Front Page Magazine

Matthew Vadum

A man the Obama administration claims orchestrated the deadly attack on the American diplomatic complex in Benghazi, Libya, on the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities is now in U.S. custody.

This means that — abracadabra! — a suspect is in U.S. custody even before anyone knew there was a suspect. After all, it was supposed to be a video that no one saw that mocked the Islamic prophet Mohammed that sparked spontaneous riots complete with attackers armed with military-grade weapons.

After the administration orchestrated a massive campaign of deception, spoon-feeding lies to its lapdog allies in the media, suddenly Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a senior leader of the Ansar al-Shari’a terrorist militia in Benghazi, is in American hands. Khatallah, who was not in hiding in Libya and who made himself available to visiting journalists, was  charged by U.S. authorities last year with murder in connection with the assault, according to newly unsealed court documents.

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Michael Widlanski 

Forget the headlines: John Kerry has been jetting everywhere and getting nowhere.

Kerry thinks putting the PLO in a room with Israelis will solve the “Palestinian-Israeli Conflict,” which he thinks is the most important issue facing the world.

“The core issue of instability in this region and in many other parts of the world is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” said Kerry.

Rarely have time, words and jet fuel been so wasted.

First Reason: The PLO does not want peace with Israel, only a piece of Israel, and then another piece of Israel. Palestinians  had several chances for a Palestinian state—in 1947, in 1949, in 1967 in 1981, in 2000, in 2006—but always overreached, trying to dismember Israel rather than build Palestine.

Late PLO leader Yasser Arafat said he did not want to be “mayor of the West Bank,” and he did not like fixing sewer lines, but preferred to build concrete bunkers.

Second Reason:  The PLO and the Palestinians have nothing to do with problems facing the world. Kerry and Obama think otherwise.

Kerry got off the plane and apparently concluded: a. Syria’s war—the Palestinians; b. Iran’s bomb—the Israelis; c. Egypt’s unrest—the Zionists;  d. problems with North Korea — the Israelis; e. trade crisis with China—the Palestinians; and  so on.

Before assuming Kerry bumped his head, like Hillary Clinton, we must recall that Obama sent Kerry abroad and also thinks “Palestine” is the center of the universe.

This need not mean that all foreign policy travel is a waste of tax dollars, because travel is often really good for the soul—and for policy.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page, ” declared Augustine, centuries ago, and his words are even truer today.

We must see the world, taste other cultures, hear different tongues in order to grow. When we stay in the same place all the time our thoughts get as stiff as our muscles.

Mark Twain, the great writer-traveler, was a boat-hand on the Mississippi River, and he found that “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Twain warned against “vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

But, as Obama and Kerry have shown, travel is no guarantee of success.

Travel will not help world leaders who do not broaden themselves before going abroad, who do not really study history, culture or languages. Barack Obama is often called bright and worldly, but his policies and statements show he lives in his own Obama-centric world.

Obama thought Russian despot Vladimir Putin was his buddy. He pledged to be even more “flexible” with Putin if he (Obama) got re-elected, and he felt Chinese leaders would cooperate on economic and political matters. Sino-Russian support of terror, tyranny and Edward Snowden show how wrong Obama was.

Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made colossal errors, claiming a “re-start” in ties with Russia, but they could not even get the word “re-start” right in the big signs they placed in front of cameras at a Russian-US summit.

Westerners who grew close to Communist Russia and China were once called “fellow travelers.”  For Obama-Clinton-Kerry, a better term is “frequent fumblers.”

After four years in office and much travel abroad, Obama has a foreign policy built  on Obama’s initial gut feeling, not lessons learned from experience or travel. Mark Twain would call this “prejudice,” or “vegetating” because when Obama travels or sends Clinton or Kerry, he keeps his mind closed, effectively staying at home.

That explains why Obama-Clinton ignored warnings that Arab-Islamic terror might strike again on 9-11. The idea did not fit with their world view. They ignored reports from their Arabic-speaking ambassador in Libya, Chris Stevens, who told them repeatedly that Al-Qaeda was targeting Americans in Libya.

That is why Obama-Clinton felt Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was a better bet for America than President Hosni Mubarak. Obama’s gut, not empirical data, is why Obama says the Guantanamo base in Cuba caused terror rather than the truth: terror caused the need for the Guantanamo base to house terrorists.

That is why Obama believes hostility to the US among Arab extremists or by the regimes of Russia and China is tied mostly to imaginary offenses or insults inflicted by America. That is flat-out wrong. Real travel and real study could have mitigated the error, but the real cure is real inquiry and an open mind.

The dean of US foreign policy in the post-war era was George Kennan, who knew Russian and German well. Kennan felt many US officials did not recognize Soviet and Nazi goals early enough, fooled by myths circulated by those regimes.

Kennan felt US officials needed to take the time and effort to penetrate the cultures of the societies who were the main rivals to America in the world. That is still true.

Front Page Magazine

By Joseph Klein

On July 3, 2013 – the eve of our own Independence Day celebration – millions of Egyptians who had protested in the streets against the Muslim Brotherhood-backed regime of President Mohammed Morsi last weekend got their wish. The Egyptian military followed through on its threat and removed Morsi from power, as the protesters demanded. The military had given Morsi 48 hours to enter into meaningful reconciliation talks with the opposition. Morsi ignored the ultimatum and gave a defiant speech instead.

The armed forces also suspended the unpopular constitution that Morsi and his Islamist allies had rammed through, which the opposition considered a dangerous blueprint for the institution of strict Islamic law on the Egyptian people and for the trampling of minority rights. Pending new presidential elections, which could take several months to set up, the military named the chief justice of Egypt’s constitutional court as interim president and announced the formation of a technocratic government.

At a press conference following the official announcement of Morsi’s removal, General Abdul Fatah Khalil Al-Sisi outlined a roadmap that he claimed would “put an end to the state of division” besetting the country. Emphasizing the military’s stated objective of inclusive civilian rule rather than a return to a military dictatorship, General Al-Sisi surrounded himself with top Muslim and Christian clerics as well as the Nobel Prize Laureate, diplomat and secularist leader Mohamed El-Baradei.

Cairo’s Tahrir Square, filled with anti-Morsi protesters, erupted in celebration at the news of Morsi’s ouster with loud cheers and continuous fireworks.

In another part of Cairo, however, Islamist backers of Morsi cried foul at the forcible removal of Egypt’s first democratically elected president and vowed to fight for Morsi’s restoration to power. Clashes have already been reported between Morsi supporters and the military.

As for Morsi himself, he has reportedly been under house arrest and cut off from outside communications. However, he managed to issue a statement to his supporters decrying what he called a “complete military coup.” While declaring that the “revolution is being stolen from us,” he finally offered to sit down and “negotiate with everybody.” But it was too little too late.

The military was taking no chances and moved preemptively to detain many of Morsi’s senior aides and some leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, including the chief of its political party.

Civil war cannot be ruled out as a possible outcome, although there is a split within the Islamist ranks. The ultraconservative Islamist Nour Party leadership decided to stand with the military and endorse its action. They apparently sensed an opportunity to position the Salafist party as a credible Muslim alternative to its rival, the Muslim Brotherhood, by winning favor with the military and the opposition at the same time.

Dire predictions that Egypt could go down the same path as Syria are premature. First of all, unlike the situation in Syria where Sunni-Shiite hatreds are fueling the deadly sectarian conflict, such sectarian divisions are not expected to play a major role in Egypt. Secondly, while the entry of foreign jihadist fighters into Egypt cannot be ruled out, Saudi Arabia – which has helped bankroll the arming of the jihadist opposition to the Syrian regime – has already congratulated Egypt’s new transitional head of state. Third, defections from the Egyptian military are less likely than those experienced by the Syrian military, at least so long as the Egyptian army does not turn its guns on wide portions of the Egyptian civilian population.

The military claims that it does not want to rule the country and only intervened as a last resort to carry out the expressed will of the people. More likely, the truth is that the military intervened when it realized that the protests against the Muslim Brotherhood-led government would continue to escalate and threaten the semblance of national stability that the military depends on to preserve its own privileged status in Egyptian society.

“Egypt’s military leaders are not ideologically committed to one thing or the other,” said Steven A. Cook, a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, as quoted by the New York Times. “They are willing to make a deal with virtually anyone, and this one didn’t work out, clearly,” he added, referring to the failure of the Morsi regime to maintain relative domestic peace and to improve the disastrous economy.

Another expert, Michael Wahid Hanna of the Century Foundation, agreed with this assessment of the military’s agenda, according to the New York Times. He said that the military does not want the responsibility of being the “front-line actors” on the political stage. They have seen how quickly the people will turn on whomever is very visibly running the government if economic and political conditions are not to their liking. The military, Hanna said, “just want things to settle down.”

President Barack Obama once again demonstrated his fecklessness in dealing with the volatile Middle East. Appearing to hold out the possibility of a lifeline of sorts to the Morsi regime, Obama said he was “deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian Constitution.”

Obama also said he was ordering an assessment of what the military’s action meant for U.S. foreign aid to Egypt. However, he avoided for the moment referring to the military’s action as a “coup” since that explicit label could trigger a statutorily required suspension of American military aid to Egypt.

Obama’s hypocrisy came to the fore when he urged the Egyptian army to refrain from “arbitrary arrests” of Morsi and his supporters. Obama is worried about the fate of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, but showed little concern while Morsi’s government was arbitrarily arresting its opponents and persecuting the Christian minority.

The Obama administration is apparently so upset with the nullification of the democratic election of Morsi as president that it fails to grasp the underlying mass popular forces that led to the nullification. The Arab Spring “revolution” in the streets of Cairo that Obama praised so highly in 2011 reached a more intense phase in the summer of 2013 because the Morsi regime subverted the revolution’s purpose, as articulated by many of its youthful leaders who started the ball rolling – the end of autocracy of all stripes.

Morsi’s rush to impose the Muslim Brotherhood’s rigid concept of Islamic law on the Egyptian people and his government’s trampling on the rights of minorities prevented the rise of viable competing opposition organizations that would be free to make their case to the people in advance of the next round of elections. By removing all checks and balances to his own powers and squelching popular voices of dissent, Morsi was effectively rigging the political system to ensure the dominance of Muslim Brotherhood political power for the long term. That is a subversion of a truly functioning democratic process.

Barack Obama made a tragic mistake in 2009 when he sided with the Iranian mullahs and ignored the pleas for help by waves of Green Revolution dissidents protesting the fraudulent “re-election” of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran’s president. Now, four years later, Obama is over-solicitous to the Islamists who forfeited their legitimacy by betraying the revolution that helped propel them to power in the first place.

About Joseph Klein 

Joseph Klein is a Harvard-trained lawyer and the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom and the new book, Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations & Radical Islam.

National Review

By  Kathryn Jean Lopez

As Mohamed Morsi faces the prospect of an imminent military coup, Raymond Ibrahim, the American son of two Egyptian parents and author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians, talks about the situation in Egypt and its implications, in particular for Christians who already find themselves in a precarious position.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What could the backlash against Morsi in Egypt mean for the future of Egypt?

RAYMOND IBRAHIM: On the one hand, the average Egyptian has tasted a solid year of rule under the Muslim Brotherhood — and the majority don’t like it, as evinced by the mass demonstrations currently underway. On the other hand, it is a mistake to think that the uprising against Morsi and the Brotherhood is all about rejecting Islamization and sharia. A great many of those protesting Morsi are doing so less because of his Islamist agenda — which many are indifferent to — and more because he and his party have proven to be incompetent, corrupt, and, in short, making the average Egyptian miss Mubarak. Egyptians have been reduced to not having food to eat — and this is their fundamental concern. All that said, Egyptians have now had a taste of an Islamist government — which always sounded great, in theory — and, by and large, they have learned they don’t like it, the hard way.

LOPEZ: What do the Copts need?

IBRAHIM: All that the Copts want is equality — to be seen and treated as full Egyptian citizens, irrespective of their Christian faith. Under the era of Westernization and modernization, they were indeed largely seen as “regular” Egyptians. But, as Muslims went from emulating the West, to having contempt for it — I discuss this phenomenon at length in my book Crucified Again — so too did they begin to reclaim their Islamic heritage, and its teachings, which are fundamentally hostile to non-Muslims, and so Egypt’s most indigenous and native inhabitants — the Christian Copts — come to suffer for it.

LOPEZ: Who was Cyril Yusuf Sa’ad?

IBRAHIM: He was a six-year-old Coptic Christian boy who was abducted and held for ransom. Muslim abductions of Christians is an increasingly common practice, not just in Egypt, but in Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, etc. (as I show in Crucified Again). The boy was eventually killed in late May. According to the Arabic language report, the boy’s “family is in tatters after paying 30,000 pounds to the abductor, who still killed the innocent child and threw his body into the toilet of his home, where the body, swollen and moldy, was exhumed.” 

LOPEZ: Who was Agape Essam Girgis?

IBRAHIM: She is a 14-year-old Coptic girl who, on her way to school accompanied by a Muslim social worker and two teachers — one of whom was a Salafi — never returned. She was drugged and awakened to find herself in a secluded place with an elderly woman and Salafis who tried to convert her to Islam, forced her to wear the full hijab, and beat her. She was eventually released — she’s actually one of the few lucky Coptic girls who made it back home (one recent study states that well over 500 Coptic girls have been abducted, raped, seduced, blackmailed, etc., in the last few years).

LOPEZ: Is it an exaggeration to argue that there is a jihad on children in Egypt? And is there a danger in relying on some of the news accounts?

IBRAHIM: Well, what more must happen before highlighting the plight of Christian youth under Islam is justified? Christian boys and girls in Egypt are frequently targeted, often for “ransom” money — as they are in Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, and all throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Those targeting them are Muslims who, for a variety of reasons, have concluded that their actions — targeting Christians for extortion, and often yanking them from the doorsteps of their “infidel” churches — are legitimate in the context of Islam and jihad. I explain this phenomenon — doctrinally and historically – in Crucified Again. Indeed, only the other day, I wrote about new threats directed against Egypt’s Christians, telling them not to join protests against Morsi, otherwise their “businesses, cars, homes, schools, and churches” might “catch fire.” The message concluded by saying: “If you are not worried about any of these, then worry about your children and your homes. This message is being delivered with tact. But when the moment of truth comes, there will be no tact.” Around the same time, Sheikh Essam Abdulamek, a member of parliament’s Shura Council, warned Egypt’s Christians on live TV against participating in the June 30 protests, saying, “Do not sacrifice your children.”

LOPEZ: Is it really fair to say that the Obama administration is enabling Christian persecution, as you do?

IBRAHIM: It’s not just fair — it’s indubitably true. In every single country where Christian minorities live among Muslim majorities, Obama’s policies have empowered the Islamist parties, with the obvious consequence that the Christians are first to suffer. In Egypt, as expected, since the Obama-backed Brotherhood came to power, the persecution of Copts has practically been legalized, as unprecedented numbers of Christians — men, women, and children — have been arrested, often receiving more than double the maximum prison sentence, under the accusation that they “blasphemed” Islam or its prophet. It was also under Brotherhood rule that another unprecedented scandal occurred: St. Mark Cathedral — the holiest site of Coptic Christianity and home of the pope himself — was besieged in broad daylight by Islamic rioters. When security came, they too joined in the attack on the cathedral.

In Libya, after Obama supported the al-Qaeda “freedom fighters,” Libya’s small Christian minority has been targeted in unprecedented ways. Among other things, the very few churches there are under attack and bombed; nuns that have been serving the sick and needy since 1921 have been harassed and forced to flee; foreign Christians possessing Bibles have been arrested and tortured (one recently died from his torture). And in Syria — where does one begin? Churches are being bombed and Christians are routinely being beheaded — most recently a Catholic priest, one of many. I discuss all this in my recent article, “Obama’s Proxy War on Mideast Christians.” If the reader finds this title outrageous, I might point out that, the same day my article was published, it was revealed that Syrian Christians were asking, “Why is America at war with us?

LOPEZ: Should the persecution of Christians in the Middle East serve as a reminder to us of how precious a liberty religious freedom is?

IBRAHIM:Yes. Yes. And yes.

LOPEZ: How do you avoid being anti-Muslim while documenting “the continuity and interconnectivity of Christian persecution under Islam”?

IBRAHIM: It is one thing to talk about Islam and its teachings — which often are black and white (depending on whether one is a Sunni, Shia, etc.) — and another thing to talk about the Muslim guy down the street. I know the former inside out; I do not know the latter. So I talk about Islamic history, doctrine, continuity, etc. — but I leave room for the fact that, of course, just because someone is named “Muhammad” certainly does not mean he’s a jihadi, anymore than someone named “Christian” is always “turning the other cheek.” That said, I think it is folly to suppress talk about Islam simply because it might make a nominal American Muslim feel “uncomfortable.” It’s a question of priorities: What’s more important — to have the plight of millions of Christians suffering under Islam reach the light of day, even though some Muslims in America might feel uncomfortable at how such news makes Islam look, or to cover up the plight of these millions of victims, simply so Islam doesn’t look so bad in the West? The mainstream media has tended for this latter option. This is why I wrote Crucified Again, to fill the vacuum created by the MSM’s negligence in reporting on the reality of Muslim persecution of Christians.

LOPEZ: “Now that the ‘Arab Spring’ has reached Syria – another stronghold of early Christianity that today is almost entirely Islamic — the attacks on monasteries there demonstrate the continuity between the original jihad and the jihad we know in the twenty-first century.” Is that the backstory to the murder of Fr. Murad?

IBRAHIM: Absolutely. That’s just it: All that we’re seeing today has a long continuity. As I tried to show in Crucified Again, every pattern of persecution we see today — whether church bombings or bannings, blasphemy codes to silence Christians, execution of Muslim apostates to Christianity, destruction of Bibles and crosses, extortion, and even the targeting of Christian women and children — goes back 1,400 years to the very beginnings of Islam, with identical patterns of behavior by Muslims vis-a-vis Christians. This is demonstrably true and documented in the book.

LOPEZ: What goes through your head as you cover these stories of persecution and violence as a son of Egyptian parents?

IBRAHIM: Lots of things: empathy for mideast Christians — as I know that could be me, and actually is some of my extended family — and hence commitment to try to be their voice — the voice of the voiceless; gratefulness that my parents emigrated from Egypt to the U.S. when they did; and despair, for I know that that which is on full display in the Islamic world, is destined to come here — unless the West finally opens its eyes.

Refusing to focus on jihadist threats, Team Obama targets all of us for scrutiny 

The Washington Times

Frank Gaffney Jr.

The revelation that the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA) has been vacuuming up so-called “metadata” from foreign and American communications has lots of us in a full-scale flail.

The libertarian right denounces it as an unacceptable abuse of government power. Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, is inviting millions of Americans to join him in bringing a class-action suit before the Supreme Court to stop this now-not-so-covert program.

Even the left that normally, reflexively supports whatever [Alleged] President Obama does is up in arms. The original story broke in Britain’s virulently anti-American Guardian newspaper and its flames have been fanned by some of Mr. Paul’s most liberal colleagues, such as Sens. Bernard Sanders. Vermont independent, and Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat.

Here’s the question that must be addressed: Is this effort to detect and counter patterns of behavior that may be associated with terrorists and their plots legitimate and necessary? All three branches of government have agreed that it is legal and required — provided Team Obama is not doing as it has done elsewhere — namely, abusing its powers for political purposes.

Unfortunately, supporters of this program are being buffeted by growing evidence that the Obama administration continues to blur — if not actually brazenly to cross — the lines between constitutionally appropriate and legal actions and those that are beyond the pale.

Notably, the Daily Caller uncovered the fact that Douglas Shulman, the man who as acting Internal Revenue Service commissioner presided over the IRS‘ scandalous abuse of conservative, Tea Party and Jewish organizations seeking 501(c) tax-exempt status, visited the White House 157 times from September 2009 to January 2013. That’s more than any Cabinet officer and far more than his predecessor, who went to the White House only once in four years.

So much for Mr. Obama partisans’ insistence that there is no connection between the president and this outrageous misconduct. It strains credulity that neither he nor his subordinates were involved in, or at least being kept apprised of, the politicization of the tax-collection apparatus. While we probably won’t know for some time exactly who was responsible — let alone whether they will ever be held accountable, the evidence of such rot in the system inevitably justifies skepticism about other government activities susceptible to abuse.

This is particularly worrisome in light of the extent to which Team Obama has demonstrated, with expert guidance from the same information-technology companies cooperating with the NSA, technical superiority in using to maximum political advantage personal data that is public or commercially available. “The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns” describes how the Obama campaign (both its official and private-sector apparatuses) identified and “nudged” prospective voters with micro-targeting and data-profiling.

In the face of an administration that often refuses to use actual intelligence about our enemies’ intentions (as with alleged Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan) lest they “offend” leftist and Islamist constituencies, the national security-minded are going to see a continuing need for broad data surveillance. This will necessitate continued safeguards and checks and balances, with better-informed congressional oversight from the intelligence committees and judicial review of the nature of and justification for future use of this capability.

-----Frank J. Gaffney Jr. was an assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan. He is president of the Center for Security Policy (, a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the syndicated program Secure Freedom Radio.

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Associated Press



The 26-page document in Arabic, recovered by The Associated Press in a building that had been occupied by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in Timbuktu, strongly suggests the group now possesses the SA-7 surface-to-air missile, known to the Pentagon as the Grail, according to terrorism specialists. And it confirms that the al-Qaida cell is actively training its fighters to use these weapons, also called man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS, which likely came from the arms depots of ex-Libyan strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

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Officials use little-known 'military and state secrets privilege' as civil liberties lawyers try to hold administration to account

The use of the privilege has been personally approved by Eric Holder, the attorney general, and others.

The Guardian [UK]

The Obama administration is invoking an obscure legal privilege to avoid judicial scrutiny of its secret collection of the communications of potentially millions of Americans.

Civil liberties lawyers trying to hold the administration to account through the courts for its surveillance of phone calls and emails of American citizens have been repeatedly stymied by the government's recourse to the "military and state secrets privilege". The precedent, rarely used but devastating in its legal impact, allows the government to claim that it cannot be submitted to judicial oversight because to do so it would have to compromise national security.

The government has cited the privilege in two active lawsuits being heard by a federal court in the northern district of California – Virginia v Barack Obama et al, and Carolyn Jewel v the National Security Agency. In both cases, the Obama administration has called for the cases to be dismissed on the grounds that the government's secret activities must remain secret.

The claim comes amid a billowing furore over US surveillance on the mass communications of Americans following disclosures by the Guardian of a massive NSA monitoring programme of Verizon phone records and internet communications.

The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has written in court filings that "after careful and actual personal consideration of the matter, based upon my own knowledge and information obtained in the course of my official duties, I have determined that the disclosure of certain information would cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States. Thus, as to this information, I formally assert the state secrets privilege."

The use of the privilege has been personally approved by [Alleged] President Obama and several of the administration's most senior officials: in addition to Clapper, they include the director of the NSA Keith Alexander and Eric Holder, the attorney general. "The attorney general has personally reviewed and approved the government's privilege assertion in these cases," legal documents state.

In comments on Friday about the surveillance controversy, Obama insisted that the secret programmes were subjected "not only to congressional oversight but judicial oversight". He said federal judges were "looking over our shoulders".

But civil liberties lawyers say that the use of the privilege to shut down legal challenges was making a mockery of such "judicial oversight". Though classified information was shown to judges in camera, the citing of the precedent in the name of national security cowed judges into submission.

"The administration is saying that even if they are violating the constitution or committing a federal crime no court can stop them because it would compromise national security. That's a very dangerous argument," said Ilann Maazel, a lawyer with the New York-based Emery Celli firm who acts as lead counsel in the Shubert case.

"This has been legally frustrating and personally upsetting," Maazel added. "We have asked the government time after time what is the limit to the state secrets privilege, whether there's anything the government can't do and keep it secret, and every time the answer is: no."

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CBS News


CBS News has uncovered documents that show the State Department may have covered up allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior within their ranks.

The Diplomatic Security Service, or the DSS, is the State Department's security force, charged with protecting the secretary of state and U.S. ambassadors overseas and with investigating any cases of misconduct on the part of the 70,000 State Department employees worldwide.

CBS News' John Miller reports that according to an internal State Department Inspector General's memo, several recent investigations were influenced, manipulated, or simply called off. The memo obtained by CBS News cited eight specific examples. Among them: allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut "engaged in sexual assaults" on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security detail "engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries" -- a problem the report says was "endemic."

The memo also reveals details about an "underground drug ring" was operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and supplied State Department security contractors with drugs.

Aurelia Fedenisn, a former investigator with the State Department's internal watchdog agency, the Inspector General, told Miller, "We also uncovered several allegations of criminal wrongdoing in cases, some of which never became cases."

In such cases, DSS agents told the Inspector General's investigators that senior State Department officials told them to back off, a charge that Fedenisn says is "very" upsetting.

"We were very upset. We expect to see influence, but the degree to which that influence existed and how high up it went, was very disturbing," she said.

In one specific and striking cover-up, State Department agents told the Inspector General they were told to stop investigating the case of a U.S. Ambassador who held a sensitive diplomatic post and was suspected of patronizing prostitutes in a public park.

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Center for Security Policy

Dore Gold

In making the case for the supply of S-300 missiles to Syria, Russia’s highly experienced foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, tried to make the point that his government was only selling Damascus “a purely defensive system.” The S-300, he said, as was clear from its name, was for purposes of “air defense.”

In other words, he was suggesting that there were weapons systems, like air defense missiles, that were inherently defensive by their nature.

Ironically, by making this argument, Lavrov was undermining one of the main pillars of Moscow’s case against other defensive systems which it has opposed vociferously in the past. If defensive weapons systems should not be opposed because, by definition, they have no offensive applications, then why not accept US missile defense deployments in Eastern Europe or in other countries ringing Asia? For while Russia has been stressing that its air defense systems are not offensive in character, it has been strenuously opposing missile defenses for many years, refusing to see them as defensive weapons alone.

Since President Ronald Reagan first proposed the US anti-missile system known as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) – also called the “Star Wars” program – in 1983, Russian strategists argued to their American counterparts that missile defenses are inherently destabilizing. During the Cold War, stability was based on the maintenance of deterrence and the credibility of each superpower’s retaliatory strike capability. The argument against missile defenses back then was that a robust SDI-type system could neutralize the weakened retaliatory capacity of the side that was hit first.

This strong opposition to missile defenses was maintained by Moscow after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. To some extent it was intensified as the Soviet missiles forces were degraded and even cut by arms control agreements like START. In 2007, for example, when the Bush administration proposed installing missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, the chief of the Russian General Staff declared that Moscow would withdraw from arms control agreements with the West in retaliation.

In that same year, President Vladimir Putin even compared the deployment of Western anti-missile systems to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Russian generals in 2007 spoke about targeting these missile defense systems if they were ordered to do so by the Russian leadership. More recently, the US defense correspondent Bill Gertz reported on Russian military exercises simulating an attack on US sea-based missile defenses deployed on an Aegis cruiser near Japan.

In a speech in late December 2009, Putin laid out the logic behind the Russian opposition to missile defenses: “By building such an umbrella over themselves our [US} partners could feel themselves fully secure and will do whatever they want which upsets the balance.”

In short, according to the Russians’ strategic doctrine, missile defenses were completely destabilizing.

It would take extraordinary political acrobatics to explain why missile defenses in Eastern Europe endanger stability, yet robust air defenses based on the S-300 in Syria somehow contribute to stability.

What ultimately gives a weapons system an offensive or defensive character is the strategic context in which it is placed. In 1970, for example, Moscow deployed SA-2 air defense systems in Egypt and then decided to move them up to the Suez Canal, in violation of the US-Soviet Standstill Agreement at the time. By providing the Egyptian Army with an air defense umbrella over the Suez Canal, and in so doing protecting it from the Israel Air Force, Moscow made it possible for the Egyptians to cross the canal three years later and launch the Yom Kippur War. Air defenses were not just for defensive purposes but rather made possible offensive ground operations.

In the Syrian case today, Israel is not likely concerned with a surprise attack by the Syrian army like in 1973, given the state of Syria’s ground forces after two years of fighting against rebel troops. What is changing in Israel’s north is the buildup of Hezbollah, backed by a growing Iranian military presence on the ground that has become engaged in combat operations against President Bashar Assad’s opponents.

The most immediate problem is Syria’s willingness to deliver advanced weaponry to Hezbollah that can upset key aspects of the strategic balance.

Besides the transfer of chemical weapons, Israel has been concerned with Syria providing Hezbollah with long-range anti-ship cruise missiles, like the supersonic Russian Yakhont that can strike targets 300 kilometers into the Mediterranean. Last year, the director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency described the proliferation of such missiles as a concern to the US Navy as well.

Israel has also focused on the supply to Hezbollah of surface- to-surface missiles armed with particularly heavy warheads for striking Israeli cities.

The payload of the Fateh 110 is 30 that of the Grad rockets used by Hezbollah in 2006.

Finally, Israel is monitoring whether Syria is equipping Hezbollah with long-range airdefense missiles like the SA-17.

Using Putin’s own logic, supply of the S-300 by Moscow will create an air defense umbrella over Syria which will provide Assad and his generals in Damascus with the security to make these kinds of weapons transfers to Hezbollah and to “do whatever they want which upsets the balance.”

This is a development which Israeli officials have clearly stated they must prevent.

The next time US officials sit across from Russian negotiators over the deployment of Western missile defense systems, and the Russians charge that missile defenses are destabilizing, Washington should be prepared with all the statements that came out of Moscow insisting that the S- 300 air defense system in Syria is purely defensive and hence threatens no one. President Putin will not accept the application of Lavrov’s statements about the S-300 to the US missile defense deployments, but in taking that position he will be going into important negotiations for Russia with a much weaker hand than he had before.



Former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed the name of the Navy SEAL unit that carried out the Osama Bin Laden raid and named the unit’s ground commander at a 2011 ceremony attended by Zero Dark Thirty filmmaker Mark Boal, according to a draft Pentagon inspector general’s report obtained by a watchdog group.

Panetta also disclosed classified information designated as “top secret” and “secret” during his presentation at the CIA awards ceremony, says the draft IG report published Wednesday by the Project on Government Oversight.

The report does not make clear whether Panetta was aware that Boal was present at the ceremony, held under a tent at the CIA complex on June 24, 2011. “Approximately 1300” people from the military and the intelligence community were on hand for the event, according to a CIA press release issued the following week.

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