the new Libyan government as it works to secure its country."
Two days later, CIA Director John Brennan told a very different story. He said, among other things:
Unfortunately, despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach. The resources needed for terrorism are very modest, and the group would have to suffer even heavier losses on territory, manpower and money for its terrorism capacity to decline significantly. In fact, as the pressure mounts on ISIL, we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda.
We judge that ISIL is training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks. ISIL has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West. And the group is probably exploring a variety of means for infiltrating operatives into the West including: in refugee flows, smuggling routes and legitimate routes of travel.
More Excerpts from Perhaps the Most Partisan Speech in the History of the American Presidency
Below are more key excerpts from Obama's June 14, 2016 speech:
"As Director Comey has said, we currently do not have any information to indicate that a foreign terrorist group directed the attack in Orlando. It is increasingly clear, however, that the killer took in extremist information and propaganda over the Internet. He appears to have been an angry, disturbed, unstable young man who became radicalized. As we know all too well, terrorist groups like ISIL have called on people around the world and here in the United States to attack innocent civilians. Their propaganda, their videos, their postings are pervasive and more easily accessible than we want. This individual appears to have absorbed some of that. And during his killing spree, the shooter in Orlando pledged allegiance to ISIL."
"As I’ve said before, these lone actors or small cells of terrorists are very hard to detect and very hard to prevent. But across our government, at every level -- federal, state and local, military and civilian -- we are doing everything in our power to stop these kinds of attacks. We work to succeed a hundred percent of the time."
"Even as we continue to destroy ISIL militarily, we’re addressing the larger forces that have allowed these terrorists to gain traction in parts of the world. With regard to Iraq, this means helping Iraqis stabilize liberated communities and promote inclusive governance so ISIL cannot return."
"Lastly, here at home, if we really want to help law enforcement protect Americans from homegrown extremists, the kind of tragedies that occurred at San Bernardino and that now have occurred in Orlando, there is a meaningful way to do that. We have to make it harder for people who want to kill Americans to get their hands on weapons of war that let them kill dozens of innocents. It is absolutely true we cannot prevent every tragedy. But we know that, consistent with the Second Amendment, there are common-sense steps that could reduce gun violence and could reduce the lethality of somebody who intends to do other people harm. We should give ATF the resources they need to enforce the gun laws that we already have. People with possible ties to terrorism who aren't allowed on a plane shouldn't be allowed to buy a gun."
"Enough talking about being tough on terrorism. Actually be tough on terrorism, and stop making it easy as possible for terrorists to buy assault weapons. Reinstate the assault weapons ban. Make it harder for terrorists to use these weapons to kill us. Otherwise, despite extraordinary efforts across our government by local law enforcement, by our intelligence agencies, by our military, despite all the sacrifices that folks make, these kinds of events are going to keep on happening. And the weapons are only going to get more powerful."
"And let me make a final point. For a while now, the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize this administration and me for not using the phrase 'radical Islam.' That’s the key, they tell us -- we can’t beat ISIL unless we call them 'radical Islamists.' What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction. Since before I was President, I’ve been clear about how extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism. As President, I have repeatedly called on our Muslim friends and allies at home and around the world to work with us to reject this twisted interpretation of one of the world’s great religions."
"There has not been a moment in my seven and a half years as President where we have not been able to pursue a strategy because we didn’t use the label 'radical Islam.'"
"So there’s no magic to the phrase 'radical Islam.' It’s a political talking point; it's not a strategy. And the reason I am careful about how I describe this threat has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with actually defeating extremism. Groups like ISIL and al Qaeda want to make this war a war between Islam and America, or between Islam and the West. They want to claim that they are the true leaders of over a billion Muslims around the world who reject their crazy notions. They want us to validate them by implying that they speak for those billion-plus people; that they speak for Islam. That’s their propaganda. That's how they recruit. And if we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush and imply that we are at war with an entire religion -- then we’re doing the terrorists' work for them."
"Now, up until this point, this argument about labels has mostly just been partisan rhetoric. And, sadly, we've all become accustomed to that kind of partisanship, even when it involves the fight against these extremist groups. And that kind of yapping has not prevented folks across government from doing their jobs, from sacrificing and working really hard to protect the American people. But we are now seeing how dangerous this kind of mindset and this kind of thinking can be. We're starting to see where this kind of rhetoric and loose talk and sloppiness about who exactly we're fighting, where this can lead us. We now have proposals from the presumptive Republican nominee for President of the United States to bar all Muslims from emigrating to America. We hear language that singles out immigrants and suggests that entire religious communities are complicit in violence. Where does this stop? The Orlando killer, one of the San Bernardino killers, the Fort Hood killer -- they were all U.S. citizens."
"Are we going to start treating all Muslim Americans differently? Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance? Are we going to start discriminating against them because of their faith? We’ve heard these suggestions during the course of this campaign. Do Republican officials actually agree with this? Because that's not the America we want. It doesn't reflect our democratic ideals. It won’t make us more safe; it will make us less safe -- fueling ISIL’s notion that the West hates Muslims, making young Muslims in this country and around the world feel like no matter what they do, they're going to be under suspicion and under attack. It makes Muslim Americans feel like they're government is betraying them. It betrays the very values America stands for."
"We've gone through moments in our history before when we acted out of fear -- and we came to regret it. We've seen our government mistreat our fellow citizens. And it has been a shameful part of our history."
"This is a country founded on basic freedoms, including freedom of religion. We don't have religious tests here. Our Founders, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights are clear about that. And if we ever abandon those values, we would not only make it a lot easier to radicalize people here and around the world, but we would have betrayed the very things we are trying to protect -- the pluralism and the openness, our rule of law, our civil liberties -- the very things that make this country great; the very things that make us exceptional. And then the terrorists would have won. And we cannot let that happen. I will not let that happen."
Refusing to Attribute a Jihadist's Mass Murder to Islam
On June 19, 2016 -- a few days after a self-proclaimed Muslim jihadist used an AR-15 rifle to murder 49 people and wound 53 others in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida -- Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the FBI would soon be releasing a transcript of the 9-1-1 call (lasting 50 seconds) which the gunman made to police during his rampage. "It's been our goal to get as much information into the public domain as possible," she told CNN, "so people can understand, as we do, possibly what motivated this killer, what led him to this place, and also provide us with information.” When CNN asked what the transcript would reveal about his motivation, Lynch replied: “He talked about his pledges of allegiance to a terrorist group. He talked about his motivations for why he was claiming at that time he was committing this horrific act. He talked about American policy [vis-a-vis Muslim countries]…”
But ultimately, Lynch on June 20 released only an edited, partial transcript wherein the shooter's references to his own Islamic terror ties and his grievances about American foreign policy were completely scrubbed. "What we're not going to do is further proclaim this man's pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda," Lynch explained. "We are not going to hear him make his assertions of allegiance [to the Islamic State].... The reason why we're going to limit these transcripts is to avoid re-victimizing those who went through this horror."
Later on June 20, pressure from Republican leaders caused Lynch and the Justice Department to reverse themselves and release a full, unredacted transcript of the Orlando terrorist's 9-1-1 phone call. At that point, it became clear that the original FBI transcript had changed the gunman's use of the word "Allah," to "God," and had deleted the words “Islamic State” and the name of ISIS leader “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi”: "I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted]." The new transcript read: “I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.” (Notably, the latter version still substituted the word "God" for "Allah".)
Obama Views Terororist Attacks As Crimes, Not Acts of War
In the immediate aftermath of a July 14, 2016 jihadist attack in Nice, France, President Obama condemned the violence, as he had done in response to previous acts of jihad. Islam expert Robert Spencer offered the following insight into Obama's mindset:
“On behalf of the American people, I condemn in the strongest terms what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack in Nice, France, which killed and wounded dozens of innocent civilians,” Obama said.
Question: did Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on behalf of the American people, condemn in the strongest terms every German and Japanese strike during World War II? Did he add that the U.S. administration was in touch with Hawaiian or Polish or French or Midway etc. officials and was ready to offer any assistance in the investigation?
The answer is no, because there was no need to offer such condemnations. The world was at war, and the world knew it was at war. The fact was obvious, as was which side each combatant was on. Nor was there any need for an investigation after each battle. Everyone knew what was going on, and why.
The reason why Obama offers these condemnations now after each jihad massacre is because he treats each as if it were an isolated incident, not as if it were one more battle in a long war. And he offers help in an investigation for the same reason: if U.S. officials do end up helping the French with an investigation of this latest jihad massacre, they will likely come back with a characteristically Obamoid conclusion: they're unable to determine the motive of the perpetrator.
In reality, there is no need for an investigation, because the jihadi’s motive is obvious. There needs to be an admission that we are in a full-scale war -- not just lip-service as French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve offers, but a genuine acknowledgment, followed by a genuine war footing, and an end to the weepy memorials, empty condemnations, and po-faced get-nowhere investigations. This is not crime. This is war.
Islamic Terrorists Infiltrating Across U.S. Southern Border
On August 22, 2016, the Washington Free Beaconreported:
Sunni extremists are infiltrating the United States with the help of alien smugglers in South America and are crossing U.S. borders with ease, according to a U.S. South Command intelligence report. The Command’s J-2 intelligence directorate reported recently in internal channels that “special interest aliens” are working with a known alien smuggling network in Latin America to reach the United States. The smuggling network was not identified.
Army Col. Lisa A. Garcia, a Southcom spokeswoman, did not address the intelligence report directly but said Sunni terrorist infiltration is a security concern. “Networks that specialize in smuggling individuals from regions of terrorist concern, mainly from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, the Middle East, and East Africa, are indeed a concern for Southcom and other interagency security partners who support our country’s national security,” Garcia told theWashington Free Beacon. “There are major hubs that serve as entry points into the region for migrants from those areas of concern attempting to enter the U.S. along our border with Mexico,” she said.
The infiltrators from terrorist states and unstable regions exploit vulnerabilities in commercial transportation systems and immigration enforcement agencies in some of the countries used for transit, Garcia said.
“In 2015, we saw a total of 331,000 migrants enter the southwestern border between the U.S. and Mexico, of that we estimate more than 30,000 of those were from countries of terrorist concern,” she said.
Another problem in dealing with migrants from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia is a lack of information among the governments of the countries used by potential terrorists for transit....
Special interest aliens are described by the U.S. government as aliens who pose a potential terrorism threat coming from 34 nations in the Middle East, Africa, Southwest Asia, Central Asia, and East Asia. The list of states of concern includes Afghanistan, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Eritrea, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Malaysia....
Joel Vargas, head of Contingent Security Services and a consultant to law enforcement agencies, said there is no evidence Sunni extremists are creating new relationships with alien smugglers. However, he said in an email that “existing smuggling networks from Central America are increasing their access.” “We have intercepted immigrants coming from Asia but we have been unable to determine if they are extremists,” Vargas said. “Our Sunni illegal migration coming from [Latin America] is very small. On the other hand, they can use the networks set up by the Shia.”
A report produced by Vargas for the International Airport, Seaport and Transport Police states that the Iran-backed Shiite terror group Hezbollah mainly has ties to Latin American through overseas Lebanese expatriates.
Hezbollah recently increased support in transnational crime in the region by supply arms and training to various groups. “Hezbollah’s current goals appear to be focused on accruing resources rather than conducting offensive operations, however the group’s growing capabilities are still a clear threat to regional U.S. interests,” the report said. “Iran’s involvement in Latin America is also increasing, and Hezbollah will likely be able to use these budding political and economic ties as cover for its operations.” ...
The Washington Timesreported in June that an international alien smuggling network centered in Brazil helped sneak illegal immigrants from Middle Eastern states to the United States, including an Afghan linked to a terror plot in North America. At least a dozen Middle Easterners reached the Western Hemisphere through this alien smuggling ring that facilitated travel to Mexico, the Times reported, quoting internal government documents. The aliens involved Palestinians, Pakistanis, and the Afghan man with ties to the Taliban. Some of the aliens were stopped before entering the United States but others succeeded in crossing the U.S. border.
Obama Says That Climate Change Contributes to Terrorism
In December 2016, President Obama said: "We know that a deadly threat persists. We know that in some form this violent extremism will be with us for years to come. In too many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, there has been a breakdown of order that's been building for decades, and it’s unleashed forces that are going to take a generation to resolve. Long-term corruption has rotted too many nation-states from within. Governance is collapsing. Sectarian conflicts rage. A changing climate is increasing competition for food and water."
Obama Covered up Information about Bon Laden and Al-Qaeda in 2011, So As Not to Jeopardize His Re-Election
On November 3, 2017, Joseph Klein wrote in FrontPage Magazine:
The CIA released on Wednesday approximately 470,000 files of materials from the trove recovered during the May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The materials include internal documents, practice reels for public speeches, audio correspondence, and imagery gathered or generated by al Qaeda for a variety of purposes.
"Today’s release of recovered al-Qaeda letters, videos, audio files and other materials provides the opportunity for the American people to gain further insights into the plans and workings of this terrorist organization," said CIA Director Mike Pompeo. "CIA will continue to seek opportunities to share information with the American people consistent with our obligation to protect national security."
The newly released materials provide some additional insights into al Qaeda’s operations. They also expose the Obama administration’s misrepresentations regarding al Qaeda’s strength, which may be one reason Obama administration officials resisted a public release of this magnitude.
Obama boasted regularly that al Qaeda was “decimated” and “on the run” during his 2012 presidential campaign. He made these claims despite having been informed privately by his intelligence team that al Qaeda was spreading into other regions, including in Africa, while still operating under a central leadership.
In August 2013, Obama said that al Qaeda’s “tightly organized and relatively centralized al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11 has been broken apart and is very weak and does not have a lot of operational capacity.” He went on to characterize al Qaeda as made up of “regionalized organizations.”
When Obama made his claims, he had available to him contradictory information gleaned from a handwritten, 228-page journal kept by Osama bin Laden himself, which was part of the trove secured in the raid. That document has now just been publicly released.
The regional groups Obama referred to were not decentralized. “Groups such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Shabaab (in Somalia) regularly sought and received the al Qaeda master’s direction,” the Long War Journal concluded from its analysis of the journal. “And al Qaeda continued to maintain a significant footprint inside Afghanistan, relocating personnel to the country in 2010 and fighting alongside the Taliban.”
Another newly released document calls into question Obama’s decision to pursue better relations with Shiite Iran, which he seemed to think could serve as a counter-balance to radical Sunni terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS. On the theory that the “enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Obama was willing to normalize relations with the expansionist, terror-sponsoring radical regime in Tehran even if it meant jeopardizing America’s historic alliances with Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Notably, Obama’s obsession with reaching his disastrous nuclear deal with Iran led him to look the other way as Iran increased its footprint in Iraq and Syria under the guise of fighting the Sunni terrorists. The truth is that the Iranian regime had a longstanding relationship with al Qaeda.
The newly released document contains a senior jihadist’s assessment of Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda. Though the relationship was complicated, it was far from a combative one. Iran offered some “Saudi brothers” in al Qaeda “everything they needed,” including “money, arms” and “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf,” according to the document’s author, as quoted by the Long Journal. There were disagreements to be sure, including with respect to the treatment of certain al Qaeda operatives who had received safe haven in Iran but were said to have broken the terms of the safe haven agreement. Bin Laden also expressed some concern about Iran’s growing influence in the region. However, al Qaeda and Iran had intersecting interests, and were willing to cooperate in fighting against their common enemy - the “enemy of America.”
This newly released information builds on a previously released letter in which Osama bin Laden described Iran as al Qaeda’s “main artery for funds, personnel, and communication.”
Was this artery still open for business while Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry pushed for better relations with Iran and reached the nuclear deal with Iran that freed billions of dollars for the Iranian regime to use in funding terrorists? Does the artery remain open today between the terror sponsoring regime in Tehran, flush with money thanks to Obama, and al Qaeda? After all, the Sunni jihadists certainly agree with the statement by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei just this week that “America is the number one enemy of our nation.”
The latest revelations confirm how badly Obama first misjudged and then deliberately misrepresented to the American people the continuing strength of the jihadist terrorist threat on his watch. He also sought to conceal from the public a fuller picture of the Iranian-al Qaeda connection that the newly released bin Laden documents expose. The decision of the Trump administration to release so much material should shed more light on the truth and dispel the myth that the Iranian regime can be trusted.
In the November 13, 2017 issue of the Weekly Standard, Stephen Hayes wrote the following:
On the penultimate day of the Obama administration, less than 24 hours before the president would vacate the White House, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a press release meant to put to rest what had been a pesky issue for his office. “Closing the Book on Bin Laden: Intelligence Community Releases Final Abbottabad Documents,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) announced. “Today marks the end of a two-and-a-half-year effort to declassify several hundred documents recovered in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound in May 2011.” Accompanying the press release were 49 documents captured during the raid, bringing the total number of documents made public to 571.
For anyone who had paid even casual attention to the long-running debate over the Abbottabad documents—a group that doesn’t include many journalists—the ODNI announcement was cause for a chuckle. Closing the book on Osama bin Laden? The final Abbottabad documents?
In the heady days immediately after the May 2 Abbottabad raid, President Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, had described the intelligence haul brought back from Pakistan by the Navy SEALs and CIA operatives as extensive enough to fill a “small college library.” A senior military intelligence official who briefed reporters at the Pentagon on May 7, 2011, said: “As a result of the raid, we’ve acquired the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever.”
Why would ODNI think it could get away with such an aggressive lie? Why would officials there believe that they wouldn’t be asked to reconcile the fact that they were releasing just 571 documents with the repeated pronouncements that the Abbottabad collection was the largest haul of terrorist intelligence ever?
The answer: The self-proclaimed “most transparent administration in history” had spent more than five years misleading the American people about the threat from al Qaeda and its offshoots and had paid very little price for having done so. Republicans volubly disputed the president’s more laughable claims—the attack on the Benghazi compound was just a protest gone bad, al Qaeda was on the run, ISIS was the terrorist junior varsity—but the establishment media, certain that Obama’s predecessor had consistently exaggerated the threat, showed little interest in challenging Obama or the intelligence agencies that often supported his spurious case.
In this context, ODNI’s bet wasn’t a crazy one. No one outside of a small group of terrorism researchers and intelligence professionals had paid much attention to the fate of the bin Laden documents. The likelihood that these ODNI claims would get much scrutiny in the middle of the frenzy that accompanies a presidential transition was low. ODNI dismissively swatted away questions about the absurd claims in the release with absurd claims about the document collection itself: The unreleased documents weren’t interesting or important, just terrorist trash of little interest to anyone. The documents being withheld would do little to enhance our understanding of al Qaeda or the jihadist threat more generally, they said.
This is what the politicization of intelligence looks like.
In the spring of 2012, with the Republican presidential primaries nearing an end and shortly before the first anniversary of the successful raid on bin Laden’s compound, Obama’s National Security Council hand-picked 17 documents to be provided to the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point for analysis. (Obama’s NSC would later hold back two of those documents. One of them, laying out the deep ties between the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda leadership, would complicate Obama administration efforts to launch negotiations with the Taliban, according to an explanation the NSC’s Doug Lute offered to West Point.) The West Point documents were shared with Obama-friendly journalists. Their conclusion was the only one possible, given the documents they were provided: At the time of his death, Osama bin Laden was frustrated and isolated, a relatively powerless leader of a dying organization. In the summer and fall of 2012, Obama would use this theme as the main national security rationale for his reelection: Al Qaeda was alternately “on the run” or “decimated” or “on the path to defeat.”
“Thanks to the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan is winding down. Al Qaeda has been decimated. Osama bin Laden is dead,” Obama said in Green Bay, Wis., on November 1, five days before his reelection.
Even the deadly attack two months earlier in Benghazi, conducted by jihadist groups with extensive ties to al Qaeda, didn’t cause Obama to recalibrate his narrative. The president would tout the imminent demise of al Qaeda more than two dozen times between those attacks and Election Day.
In the weeks following the bin Laden raid, the documents went through an immediate interagency triage for actionable intelligence. That initial scrub yielded valuable information that led to the capture and killing of key al Qaeda associates. But then the documents sat, largely untouched, for months at a time. From that point on, the Obama administration’s interest in the Abbottabad documents didn’t extend much beyond their public relations implications. Simply put, a fuller release of the cache would have fatally undermined the message that al Qaeda had been decimated and that the war on terror was being reduced to a few mopping-up exercises.
As a result, some of the documents were never translated. Relevant intelligence agencies engaged in a protracted fight about who could have access to the information. The Defense Intelligence Agency was repeatedly denied full access by the CIA, which had “executive authority” over the collection and which was run throughout much of the bureaucratic infighting by John Brennan, an Obama crony who had predicted in April 2012 that al Qaeda would meet its demise by the end of the decade.
The U.S. intelligence community never conducted a full-scale review of its own intelligence collection on al Qaeda using the Abbottabad documents. “There was never any kind of evaluation of our work on al Qaeda based on the documents,” says one senior U.S. intelligence official involved with the documents. Obtaining the documents presented an opportunity to check what the intelligence community thought it knew about al Qaeda and its leaders against what actually happened. Who were our good sources? Who was providing misinformation? Was there a source who had better visibility into leadership decisionmaking than we’d assessed? Someone we relied on who wasn’t as important as we’d thought? In some important respects, the bin Laden documents were like the answer key to a test you’d taken. It’s telling that many in the intelligence community didn’t want to review their work or revisit their conclusions.
After Obama’s reelection, the administration repeatedly shut down requests from Republican lawmakers, led by Rep. Devin Nunes, for access to the documents. Then the 2014 Intelligence Authorization Act turned those requests into a demand backed by law. That’s the only reason the 571 documents were released. And that’s where matters stood through the early months of the Trump administration.
No more. On Wednesday, November 1, CIA director Mike Pompeo announced the release of “nearly 470,000 additional files” from the Abbottabad raid. From 571 to 470,000: The “most transparent administration in history,” you might say, has just been trumped, by nearly three orders of magnitude.
At the time of the valedictory press release in January, I asked Timothy Barrett, chief of media relations at ODNI, to reconcile the claim that the final document dump of the Obama era amounted to “closing the book” on the bin Laden files, even as a vast collection had not yet been made public. He allowed, in an email, that there were in fact “a lot more than a few hundred” documents but claimed that the discrepancy could be explained by duplicates and over-counting. The front page of a newspaper would count as one file, the inside cover as a second page, and so forth, he said.
“We have released the majority of the pertinent files,” Barrett claimed of the 571 documents made public by ODNI. This, too, was false. (Barrett asked TWS at the time to attribute this statement to a “US Intelligence Official.” While we understand his desire not to be associated with statements that are demonstrably misleading, we didn’t agree to this attribution.)
ODNI duplicity on the Abbottabad documents didn’t end with that January announcement. On June 28, a meeting between NSC officials and representatives of the intelligence community featured a discussion on the proposed release of more documents from the Abbottabad collection, according to two sources familiar with the session. ODNI officials explained that they couldn’t declassify and release more of the files because they lacked the resources to undertake a job so challenging.
So, in public, ODNI says: The job is done. Move along. In private, ODNI says: Finishing this monumental job would overwhelm our bureaucracy.
When I asked Barrett about the meeting and to explain the contradiction, he emailed: “We have nothing further for you on this issue at this time.”
But with new political leadership come new marching orders. It will take time for interested reporters and analysts to digest the full scope of the documents the CIA has just disgorged. Many of them are no doubt worthless, but there are thousands of newly available files of importance, and this much is already clear: They are not just duplicates, they are not lacking in pertinence, they are not merely the personal detritus of an isolated and powerless has-been terrorist. As Thomas Joscelyn details elsewhere in these pages, among them can be found documents describing al Qaeda’s relationship with the Afghan Taliban; videos and photographs of senior al Qaeda operatives, including those running the terror network and its affiliates today; letters with new information on al Qaeda’s web of relationships inside Pakistan; documents explaining the ways in which al Qaeda was adapting to U.S. targeting of its leaders; and the 228-page handwritten journal of the jihad kept by Osama bin Laden himself.
The new materials make clear that ODNI sought to mislead the country not only about the size of the collection but about its contents, too. The January ODNI press statement claimed that the batch of 49 documents it was then making public “mirrors the themes in previous releases,” chief among them Osama bin Laden’s “hatred, suspicion of Iran.” It was true that this was what previous ODNI releases claimed. But it is misleading in the extreme to pretend that the story of Iran and al Qaeda told through the captured bin Laden documents is solely one of hostility.
Bin Laden had described Iran as the “main artery” for al Qaeda in one of the previously released letters recovered in Abbottabad. The details on Iran’s support for al Qaeda, some of them buried until now, led to terrorist designations by the Treasury Department and even caused some intelligence analysts to revisit the assumption that the Shiite radicals in Iran wouldn’t back the Sunni al Qaeda. In a 2011 interview, David S. Cohen, a senior Treasury Department official who went on to become deputy director of the CIA, described the intelligence, which detailed a network of financial support for al Qaeda that operated out of Iran: “There is an agreement between the Iranian government and al Qaeda to allow this network to operate,” Cohen said. “There’s no dispute in the intelligence community on this.” Iran was providing a “core pipeline” of support that included safe haven for al Qaeda members and the facilitation of travel and the flow of money and weapons.
Al Qaeda accepted this help warily, it is true, and the al Qaeda-Iran relationship is based on mutual interest rather than ideological or doctrinal affinity. But to ignore the secret agreement altogether—to set aside the years of collaboration and to elide bin Laden’s own description of Iran as the “main artery” for al Qaeda, all in order to downplay the threat such an alliance presents—is a textbook case of cherry-picking.
Asked about ODNI’s misleading characterization of the relationship between Iran and al Qaeda, Barrett wrote: “[Osama bin Laden] had a delicate dance with Iran. He maintained a fierce, private hatred of Shia Muslims. But he didn’t publicly criticize Iran since he had family members in hiding there.”
In a follow-up email, I made the rather obvious point that the willingness of Iran to allow bin Laden family members to hide in Iran contradicted ODNI claims of a deep antipathy between Iran and al Qaeda. Moreover, why would ODNI cite the documents as evidence of bin Laden’s hatred of Iran when the man himself acknowledged Iran’s crucial role in sustaining and strengthening al Qaeda? Didn’t this suggest a relationship that was mutually beneficial and, at times, even friendly?
Barrett responded: “I was wrong about the ‘in hiding.’ Instead, I should have said, there were many senior [al Qaeda] members, and at least one [Osama bin Laden] family member, under house arrest there. The passageway you cite is not the same thing as collusion with the Iranian government. That is, [al Qaeda] had the ability to transit the country; but it wasn’t done in any sort of partnership with the Iranian government.”
It was an extraordinary claim, and newly released documents make clear that the Iranian regime actively facilitated this travel. Beyond that, it was clear that there was, in fact, precisely the kind of “partnership” between Iran and al Qaeda that ODNI was disclaiming. The Treasury Department had designated terrorists specifically citing the “secret deal” between Iran and al Qaeda.
After a few more mostly unproductive exchanges, TWS sent Barrett language from Treasury designations and the Iran section of the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror. Among them: the designation of Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, which noted that he was “an Iran-based senior al-Qaeda facilitator currently living and operating in Iran under an agreement between al-Qaeda and the Iranian government. Iranian authorities maintain a relationship with Khalil and have permitted him to operate within Iran’s borders since 2005”; the designation of Atyiah Abd al-Rahman, bin Laden’s handpicked emissary to Iran, “a position which allowed him to travel in and out of Iran with the permission of Iranian officials”; a Treasury statement that read, “by exposing Iran’s secret deal with al-Qaeda allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory, we are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism”; a Treasury designation of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), which “has facilitated the movement of al Qaeda operatives in Iran and provided them with documents, identification cards, and passports.”
We included several other examples. Barrett tapped out: “I’m not an Iran expert so I have to consult people and follow up with you Monday, I’m afraid.” We heard nothing more on Iran.
Barrett and I had one final exchange on November 2, after the new trove of documents was released. Offered an opportunity to revise his now plainly misleading statements from January, he emailed: “ODNI supports CIA Director Pompeo’s decision to release additional Abbottabad materials. While the files provide additional insights, they do not change the assessments of the interagency document exploitation task force.”
The overriding foreign policy message of Obama’s first term was that the war on terror had been badly botched by his predecessor but was now in his capable hands and therefore being swiftly brought to a favorable close. The overriding imperative of his second term was to make a deal with the Iranian government. In a manner of speaking, Barack Obama wanted what al Qaeda already had: a mutually beneficial partnership with Tehran. Revealing to the American people the truth about Osama bin Laden’s cozy working relationship with the Iranian government might have fatally undermined that diplomatic quest, just as the ongoing vitality of al Qaeda, amply testified to in the bin Laden documents, would have contradicted Obama’s proud claims in 2012 that al Qaeda was “on the run.” So Obama, with the eager cooperation of some in the intelligence community, bottled up the bin Laden documents and ran out the clock.
The CIA release of the additional 470,000 documents includes a 19-page report on al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran authored by an unidentified al Qaeda operative. The author lays out some tensions between al Qaeda and Iran but makes clear those differences don’t preclude cooperation. The document reports that the Iranian regime was giving its “Saudi brothers” in al Qaeda “everything they needed.” This included safe haven in Iran, the facilitation of travel for senior al Qaeda operatives, and “money, arms,” and “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.”
The newly released documents also include a video from the wedding of Hamza bin Laden, Osama’s son and a prominent al Qaeda voice today. The video shows Hamza bin Laden and several other notable senior al Qaeda figures celebrating his marriage at an unidentified mosque. With the shouting of a child in the background echoing off marble walls, the shaky video shows the younger bin Laden, dressed in a gold robe and a black and white keffiyeh, reciting his wedding vows in a quiet, serious tone. The video was shot in Iran.