The US defense secretary has been fired after less than two years in office as the White House re-orders a national security strategy upended by the Islamic State (Isis).
Chuck Hagel, Barack Obama’s third Pentagon chief and a former Republican senator, will leave the Department of Defense just weeks after his spokesman said Hagel was looking forward to serving “for the remainder” of the Obama administration.
Two senior administration officials told the Guardian on Monday that a New York Times report of his exit was “correct”, and said more details would be announced shortly by the White House.
Obama is expected to confirm his defense secretary’s departure in a “personnel announcement” scheduled in the State Dining Room at 11.10am ET. It was not clear if Obama would announce another change to his Iraq-Syria war strategy to correspond with Hagel’s departure.
The first national security casualty of Obama’s midterm elections defeat was one who, despite his Capitol Hill pedigree and Republican registration, never won the confidence of the congressional GOP, who considered him a water-carrier for the administration.
Before Obama’s announcement, a senior administration official praised Hagel as “a steady hand,” and said Hagel had been speaking with Obama in October about leaving “given the natural post-midterms transition time.” Hagel’s spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby, told Pentagon reporters on November 7 that Hagel expected to stay on.
Hagel was out of step with the administration on Isis, having urged the White House to clarify its stance on ushering Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad out of power and bizarrely inflating the threat Isis posed, calling it “an imminent threat to every interest we have” in an August press conference. While the administration has publicly ruled out using US ground forces in combat in Iraq, Hagel and particularly the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, floated precisely that as an option in testimony earlier this month.
A man who never quite found his footing as Pentagon chief, Hagel also testified that the US strategy against Isis – which focuses on Iraq primarily and Syria peripherally – was working, even as it undergoes frequent adjustment and revision.
Yet the strategy has come under criticism from hawks as well as doves. Hawks want a deeper US commitment of air as well as ground forces to beating Isis back, while doves are alarmed at the shifting of US war aims and commensurate resources. The next chairman of the Senate armed services committee, Arizona Republican John McCain, wants a more forceful US response to Isis and had long fallen out with his former friend Hagel.
In the five months since Isis seized Mosul, Obama has authorized 3,000 new troops to advise and train Iraqis, and expanded an air war into Syria. Pentagon efforts to field a Syrian proxy force have barely begun and are expected to take a year before yielding the first capable units.
Hagel, a Vietnam combat veteran and a non-commissioned army officer, was not expected to be a wartime defense secretary, instead brought in to manage the downsizing of US ground forces and shore up the administration’s at-times uneasy relationship with the military. His Senate confirmation hearing saw the former senator rambling and unfocused; he mischaracterized the administration’s position on Iran. Amongst Hagel’s more forceful positions early in office was to warn against US involvement in the Syrian civil war.
Several oft-mentioned names to replace Hagel have already surfaced. Former defense policy chief Michele Flournoy, a figure deeply identified with the troop surge in Afghanistan, would be the first woman to run the Pentagon. The Times reported that Rhode Island Senate Democrat Jack Reed is in the running, as is Ashton Carter, a senior official noted for his management and budgetary skills who was Robert Gates’ acquisitions chief and Leon Panetta’s deputy secretary.
The senior official said a successor would be nominated in “short order” and Hagel will serve until his successor’s confirmation.
Start with Obama’s claim that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or ISIS) is not Islamic. Say what? In fact, the so-called war on terror is clearly a war that Islamic jihadists have declared on us. Yet Obama is so hostile to this war that even the subterfuge “war on terror” was too much for him and he purged it from official government statements and replaced it with “Overseas Contingency Operations,” which describes nothing. Why would he do this? To avoid confronting the actual threat from what is obviously the most dynamic movement in Islam today: the jihadist war to purge the world of infidels and establish a global Islamic state. The same impulse to deny this threat can be seen in the Obama administration’s characterization of domestic acts of Islamic terror like the recent beheading in Oklahoma and the Fort Hood massacre as “workplace violence.”
The origin of the Democratic lies that fog the nature of the war against the Islamists and make us vulnerable to their attacks can be traced to the Democrats’ defection from the war in Iraq, the second front in the so-called “war on terror.” “Bush Lied People Died.” This was the disgusting charge with which progressives and Democrats sought successfully to demonize America’s commander-in-chief and demoralize the nation as it went to war to take down the terrorist-supporting monster regime of Saddam Hussein and eventually defeat Ansar-al-Islam and al-Qaeda in Iraq. In fact, Bush didn’t lie about the reasons for taking on the terrorist regime in Iraq, as the Democrats claimed. Democrats, including senators John Kerry and Diane Feinstein sat on the intelligence committees and had access to every piece of data about Saddam Hussein’s weapons and the reasons for going to war that George Bush did. If they had any doubts about these reasons all they had to do was pick up the phone to CIA director George Tenet – a Bill Clinton appointee – and ask him. The reprehensible claim that Bush lied was concocted by Democrats to justify their defection from a war they had just authorized betraying their country in time of war along with the young men and women they had sent into the battlefield.
The Democrats lied in claiming that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and that therefore the war was unnecessary and therefore immoral. This was actually two lies in one. In the first place the decision to go to war wasn’t about Saddam’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. It was about his determination to build and use weapons of mass destruction and his violation of 17 Security Council resolutions designed to stop him from doing just that. Saddam violated all 17 of the UN resolutions, beginning with those that constituted the Gulf War Truce and culminating in the ultimatum to disclose and destroy all his weapons of mass destruction. His defiance of that ultimatum is why we went to war with him.
But it was the second lie – that Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction – that the Democrats used to discredit the president and the war we were fighting. In fact, the Saddam regime did have weapons of mass destruction, including a chemical weapons storage plant recently discovered by ISIS along with 2200 rockets filled with deadly Sarin gas. Here’s the report from the Daily News of July 9, 2014:
“A terrorist group bent on turning Iraq into an Islamic state has seized a chemical weapons depot near Baghdad stockpiled with sarin-filled rockets left over from the Saddam Hussein era… The site, about 35 miles southwest of Baghdad, was once operated by Saddam’s army and is believed to contain 2,500 degraded rockets filled with potentially deadly sarin and mustard gas.”
Not a single Democrat has apologized for the monstrous defamation campaign they conducted around this lie to cripple their president and their country in a time of war.
The Democrats began their sabotage campaign against the war in Iraq in June 2003, claiming that Bush lied when he cited a British report that Saddam was seeking fissionable uranium in Niger for his nuclear weapons program. Two official reports, one by the British and the other by the U.S. Senate confirmed that Bush’s statement was correct, but this was long after the Democrats had so demonized America’s commander-in-chief as a cynical and dangerous liar that his ability to mobilize American citizens to support the war against the Iraqi terrorists was severely damaged. No apologies from Democrats or the media, which abetted their lies, in this case either. Here is a recent testimony about the facts of Saddam’s quest for fissionable yellow cake uranium:
“As someone who led the company that transported 550 metric tons of yellowcake uranium – enough to make fourteen Hiroshima-size bombs – from Saddam’s nuclear complex in the Iraq War’s notorious ‘Triangle of Death’ for air shipment out of the country, I know Baathist Iraq’s WMD potential existed.”
Not content with these lies, the Democrats reached into their Marxist pocket for another. The progressive slogan “No Blood For Oil” was a maliciously false claim designed to undermine the moral basis for the war by accusing President Bush of serving the interests of his Texas oil cronies beginning with Vice President Cheney, former president of Halliburton, instead of the American people. In the Democrats’ telling, evil corporations in the Republicans’ pocket pushed the country into a needless and “imperialist” war that cost thousands of American and Iraqi lives. But the fact is that despite spending trillions of dollars on a war that cost thousands of American lives, America got no oil out of the war in Iraq, which has wound up in the hands of ISIS terrorists and the People’s Republic of China. No apologies for this myth either.
Perhaps the most destructive lie that Democrats have used to sabotage the war against the Islamist fanatics is that fighting terrorists creates more of them. Nancy Pelosi actually told 60 Minutes’ Steve Croft that if America left Iraq the terrorists would leave too. The argument has been used by progressives to oppose a serious military effort to stop ISIS in Syria and Iraq rather than having to fight them here at home. But aggressive pre-emptive war against the terrorists in their homelands rather than ours has the opposite effect as the victory in Iraq showed before Obama undid it.
The six-year retreat of the Obama Administration from the battlefields in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and appeasement of the terrorist state of Iran, has created more terrorists than we have ever seen. The weakness displayed by the chief defender of freedom under the leadership of an anti-American president has been a provocation to terrorists. The terror threat diminished under Bush but has grown dramatically under Obama. That is because fighting terrorists does not produce them. ISIS is able to recruit thousands of new terrorists because Islamist radicals are inspired by what Osama bin Laden called “the strong horse,” by beheadings and the slaughter of Christians without a serious reprisal. This is the face of the evil that confronts us, and we better wake up to that threat before it is too late.
A recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) internal memo has revealed a new policy, which will allow untold numbers of illegal aliens who have been convicted of domestic violence to avoid deportation. The measure is part of Obama’s ‘executive order amnesty.’
On Nov. 20, DHS chief Jeh Johnson issued the memo, entitled “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants,” which among other items, classifies illegal aliens with domestic violence convictions as “Priority 2″ offenders.
The memo states:
“Aliens described in this priority , who are also not described in Priority 1, represent the second-highest priority for apprehension and removal. Resources should be dedicated accordingly to the removal of the following: aliens convicted of a “significant misdemeanor,” which for these purposes is an offense of domestic violence…”
However, a footnote to the paragraph reads:
“ln evaluating whether the offense is a significant misdemeanor involving …domestic violence,” careful consideration should be given to whether the convicted alien was also the victim of domestic violence; if so, this should be a mitigating factor.”
In other words… he gets to stay!
So, if an illegal alien is convicted of domestic violence for beating his girlfriend or wife, he can simply claim that he was once a victim of abuse as well, and he can continue to live his life in what is becoming a lawless nation.
This is yet another ploy by a criminal president to allow criminal aliens to stay in the country.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform on March 26, 2014. Koskinen told Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) during the hearing that Loise Lerner’s emails were archived and it would take a long time to retrieve them.
In June the IRS told Congress Lois Lerner’s emails were lost in a computer crash.
There were audible gasps in the room on June 20,2014, when IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told Congress that Lerner’s hard drive was tossed out. Koskinen testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the IRS conservative targeting scandal.
But Lois Lerner’s emails were not lost as was reported. All of her emails were backed up by the federal government.
And 30,000 of her emails have been recovered.
Fox News reported:
Federal investigators have told Congress that they have recovered data that may include lost emails from one of the pivotal figures in the controversy over the Internal Revenue Service’s treatment of tea party groups, congressional aides said Friday.
Frederick Hill, a spokesman for Republicans who run the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the investigators said at a staff briefing Friday that they have recovered up to 30,000 emails to and from Lois Lerner.
A statement from Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee was more measured. It said the investigators have recovered data that may include Lerner emails.
The investigators were from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which audits the IRS. A spokeswoman for the inspector general, Karen Kraushaar, declined to comment, saying the investigation was continuing.
The investigators ignited a political firestorm in May 2013 with a report saying that IRS agents had given exceptionally close scrutiny to tea party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status.