Thursday, March 23, 2017

4 killed in terrorist attack outside London Parliament - Gary Willig

by Gary Willig

Ramming and stabbing attack near British Parliament building leaves 4 dead, including terrorist attacker.

At least four people, including a police officer, were killed and twenty people were reported injured in a vehicular ramming attack near the British Parliament in London Wednesday afternoon, according to media reports.

According to witnesses, a car mowed down a dozen pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge before crashing into the gates outside of the Portcullis House, The Sun reported.

Two men have reportedly been shot by police after attempting to to stab officers outside of the Houses of Parliament.

“We heard a loud bang, lots of shouting and saw men running around. Someone rushed through, attacked a policeman,” a witness told The Sun. “He appeared to be carrying a knife or a gun. We then heard gunfire, five or six rounds.”

In addition to the three victims. the terrorist was also killed.

"We were called at approx 2:40 pm to reports of an incident at Westminster Bridge. Being treated as a firearms incident - police on scene," the Metropolitan police announced on Twitter.

Parliament sessions have been suspended following the incident.

Commons Leader David Lidington told MPs: "What I am able to say to the House is there has been a serious incident within the estate. It seems that a police officer has been stabbed, that the alleged assailant was shot by armed police."

"An air ambulance is currently attending the scene to remove the casualties.

"There are also reports of further violent incidents in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster but I hope colleagues on all sides will appreciate that it'd be wrong of me to go into further details until we have confirmation from the police and from the House security authorities about what is going on."

The London police announced that they are treating the incident as a terrorist attack.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely condemned the attack. "Israel expresses its deep shock at the terror attack in London today and its solidarity with the victims and with the people and government of Great Britain. Terror is terror wherever it occurs and we will fight it relentlessly."

Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said: "Israel stands as one with the British people as we all work together to defeat the scourge of terrorism. We send our condolences and wish a speedy recovery to all those injured."

Gary Willig


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Israel Intercepts Syrian Anti-Aircraft Missile Amid Heightened Tensions - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

Israel’s message to Iran and Hezbollah: We will not permit change of status quo.

On Monday, Arab media reported that Israeli Air Force jets struck another Hezbollah weapons convoy snaking its way to Lebanon from Syria. Israel refused to comment on the report but if accurate, it would represent the third Israeli strike against targets in Syria in as many days.

Less than 24 hours earlier, an Israeli drone liquidated Yasser al-Sayed, while he was driving along the Damascus- Quneitra road near the town of Khan Arnaba. Lebanese media reported that he was a Syrian air defense commander. Other Arab media reported that he was a pro-Assad militia commander who was coordinating planned attacks against Israel with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Hezbollah of course, claimed he was a civilian.

Israel remained silent on the circumstances of al-Sayed’s death but has in the past bluntly informed its enemies, including Assad, Iran and Hezbollah that it would not remain idle in the face of threats emanating from Syria and elsewhere and would act when necessary to preserve its security interests. 

Underscoring this doctrine, On Friday, the Israeli Air Force launched a series of airstrikes targeting a Hezbollah weapons convoy and other military facilities believed to be housing weapons slated to be delivered to the terror group. The airstrikes focused on a Syrian airbase known as T4 near the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

During the course of Syria’s civil war, Palmyra switched hands several times – ISIS captured the city twice – but it is now firmly under Syrian and Russian control. T4 is a key staging area for Iranian arms shipments destined for Hezbollah. The base is also said to house Russian helicopters and Special Forces troops and the Iranians believed that the Russian presence rendered them immune from Israeli attack. Clearly, they were mistaken.

During the course of the operation, Syrian anti-aircraft crews fired between three to four SA-5 anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli fighter jets. All missed  though that didn’t stop Assad from boasting that his air defense crews downed one plane – a claim roundly mocked on Twitter by Assad’s opposition.

Though the Israeli aircraft were never in any real danger, one of the missiles, which carries a 478lb warhead, appeared to be veering toward Israeli territory thus posing a direct threat to the safety and security of Israel’s citizens. Israeli aerial defense commanders decided in that split-second moment to deploy the Arrow III ballistic missile interceptor.

The Arrow III was envisioned as Israel’s answer to Iran’s formidable ballistic missile arsenal and is designed to shoot down ICBMs while still in the earth’s stratosphere. Its use against anti-aircraft missiles was never contemplated.

Nevertheless, the Arrow successfully intercepted the SA-5 transforming it into an expensive heap of scrap metal and sending its debris spiraling into the vicinity of Irbid in northern Jordan, startling frightened and mystified Jordanian onlookers and security personnel. It was the first time that the Arrow – part of Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense shield that also includes the David’s Sling platform and the combat proven Iron Dome – was used in live combat. It is also the first time in the history of warfare where an anti-ballistic missile intercepted an anti-aircraft missile, demonstrating Arrow III’s combat effectiveness, reliability and versatility.

The development of the Arrow met initial resistance due largely to budgetary concerns and the fact that Israel’s military planners generally think in terms of offense rather than defense. But the 1991 First Gulf War that witnessed 39 Scud missiles landing in Israel, changed the mindset. The U.S. made Patriot missiles, which were deployed to intercept incoming Scuds, provided entertaining fireworks displays but proved to be virtually useless against incoming Scuds. According to Moshe Arens, Israel’s then minister of defense and Dan Shamron, who was the army’s chief of staff, the Patriot may have intercepted one Scud, at best.

Clearly, there was a need for something better and Israel’s experts rolled up their sleeves and got to work, rolling out the first version of the Arrow in the mid-1990s. The platform became operational in 2000 and has undergone continuous upgrades and modifications since then.

When it comes to warfare, military doctrine and technology, Israel has always been at the cutting edge. In 1967 it provided the world with the modern-day equivalent of Shock and Awe. In 1973, its armored corps provided NATO with the operational know-how to defeat the threat of Soviet Sagger anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). In 1982, it shocked the Soviets by deploying new weapons and tactics that rendered Soviet air-defenses and aircraft near obsolete and in 2012 and then again in 2014, it dazzled the world with its marvelous Iron Dome anti-rocket system.

Israel’s flurry of military activity against Hezbollah and Iranian interests in Syria conveys a clear message that it will not tolerate the transfer of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah. It will also not permit Hezbollah or Iran to establish military bases near the Golan Heights that threaten Israel. The liquidation of Yasser al-Sayed, Samir Kuntar, Jihad Mughniyeh, Gen. Mohammad Ali Allahdadi and a laundry list of others at the hand of Israel, underscores this fact. Moreover, the strike against Iranian targets at T4 near Palmyra demonstrates that the IRGC and their Shia mercenaries are not immune from attack even when hiding behind Russian skirts.

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.


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Facing Trump Administration, Iran Shows Fear And Military Self-Restraint, Halts Provocations, Threats, And Incitement – While Boosting Morale At Home And Delegating The Bulk Of Conflict To Its Proxies - A. Savyon and Yigal Carmon and U. Kafash

by A. Savyon and Yigal Carmon and U. Kafash

These developments have given rise in Tehran to a sense that it is besieged and under an emerging existential threat, in light of the crystallization of a comprehensive U.S.-Russia-Arab (including Israel) front against the Iranian revolutionary regime.


Since the establishment of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, which is known to be against Iran's revolutionary regime, Iran has faced a new reality. On the one hand, the U.S. is acting to organize the Gulf countries and Arab countries into an arrangement that Arab media have dubbed an "Arab NATO" which is aimed against Iran. On the other hand, Iran senses that despite the Iran-Russia cooperation in recent years and in various areas, Russia is abandoning it for its other vital interests, such as an understanding with the U.S. in order to advance the lifting of the sanctions against it, and an understanding with Turkey as its top regional partner.[1]

These developments have given rise in Tehran to a sense that it is besieged and under an emerging existential threat, in light of the crystallization of a comprehensive U.S.-Russia-Arab (including Israel) front against the Iranian revolutionary regime.

This report will review the overall Iranian reaction to this new situation:

The Iranian Response To The New Developments

Iran's response to these new developments is characterized by fear of U.S. activity against its regime, as can be seen in several areas:

1. Considerable military restraint and a halt to long-range missile tests, in response to the warning by President Trump: Following Iran's failed January 29, 2017 launch of its long-range Khorramshahr missile, the Trump administration announced that Iran was being "put on notice." At that time, Iran had been making preparations to launch yet another long-range missile, and had made the practical arrangements for doing so; the launch was cancelled following the U.S. warning. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh complained, on March 9, that Iran had been so firmly deterred that it is even refraining from using a missile to launch a satellite into orbit: "We have a missile for non-military purposes for launching satellites. But it is being put into storage because of America's angry tone?! ... How much longer will we be blackmailed and forced to compromise? If we do not change our strategy, and continue to operate according to orders from officials who are stuck in the mud, our situation will deteriorate daily."[2]

The satellite images below, taken by ImageSat International (ISI),[3] show the launch site in Semnan. The first image, taken January 17, shows the launch site and launch pedestal as inactive; it also shows, on the ground, the emblem of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) and the emblem of the Simorgh ("Phoenix") orbital carrier rocket that is used to launch satellites. The second image, taken February 3, shows the launch pedestal ready for launch and many vehicles at the launch site.

Left to right: Image 1: Launch site in Semnan showing inactive launch pedestal, with emblems, taken January 17, 2017; Image 2: Launch site showing pedestal ready for launch and vehicles surrounding the site, taken February 3, 2017. 

Images 3 and 4 below, also taken February 3, show the integration facility during a visit by a VIP in advance of the launch. The VIP's vehicle, and many others, including jeeps from the VIP's motorcade, can be seen.

Left to right: Images 3 and 4, showing integration facility during the VIP's visit; taken February 3, 2017. 

Image 5, taken two days later, on February 5, shows that the launch site is again inactive.

Image 5 – launch site again inactive, taken February 3, 2017.

The day after the cancellation of the missile launch, on February 4, IRGC Aerospace Force commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh said: "America is looking for excuses surrounding our missile tests, because the enemy has set its sights on [harming] our security. The enemy deals with issues such as [our] nuclear capabilities and science, the might of [our] missiles, and so on. These are all merely excuses [to justify] their hostility towards the Islamic regime and the Iranian nation."[4]

Also indicating Iran's military self-restraint were February 9, 2017 statements by Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan. On the eve of Iran's Revolution Day, he spoke about "the new claim by American elements and media outlets regarding an additional missile test by Iran. These false claims," he added, "are a type of creating an enemy and Iranophobia. This is planned by the Zionist regime, which incites while spreading lies.

"First, this is a false claim, and nothing like [such a missile launch] happened; second, even if such a test was conducted, it had nothing to do with them at all; and third, Iran's missile program is a standard program, and missile tests are part of these plans, which are made in advance; these tests are conducted in order to maintain our country's defensive readiness."[5]

2. A halt to provocations against U.S. Navy vessels, and even an official IRGC statement that responsibility for handling the crews of foreign vessel apprehended penetrating Iranian territorial waters was being transferred from the IRGC to the civilian Ports & Maritime Organization (PMO): This is due to fear of a harsh response by the Trump administration to humiliation of American captives – as happened in January 2016, even though there had been no real response to this from the Obama administration.[6]

3. A halt to public threats to burn and sink U.S. Navy vessels in the Persian Gulf,[7] and a near-total moratorium on hostile anti-U.S. statements: The slogan "death to America" has disappeared almost entirely from the official discourse of regime spokesmen, including Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei himself,[8] as have public burnings of the American flag.[9]

In a March 16, 2017 article, the ideological camp mouthpiece Kayhan attacked the government of Iranian President Hassan Rohani, stating that the government is claiming that "when Trump was elected, [Rohani government officials] said that Trump was unpredictable and makes unconsidered decisions – and that is why it is better for us to refrain from saying anything to offend him..."[10]

4. Boosting morale and persuading Iranians of the might of their country and of the need for faith in God and in the armed forces' ability to face down the U.S.: One example of this was a television interview with Defense Minister Dehghan on February 7, 2017, on the eve of Revolution Day. In it, Dehghan said that today, that is, after Trump took office, Iran is on the defensive against the American threat: "We consider defense to be necessary for our country, for other Muslim countries, and for Muslims [in general]... It is certain that the enemies are lying in wait for our regime. It is our duty to equip ourselves to the point that no one dares threaten us, blackmail us, or attack our country. All defensive elements, together with the nation as a whole, stand against the enemy to prevent an attack by it, and if the enemy attacks, we will punish it...

"The countries around us are no threat to us. The threat to us is an extra-regional threat known as the regime of arrogance [i.e. the U.S.], which is why we must acquire anything that gives us the upper hand – that is, asymmetric warfare. We must operate so that on the designated day [when war breaks out], not only will we not be caught off guard strategically, but we will surprise the enemy and inflict the maximum damage on it..."[11]

One example of efforts to boost national morale was a speech by IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami, who had often issued threats to the U.S. and had said that Iran would destroy its forces in the Gulf. On February 2, 2017, Salami highlighted Iran's defensive capabilities in light of the uniting of ranks by its enemies: "Today, the enemies have joined forces against our great revolution, but their plans have been defeated. The entire world wants to wipe us off the geographical map... but the martyrs have shown that any superpower can be confronted with reliance on faith, with Islam, and with obedience to the leader. By relying on jihad and martyrdom, we can confront any power and defend the honor of Muslims.
"Our glorious history is full of victories over the arrogance [i.e. the U.S.]... The Islamic regime of Iran has succeeded in gaining major influence in the Islamic world... Our nation is so mighty... We are involved in a great jihad, and as long as the Muslims [meaning the Shi'ites] dream of martyrdom and rely on the directives of the Koran, which light our way, we will never be defeated, but we will defeat the enemy...

"Iran's mighty missile force is included in the list of unprecedented global deterrents. If the enemy fears our nuclear might, it can flee to the bomb shelters.

"The Iranian nation has learned to create might by reliance on internal faith... Every day, the number of defensive missiles, warships, and launchers increases. The air, land, and sea are under the control of this nation... here, in the land of heroes and martyrs."[12]

Also in his February 4 speech, IRGC Aerospace Force commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh highlighted Iran's ability to withstand an American attack: "The threats to Iran made by certain American elements are merely boasts. Due to my knowledge of the capabilities of our armed forces, I confidently say that a foreign threat will not influence our Islamic regime. We rely on the infinite might of God, while America relies on earthly equipment and might. We will emerge victorious from the arena in any possible scenario. We will not hesitate for a single moment in creating and strengthening our defensive capabilities... 24 hours a day, we work to defend the security of the nation, and if the enemy makes the smallest error, our missiles will land on its head like a thunderclap."[13]

5. Strengthening the resistance front and delegating the fight against Iran's enemies – the West, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states – to Iran's proxies: These proxies include the Shi'ite militias in Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen, as well as Syria, Hizbullah, and the Palestinian organizations, which are operated by Iran, to revive the battlefront against Israel (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6811, Iran Prepares Militarily And Politically Vis-à-vis Trump Administration: Strategic Alliance With Russia, Dragging Israel Into War With Hizbullah, Palestinians, March 3, 2017).

The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen have announced that they have fired missiles at Saudi Arabia: On March 17, the Houthis claimed to have fired a medium-range ballistic missile at an Aramco facility in Jazan, Saudi Arabia.[14] Also on March 17, the Houthis reported on the firing of three missiles at a mosque in an army base in Ma'rib Governorate during Friday prayers. The attack killed and wounded dozens of officers and soldiers.[15] Additionally, they claimed that a locally made Yemeni Borkan-2 missile was fired at the King Salman airbase in Riyadh.[16]

Further, the Syrian regime has been escalating its responses to Israeli attacks on convoys transferring strategic missiles from Iran to Hizbullah. Unlike in the past, this week the Syrian regime fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli aircraft. MEMRI assesses that this was the result of Iranian pressure on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and on Hizbullah to respond in accordance with Iranian policy in order to spark a military confrontation with Israel.

Furthermore, it should be mentioned that as part of the Iranian regime's efforts to revive the Palestinian front against Israel, on February 21, 2017, Tehran held the Sixth Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada. In his opening remarks at the conference, Supreme Leader Khamenei stressed the need to assist resistance movements in their military struggle against Israel, and said that Iran's aid to these movements is directly tied to the level of these movements' commitment to the principles of "resistance" (i.e. the struggle against Israel). He especially highlighted the need to continue aiding the resistance in the West bank, saying: "The main pivot of the Resistance is the steadfastness and endurance of the Palestinian people who have raised courageous and resistant children. Meeting the needs of the Palestinian people and Palestinian resistance is an important and vital responsibility which should be carried out by all of us. In doing so, we should not ignore the basic needs of the Resistance in the West Bank because the West Bank shoulders the main burden of the suppressed intifada." (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6795, Khamenei In Speech At Iran's Sixth International Conference In Support Of Palestinian Intifada: 'We [Stand] With Every Group That Is Steadfast On This Path [Of Resistance]'; 'Cancerous Tumor' Israel Must Be Cured In Several Phases, February 21, 2017).

It should also be mentioned that as part of Iranian efforts against Israel, Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah has recently made aggressive statements about Israel in interviews with Iranian and Lebanese media.

6. Attempting to connect Russia to Iran in a strategic alliance (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6795, Iran Prepares Militarily And Politically Vis-à-vis Trump Administration: Strategic Alliance With Russia, Dragging Israel Into War With Hizbullah, Palestinians, March 3, 2017).

7. Clinging insistently to the JCPOA, even in light of actions by the U.S. that Iranian representatives had once stated would lead Iran to revert to a pre-JCPOA situation.

Moreover, in this context, MEMRI assesses that Iran will under no circumstances withdraw from the JCPOA, even if the Trump administration increases the sanctions against it, and even if the U.S. takes military action against Iranian interests in the region. This is because the JCPOA is an historic achievement for Iran, since it grants it the status of a nuclear state. Furthermore, according to the Iranian regime mouthpiece Kayhan, the Rohani government had presented the JCPOA as a tool to prevent a war against the Iranian regime.[17]

A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iranian Media Project; Yigal Carmon is President of MEMRI; U. Kafash is a Research fellow at MEMRI.

[2] Tasnim (Iran), March 9, 2017.
[3] ISI – ImageSat International – is a privately owned company which provides confidential earth imagery acquisition under prioritized tasking management with very high resolution image quality.
[4] Tasnim (Iran), February 4, 2017.
[5] Asr-e-Iran (Iran), February 9, 2017.
[6] According to IRGC Navy commander Ali Fadavi, the IRGC signed an agreement with the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran (PMO) under which the crews of all foreign naval vessels penetrating Iranian territorial waters and captured by the IRGC would be handed over to the PMO. February 27, 2017.
[7] An isolated incident on March 4, 2017 saw IRGC boats approach an American destroyer, forcing it to change course. The Iranians later argued that the incident came about because the destroyer had deviated from its regular path. Tasnim (Iran), March 8, 2017.
[8] Assembly of Experts head and Guardian Council secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati was the one official who did use the "death to America" slogan during a Revolution Day parade on February 10, 2017. He said: "Today, we all chant the slogan 'death to America' and trample its flag. This means we will not compromise nor back down to evil. We are not alone in the world, and throughout the world there are many nations that trample the American flag. Hostility towards America is the slogan of all those who are oppressed and desire freedom. We will never end our hostility towards evil, and we will always chant the slogan 'no to humiliation.'" Fars (Iran), February 10, 2017.
[9] It should be noted that some attempted to justify this by calling it a sign of respect for the American people who voted against Trump.
[10] Kayhan (Iran), March 16, 2017. It should be mentioned that while the ideological camp's hawks, such as the IRGC and Kayhan, accuse the pragmatic camp and President Rohani of responsibility for this policy of self-restraint, Supreme Leader Khamenei consents to this policy, and even leads it himself.
[11] Tasnim (Iran), February 8, 2017.
[12] Tasnim (Iran), February 2, 2017.
[13] Tasnim (Iran), February 4, 2017.
[14] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), March 18, 2017.
[15] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), March 18, 2017.
[16] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), March 18, 2017.
[17] Kayhan (Iran), March 16, 2017.

A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iranian Media Project
Yigal Carmon is President of MEMRI 
U. Kafash is a Research fellow at MEMRI


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Fox Throws Judge Napolitano under the Bus - Daniel John Sobieski

by Daniel John Sobieski

[Fox has] dared to take -- Judge Napolitano off the air for repeating what three intelligence agents told him -- that the Obama administration in fact had British intelligence conduct the surveillance so as not to leave a trail.

Fox News anchor Bret Baier likes to end his Special Report broadcast with the claim that Fox News is “fair, balanced and unafraid.” Well, Fox News seems not to be fair when it throws contributor Judge Andrew Napolitano under the bus for linking surveillance of Team Trump to Team Obama’s links with British intelligence.

Apparently, Fox News isn’t as “fair and balanced” as it pretends to be. While it endlessly repeats totally unsubstantiated claims of Trump critics of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as repeatedly dismissing Trump claims of Obama administration surveillance of Trump tower, they have dared to take Fox News contributor Judge Napolitano off the air for repeating what three intelligence agents told him -- that the Obama administration in fact had British intelligence conduct the surveillance so as not to leave a trail. As the Los Angeles Times reported:
The former New Jersey Superior Court judge, citing unnamed sources, said that the British foreign surveillance agency, the Government Communications Headquarters, “most likely” provided Obama with transcripts of Trump’s recorded calls.
“By bypassing all American intelligence services, Obama would have had access to what he wanted with no Obama administration fingerprints,” Napolitano wrote in a column on
White House press secretary Sean Spicer cited Napolitano’s charge last week when asked why President Trump continues to stand by his initial claim. The British spy agency sharply denounced Napolitano’s allegations, saying they are “utterly ridiculous and should be ignored."
Fox News, along with its brethren MSNBC and CNN, apparently has no trouble endlessly repeating reports from unnamed sources of collusion between Team Trump and Russian operatives. Yet it dumped Judge Napolitano for challenging the mantra of the herd that Team Trump is guilty and Obama is innocent. Napolitano raised the British connection in a Fox News Opinion column on March 16:
Sources have told me that the British foreign surveillance service, the Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ, most likely provided Obama with transcripts of Trump’s calls. The NSA has given GCHQ full 24/7 access to its computers, so GCHQ -- a foreign intelligence agency that, like the NSA, operates outside our constitutional norms -- has the digital versions of all electronic communications made in America in 2016, including Trump’s. So by bypassing all American intelligence services, Obama would have had access to what he wanted with no Obama administration fingerprints.
Thus, when senior American intelligence officials denied that their agencies knew about this, they were probably being truthful. Adding to this ominous scenario is the fact that three days after Trump’s inauguration, the head of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, abruptly resigned, stating that he wished to spend more time with his family.
Of course, American intelligence agencies, as well as the British, are denying the story. Either Judge Napolitano is doing some sloppy reporting or these agencies are lying. They have lied before, particularly about whether the American people were under surveillance by the NSA.

Trump has been skeptical of the conclusions of Clapper and the intelligence community and rightly so. Are we to believe the likes of James Clapper, who once reassured the Congress that the NSA wasn’t conducting surveillance of the American people?

As U.S. News and World Report noted, his recent resignation didn’t assuage critics who believe that Clapper, like other Obama administration personnel, dodged a perjury bullet when he testified before Congress on the issue of NSA surveillance of American citizens:
Some lawmakers reacted to the long-expected resignation announcement from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Thursday by wishing him an eventful retirement, featuring prosecution and possible prison time.
The passage of more than three years hasn’t cooled the insistence in certain quarters that Clapper face charges for an admittedly false statement to Congress in March 2013, when he responded, “No, sir" and "not wittingly” to a question about whether the National Security Agency was collecting “any type of data at all” on millions of Americans.
About three months after making that claim, documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the answer was untruthful and that the NSA was in fact collecting in bulk domestic call records, along with various internet communications.
To his critics, Clapper lied under oath, a crime that threatens effective oversight of the executive branch. In an apology letter to lawmakers, however, Clapper said he gave the “clearly erroneous” answer because he “simply didn’t think of” the call-record collection.
Critics who say President-elect Donald Trump has no right to disparage our good and faithful intelligence servants or to be skeptical of the intelligence they gather might be willing to accept “least untruthful” answers but others are not. As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized in June 2013 after Clapper’s testimony:
...Director of National Intelligence James Clapper struggles to explain why he told Congress in March that the National Security Agency does not intentionally collect any kind of data on millions of Americans. "I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying 'no,'" Clapper told NBC News on Sunday.
Least untruthful? Lying to Congress and the American people is just that, except in Clapper's mind. And it seems to depend on the meaning of "collect," a reminder of President Bill Clinton's defense that charges of his lying depended on the meaning of the word "is."
Are blanket collections of data, even just phone numbers, on large swaths of America a good idea? In 2006, when George W. Bush was in office, Joe Biden, in a rare moment of lucidity, told Harry Smith on CBS' "Morning Show" of the pitfalls of what the NSA is doing now.
"Harry, I don't have to listen to your phone calls to know what you're doing," Biden said. "If I know every single phone call you made, I'm able to determine every single person you talk to, I can get a pattern about your life that is very, very intrusive.
"And the real question here is: What do they do with this information that they collect that does not have anything to do with al-Qaida?"
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the NSA surveillance program was in violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Ironically, it was Judge Andrew Napolitano who noted in Fox News Opinion:
In the first meaningful and jurisdictionally grounded judicial review of the NSA cellphone spying program, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon, a George W. Bush appointee sitting in Washington, D.C., ruled that the scheme of asking a secret judge on a secret court for a general warrant to spy on all American cellphone users without providing evidence of probable cause of criminal behavior against any of them is unconstitutional because it directly violates the Fourth Amendment.
Readers of this page are familiar with the purpose of that Amendment and the requirements it imposes on the government. The Framers intended it to prevent the new government in America from doing to Americans what the British government had done to the colonists under the king.
The British government had used general warrants -- which are not based on individualized probable cause and do not name the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized -- to authorize British soldiers to search the colonists wherever they pleased for whatever they wished to seize.
Clapper defended and lied about an intelligence agency unconstitutionally spying on the American people. Shouldn’t we be skeptical about his conclusions and those of others on Russian hacking and Team Trump’s alleged collusion?

Clapper and others, including, apparently Fox News, may think that the Obama administration is incapable of such an act, the Obama administration that used the IRS in a way Richard Nixon only dreamed of, targeting the Tea Party movement that had arisen in opposition to Obamacare. Such an act would indeed make Watergate look like, well, a third-rate burglary. Clapper forgets as well how the NSA and the Obama administration spied on world leaders, starting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and reporters like Fox News’ own James Rosen:
President Barack Obama knew of the organization’s spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- and approved of the efforts, a National Security Agency official has reportedly told a German newspaper.
The Economic Times writes the “high-ranking” NSA official spoke to Bild am Sonntag on the condition of anonymity, saying the president, “not only did not stop the operation, but he also ordered it to continue.”
The Economic Times also reports the official told Bild am Sonntag that Obama did not trust Merkel, wanted to know everything about her, and thus ordered the NSA to prepare a dossier on the politician.
Of course, the Obama administration was not above surveillance of the press and treating respected reporters as, well, criminals. Take the case of Fox News reporter James Rosen, named by the Obama administration as a criminal co-conspirator in a case involving violations of the Espionage Act:
The Justice Department named Fox News's chief Washington correspondent James Rosen "at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator" in a 2010 espionage case against State Department security adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim. The accusation appears in a court affidavit first reported by the Washington Post. Kim is charged with handing over a classified government report in June 2009 that said North Korea would probably test a nuclear weapon in response to a UN resolution condemning previous tests. Rosen reported the analysis on 11 June under the headline 'North Korea Intends to Match UN Resolution With New Nuclear Test'. The FBI sought and obtained a warrant to seize all of Rosen's correspondence with Kim, and an additional two days' worth of Rosen's personal email, the Post reported. The bureau also obtained Rosen's phone records and used security badge records to track his movements to and from the State Department.
Judge Obama and the intel agencies by their illegal actions and their lying words. Judge Andrew Napolitano by his track record of impeccable credentials and unchallenged integrity. Judge Fox News by their action throwing Napolitano under the bus. Fox News – unfair, unbalanced, and very much afraid.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications. 

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Erdogan's War on the West - Burak Bekdil

by Burak Bekdil

The official rhetoric in Ankara unveils the irreversible incompatibility between the democratic cultures of Europe and Turkey

  • "Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe. That will be the best response to the injustices against you". — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to the Muslims of Europe.
  • Turkey, instead of embracing Europe as an ally and future partner, seems to think that it can tame Europe by blackmailing it.
  • The official rhetoric in Ankara unveils the irreversible incompatibility between the democratic cultures of Europe and Turkey.
In 2005, the Turkish prime minister at the time, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, along with his Spanish counterpart, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, became the co-chairs of a United Nations-sponsored global effort that went by the fancy name "Alliance of Civilizations." Twelve years later, Zapatero is a retired politician, the Western world faces different flavors of Islamist-to-jihadist threats and Erdogan is at war with Western civilization.

Erdogan, who was labelled as the most virulent anti-Israeli leader in the world, once likened Israel's operations in Gaza to Hitler's: ("Those who condemn Hitler day and night have surpassed Hitler in barbarism.") Recently, Erdogan said that today's German practices -- presumably Germany's blocking Turkish politicians speaking at German rallies to support Erdogan's upcoming referendum in Turkey -- are "not different from the Nazi practices of the past." In another speech, he complained that "Nazism is alive in the West." For Erdogan, the Dutch are "spineless and ignoble" and "remnants of the Nazi past and fascists;" and the Netherlands, which lost more than 200,000 of its citizens during the German occupation in WWII, is a "banana republic."

To the European Union, which Turkey theoretically aspires to join, he said: "If there are any Nazis, it is you who are the Nazis".

Ironically, the Turkish ire against the West, in a recent row between several European capitals and Ankara (over Erdogan's ambitions to hold political rallies across Europe to address millions of Turkish expats), reveals the unmistakable and deep-rooted anti-Semitism among Erdogan's fans. Hundreds of Turkish protesters in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam hurled stones at the police and shouted "Allahu akbar" -- Arabic for "Allah is the greatest." Then, some in the crowd, in a protest that was exclusively a dispute between Turkey and the Netherlands, shouted "cancer Jews".

"We saw again that the word 'Jew' and 'homo' are curse words in these groups," said Esther Voet, the editor-in-chief of the Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad.

Someone tweeted an embarrassing curse at François Hollande, the French president, mistaking his name for his nationality.

A gangster, who shot at a night club, defended himself by saying that he actually wanted to shoot at the Dutch consulate building.

For the lighter side of the Turkish ire, in another Dutch protest, Erdogan's fans cut, skewered and squeezed oranges -- orange is the color of the Dutch royal family. The Turkish Association of Red Meat Producers "deported" 40 Dutch Holstein cows back to Holland. In a similar move, a member of a district city council in Istanbul said that he would butcher a cow that came from the Netherlands in retaliation against the Dutch.

One could simply laugh and ignore the way the Turks express their anger at the Dutch, who deported an uninvited Turkish minister who intended to make a speech to the Turkish community in the Netherlands.

The official rhetoric in Ankara, however, unveils the irreversible incompatibility between the democratic cultures of Europe and Turkey. For Erdogan, "the spirit of fascism is running wild" in Europe. According to his foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Europe is "heading toward an abyss". And it is not just the rhetoric.

Hundreds of Turkish expatriates in Germany attend a political rally, addressed by Turkey's Sports Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic, in March 2016. (Image Source: Deutsche Welle video screenshot)

Not quite knowing where best to direct its anti-Western campaign Turkey blocked some military training and other work with NATO-partner countries, thereby obstructing NATO's 2017 rolling program of cooperation with non-EU countries. "This is childishly hostile," said one NATO state diplomat in Ankara.

Meanwhile, Turkey, instead of embracing Europe as an ally and future partner, seems to think that it can tame Europe by blackmailing it. Erdogan threatened to terminate a controversial agreement with the EU, sealed in March 2016 to stem the flow of tens of thousands of refugees from Turkey to Europe in return for financial aid and visa-free travel for Turks. The EU could "forget about the deal," Erdogan said half a year ago. Echoing Erdogan's threat, his interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, threatened the EU that the rich club would be shocked "if Ankara were to send 15,000 refugees to it every month. Minister Soylu said that he would "blow the minds" of EU leaders by sparking a fresh refugee crisis.

Part of the inflammatory anti-Western Turkish rhetoric and exploits may be aiming at luring an increasingly isolated and nationalistic voter base ahead of a critical referendum on April 16 that aims significantly to broaden Erdogan's presidential powers. But it is also about the fact that Erdogan views and portrays himself as the global champion of an opaque "Muslim cause," under Turkish [read: Erdogan's] caliphate-like leadership against the "hostile" West. As Islamists know that they cannot defeat the West by using hard power, it is about "soft jihad".

It was not without a reason that Turkey's Foreign Minister Cavusoglu did not talk about a "dispute," or a "diplomatic crisis," or "negotiations for a solution." He did talk about "religious wars."

"Soon religious wars will break out in Europe," he said. "That's the way it's going". But how do Turkish (and other) Islamists think they can win future religious wars? How do they think their primary warfare instrument, soft power, would work for an ultimate Islamic victory over an "infidel" civilization?

Erdogan has the answer: He urged Muslims across Europe to have big families to "fight the injustices of the West." And not just that:
"Go live in better neighbourhoods. Drive the best cars. Live in the best houses. Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe. That will be the best response to the injustices against you".
Islamists like Erdogan do not dream of "conquering" infidel lands with fighter jets and tanks and bombs. In this "war of religion" their primary weaponry is demographic change in favor of Muslims.

It is time to recall the poem Erdogan recited at a public rally back in 1999: "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers".
Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was just fired from Turkey's leading newspaper after 29 years, for writing what was taking place in Turkey for Gatestone. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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Report: Laptop ban result of raid on AQAP in Yemen last January - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

[authorities have concluded that] AQAP has developed extremely small bombs that can be hidden in laptops and other small devices

Yesterday, I wrote about the ban on laptops and other devices on flights originating at 10 mostly Middle Eastern airports which was ordered by the Department of Homeland Security. I speculated that the ban was the result of a specific terrorist threat.

Today, the Daily Beast is reporting that several US intellgience sources are pointing to a successful raid on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula last January that has led authorities to conclude that AQAP has developed extremely small bombs that can be hidden in laptops and other small devices.
Information from the raid shows al Qaeda's successful development of compact, battery bombs that fit inside laptops or other devices believed to be strong enough to bring down an aircraft, the sources said. The battery bombs would need to be manually triggered, a source explained, which is why the electronics ban is only for the aircraft cabin not checked luggage.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security publicly cited two attacks on flights in the last two years, the downing of a Russian jet over the Egyptian Sinai in October 2015 and an attempt that nearly succeeded in bringing down a jet that had taken off from Mogadishu, Somalia last year and made an emergency landing after an explosion ripped open its cabin. The insurgent group Al-Shababb claimed credit for getting a laptop onboard the flight that had been rigged as a bomb.
“Since they weren’t high enough, the explosion wasn’t catastrophic to the plane and they were able to land," one source told The Daily Beast. "The bomber got sucked out of the hole, but it was proof of concept."
The chief bomb maker for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Ibrahim al-Asiri, has been working on packing even smaller devices, the source added.
"You might recall they brought down UPS Flight 6 in 2010 with a bomb hidden inside a copier cartridge," the source said.
Intel sources fear terrorist can make bombs as small as computer batteries, provoking the ban on carry-on electronics at sensitive foreign airports.
Three intelligence sources told The Daily Beast that the ban on carry-on electronics aboard U.S.-bound flights from 10 airports in North Africa and the Middle East was the result of information seized during a U.S. raid on Al Qaeda in Yemen in January. The United Kingdom joined the U.S. ban Tuesday.
Information from the raid shows al Qaeda's successful development of compact, battery bombs that fit inside laptops or other devices believed to be strong enough to bring down an aircraft, the sources said. The battery bombs would need to be manually triggered, a source explained, which is why the electronics ban is only for the aircraft cabin not checked luggage.
We have to realize that we are in an arms race with the terrorists. Airplanes are not as vulnerable as they used to be, but they still present the best target for terrorists to carry out mass casualty attacks. As governments take ever more stringent security precautions, the terrorists figure out how to defeat those measures.

Then there is the huge problem of airport security in some countries that leads a lot to be desired. While most of the airports named by DHS in their laptop ban have good to excellent security records, some - like Mogadishu airport in Somalia - are a joke. Not only is security lax, but terrorists have found it relatively easy to bribe airport workers to smuggle contraband aboard aircraft.

The fact is, the announcement of the ban has probably stopped any planned attack in its tracks. But the ban is temporary and once things are back to normal, authorities will once again find themselves trying to stay one step ahead of the terrorists.

Rick Moran


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Israel's New Rules - A.J. Caschetta

by A.J. Caschetta

Those who tirelessly work to demonize and delegitimize Israel won't be able to enter the Jewish state from now on

Those who tirelessly work to demonize and delegitimize Israel won't be able to enter the Jewish state from now on.

Hugh Lanning, a British citizen and chairman of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, was denied entry into Israel on March 12, the first militant anti-Zionist to fall "victim" to a new law banning entry to any foreigner "who knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel."

"Whoever acts against Israel should understand that the rules of the game have changed," Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said afterwards.

Prior to the new law, anyone from a "friendly country" who came to the Jewish state could stay on a three-month entry visa unless specifically singled out for non-entry by the Interior Ministry. As Miriam Elman notes, the new law places the onus on visitors connected to boycott movements to explain why they should be granted admission.

The ambiguous language can be construed as applying not only to those, like Lanning, who are involved in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, but also to those who embrace what I call Backdoor BDS – accepting and advocating some parts of the BDS program, such as boycotting only "West Bank" products or sanctioning only certain Israelis.

The law is a determined act of self-defense, an increasingly rare occurrence among free nations in the 21st century. As one of the bill's sponsors explained, "Preventing BDS supporters who come here [from] hurt[ing] us from the inside is the very least we should be doing against haters of Israel."

The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) called self-defense the "second principle of natural law." Only the foolish and the dead refuse to defend themselves.

Refusing entry to those working to destroy Israel does not 'bar foreign critics,' as NYT reports.

Yet many in the media and academia find fault in Israel defending itself.

Making no attempts to disguise its contempt for Israel, The New York Times misleads its readers with the headline "New Israel Law Bars Foreign Critics From Entering the Country." Preventing entry of "critics" is not the same as preventing entry of enemies who are determined to undermine and delegitimize the country.

American academics have responded to the new law in ways that will not surprise those who follow such matters. The BDS-ers are outraged that they will have to contain their activities to countries other than the one they are attempting to erase. Backdoor BDS-ers are worried they will be conflated with "genuine" BDS-ers. And of course everyone is concerned about their academic freedom, as Elizabeth Redden documents at Inside Higher Ed.

  • BDS-er and MLA Members for Justice in Palestine (MLAMJP) activist Cynthia Franklin, an English professor at the University of Hawaii, worries that she will be prevented from teaching at Al-Quds University next year.
  • BDS-er Nadia Abu El-Haj, anthropology professor at Columbia University, is concerned about "international scholars who work on Palestine" like a colleague who "may well be turned around at the Tel Aviv airport" en route to a conference at Birzeit University.
  • Backdoor BDS-er David Biale, a professor of Jewish history at UC-Davis (who favors "a boycott of the settlements but not the country as a whole"), fears he will be mistakenly barred from entering Israel. Biale asks "Is this [law] just for propaganda reasons for the extreme right-wingers in Israel?"
  • But the tin-ear award goes to Laurie A. Brand, chair of Academic Freedom committee at the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), who worries that the new law constitutes (you guessed it) "a violation of free speech, freedom of conscience and specifically academic freedom."

Those Israeli citizens who join the BDS movement are still perfectly free to undermine their country's legitimacy if they choose. Outraged non-Israelis are still perfectly free (academically and otherwise) to follow their consciences wherever these paths may lead; they're just not allowed to visit the country they're working to destroy.

So bravo to the 46 Israeli politicians who stood up for the Jewish state (28 voted against it). No longer can Judith Butler fly into Israel, catch a show in Jenin, give a lecture at Birzeit, and then fly home to denounce Israel and humanize terrorists. MLAMJP members wishing to visit Israel (or "Palestine") to write up fanciful reports of oppression will have to fly into Egypt, take a bus to Gaza, and then enter the country through the network of tunnels traversed by Hamas bombers and stabbers.

Good luck with that.

A.J. Caschetta is a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum and a senior lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology.


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