04/21/17

Questioning the Trump Doctrine on Iran

By: Roger Aronoff | Accuracy in Media

Recent comments by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warning that Iran could follow North Korea’s path of nuclear belligerence, and the Trump administration’s certification, in turn, that Iran is complying with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), seem to send mixed messages. However, any guarantee of Iran’s compliance must grapple with the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors can only inspect declared, and not military or undeclared, nuclear development sites.

“An unchecked Iran has the potential to follow the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it,” said Tillerson at the State Department. “The United States is keen to avoid a second piece of evidence that strategic patience is a failed approach.”

In other words—as we have often argued—the path of “patience,” or waiting, toward Iran means that this totalitarian regime is virtually guaranteed to eventually develop nuclear weapons. The unsigned Iran deal actually legitimizes Iran’s nuclear aspirations by condoning its enrichment of uranium.

The Iranian regime has also been emboldened by this unsigned deal because it supposedly binds the hands of both Congress and President Donald Trump. On April 20, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad-Zarif, tweeted that “Worn-out US accusations can’t mask its admission of Iran’s compliance w/ JCPOA, obligating US to change course & fulfill its own commitments.”

On the campaign trail Donald Trump described the Iran Deal as “the worst deal ever negotiated” and threatened to rip it up. Trump’s actions certifying Iran’s compliance appear to be a marked departure from his earlier campaign promises. But in reality it amounts to a 90-day extension of sanctions relief, part of a review process that was one of few concessions to Congress having a role. Trump said at his press conference with the Italian prime minister on April 20 that Iran has “not lived up to the spirit of the agreement. They have to do that. They have to do that.” Trump said that “they are doing a tremendous disservice to an agreement that was signed. It was a terrible agreement. It shouldn’t have been signed.”

First of all, President Trump, no, it wasn’t signed. It was never signed. And here is the proof. It is a letter from then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s State Department to then-Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), who at the time was on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, and is now the CIA director.

Pompeo responded to the State Department letter by posting a press release on his congressional website stating that the “unsigned” deal was “nothing more than a press release and just about as enforceable.” He added that “For the State Department to try to defend the unsigned and non­binding Iran nuclear agreement by calling it a ‘political commitment’ is about as absurd as the terms of the deal itself.” So why is the Trump administration participating in this sham agreement?

As the Times of Israel reports, “he [Trump] is looking for another way to ratchet up pressure on Tehran.” It looks like Trump wants to take a closer look before deciding how to proceed, and this certification that Iran is in compliance was more of a strategic pause than a seal of approval that Iran is living up to its end of the deal. According to the Times of Israel, “Tillerson said the administration has undertaken a full review of the agreement to evaluate whether continued sanctions relief is in the national interest. Tillerson noted that Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terrorism and that President Donald Trump had ordered the review with that in mind.”

What Trump should do is rip up the deal and end sanctions relief toward Iran. New, harsher sanctions should be imposed on this totalitarian dictatorship. At the end of the day, the only real solution to the Iranian problem is regime change.

Yet The Washington Post claims, “If the administration were to decide to walk away or otherwise renege on its commitments, it would open the door for Iran to cast aside its own promises and resume the unfettered development of its nuclear program.” What commitments are these? Refusing to impose more sanctions on Iran despite its sponsorship of terror and human rights abuses?

In fact, the Post reports that the Republican-led Congress is working on extending a number of sanctions, but they have delayed the legislation in order to limit the effect on Iran’s presidential election, “which is scheduled for next month.” Iran shouldn’t just be punished for pursuing nuclear weapons, it should also be punished for its state sponsorship of terror.

While former President Barack Obama also acknowledged that Iran is indeed a state sponsor of terrorism, it is one of only three nations that still remain on the State Department list. Obama said “It helps prop up the Assad regime in Syria. It supports Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It aids the Houthi rebels in Yemen. So countries in the region are right to be deeply concerned about Iran’s activities, especially its support for violent proxies inside the borders of other nations.” When Obama said it, the media used it to show that he wasn’t trying to appease Iran. That he was tough on Iran. But coming from the Trump administration such a suggestion smacks of reckless belligerence, at least to the establishment media.

Last month, the U.S. and Iran engaged in a tit for tat with sanctions: “Iran hit Raytheon Co., United Technologies Corp. and 13 other U.S. companies with sanctions on Sunday for ‘propping up the Zionist regime’ of Israel, according to Iranian state media, retaliating against U.S.-imposed penalties on entities accused of aiding Iran’s missile program.”

Lost in the reporting is the media’s refusal to admit that Obama’s highly touted nuclear deal with Iran is nothing more than an unsigned collection of political commitments which can be broken by any party at any time. In fact, the media continue their fake news reporting by calling this deal “signed” in order to preserve the integrity of what is commonly viewed by his supporters as Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement. But it’s not clear why Trump calls it “signed.” Maybe he doesn’t know.

Warnings from newspapers such as the Post that a lack of good faith on the part of Trump will lead to a nuclearized Iran ignore the obvious conclusion that Iran will eventually become a nuclear power, and that in its current form the so-called agreement is virtually unenforceable.

Last week, CIA Director Pompeo told a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) audience that “We should all be mindful, given what took place in Syria, and go back and read that JCPOA when it talks about declared facilities and undeclared facilities and how much access the IAEA will have to each of those two very distinct groups.”

“So that might suggest to you what level of certainty we could ever hope to present to the commander in chief,” Pompeo continued. In other words, there is no certainty: if the intelligence community cannot guarantee knowledge of what is happening at undeclared facilities, then Trump, and America as a whole, will be left in the dark about Iran’s nuclear weapons progress. Iran could build the bomb without us finding out until it’s too late. In fact, intelligence experts that I have spoken with believe that Iran may already possess nuclear weapons. The unsigned deal is a document based on trust between the parties, yet Iran is clearly not worthy of such trust.

What we do know is that German intelligence found that Iran sought illegal nuclear technology in 2015. Similarly, Iran continues its ballistic missile tests. As Fred Fleitz—previously of the CIA, the DIA, the State Department and the House Intelligence Committee—has said, “The deal dumbed down the IAEA’s quarterly Iran reports…making it difficult for the world to know the true extent of Iran’s compliance.” The media urgently need to report that the inspections, and unsigned deal, are fatally flawed. But don’t look to a complicit, incestuous media to do anything that might undermine Obama’s legacy.


Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at roger.aronoff@aim.org. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

01/12/16

Obama’s Middle East Policies Dictated by Phony Iran Deal

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

The Obama administration continues to capitulate to Iran’s demands in order to ensure that an unworkable, unsigned international agreement somehow restrains that regime’s quest for nuclear weapons. The media are also working overtime to make sure that Obama’s White House isn’t embarrassed by its repeated concessions to Iran.

“Hours after circulating a draft of proposed sanctions on Wednesday…the White House did not provide a timetable or even say that they would be put into effect,”reported The New York Times on December 31. In reality, the administration sent multiple messages retracting an earlier Treasury Department statement. The first one, according to The Wall Street Journal on January 2, said that the sanctions announcement would be delayed for “a few hours.” By late that evening the decision had been delayed indefinitely.

The initial administration release contained strong language about holding Iran accountable. “We have consistently made clear that the United States will vigorously press sanctions against Iranian activities outside of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—including those related to Iran’s support for terrorism, regional destabilization, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile program,” stated the Treasury’s acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Adam Szubin, in the retracted release, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

Chris Wallace asked Obama’s chief of staff, Dennis McDonough, on Fox News Sunday on January 10th, if they are “going to punish Iran for violating the ballistic missile testing, or not?” During the testy exchange, McDonough replied, “We will issue those sanctions and those designations at the appropriate time. There’s no question about it.”

The Wall Street Journal covered for Obama’s misstep by citing U.S. officials who claimed the administration was carefully avoiding undermining Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s influence—since they view him as a moderate force in the government. He may seem that way, relative to his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but there is no daylight between Rouhani and the ayatollahs, who are ultimately in control. Rather, the back-tracking was the result of Iran’s belligerent blackmailing efforts. According to The Wall Street Journal, “…Iranian President Hassan Rouhani publicly ordered his military to dramatically scale up the country’s missile program if the sanctions went ahead.”

The Times reported several days earlier that the shipment of much of Iran’s low-enriched uranium to Russia marked “one of the biggest achievements in his [Obama’s] foreign policy record…” However, it failed in that December 31 article to cover some Democrats’ angry reaction to the administration’s bait and switch on sanctions toward Iran.

“I believe in the power of vigorous enforcement that pushes back on Iran’s bad behavior,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said, according to the Free Beacon. “If we don’t do that, we invite Iran to cheat.”

The Obama administration has done nothing but invite the Iranian regime to cheat, and the mainstream media continue to refuse to report on each of Obama’s concessions. As we recently reported, there is, actually, no deal—just a set of unsigned political agreements between the P5+1 and Iran. And early on, the Obama administration abandoned several principles that it had promised would be part of the deal, such as no Iranian right to enrich uranium, and anytime, anywhere inspections of suspected nuclear sites.

By December 15, Iran was expected to account for the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program. Instead, Iran tested two missiles, one in October and another in November, in violation of UN Security Resolution 1929. Iran also provided its own samples from the Parchin military site to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors. When the head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, visited Parchin in September, he found an empty building devoid of equipment.

Yet The UK Guardian reports: “Once the [P5+1] deal takes effect, Iran will still be ‘called upon’ not to undertake any ballistic missiles work designed to deliver nuclear weapons for a period of up to eight years, according to a security council resolution adopted in July right after the nuclear deal.”

The Guardian continues, reporting that “Iran says the resolution would only ban missiles ‘designed’ to carry a nuclear warhead, not ‘capable of,’ so it would not affect its military programme as Tehran does not pursue nuclear weapons.”

That the Obama administration allows the Iranian government to get away with making semantic arguments is not only dangerous, it also represents what a farce this unsigned deal has always been. Iran continues to diplomatically delay and split hairs as the Obama administration bends over backward to grant this regime the power to make this agreement mean whatever it wishes.

Back in October, President Obama signaled he would veto a House-passed bill that would have forced Iran to pay damages to the victims of terror attacks before receiving U.S. sanctions relief. This bill now languishes in the Senate.

Federal District Court Judge George Daniels found in December 2011 that Iran and Hezbollah “materially and directly supported al Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attacks and are legally responsible for damages to hundreds of family members of 9/11 victims who are plaintiffs in the case.”

The $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed by the President last month did create a fund for some of Iran’s victims, but that fund is financed through dollars taken from the French bank BNP Paribas and “the auction of the 650 Fifth Ave., the $500 million office building owned by Iran and confiscated by the courts to pay terror victims,” according to The New York Daily News. “That would include the victims of the Beirut bombings of U.S. outposts in 1983 and 1984 and their families, as well as the twin 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. It should also cover victims of the deadly 1993 World Trade Center attack.”

In other words, Obama is willing to help the American victims of Iranian terror so long as his legacy is not threatened by such efforts. Once Iran gets, or perhaps acknowledges having, nuclear weapons, it could be too late—but this will likely happen on another administration’s watch. Then President Obama can claim that it wasn’t his fault that Iran went nuclear.

Iran has responded by introducing a bill in their parliament “demanding compensation from the United States for what they claim are ‘damages inflicted’ to the Iranian people over the past four decades. ‘In order to redeem the rights of the Iranian nation, the Administration is obliged to take necessary legal measures on receiving compensations and damages from the American government’ for its past actions, the draft legislation outlines,” according to Ilan Berman, writing for U.S. News and World Report. Don’t be surprised if the Obama administration seeks to accommodate this latest Iranian grievance.

Added Berman, “You have to give the Iranians credit for audacity. Having just negotiated a nuclear deal with the West overwhelmingly favorable to its interests, the Islamic Republic is wasting no time in pressing the diplomatic advantage still further.”

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, and Bahrain have cut diplomatic ties with Iran. “Kuwait recalled its ambassador, the UAE downgraded its ties, and Oman and Qatar condemned the attacks,” according to the AFP. Iranians had recently attacked a Saudi Embassy in Tehran after Saudi Arabia executed a Shia cleric.

Saudi Arabia is also racing to produce 1.5 million barrels of excess oil a day before it faces Iranian competition, fostering greater tensions between these Sunni and Shia rivals.

“The Obama White House is allowing, encouraging, enabling an extraordinarily dangerous situation to develop in the Middle East right now,” said Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi member and former CIA officer Clare Lopez. This is happening, she stated, “specifically, by helping jihadist Iran to become a nuclear weapons state capable of delivering those weapons by ballistic missiles not just to the surrounding region, but to Europe and even [the contiguous United States] at this point.”

While the complicit media look the other way, President Obama’s repeated concessions are frightening America’s allies and creating dangerous developments abroad.

“One single [electromagnetic pulse] EMP is all it takes and America is done,” Lopez stated. “Nor is it unthinkable that the Shi’ite Iran vs. Sunni Saudi Arabia war for regional dominance could at some point go nuclear.”

Don’t look for the mainstream media or President Obama to let the prospect of endangering the entire world hang heavy on their consciences.

12/24/15

Iranian Nuclear Deal is a Catastrophic Hoax

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

The mainstream media blindly championed the Iranian deal at the expense of reason, celebrating its “signing” and every prospective step for implementation. But the not-so-surprising revelation is that there is, in fact, no Iran deal. There are just a number of political commitments made by each of the so-called P5+1 countries, in the hope that Iran will somehow reform itself.

Iran, on the other hand, seems barely, if at all, committed to the non-agreement. Rather, it is poised to receive international sanctions relief while continuing on its belligerent course.

The Obama administration acknowledged in November that neither America, nor the Iranians, nor the other P5+1 members have actually signed the accord ostensibly designed to stall Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. Yet a review of Fox News, The New York Times, and other media organizations shows that the mainstream media remain uniformly committed to misleading the public. These reporters must know by now that the deal has not been signed—meaning that there is no deal—yet they continue to pretend that it is.

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document,” Julia Frifield, the State Department Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, wrote in a November 19 letter to Republican Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS).

Frifield added that the success of the accord “will depend not on whether it is legally binding or signed, but rather on the extensive verification measures we have put in place, as well as Iran’s understanding that we have the capacity to re-impose—and ramp up—our sanctions if Iran does not meet its commitments.”

The verification measures that the P5+1 agreed to are a total sham. The administration made concession after concession in pursuit of a deal designed to further President Obama’s legacy—at the expense of the world’s safety. “President Obama is not only using his executive power to engage a hostile, theocratic Iranian regime, he is also trying to pressure future presidents and Congress into perpetuating his damaging policies,” we wrote back in July. “His administration is also bending over backwards not to offend the Iranian regime, while this totalitarian government does everything possible to humiliate the United States.”

The reality is that the international community is now poised to grant Iran a sweetheart sanctions deal while the regime continues to flout both the spirit and the letter of that meaningless accord.

Iran has consistently acted in bad faith. “In addition to carrying out ballistic missile tests in October and November, Mr. [Bob] Corker [R-TN] said, Tehran has defied a U.N. travel ban by dispatching Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force—a military division responsible for clandestine international operations—to meet with Russian officials in Moscow,” reports The Washington Times. “He also pointed to Iran’s recent conviction of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, a spate of Iranian cyberattacks believed to have been carried out by Iranian operatives against the State Department, and Tehran’s export of weapons to Syria and Yemen.”

Hopefully the conviction of Rezaian isn’t the only reason the Post attacked the “agreement” this week, as well as President Obama’s deception about it: “Iran is following through on the nuclear deal it struck with a U.S.-led coalition in an utterly predictable way,” stated a December 20th Washington Post editorial. “It is racing to fulfill those parts of the accord that will allow it to collect $100 billion in frozen funds and end sanctions on its oil exports and banking system, while expanding its belligerent and illegal activities in other areas—and daring the West to respond.”

“Unfortunately,” they added, “the Obama administration’s response to these provocations has also been familiar. It is doing its best to downplay them—and thereby encouraging Tehran to press for still-greater advantage.” The usually Obama-friendly Post editorial board gets even stronger from there:

“It’s not hard to guess the reasons for this fecklessness. President Obama is reluctant to do anything that might derail the nuclear deal before Iran carries out its commitments, including uninstalling thousands of centrifuges and diluting or removing tons of enriched uranium. The same logic prompted him to tolerate Iran’s malign interventions in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, along with the arrest of Mr. Rezaian, while the pact was under negotiation.”

According to the BBC, “Under the July nuclear deal, Iran was ‘called upon’ to refrain from developing ballistic missiles for up to eight years” and “the UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Iran said that the Emad rocket was a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.”

However, the BBC reports, “Iran said the test did not violate the agreement.”

“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani discouraged his nation’s parliament from voting on the nuclear deal in order to avoid placing legal burdens on the regime,”writes Joel Gehrke for National Review. He quotes Rouhani as asking, “Why should we place an unnecessary legal restriction on the Iranian people?”

While The New York Times continues to peddle the falsehood that the deal has been “signed,” it also reports that “Some officials feared that if Iran was given a pass [on IAEA inspections], it would send a signal to other nations—including North Korea—that their obligations to respond to international investigators could be negotiated away in a political deal.”

“President Obama eventually concluded that the larger goal of halting Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon for the next decade-and-a-half was more valuable than setting a precedent about the integrity of inspections,” wrote David Sanger for the Times on December 15. He reported that the IAEA concluded its “long-running, and largely unsuccessful, effort to get Iran to fully answer a series of questions about suspected activities.”

This is the IAEA investigation that required Iran to provide the IAEA with samples from the Parchin nuclear site. It had also previously threatened to harmthe IAEA’s head, Yukiya Amano.

When Amano did visit Parchin in September, CNN reported, the facility showed signs of recent renovation—but there was no equipment there. CNN celebrated this victory under the headline “IAEA inspects Iran’s Parchin military site for first time.”

The IAEA has failed in its duties. “The additional protocol grants the IAEA expanded access to materials and sites beyond declared nuclear facilities and materials, allowing the IAEA to eventually conclude that it has found no indication of the diversion of declared nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities and no indication of undeclared nuclear material or activities,” states the IAEA December 15 press release. That’s right: “eventually conclude.”

The latest humiliating concession made by the Obama administration to Iran wasspelled out in a letter from Secretary of State John Kerry to his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, waiving a visa requirement that targeted Iran and was just passed into law as part of the omnibus spending bill, and signed by President Obama. The letter was delivered one day after Zarif complained about the visa requirement in an interview he gave to the New Yorker magazine. In that same interview, as pointed out by MEMRI(the highly regarded Middle East Media Research Institute), Zarif made it clear that “Iran is now demanding to make an essential change to the agreement so that the U.S. first acts to lift the sanctions and only then will Iran meet its obligations.”

Despite recent letters sent respectively by 35 Republican senators and 21 Democratic senators expressing concern about Iran’s ballistic missile activity, the Obama administration and its allies are still lining up to provide Iran with rapid sanctions relief, perhaps in January. Secretary of State Kerry recently sent a letter to Congress saying that “Iran had not engaged in any covert or other activities that could significantly advance its nuclear weapons program,” according to The Washington Times.

Iran’s parliament, such that it is, approved a deal, but it was not even the same deal that the P5+1 holds out as the agreed upon deal.

As Iran gets close to receiving a huge cash reward for its lack of cooperation, deceit, and continued belligerence, the mainstream media still refuse to call this deal what it is: a sham agreement founded on nothing but what Iran says it will be. If Iran finds this farcical political agreement’s terms nonbinding, why shouldn’t America do likewise? President Obama is perpetrating a dangerous hoax through his triumphal advocacy for this so-called deal, and the media, for the most part, are participating.

12/22/15

NOT SHOCKING, LITERALLY: Obama’s Iranian Partners in Peace Trying to Bring Down U.S. Electric Grid

Doug Ross @ Journal

By The Tower

Iranian cyber-attackers have been targeting the U.S. electrical grid’s networks and stealing highly sensitive data, an Associated Press investigation revealed on Monday.

Brian Wallace, a researcher at the cyber-security firm Cylance, discovered that critical files from Calpine Corporation, which operates 82 power plants in 18 states and Canada, were stolen in a breach that began around August 2013 and may be ongoing. The information in those files included passwords, diagrams, and sensitive engineering designs of power plants, at least one of which was marked “Mission Critical.” After analyzing circumstantial evidence, investigators concluded that the data was compromised by Iranian hackers.

Robert M. Lee, a former U.S. Air Force cyber-warfare operations officer, told AP that having this level of control could allow Iran to launch an attack on America’s electrical infrastructure at any time. “If the geopolitical situation changes and Iran wants to target these facilities, if they have this kind of information it will make it a lot easier,” he warned.

Cylance researchers determined that the stolen files were stored on unencrypted servers and embedded with code to spread malware, as well as software to mask the hackers’ Iranian IP addresses.

Last December, Cylance found “bone-chilling evidence” that Iranian hackers had taken control over airports in three countries, including Pakistan. At the time, reports noted that the Taliban had previously launched an attack at a gate in Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport that had been hacked by Iranians, though it is unclear whether the hacked information was used to facilitate the attack. Monday’s AP report mentioned that Wallace determined that the hackers who targeted Calpine also carried out attacks against Pakistan International Airlines.

Col. (res.) Dr. Gabi Siboni, director of the Cyber Security Program at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies,warned earlier this year that the next 9/11-style terror attack would be perpetrated by hackers taking control of critical computer systems.

A recent increase of cyber-attacks against American government personnel is believed to be linked to the recentarrest of Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi in Tehran. Namazi’s computer was confiscated by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps after he was detained. A scheme by Iranian hackers to get sensitive information from professionals in the defense and telecommunications industries using fake LinkedIn profiles was discovered and shut down in October.

Earlier this year, the U.S. recruited Israel and Great Britain to help fight growing cyber threats from Iran. An Israeli cyber-security firm identified a wave of Iranian-backed hacking attacks on Israeli, Saudi Arabian, and Yemeni targets in June. In August, it was reported that Iranian hacking attempts also targeted political dissidents.

In Iran Has Built an Army of Cyber-Proxies, which was published in the August 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Jordan Brunner warned that the risk posed by Iran’s cyber-proxies should not be underestimated:

For the most part, the United States and its allies do not see these private cyber-actors as a real threat, certainly not on the level of nation-states like Iran, China, Russia, and North Korea. One reason appears to be that attacks from states like China are part of a global strategy, while proxies like those employed by Iran concentrate on local areas. A perfect example would be the case of the SEA, whose primary role is to stifle internal dissent. Even if cyber-actors like the SEA are able to reach beyond their borders and attack regional allies or the U.S. itself—as was the case with the SEA’s attacks on American news organizations like the Associated Press, The New York Times, CNN, and even The Onion—the Obama administration tends to see these attacks as unsophisticated and “clearly a nuisance” rather than a serious threat.

But this ignores a problem that could turn deadly in certain circumstances. The idea that private cyber-actors are not a threat because they tend to be “local” in nature not only ignores the danger as “not our problem,” but also ignores the fact that it could very quickly become our problem. Illicit cyber-activity in the Middle East causes instability, which harms U.S. interests. If the U.S. is drawn into a fight directly or through groups like the Syrian rebels, it could see itself devastated by attacks against its cyber-infrastructure, either at home or abroad. In addition, nations like China also use their cyber-capabilities to quell internal dissent. Yet China uses the same capabilities to strike the U.S. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Read more at The Tower

12/22/15

WHITE HOUSE: Congressional Crackdown on Terrorists Attempting to Enter U.S. Will “Violate Iran Deal”

Doug Ross @ Journal
Hat Tip: BB

Just when you thought the Obama administration had maxed out the Insane-o-Meter, it pulls another rabid killer rabbit out of its hat. An incredulous Adam Kredo reports:

Senior Obama administration officials are expressing concern that congressional attempts to tighten laws preventing terrorists from entering the United States could violate the Iran nuclear agreement and prompt Tehran to walk away from the agreement.

Congress is considering measures that would tighten the Visa Waiver Program to make it harder for potential terrorists to legally enter the United States by increasing restrictions on individuals who have travelled to countries with prominent terrorist organizations from bypassing security checks upon entering the United States.Iranian officials have in recent days repeatedly issued threatening statements to the Obama administration, saying that such moves would violate the nuclear agreement, and the Obama administration last week conveyed the Iranian anger to American lawmakers.

 

No, really.

Let me repeat the key graph for slow-witted Democrats (but I repeat myself) reading along (with their lips moving): “Senior Obama administration officials are expressing concern that congressional attempts to tighten laws preventing terrorists from entering the United States could violate the Iran nuclear agreement and prompt Tehran to walk away from the agreement”.

So Iran has executed a series of military provocations that violate U.N. Security Council resolutions,including testing advanced ballistic missiles.

And the Islamic terror state was just caught trying to bring down the U.S. electric grid.

But, according to the Obama-Hillary-Kerry suicide triad, trying to prevent terrorists from entering the United States is the real deal-breaker.

I’ll say it again: the next 12 months can’t happen fast enough.

Hat tip: BadBlue Real-Time News.

12/19/15

Make America Dumb Again?

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

Asked during the debate which leg of the nuclear triad requires the most attention, Donald Trump said a few things about the danger of terrorists getting a nuclear weapon. Then, he added, “I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.” Two days before these words of wisdom were spoken by The Donald to a national television audience, I had gotten in the mail a copy ofMAD, my favorite humor magazine, with a parody of Donald Trump’s campaign that proclaimed, “Make America Dumb Again.”

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Stupidity in the nuclear arena spells death for America.

I understand that MAD has a liberal bias and tends to focus its humor on conservatives and Republicans. But I couldn’t argue with the cover story on Trump, especially after it became clear in the debate that Trump didn’t understand what he was talking about. He sounded authoritative nonetheless. Moderator Hugh Hewitt had asked the question while noting, “The B-52s are older than I am. The missiles are old. The submarines are aging out.” The air, land and sea components of our nuclear forces are the three legs of the triad. Any serious presidential candidate should know that. Trump seemed to be out to lunch at the Trump Tower.

Trump has been good for a few laughs during the campaign, while making some serious points that others have been reluctant to make, especially on immigration. That helps explain his popularity. But announcing that “devastation is very important to me” is laughable when he was asked for a serious comment on weapons that could obliterate us. This is comic-book rhetoric that can’t be excused or forgiven.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) got a pat on the back from Trump for playing along with his buffoonery. But to the credit of Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), he followed upon Hewitt’s question with a serious treatment of the issue. Rubio said:

“First, let’s explain to people at home who the triad—what the triad is. Maybe a lot of people haven’t heard that terminology before. The triad is our ability of the United States to conduct nuclear attacks using airplanes, using missiles launched from silos or from the ground, and also from our nuclear subs’ ability to attack. And it’s important—all three of them are critical. It gives us the ability at deterrence. Now, some have become more critical than others; for example, the submarines. And that’s the Ohio Class submarine that needs to be modernized. The air component also needs to be modernized. The B-52, as someone earlier pointed out, is an outdated model that was flown by the grandparents of the people that are flying it now. And we need a serious modernization program as well on our silo-launched missiles. All three are critical for the defense of the country.”

Publications on both sides of the political spectrum were aghast over Trump’s declaration about the awesome power of nuclear weapons. The conservative National Review commented that Trump seemed “stumped” by the question and had responded by “stammering.” The Washington Free Beacon said Trump “appeared not to know” what he was talking about. The left-wing Rolling Stonesaid that “Trump had absolutely no idea what Hewitt was asking, and his answer was genuinely terrifying.” Kevin Drum of Mother Jones said, “I seriously want to hear anyone on the right side of the aisle defend Trump as a potential commander-in-chief after hearing this. Any conservative who still wants this guy as president has forfeited their last smidgen of credibility as anything more than a crude partisan hack.”

Trump’s comments are inexcusable because under the Obama/Hillary Clinton policies the United States has become more vulnerable to a Russian nuclear first strike. Hewitt’s question was a softball that Trump should have hit out of the park.

The increasing Russian nuclear threat must be one of the major issues of the 2016 presidential campaign. Stephen Blank, a Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, wrote in July 2015 that “a critically important element of Russian strategy that we overlook at our and our allies’ peril” is “a continuing series of unilateral Russian violations of arms-control agreements and treaties with the United States and Ukraine.” He said, “The systematic dismantling of arms-control agreements through unilateral violations has become a consistent theme of Russian policy.” He added, “It’s a strategy of coercion and intimidation aimed at the West, and it’s meant to give Russia time to build up and improve its conventional and nuclear capabilities, and block both European integration and the sovereign choice of post-Soviet states.”

The Ukraine reference has to do with a 1994 memorandum signed by the presidents of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the United States of America (under Bill Clinton); and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The memorandum deals with the former Soviet republic’s surrender of nuclear weapons in exchange for the major powers respecting its territorial integrity. The agreement, which was the basis for Ukraine joining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, was later joined by China and France. Of course, Putin blatantly violated this agreement with his invasion of Ukraine.

Other violations of international agreements or treaties included the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev at a summit meeting in Washington on December 8, 1987. Senator Cruz notes that the Obama State Department has confirmed Russian violations of this treaty, but does nothing about it.

On October 7, 2015, at a Heritage Foundation event, I asked Dr. Mark B. Schneider, a Senior Analyst at the National Institute for Public Policy, about the growing Russian nuclear advantage over the U.S. I asked him whether the Russians are in a position where they could launch a nuclear first strike on the United States and survive a counter strike. Schneider, a former senior official in the U.S. Department of Defense, said, “Not today, but certainly the long term trends, the combination of U.S. force reductions and Russian deployments go in that direction…”

While the U.S. nuclear arsenal has been declining, the arsenals of Russia and other anti-American states keep growing. In October 22, 2015, testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Thomas G. Mahnken, Senior Research Professor and Strategic Studies Director of the Advanced Strategy Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said, “The United States faces a growing and increasingly capable set of adversaries and competitors, including great powers such as China and Russia as well as regional powers such as Iran and North Korea…China and Russia possess growing ambitions and, increasingly, the means to back them up. They possess sizeable and modernizing nuclear arsenals and are investing in new ways of war that have been tailored, at least in part, to challenge the United States.”

He added, “North Korea appears to be developing a sizeable nuclear arsenal and the ability to deliver nuclear weapons against the United States. P’yongyang has also demonstrated a willingness to sell nuclear technology to other states, such as Syria. Iran has growing reach and influence in the Middle East. Its nuclear program is at best frozen; its missile program continues apace.”

Meanwhile, the Russian media are full of stories about how Russian President Putin is modernizing Russian nuclear forces and threatening a nuclear attack. Consider the story from Moscow mouthpiece Russia Today about how U.S. missile defenses are “incapable of withstanding a massive strike of Russian nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).” The source is the commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Troops, Colonel General Sergey Karakaev. RT reports that Russian military experts have determined that the U.S. could not survive “a swarm attack of the Russian nuclear triad.”

It seems like Putin and his military commanders have a complete understanding of why a nuclear triad is important.

The evidence is clear that Putin has a nuclear gun pointed at America’s head and we have little defense against it. We are getting weaker by the day. Bluster and bombast from Donald Trump won’t save us. What’s more, the United States may, even now, be succumbing to nuclear threats and blackmail. The latest news is that the Obama administration has decided that Russian/Iranian puppet Assad in Syria can remain in power. The U.S. policy of “regime change” has been abandoned now that Putin’s war planes have effectively obliterated many of the pro-Western, anti-Assad rebel groups. Russia’s military strikes have left ISIS largely untouched, so they can continue to plan terrorist attacks on the West, and Russian Muslims continue to leave their homeland by the thousands to join ISIS. It seems clear that Putin is stoking the conflict in the Middle East while extending his strategic position.

Republicans who want to be perceived as serious on national security should tell us in detail how they would challenge Putin’s Russia. Making America great again means taking on Russia before their triad eclipses ours and America is reduced to a burned-out cinder. The failure to save our nuclear deterrent would truly be mad, but not in the MAD magazine sense.

12/17/15

Moscow’s Five-Star Treatment of a Three-Star Army General

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

This is a special report from the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism

Before he left for Moscow to speak at a Russia Today (RT) conference, the former chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) inked a deal to write a book about how to defeat America’s enemies in the Middle East. The title of the forthcoming book by Lt. General Michael T. Flynn (Ret.) is, The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies.

But Flynn’s attendance at the RT “gala celebration,” including a special seat at the head table at the anniversary dinner, suggests that this retired officer, who attained a three-star rank during a 33-year Army career, views Russia as a potential U.S. ally in the war on terror.

In announcing his new book, Flynn said, “I am writing this book for two reasons: first, to show that the war is being waged against us by enemies this administration has forbidden us to describe: radical Islamists. Second, to lay out a winning strategy that is not passively relying on technology and drone attacks to do the job. We could lose this war; in fact, right now we are losing. The Field of Fight will give my view on how to win.”

We need military officials willing to fight and win. But Flynn’s participation in the RT anniversary celebration raises questions about what the DIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies know, or think they know, about the Russian role in global conflict and RT’s role in propaganda and disinformation.

What we can say for sure at this point is that it was not an accident that the former head of the DIA showed up in Moscow to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a TV channel that serves the interests of Moscow’s intelligence establishment. Flynn was right in the middle of the “Field of Fight,” and he must surely have known what he was getting into. It’s not called KGB-TV for nothing.

RT’s Disinformation Themes

In trying to attract and confuse an American audience, RT regularly features Marxist and radical commentators in the U.S. such as Noam Chomsky, Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and 9/11 “inside job” advocate and radio host Alex Jones. It is preferable for the Russians to use foreigners, especially Americans, to make their propaganda points. Flynn is probably the most important American ever snared in RT’s web. He has added propaganda value because of his impressive background and years of service in the U.S. Army.

The RT conference was held at a time when the Russian regime was determined to divert global attention away from its military intervention on behalf of its long-time client state of Syria. Research analyst Hugo Spaulding of the Institute for the Study of War notes that Russia’s current air campaign in Syria “is focused on targeting Syrian armed opposition groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rather than ISIS.” The Syrian Network for Human Rights reportsthat Russian military strikes in Syria have killed hundreds of civilians during the course of bombing hospitals, bakeries, and markets. The result has been increasing refugee flows into Turkey and Europe.

RT, however, promotes a different version of reality, a “false narrative,” as Spaulding calls it. Indeed, that is the purpose of RT—to whitewash military aggression by the Russian state and focus attention on what the United States and its allies are supposedly doing in the world.

“Russian Air Force destroys 29 ISIS camps in Syria in 24 hours,” was the headline over a typical RT story about Syria. The channel portrays Russian President Vladimir Putin, who spoke to the RT 10th anniversary dinner, as a devout Christian fighting radical Islam.

However, Russia’s open war on the ethnic Turkmen fighting the Assad regime in Syria was something that NATO member Turkey could not ignore. The Turkish shoot-down of a Russian war plane flying through Turkey’s airspace became major news and the first incident in a developing confrontation that shows no sign of ending. RT immediately went to work claiming that Turkey was benefiting from ISIS oil. The U.S. Treasury Department countered with evidence showing that Syria’s Assad is buying ISIS oil through a Russian agent.

The Honey Trap

In addition to using Americans as props and pawns, RT relies heavily on glitzy graphics and beautiful women as anchors and correspondents to promote its propaganda. RT knows what it’s doing, having run a story titled, “From Russia with lust: Femme fatal Anna Chapman, to Russian mail-order brides, to our very own RT correspondents. Americans are infatuated with Russian women!”

It is noteworthy that RT openly cited Chapman, a sexy Russian spy who was seducing an unnamed cabinet official in the Obama administration in an effort to obtain classified information. She was caught, pleaded guilty, and was expelled from the U.S. in 2010. However, she returned to Russia and was honored with an award by none other than Vladimir Putin himself.  Chapman had reportedly tried to seduce NSA defector Edward Snowden.

One of RT’s attractive female anchors, Sophie Shevardnadze, the granddaughter of former Soviet bureaucrat Eduard Shevardnadze, was tasked with interviewing Flynn during the conference, which was held at Moscow’s historic five-star luxuryMetropol Hotel. Flynn appeared on a special edition of her RT show, Sophie & Co, where he appeared grateful for the opportunity, saying, “…thank you so much for inviting me and having me here.”

In her interview with Flynn, Shevardnadze did not disappoint, echoing the Russian line on the Middle East by blaming the U.S. and its allies for conflict and violence. Rather than attack Putin’s military interventions in Ukraine and Syria, Flynn responded by saying that the U.S. and Russia have “to move forward” together.  Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from July 2012 to April 2014, said on RT that “…in order for us to not move to a greater level of conflict between the great nations of the world, we have to come to grips of how do we work together, how do we take interests, interests that are converging. So we have a whole set of converging interests that we are seeing right now, and unless we understand it, we’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to make tactical mistakes that are going to lead to strategic consequences.”

He claimed that Russia has faced terrorism from Muslims within, as if Russia, like the U.S., is a victim of radical Islam. He said, “…there are some in this country that know this enemy from having dealt with it in Chechnya and Dagestan and other places. This is a very, very deadly enemy that we’re facing, and it’s not just hundreds or thousands, these numbers are much greater.”

In fact, as veteran Moscow correspondent David Satter and others have documented, what sometimes appears to be Islamic terrorism in Russia can be carried out with the approval—or even at the direction of—the Kremlin, in order to justify greater repression by the Putin regime. For example, the 1999 Moscow apartment bombings that served to solidify Vladimir Putin’s control of the country, and justify the war against the former Soviet republic of Chechnya, wereproven to be the work of agents of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, a successor to the old KGB.

Moscow’s Role in Terrorism

Could Moscow in fact be behind much of the conflict in the Middle East, including the rise of ISIS? If Flynn has rejected this theory out of hand, it wouldn’t be the first time in history that the U.S. intelligence community failed to understand and appreciate Moscow’s role in international terrorism.

Flynn’s announced co-author, or collaborator, on his new book, Michael Ledeen, has a deep understanding of the Middle East, knowledge of how the old Soviet Union operated, and how remnants of that regime guide Russian foreign policy today. Ledeen worked as a consultant to the National Security Council, Department of State, and Department of Defense during the Reagan administration, when Soviet involvement in global terrorism was highlighted and exposed.

Ledeen’s 2003 book, The War Against the Terror Masters, describes the impact of communist disinformation and deception in the conduct of foreign policy.

Ledeen wrote about the discovery of Soviet moles in the CIA, such as Aldrich Ames and Harold Nicholson, and the discovery of one such mole in the FBI, Robert Hanssen. Ledeen writes, “The discovery that Soviet moles had been at work at the highest levels of the American intelligence community had particular importance in our efforts to combat the terror masters. Agency [CIA] analysts had long insisted that there was no conclusive evidence of Soviet involvement in international terrorism. One now had to wonder if that conclusion had been fed to us through the KGB moles in our midst.” Ledeen writes about how the intelligence community ignored inside information provided by Soviet defectors, such as theMitrokhin documents, which exposed the nature of Soviet-backed international terrorism, as well as the identities of “thousands of foreign agents—Western politicians, journalists, movie makers, military officers, and diplomats.”

Soviet KGB operations continued after the “collapse” of the Soviet Union in the hands of its successor agencies, the FSB and SVR. The book Comrade J examines the activities of Russian master spy, Sergei Tretyakov, who handled all Russian intelligence operations against the U.S. while serving under cover from 1995 to 2000 at Russia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

Since intelligence operations continued as if nothing had happened, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, why isn’t it reasonable to assume that the Russians maintained contacts with international terrorist groups?

To his credit, Flynn has been very critical of the role of Russia’s close ally in the Middle East—Iran. In June 2015 testimony, after his retirement, he cited Iranian cooperation with North Korea, China and Russia, and pointed with alarm to the “resurgence of Russian and Chinese influence” in the Middle East. He said Russian assistance to Iran was a part of the problem, noting that “After all, the Iranian nuclear reactor at Bushehr is Russian-built, the two countries work very closely together in Syria, and Russia is providing Iran with an effective antiaircraft system that could be deployed against any aircraft seeking to destroy the nuclear program.”

However, in the RT interview with Sophie Shevardnadze, Flynn’s criticism of Iran was couched in terms of getting all of the Arab and Muslim countries in the region to behave. He merely said “…Iran cannot continue to go the way it’s going” because it was contributing to the conflict.

The Birth of RT

The Russians have gotten far more sophisticated, especially in the field of global propaganda and information. But the reality of what is happening behind the scenes came to public attention when two RT employees, Elizabeth Wahl and Sara Firth, resigned in disgust at the propaganda that they were ordered to spew on the air. For example, the Russian managers ordered “news” that was designed todepict the Ukrainian government in a bad light and mask Russian military interference in that country, including the shoot-down and destruction of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was carrying almost 300 people.

Putin at RT 10th 2

At the RT anniversary dinner on Thursday night, Putin made no mention of those embarrassing resignations. Instead he presented the channel as a free and independent news entity featuring “creative” people who are serving the global public interest. He said to his audience (including Lt. Gen. Flynn), “You compete on the same playing field as international news giants, and are already beating them according to many parameters. In some regions of the world, you have higher ratings than traditional news organizations that have long been operating in the international information market.”

The speech was laughable, considering the Kremlin funding and control of the channel. Yet, it was posted on the president of Russia’s website, along with photographs of the affair. Moscow is obviously proud of what it has accomplished, with the cooperation of foreigners who appear on the channel and give it credibility.

The participation of a former chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the event was a major coup for RT. Film and photos of his participation will help the Russians in their ongoing propaganda campaign to depict the state-funded entity as simply a respectable source of alternative news and opinion that offers different views.

Showing the continuity between the old Soviet Union and Russia, former Soviet President Gorbachev was in attendance at the Thursday night dinner. He “congratulated RT and expressed his admiration for the network,” the channel reported. Outside the event, Gorbachev called the channel a “big success.”

The Case of Edward Snowden

Flynn’s attendance at the RT conference was shocking not only because Putin is an evil ruler whose regime murders opposition figures and truly independent journalists, but because Flynn was critical in the past about the damage done by NSA defector Edward Snowden, who escaped to Russia and now lives under Putin’s protection.

Flynn said in January 2014 that Snowden’s disclosures have caused “grave damage to our national security.” He added that “the greatest cost” of his disclosures will be “the cost in human lives on tomorrow’s battlefield or in someplace where we will put our military forces…when we ask them to go into harm’s way.”

It appears that the information stolen by Snowden has contributed significantly to the advances of the enemies and adversaries of the United States. Since his defection, Russia conducted a surprise invasion of Ukraine; Communist China mounted a series of cyber warfare attacks; and ISIS has gained ground in the Middle East and around the world. The bloody terrorist assaults in Paris and San Bernardino were carried out by plotters who clearly benefitted from Snowden’s revelations and were careful to plan their attacks using encrypted communications apps, such as Telegram, which was developed by a Russian, Pavel Durov.

RT has consistently portrayed Snowden as a whistleblower, and ran what was apparently intended as a humorous promotional ad in connection with the 10th anniversary celebration. It imagined that the NSA defector would return to the U.S. and be elected U.S. president. The ad shows an elderly Barack Obama in the year 2035 complaining about RT’s “propaganda.”

Snowden apparently wasn’t at the RT celebration, but former Russia Today TV star, Julian Assange, appeared via videotape from the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He was interviewed by the well-known American “progressive” commentator, Thom Hartmann, who is paid by Moscow to host an RT show that appeals to liberals and left-wingers. Incredibly, the issue being discussed was the “right to privacy”—a right that doesn’t exist in Russia itself. Assange was the recipient of massive leaks from former U.S. Army analyst Bradley Manning, who is becoming a woman named Chelsea while serving a prison term for espionage.

Obama’s Support for Terrorism

One issue raised in RT’s interview of Flynn was a heavily-censored 2012 DIA memo that has been interpreted by many as confirmation that the U.S. and some of its allies had armed the terrorist groups in the Middle East that eventually became ISIS. According to the memo, these groups were seen as effective in countering the Russia/Iran/Syria axis in the area. The memo also described China as backing the Syrian regime.

Flynn’s criticism of this policy since he left the DIA has been made in different venues, including in interviews with Al Jazeera and Der Spiegel. As Flynn has correctly indicated, it is apparent that Obama’s policy in the Middle East has been a disaster. The Benghazi terrorist attacks in Libya, which cost the lives of four Americans, came to pass after the U.S. “switched sides in the war on terror,” as areport from the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi has demonstrated. But just as the Obama administration must be held accountable for arming terrorists, so too must the role of the Putin regime in fostering terrorism be exposed.

In addition to the evidence of an FSB role in domestic terrorism, a defector from the Russian intelligence agency has just confirmed Russia’s role in creating ISIS by recruiting former members of Saddam Hussein’s security services. The former FSB officer told Ukrainian journalist Andriy Tsaplienko that “the Russian special services believed that if a terrorist organization was set up as an alternative to Al-Qaeda and it created problems for the United States as Donbas does for Ukraine now, it would be quite good.” Donbas is the name for the region of Ukraine that has been the staging area for terrorists from Russia, organized by the FSB, to seize territory and undermine Ukraine’s central government. Once again, Russia has demonstrated its commitment to global conflict rather than peace and reconciliation.

The FSB defector said that in order to create ISIS, the Russians selected former officers of the Iraqi army and members of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party. All of them had graduated from Moscow-based “educational institutions,” he said, referring to the time when the Saddam Hussein regime was in a close alliance with the Soviet Union. The overthrow of the Saddam regime was a huge blow to Russian influence in the Middle East. Iran and the Assad regime are the only firm Russian allies left in the region.

Russians Fighting for Terrorist Groups

The Daily Beast ran an article, “Russians Are Joining ISIS in Droves.” But the idea advanced by The Daily Beast that these terrorists are a threat to Russia is not borne out by the evidence. It seems like they are more of a threat to the rest of the world, especially the United States. In what could be seen as an observation or a threat, Putin himself publicly acknowledged that there are an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 Russians fighting for ISIS. By contrast, FBI Director James Comey has estimated that approximately 250 Americans have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria to join ISIS. These potential terrorists are believed to be threats to America.

On December 3rd, the U.S. Justice Department announced that Irek Ilgiz Hamidullin, a Russian national and former Russian army tank commander, had been sentenced to life plus 30 years in prison for conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers and bring down an American helicopter, as well as for “conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and several other charges relating to an attack that he led against U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan in November 2009.”

It is telling that the U.S., not the Russian authorities, prosecuted him. Perhaps the U.S. was reluctant to turn him over to Moscow. This is reminiscent of the case of the Russian arms dealer and former Soviet military officer Viktor Bout, the legendary “Merchant of Death” who is serving a 25-year sentence in U.S. federal prison. Bout was lured out of Russia, where he was living openly, and arrested in a sting operation in Thailand by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Some of the weapons Bout was selling were for communist Colombian terrorists to use against Americans.

RT has covered the Bout case relentlessly, always in a manner critical of the United States for apprehending and prosecuting him. RT has even highlighted how Bout’s wife has set up The Road Home Foundation to facilitate the return to Russia of Bout and other Russians convicted of crimes abroad.

In another sensational case, the Boston Marathon bombing was carried out by two brothers from Russia, but the Russian connection was immediately discounted on the ground that the Russians had reportedly warned U.S. authorities about the bombers’ travels back and forth to the old Soviet Union. Curiously, RT ran claims by their mother back in Russia that the terrorists were “set up” by the FBI.

It is indeed strange how a Russian connection seems to surface in some of these most sensational terrorism cases.

In the more recent San Bernardino attack, we have a case of two Russian beautiesmarried to Muslim men. A Russian blonde beauty had married into the terrorist’s family, and another Russian woman had married Enrique Marquez, a convert to Islam who bought the weapons used in the massacre.

Nuclear Jihad?

In his June 2015 testimony, Flynn acknowledged that the U.S. intelligence community has had a “mixed” record in one important area—“tracking clandestine nuclear weapons programs.” In this context, it is significant that in his December 9 testimony to Congress, FBI director James Comey made a passing reference to how the bureau had disrupted “a nuclear threat in Moldova,” an Eastern European country and former Soviet republic. There is much more to the story and it directly involves the criminal regime in Moscow.

The story came to light in October, when the Associated Press disclosed that “gangs with suspected Russian connections” had tried on several occasions to “sell radioactive material to Middle Eastern extremists.” AP said the latest known case came in February this year, “when a smuggler offered a huge cache of deadly cesium—enough to contaminate several city blocks—and specifically sought a buyer from the Islamic State group.”

In a follow-up report, the Center for Public Integrity said the nuclear material in the various cases “appeared to have the same origin—a restricted military installation in Russia.” It added that “no one in the West knows exactly who has this nuclear explosive material, and where they may be.”

The group concluded, “It’s a mystery that so far has stumped America’s best spying efforts, in no small measure because the government of Russian president Vladimir Putin has refused to provide needed information on the case—or even to acknowledge that some of the country’s nuclear explosive materials are missing.”

Don’t look for RT to get to the bottom of this.

10/29/15

Russian Dupes Exposed

By: Cliff Kincaid
America’s Survival

Like the old “nuclear freeze movement,” there is a lobby active on Capitol Hill to disarm the United States and make the U.S. more vulnerable to a Soviet/Russian nuclear attack. This exclusive video shows the “progressives” who want to ignore Russian nuclear treaty violations and further weaken the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

10/18/15

Hillary Clinton and the “Dark Forces” in Benghazi

By: Cliff Kincaid
America’s Survival

Kenneth Timmerman

Kenneth Timmerman, author of Dark forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi, looks at Hillary Clinton’s next scheduled appearance before the Benghazi special committee and the Iranian nuclear deal. He cites evidence that the Iranians were behind the attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans on September 11, 2012. In addition, Timmerman says Iran was involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks. Timmerman also discusses Russian backing for Iran and the Russian role in attacking the opponents of Assad in Syria. Timmerman also looks at: Will Russia attack the Kurds? And who are the Kurds? Is Obama a Muslim? Will Israel strike Iran?

10/13/15

The Cyberweapons Club: Easy, Cheap & Available… Spurs New Arms Race

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

Cyberwar

The Wall Street Journal has a great article out on cyber warfare and the weapons it entails. In recent years, countries across the globe have spent billions on facilities that house the means to wage war electronically. You can be a major player on the geopolitical scene even without nuclear weapons. Joining the cyberweapons club is easy, cheap and open to anyone with a computer and money.

Digital warfare was brought to life when numerous countries carried out successful computer raids… the US was one of those countries. Now, a digital arms race is in full swing with countries all over the globe amassing huge troves of malicious code and nasty methods of breaching networks. You’ve got everything from the simplest of programs that use emails that have a single word misspelled, that ask for a password or for you to open an attachment, to more advanced code that utilizes Twitter handles.

In what I consider to be a faux agreement that means about as much as the Iranian deal, the US and China just signed a limited agreement to not conduct various forms of cyber attacks against each other. These have to do with corporate raids and domestic companies. But government espionage is still on the table and fair game. What a joke.

We’ve already seen a great deal of movement in this arena. Take Pakistan and India for example. They are nuclear rivals and hack each other all the time. Estonia and Belarus fear Russia and are working feverishly to build some kind of defense against the Russians. Good luck with that. Denmark, the Netherlands, Argentina and France are all developing offensive computer weapons. Everyone is getting ready for a new frontier on the battlefield.

There are now over 29 nations who have units dedicated to hacking other countries. 50 countries or so have actually purchased canned hacking software that they use for domestic or international surveillance. The US is said to have one of the most advanced operations out there. I’m not so sure of that. I believe that Russia, China, Iran and North Korea all have us beat hands down. As do the Israelis.

Invasive digital attacks are used to mine data and steal information. Computers can be erased at will. Whole networks can be disabled. In one instance, nuclear centrifuges were destroyed. These techniques are used for good and bad reasons. But it’s like Pandora’s box… now that it is out there and growing, nations must not only be defensive, they have to be offensive on this front.

More worrisome attacks are coming our way. Cyberweapons that take down electrical grids, disable domestic airline networks, jam Internet connectivity, erase money from bank accounts and confuse radar systems are being developed. Instances of probing in these areas have already occurred in the US and it is only a matter of time before a major attack comes in these areas. Many of our enemies already have their software on systems throughout the US, quietly lurking until they are triggered for whatever reason. It’s a ticking time bomb.

Our military strategies and tactics will have to change with these new developments if we are to survive. Attacks like these are almost impossible to entirely stop or to trace. To face off against these new threats, we will have to have highly trained units that fight this battle 24 hours a day. Many are already in place and working the issue. I’m just not convinced they will be fast or good enough.

Dozens of countries are now armed to the teeth with cyberweapons. Some Defense Department officials compare the current moment to the lull between the World Wars when militaries realized the potential of armed planes. I believe we are already in World War III and just don’t seem to grasp it yet.

Speaking of war, Syrian hackers have been at it already in that country, looking into the doings of the rebel militias, stealing tactical information and then using that intelligence to attack them. It’s been effective and efficient. With the aid and advice of the Russians, the Syrian government is using high tech as well as on the ground military maneuvers to annihilate their enemies.

As for the US, we know what some countries are up to, but as for many of them, we have no clue. I would say we are in the dark as to a great deal that our enemies have accomplished in the cyber arena. That’s a deadly mistake. In fact, I don’t think anyone, other than the new Axis of Evil (Iran, Russia and China) know exactly how skilled our enemies are in cyber espionage and warfare. You would think that the NSA, CIA and FBI would have a better grasp on all of this, but they don’t.

The new battlefields out there will be comprised of hard military assets, intelligence services and cyber armies. You already see this in the big boys out there: the US, China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and Israel.

The Chinese are masters at hacking. They are infamous for low-tech phishing schemes that trick people into granting them access to their networks. That’s probably how they hacked the Office of Personnel Management. A contractor fell for an innocuous looking email and presto! The Chinese cracked the network and gained access to more than 21 million people’s information. China of course lied. That’s one thing about all these spying nation states… they all lie.

The Chinese army has whole divisions that are devoted to cyber warfare. They believe in unconventional warfare and have been very busy at pushing boundaries abroad. They are very good and very covert. In fact, they even fix what they break on the way in. You never even know they are among you.

China opposes the militarization of cyberspace or a cyber arms race, said Zhu Haiquan, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, adding China “firmly opposes and combats all forms of cyber attacks in accordance with law.” Yeah, well… it depends on what “law” means. And once again, they lie.

On to the Russians… they are very good as well and have just as many units dedicated to cyber warfare as the Chinese. The Russians love to go after diplomatic and political data. They are very good at tailored emails that ensnare their victims. They have dug into the networks at the Pentagon, State Department and White House, also using emails laced with malware, according to security researchers and US officials. The Russian’s have stolen Obama’s daily schedule and his diplomatic correspondence. The Russians say nyet, but of course, they lie.

“Russia has never waged cyber warfare against anyone,” Andrey Akulchev, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, said in a written statement Friday. “Russia believes that the cybersphere should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes.” They always deny – lying is second nature to the Russkies.

US spies and security researchers say Russia is particularly adept at developing hacking tools. Some malicious software linked to Russia by security researchers has a feature meant to help it target computers on classified government networks usually not connected to the Internet. They have a virus that literally jumps onto USB thumb drives, just waiting for a user to plug it in on a classified network. It’s ingenious and evil.

Cyberwar1

The Russians are subtle. They will hide stolen data in a whole host of ways. They’ll mix it into normal network traffic. They know just how to fool most cyber security defenses. For instance, they have a piece of malware that hides its communications in consumer web services. The code downloads its instructions from a set of Twitter accounts. It then exports the data to a commercial storage service. Since corporate cyber security systems don’t block traffic to and from these sites, this can be very effective.

But the Iranians go even further. They aren’t content with just stealing information… they use cyberweapons to destroy computers. They’ve done it at least twice. Government investigators believe Iranian hackers implanted the Shamoon virus on computers at Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest energy firm, in 2012. The Aramco attack erased 75% of the company’s computers and replaced screen images with burning American flags. The attack didn’t affect oil production, but it rattled the company as it gave away the extent of Iran’s cyber capabilities. Ostensibly, the move was in retaliation for the alleged US-Israeli attack on Iran’s centrifuges utilizing the Stuxnet computer worm.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper has said that the Iranians used malware to destroy computers last year at the Las Vegas Sands Corp. The owner, Sheldon Adelson, is a major critic of the Iranian government.

Cyberwar2

The US also contends that Iranian hackers have taken down websites of numerous US banks in DOS attacks. This was in response to a YouTube video on the Prophet Mohammed supposedly. More likely, it had to do with economic sanctions and the Stuxnet attack.

In 2012, Iran announced the creation of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace charged to oversee the defense of Iran’s computer networks and develop “new ways of infiltrating or attacking the computer networks of its enemies.” Since Obama has inked the suicidal nuclear deal with Iran, cyber attacks have slowed somewhat, but that won’t last long. There are no illusions that Iran is in any way an ally to the US. They have aligned with Russia and China to eventually war with us. Tehran appears “fully committed” to using cyber attacks as part of its national strategy.

Let’s peek at the NoKos, shall we? Of course, their latest claim to fame is the Sony hack. It was in retaliation for the movie, “The Interview,” which portrayed their trollish leader in a less-than-favorable light. In it, Kim Jong Un gets offed. No big loss. The retaliatory hack was arguably one of the most successful nation-state breaches ever. Many suspect an inside job since the malware was implanted directly on Sony computers. This allowed the NoKos to steal and destroy data at will. South Korea has also said that the North Koreans have attempted to hack one of their nuclear reactors, as well as a television network and a major bank. The NoKos haven’t denied anything. They don’t care who knows or accuses them.

Looking for work? Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. has advertised for a “cyber operations planner” to “facilitate” offensive computer attacks with the South Korean and US governments, according to a job posting listed online. The scope is undisclosed and probably above all of our pay grades.

I keep hearing the US has the most advanced operations. But as I said before, I highly doubt that. The NSA is touting itself as the “crown creator of cyberespionage.”

In a spectacularly treasonous move, former National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden. leaked documents that showed the NSA had implanted malware on tens of thousands of foreign computers. That allowed the US government secret access to data and potentially the industrial control systems behind power plants and pipelines. Color me skeptical, but who knows?

US Cyber Command now has nine “National Mission Teams” with plans to build four more. Each are comprised of 60 military personnel that will “conduct full-spectrum cyberspace operations to provide cyber options to senior policy makers in response to attacks against our nation,” a Pentagon spokesperson said. The Navy, Army, and Air Force will each build four teams, with the Marines building a single unit. Each will have a “separate mission with a specific focus area,” though these have so far remained secret.

In 2014, the Netherlands announced it would begin training its own Internet troops through a domestic cyber security company, called Fox-IT. The head of the Dutch armed forces, Major Gen. Tom Middendorp, said in a symposium the group should be prepared to carry out attacks, not just block them, according to a Dutch media report. The Netherlands’ military strategy, laid out in various documents, refers to hacking as a “force multiplier.”

In 2013, Denmark’s Defense Ministry began allocating about $10 million a year for “computer network operations,” which include “defensive and offensive military operations,” according to government budget documents. That amount is just 0.24% of the Danish defense budget.

There are a lot of software engineers out there producing canned systems for private parties. It’s a seller’s market out there and countries are paying top dollar for cyber warfare software. A document leak on the Italian firm Hacking Team revealed the company had sold its surveillance tools to dozens of countries, including Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia and Azerbaijan. Money is king and everyone has a price. Our own FBI is evidently a customer of the Hacking Team who promotes their product as “the hacking suite for governmental interception.” It’s the perfect tool for exploiting holes in software to gain access to computers and mobile devices.

States aren’t the only players. About 30 Arabic-fluent hackers in the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Turkey are building their own tools to hit targets in Egypt, Israel and the US, according to researchers.

In August, the US used a drone to kill Islamic State hacker Junaid Hussain in Raqqa, Syria, showing the extent to which digital warfare has upset the balance of power on the modern battlefield. The British citizen had used inexpensive tools to hack more than 1,000 US military personnel and published personal and financial details online for others to exploit. He helped sharpen the terror group’s defenses against Western surveillance and built hacking tools to penetrate computer systems as well.

All this cyber warfare and espionage is making national security and cyberweapons experts very nervous. A really big and debilitating attack could come at any time and we would pretty much be powerless to stop it. We just have no idea what the bad guys are capable of. “What we can do, we can expect done back to us,” said Howard Schmidt, who was the White House’s cyber security coordinator until 2012. The US is thinking, “Yeah, I don’t want to pull that trigger because it’s going to be more than a single shot that goes off.”

The jokes on us… that trigger has already been pulled. Let’s just hope the US isn’t home to the walking dead because of it. Because the cyberweapons club is so easy, cheap and available… we are watching a new arms race take off. The US is not in the forefront of this race and we had better hustle to catch up and overtake our enemies. Cyberspace is the new battlefront.