The White House is dismissing as “baseless” a controversial report alleging President Barack Obama’s administration lied about the circumstances surrounding the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden.
“There are too many inaccuracies and baseless assertions in this piece to fact check each one,” White House National Security spokesman Ned Price said in a statement to reporters.
He took aim specifically at journalist Seymour Hersh’s assertion that the administration collaborated with Pakistani officials to kill the al Qaeda leader, saying that “the notion that the operation that killed Usama Bin Ladin was anything but a unilateral U.S. mission is patently false.”
“As we said at the time, knowledge of this operation was confined to a very small circle of senior U.S. officials. The President decided early on not to inform any other government, including the Pakistani Government, which was not notified until after the raid had occurred,” Price said.
That’s it? That’s all you got? What a gyp! Who cares?
Hersh also reports on boasting from some SEALs that bin Laden wasn’t given a burial at sea that adhered to Islamic religious traditions as the administration had claimed — rather, his remains “were thrown into a body bag and, during the helicopter flight back to Jalalabad, some body parts were tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains.”
Now, that’s what I’m talking about! That’s good stuff.
We don’t mean to do no harm,
Look out for Osama’s arm!
Don’t get hurt, don’t get dead,
Watch out for bin Laden’s head!
Hersh also alleges Obama’s speech announcing the successful mission was “put together in a rush,” not vetted or cleared by national security officials and created “chaos in the weeks following.”
“This series of self-serving and inaccurate statements would create chaos in the weeks following,” he said.
Should I wear a red tie or a blue one when I take my victory lap?
Will this be serialized in the New York Times and the WaPo, and on the Today Show and Frontline? Especially the part about “self-serving and inaccurate statements”?
An administration that declared chemical and biological weapons a casus belli, and moved heaven and earth to find them—or an administration that declared chemical and biological weapons a “red line”, and did bugger-all to stop them?
International inspectors have found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site in Syria that had not been declared to the global chemical weapons watchdog, diplomatic sources said on Friday.
Samples taken by experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition and Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in December and January tested positive for chemical precursors needed to make the toxic agents, the sources told Reuters on the condition of anonymity because the information is confidential.
“This is a pretty strong indication they have been lying about what they did with sarin,” one diplomatic source said. “They have so far been unable to give a satisfactory explanation about this finding.”
In 2013, the United States threatened military intervention against Syria’s government after sarin gas attacks in August of that year killed hundreds of residents in Ghouta, a rebel-controlled suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus.
Under the deal with Washington and Moscow, Syria agreed to permanently and completely destroy its chemical weapons program and cannot use poison gas in warfare.
But the OPCW, which is not mandated to assign blame, said chlorine has been used “systematically and repeatedly” as a weapon in Syria after Damascus handed over its declared toxic stockpile.
Syria has begun destroying a dozen chemical weapons production and storage sites, but also last year added several new facilities it had not initially disclosed to the OPCW.
The United States wants a team of United Nations investigators to determine who is to blame for the more recent chlorine attacks in a bid to pave the way for U.N. Security Council action against those responsible.
What a coincidence! Bush went to the UN over WMD as well! Eighteen times.
As for which situation is worse, those Iraqis and Syrians affected can’t answer. Feel free to do so yourself in the comments.
A strike by US-led forces on the northern Syrian province of Aleppo on Friday has risen to 52 including seven children, a group monitoring the conflict said on Saturday.
The British-based Observatory for Human Rights said the air raid on Friday had mistakenly struck civilians in a village on the eastern banks of the Euphrates River in Aleppo, killing members of at least six families.
The group said at least 13 people remain missing.
The United States has previously said it takes reports of civilian casualties from the US-led strikes seriously and says it has a process to investigate each allegation.
Oh good. I feel better.
Medea Benjamin, where are you now that your country really needs you?
Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida and aspirant for his party’s presidential nomination, has a very poisonous pill he is seeking to add to Iran legislation this week before the Senate.
No, it’s not his much discussed amendment saying Congress would not lift its sanctions on Iran unless Iran recognized Israel. Rather Rubio just wants the Iran deal to conform to the president’s own description of a nuclear framework agreement. As Rubio said Wednesday, “It requires this final deal be the deal the president says it is.”
On the surface, this seems like small ball. On April 2, the White House released a fact sheet that spelled out Iran’s obligations to modify some of its nuclear facilities and limit its enrichment. The fact sheet said sanctions would be phased out over time as Iran complied with the terms of the framework.
Rubio’s amendment simply quotes that fact sheet verbatim and says the president may not waive or lift any Congressional sanctions until he certifies Iran has met the White House conditions.
“For the life of me, I don’t understand why that would be controversial,” Rubio said Wednesday. “Yet somehow, I was told this would box the White House in.”
Don’t be coy, Marco. When was the last time the “final deal be the deal the president says it is”? If that were the case with ObamaCare, I’d still have my doctor and be $2,500 richer.
But Rubio knows very well why the amendment is controversial. Almost immediately after the White House announced the terms of what it thought was a framework agreement, the Iranians balked. The foreign minister, Javad Zarif, tweeted that the White House fact sheet was spin. The head of Iran’s revolutionary guard corps said international inspectors would never gain access to military sites. And Iran’s supreme leader says all sanctions must be lifted up front when Iran signs an agreement.
In the face of Iran’s new red lines, Obama wobbled. On April 17, Obama said he was instructing his negotiators to “find formulas that get to our main concerns while allowing the other side to make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable.”
Is there such a thing as being too articulate? “Formulas”? “Presentation”? “Body politic”? If you listen carefully and the wind’s just right, he’s calling for our surrender.
Obama’s a big man when he’s piloting a drone 8,000 miles away, but face off against him—either on the high seas or in Congress—and he turtles. With apologies to members of the order Testudines.
PS: Even Floyd Mayweather, Jr. would be afraid to box those ears.
Once hailed by President Barack Obama as a model for fighting extremism, the U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Yemen has all but collapsed as the country descends into chaos, according to U.S. and Yemeni officials.
Operations against militants have been scaled back dramatically amid the fall of the American-backed government and the evacuation of U.S. personnel. What had been consistent pressure on Yemen’s dangerous al-Qaida affiliate has been relieved, the officials say, and a safe haven exists for the development of an offshoot of the Islamic State group.
It’s a swift and striking transformation for an anti-terror campaign Obama heralded just six months ago as the template for efforts to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground,” Obama said. “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”
Maybe he’s failing so spectacularly because he insists on calling them ISIL. They answer to ISIS and just plain IS, too, sir.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE: The case that we have made is that Yemen did serve as a sort of template for the kind of strategy that we would employ to mitigate the threat from extremists around the world.
Whatever, dude. Just as long as they’re killing each other over there and no one over here gets hurt. Good, clean Arab-on-Arab murderous fun is one thing; airplanes into buildings is quite another.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): I think the president is doing everything that he can in trying to defeat ISIS. But when I hear words like enduring conflict, it makes me very, very nervous. I think it opens a door wider than it should be. I think we’ve got to continue air strikes. I think we’ve got to use special operations forces when we can. But I do not want to see a never-ending quagmire in the Middle East where our troops die, come back with terrible illnesses and we end up spending trillions of dollars.
Once again, this war is a battle for the soul of Islam and it’s going to have to be the Muslim countries who are stepping up. These are billionaire families all over that region. They’ve got to get their hands dirty. They’ve got to get their troops on the ground. They’ve got to win that war with our support. We cannot be leading the effort…
I want to make sure that our young men and women are not fighting a never-ending war in the region, not getting killed.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN: The language is fuzzy, is it not?
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE: Intentionally so. And the intent is —
ACOSTA: Intentionally so?
ACOSTA: It’s intentionally fuzzy?
EARNEST: Yes, Jim, because we believe it’s important that there aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander-in-chief who needs the flexibility to be able to respond to contingencies that emerge in a chaotic military conflict like this.
Remember when this administration touted a “time-limited, scope-limited military action”? Those were the days. Of course, that was in Libya, and that didn’t turn out so well.
BILL O’REILLY: 10-year-old girls are getting raped and killed, people are getting set on fire and beheaded. You can theorize all you want. We have a disagreement. You and the president believe that it’s working–.
AXELROD: What do you think the answer is though? Let’s make you president of the United States for a second, which your viewers may want.
O’REILLY: I put forth the answer, that you have to basically get a ground force. There’s 40,000 of these people. Go in and kill them. It should be an international force, but this should have been convened months ago.
AXELROD: The question is, what then? What happens then, Bill?
O’REILLY: They’re dead, and then we bury them.
AXELROD: Are we going to stay in perpetuity?
O’REILLY: No. We kill them, and then we leave. And if we have to go back we kill them, and then we leave.
AXELROD: And your assumption is — and that’s it, there’s no more anywhere else? This doesn’t inflame the situation–.
O’REILLY: Where they are, you seek and destroy.
AXELROD: If they don’t have recruits coming in, this doesn’t inflame — does it add to our security or does it detract from our security?
O’REILLY: You really want to use the word inflame after the Jordanian guy got set on fire? Is that the word you want to use? Come on.
You know what they say: opinions are like a**holes—everyone has one. Even a**holes.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Our coalition is on the offensive, ISIL is on the defensive, and ISIL is going to lose. Its barbaric murders of so many people, including American hostages, are desperate and revolting attempts to strike fear in the hearts of people that it can never possibly win over by its ideas or its ideology because it offers nothing but misery and death and destruction.
With vile groups like this, there is only one option. With our allies and partners we are going to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.
Two questions come to mind: if we’re going to “destroy” them, who gives a fig that we’re also going to “degrade” them? Why does he keep repeating that? Bill O’Reilly may not be president, but his rhetoric of “kill them, bury them” (which is twice as much work as I’d invest) is a lot more presidential.
Second, if ISIS “can never possibly win over by its ideas or its ideology because it offers nothing but misery and death and destruction”, why do we need to fight them? By Obama’s reasoning, ISIS’ ideology will defeat its arms. If you’ll allow the analogy, Lord Voldemort, too, offered only “misery and death and destruction”, yet he was winning; he had no shortage of death-eaters at his beck and call. But for Harry Potter, his ideology would have won—twice.
ISIS is winning, but only because we—or another suitable force—are not fighting them. The Kurds are proof that if you shoot an ISIS maggot, he will die. Shoot more of them, with more guns. To complete the analogy above, instead of “the boy who lived” standing against “barbaric, desperate, revolting” terrorists, we have “the boy who smoked a lid”.
He was elected president in 2008 largely on a no-war platform. How fitting he has become an “endless wartime” president. An absence of strategy will do that.
Jordan has deployed “thousands” of ground troops to the Iraqi border, a source close to the Jordanian government told ABC News today, in its latest move to counter the advance of the Islamic State group.
The Jordanian source says the troops will likely stay on their side of the border in a defensive posture, for now, and will not enter Iraq without approval from the Iraqi government.
However, on the other side of the border, the head of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, retired Marine Gen. John Allen told Jordan’s official Petra news agency, “there will be a major counteroffensive on the ground in Iraq” shortly.
The White House was ready to share with lawmakers Tuesday its plan to seek authority for the use of military force against the Islamic State group, setting up the first war vote in Congress in 13 years.
“President, you said you have not yet made a decision as to whether weapons ought to be delivered to [Jordan]; what would be your red line? What would be the red line that needs to be crossed for you to decide a — an armament of the [Jordanian] army? And what do you think will this hold by way of a promise, because the chancellor said it will make matters worse? What can the Nobel Laureate Obama do more to defuse the situation?”
The Nobel Laureate Obama still hasn’t decided to promote ISIS to varsity.
“We have no interest in seeing Russia weakened or its economy in shambles. We have a profound interest, as I believe every country does, in promoting a core principle, which is: Large countries don’t bully smaller countries,” Obama told reporters.
“It’s really 19th century behavior in the 21st century,” Kerry said. “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretexts in order to assert your interests.”
That was almost a year ago. What’s changed? I love the sanctions, and the oil price plummet has squeezed Putin by his rubles, but if our leaders really believe their striped-pant rhetoric, dasvidaniya Ukraine.
His visit comes a day after city officials in Mariupol, Ukraine, said shelling in southeastern Ukraine killed at least 30 people, including two children.
Another 102 people were injured, at least 75 of whom needed hospital treatment, and many suffered shrapnel injuries, Mariupol City Council said.
Pro-Russian separatists are blamed for the attack on residential areas in the port city, Donetsk regional police chief Vyacheslav Abroskin said on his Facebook page.
Although ISIL calls itself the “Islamic State,” the President emphasized that the terrorist group is neither Islamic nor a state.
“ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim,” President Obama said. “And ISIL is certainly not a state. … It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates.”
Isn’t one of the most important rules of warfare to know your enemy? He sounds ignorant, willfully so, and even gets the name wrong. Oh well, maybe he makes up for it later.
“Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”
Exclusive: ISIS Gaining Ground in Syria, Despite U.S. Strikes
American jets are pounding Syria. But ISIS is taking key terrain—and putting more and more people under its black banners.
ISIS continues to gain substantial ground in Syria, despite nearly 800 airstrikes in the American-led campaign to break its grip there.
At least one-third of the country’s territory is now under ISIS influence, with recent gains in rural areas that can serve as a conduit to major cities that the so-called Islamic State hopes to eventually claim as part of its caliphate. Meanwhile, the Islamic extremist group does not appear to have suffered any major ground losses since the strikes began. The result is a net ground gain for ISIS, according to information compiled by two groups with on-the-ground sources.
And then, in a classic example of military-sepak:
“Yes, they have gained some ground. But we have stopped their momentum,” one Pentagon official told The Daily Beast.
That’s a neat trick. How do you stop momentum as they gain ground?
ISIS’s gain is a loss for gays, Christians, women, children, pigeon-breeders, and anyone else I might have left out.
During a Jan. 6 press briefing, for example, when a reporter asked “where ISIS’s relative strength is right now,” Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby replied by talking exclusively about the U.S. effort in Iraq, naming cities were the military believed ISIS’s momentum has been “halted.”
When the reporter pressed for an answer on what was happening in Syria, Kirby struggled, saying, “I couldn’t give you a—a specific point at which, you know, we believe, well geez, we’ve halted their momentum. It—it’s come slowly, in various stages. But I think it’s safe to say that over the last three to four weeks, we—we’ve been confident that that momentum has largely been blunted.”
On Friday, Kirby proclaimed that ISIS had lost 700 square kilometers since the campaign began—over half the size of New York City or about four times the size of the District of Columbia. But the Pentagon spokesman could not say what percentage that area marked of total ISIS-controlled land. Nor could he say if that loss was in Iraq, Syria, or combined in both nations. As Kirby asserted: “I’m frankly not sure how relevant that is.”
But Obama said:
“I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
Sorry, Syrians, but if you thought you could keep your country if you liked it, you’re as big a bunch of saps as we are.
It’s official: Russia is heading into recession. And for the first time, the country admits it.
The Russian government said the economy will contract by 0.8% in 2015. The country revised its 2015 budget based on a lower value for the ruble and oil trading at $80 per barrel, compared to its previous assumption that oil will be trading at $100 barrel next year.
The economic contraction could get worse, given that even these assumptions are already more optimistic than current levels. On Tuesday, Brent crude oil was trading at $71, while the value of its currency had fallen further.
The government has a more “pessimistic” scenario if oil prices trade at $60 per barrel, in which case the Russian economy would fall by 3.5-4%.
Russia’s economy is facing a downward spiral mainly because of low oil prices — half of the government’s revenue comes from oil and gas exports.
It’s pushed Russia’s income lower, increasing its budget deficit. That in turn has weakened the ruble.
A weak currency sends prices of goods higher, hurting consumers.
On top of that, the recent economic sanctions is causing huge private capital outflows — estimated to total $60-$80 billion in 2015.
It couldn’t happen to a nicer ex-KGB goon. I’m feeling such naches I’m kvelling.
So, credit to Obama, but with one catch. We should have armed the Ukrainians. Years ago, we twisted their arms to disarm, with the promise of our protection. We should have offered whatever materiel they needed now. It would have showed Russia our resolve without directly confronting them, and it would have kept a promise to a friendly government bordering a hostile one. So, smoke your victory cigar, Mr. President (we know you’re dying to), but just one. It’s not healthy, and it’s all you’ve earned.
BEIRUT — The Obama administration’s Syria strategy suffered a major setback Sunday after fighters linked to al-Qaeda routed U.S.-backed rebels from their main northern strongholds, capturing significant quantities of weaponry, triggering widespread defections and ending hopes that Washington will readily find Syrian partners in its war against the Islamic State.
Moderate rebels who had been armed and trained by the United States either surrendered or defected to the extremists as the Jabhat al-Nusra group, affiliated with al-Qaeda, swept through the towns and villages the moderates controlled in the northern province of Idlib, in what appeared to be a concerted push to vanquish the moderate Free Syrian Army, according to rebel commanders, activists and analysts.
Other moderate fighters were on the run, headed for the Turkish border as the extremists closed in, heralding a significant defeat for the rebel forces Washington had been counting on as a bulwark against the Islamic State.
A Jabhat al-Nusra base was one of the first targets hit when the United States launched its air war in Syria in September, and activists said the tensions fueled by that attack had contributed to the success of the group’s push against the moderate rebels.
“When American airstrikes targeted al-Nusra, people felt solidarity with them because Nusra are fighting the regime, and the strikes are helping the regime,” said Raed al-Fares, an activist leader in Kafr Nabel, in Idlib.
“Now people think that whoever in the Free Syrian Army gets support from the U.S.A. is an agent of the regime,” he said.
Doing to the Syrian opposition what he did to health care.
Obama does so many stupid things—I mean really numb-skulled, moronic, imbecilic things—I’m beginning to wonder if he’s as smart as they’ve been telling us. I’m thinking not.
PS: Didn’t Harry Reid declare Bush’s war in Iraq “lost”, when it was shortly after won? Where is he now (but on his way out, on his ass)?
Top military leaders in the Pentagon and in the field are growing increasingly frustrated by the tight constraints the White House has placed on the plans to fight ISIS and train a new Syrian rebel army.
As the American-led battle against ISIS stretches into its fourth month, the generals and Pentagon officials leading the air campaign and preparing to train Syrian rebels are working under strict White House orders to keep the war contained within policy limits. The National Security Council has given precise instructions on which rebels can be engaged, who can be trained, and what exactly those fighters will do when they return to Syria. Most of the rebels to be trained by the U.S. will never be sent to fight against ISIS.
Making matters worse, military officers and civilian Pentagon leaders tell The Daily Beast, is the ISIS war’s decision-making process, run by National Security Adviser Susan Rice. It’s been manic and obsessed with the tiniest of details. Officials talk of sudden and frequent meetings of the National Security Council and the so-called Principals Committee of top defense, intelligence, and foreign policy officials (an NSC and three PCs in one week this month); a barrage of questions from the NSC to the agencies that create mountains of paperwork for overworked staffers; and NSC insistence on deciding minor issues even at the operational level.
“We are getting a lot of micromanagement from the White House. Basic decisions that should take hours are taking days sometimes,” one senior defense official told The Daily Beast.
War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.
William Tecumseh Sherman
No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.
George S. Patton
We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. Winston Churchill
If you like your army, you can keep your army. Period.
Barack H. Ohama