Statist Disaster Update: Hundreds Of Thousands Of VA Electronic Disability Claims Go Unprocessed

Hundreds Of Thousands Of VA Electronic Disability Claims Not Processed – Nextgov

Hundreds of thousands of disability claims filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ eBenefits portal launched in February 2013 are incomplete and could start to expire this month, Nextgov has learned.

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VA Undersecretary for Benefits Allison Hickey touted the new portal in June 2013 as simple as filing taxes online and a way to whittle down the claims backlog.

“Veterans can now file their claims online through eBenefits like they might do their taxes online,” she said, including the documentation needed for a fully developed claim in cooperation with Veterans Service Organizations, or VSOs, such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Gerald Manar, deputy director of the National Veterans Service at VFW, told Nextgov the Veterans Benefits Administration on June 26 briefed VSOs on problems with the eBenefits portal, including the fact that only 72,000 claims filed through eBenefits have been completed and approved since last June, with another 228,000 incomplete.

VA spokeswoman Meagan Lutz said since February 2013, just over 445,000 online applications have been initiated. Of those, approximately 70,000 compensation claims have been submitted and another 70,000 nonrating (add a dependent, etc.) have been submitted, leaving a total of 300,000 incomplete claims. Because a number of claims started are more than 365 days old, they have now expired, totaling an estimated 230,000 unprocessed claims.

Manar said he still is trying to understand why so many vets did not complete their online claims and whether they opted to file a paper claim. Lutz said an important element of the electronic claim submission process is the ability for veterans to start a claim online with limited information to hold a date of claim, while simultaneously providing 365 days to collect data, treatment records and other related information.

Lutz said a veteran simply hits “save” and any information provided is saved in temporary tables. During that 365-day period, a veteran may add additional data or upload documents associated with that specific claim. At any point during that timeframe, a veteran can hit the “submit” button and a claim will be automatically established within the Veterans Benefits Management System, designed to entirely automate claims processing by next year, and documents will be uploaded to the veteran’s e-folder.

Claims submitted in eBenefits may be incomplete because “many users can potentially start a claim as part of their exploration of the system… The VA eBenefits team has no way of actually knowing which claims that might be started within eBenefits are valid and or have been abandoned for any number of reasons

After 365 days, Lutz said, the data is made inaccessible and the initiated claim date is removed from the system. The system was designed to provide the veteran as much flexibility as possible in preserving that start date as well as support the Fully Developed Claim initiative, which gives the veteran the opportunity to accrue additional benefits for providing all the data needed to rate the claim.

Lutz said if vets try to submit electronically hundreds of documents, such as PDFs of medical records, “that volume of documents makes electronic submission very difficult, and we always recommend that they work with a Veterans Service Organization, as the VSOs have the expertise to ensure that the right information is gathered and submitted.”

VSOs have little visibility into the claims filed to date through the eBenefits portal because of design problems with the information technology system set up, the Stakeholder Enterprise Portal, Manar said. That portal only allows for broad searches for claims at the state and the VBA regional office level, and limits any search to 1,000 claims. If the search results in more than 1,000 records, SEP returns a message that the system is not available, rather than the search went over the 1,000 file limit, Manar said.

SEP is also not set up to notify VSOs when a claim is filed through eBenefits, nor does it provide alerts when claims are due to expire, Manar said and urged VA to fix SEP to provide such notifications.

SEP, Manar said, was not “well thought-out” when fielded and “the whole system was not ready for prime time.”

Lutz said VA SEP design team is working as quickly as possible to help VSOs to review more than 1,000 files in SEP without getting an incorrect error message.

She said VA plans a new release of SEP this month to VSOs, which will allow VSOs to submit claims directly to VBMS for veterans who hold power of attorney. This update would eliminate the need for the veteran to submit from the eBenefits portal.

“This, we believe, will be a major milestone in the VSO community that will accelerate acceptance of the electronic process,” Lutz said.

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*VIDEO* Judicial Watch: The IRS Has Misled The Courts; They Are In Real Trouble


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Massive Voter Fraud Uncovered In Mississippi GOP Runoff Election (Video)

There May Be Enough Invalidated Votes To Overturn Cochran Victory… Update: 800 Hinds County Voters Crossed Over Illegally – Garwway Pundit

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The Chris McDaniel campaign has identified multiple Mississippi counties in which enough improper ballots have been cast that a legal challenge to the outcome of the election is warranted.

This after Thad Cochran reportedly relied on 25,000 – 35,000 Democrat votes to pull him to victory in the June 24 runoff.

UPDATE: The Cochran campaign is reportedly asking county clerks not to certify the voting rolls until the last day possible so that the McDaniel people will not be able to look at the rolls and challenge them.

BIG UPDATE — CHILD ABUSE and THREATS

I just spoke with Lori Medina who is working with Real Conservative National Committee PAC in Mississippi this week. The McDaniel Campaign is targeting 10 counties where they think they can overturn the election results.

Lorie described one precinct where a “little sixteen year-old blonde female” McDaniel supporter was holding a sign and older men would drive by and threaten her. Several other volunteers were also harassed by Cochran supporters.

There was no information online on where to go vote. One county would only give the name of the buildings where they were voting but not the address to the McDaniel supporters. Many churches lined up in support of Cochran and told McDaniel supporters they could not hold signs on the property because they didn’t want to look biased. One church said McDaniel voters would have to leave because they were holding a funeral.

Lorie added, “I have never witnesses such overt out in the open fraud along with extreme ignorance. For the first time in my life I was speechless.”

** The McDaniel campaign is asking for donations and resources to scrutinize the voter rolls.

UPDATE: From Kim Wade:

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Kim posted this on Facebook:

I have been at the Hinds County Court house this morning.

Here’s a page from Hinds County voter roll book.

The column on the left is where the voter voted in Democrat primary on June 3rd 2014.

The column on the right is where that same voter voted in the Republican run off on June 24th 2014.

This is patently illegal!

The problem is the Hinds County Republican Party in my opinion is dragging its feet in allowing access to “all” the voter information in a timely fashion to complete the audit.

It appears they are trying to run the clock out and certify the election results on Monday of next week preventing Chris McDaniel from completing an audit of the vote.

Please call the GOP at 6019485191 fax 6013540972 email info@msgop.org ask that they have an impartial member of the Hinds County Republican Committee oversee the audit, certification instead of the present county chairman.

Hinds County chair Pete Perry is wearing too many hats and can’t be impartial or fair.

UPDATE: The Mississippi Tea Party President says at least 800 Hinds County Voters crossed over illegally.

MS News Now reported:

The Mississippi Tea Party President says they’ve found evidence that nearly 800 voters crossed over in Tuesday’s runoff election that should not have been allowed to vote Republican.

However, Hinds County GOP Chairman Pete Perry says there are some precincts where he knows workers marked the wrong column and that could account for at least 200 of those being cited by the Tea Party.

Members of McDaniel’s campaign staff and some supporters began sorting through voter books on Thursday morning at the Hinds County courthouse.

They were looking for any “irregularities”.

In Hinds County, poll workers used the Democratic primary books for the GOP runoff in an attempt to prevent crossover voters.

However, the group from McDaniel’s camp is still searching those records to try to find anyone who voted as a Democrat on June 3rd and with the GOP on the 24th (the runoff.)

Much more this story in our newscasts tonight.

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Related video:

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VA Scandal Update: Deceased Veterans Reclassified As Alive, At Least 1,000 Really Dead (Video)

VA Bombshell: Deceased Veterans Reclassified As Alive, At Least 1,000 Really Dead – Mr. Conservative

Obama has been dodging the VA scandal from the get go, and as it seems that he’s tried to distract Americans with other “good news” (i.e. Bergdahl trade) that has only blown up in his face, it seems that the current administration is literally falling apart. Most recently, it appears the scandal has recently blown wide open with another bombshell accusation regarding the number of veterans that has actually died.

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Now when the first reports of the VA scandal broke, numbers were around 40 veterans that had died due to delayed treatment with numbers as high as 120. Currently though, it appears that yet again, Americans have been lied to, this time to the extent of covering up over the actual 1,000 veterans that actually died.

If you were still unaware of the scandal, the VA created a secret list in which veterans were placed in order to delay them treatment and give the facility the false appearance that they were more effective than they really were. Unfortunately for those veterans – some of which were in dire need of critical treatment – they’re requests were thrown in the trash and forgotten about.

All of a sudden, people started dying because of the VA’s incompetence and secretive policy of abandoning our veterans.

Now, a scheduling clerk at the Phoenix VA, Pauline DeWenter, has come forward to share an even more shocking discovery. While working there, she noticed VA administration “reclassifying” deceased veterans as “alive” to make the number of the dead appear much lower.

Once again, in a shocking discovery, the VA is proving its incompetence and that its malicious acts know no bounds when it comes to self-preservation. Furthermore, Sen. Tom Coburn has recently come forward to say:

“Over the past decade, more than 1,000 veterans may have died as a result of VA malfeasance. Poor management is costing the department billions of dollars more and compromising veterans’ access to medical care.”

These two shocking admissions has not only blow the VA scandal wide open, but has left a gaping wound in the confidence this nation has in its government. Surely now, with that many dead due to nothing more than incompetence and laziness, the American people will demand justice.

For America to turn its backs on those that have honorably served this country, is not only despicable, but nauseating.

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IRS Admits Leaking Confidential Information Used Against Romney In 2012 Election To Gay Rights Group

IRS Admits Leaking Confidential Information Used Against Mitt Romney In 2012 Elections – Gateway Pundit

The IRS admitted this week to leaking the National Organization for Marriage‘s confidential information to far left groups.

The IRS will pay the National Organization for Marriage $50,000.

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The conservative group National Organization of Marriage accused the IRS of leaking documents to the Obama Campaign in 2012. A top Obama campaign official Joe Solomese used the information to attack Mitt Romney during the 2012 election. The Huffington Post used the leaked documents in a story questioning former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s support for traditional marriage. The document showed Romney donated $10,000 to NOM.

The IRS agreed this week to pay only $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage after leaking confidential information to a leading gay marriage group.

The Daily Signal reported, via Free Republic:

Two years after activists for same-sex marriage obtained the confidential tax return and donor list of a national group opposed to redefining marriage, the Internal Revenue Service has admitted wrongdoing and agreed to settle the resulting lawsuit.

The Daily Signal has learned that, under a consent judgment today, the IRS agreed to pay $50,000 in damages to the National Organization for Marriage as a result of the unlawful release of the confidential information to a gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, that is NOM’s chief political rival.

“Congress made the disclosure of confidential tax return information a serious matter for a reason,” NOM Chairman John D. Eastman told The Daily Signal. “We’re delighted that the IRS has now been held accountable for the illegal disclosure of our list of major donors from our tax return.”

The Daily Signal is seeking comment on the settlement from the IRS and Justice Department.

In his order entered this morning, District Judge James C. Cacheris granted the settlement of NOM’s suit against the IRS, which was represented by the Department of Justice.

In February 2012, the Human Rights Campaign posted on its web site NOM’s 2008 tax return and the names and contact information of the marriage group’s major donors, including soon-to-be Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. That information then was published by the Huffington Post and other liberal-leaning news sites.

HRC’s president at the time, Joe Solmonese, was tapped that same month as a national co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

NOM released this statement today.

“It has been a long and arduous process to hold the IRS accountable for their illegal release of our confidential tax return and donor list, which was ultimately given to our chief political rival by the recipient,” said John Eastman, NOM’s chairman and a member of the ActRight legal Foundation team that brought the lawsuit against the IRS on NOM’s behalf in October, 2013. “In the beginning, the government claimed that the IRS had done nothing wrong and that NOM itself must have released our confidential information. Thanks to a lot of hard work, we’ve forced the IRS to admit that they in fact were the ones to break the law and wrongfully released this confidential information.”

NOM said that an investigation revealed that its 2008 tax return and list of major donors was released to Matthew Meisel, a gay activist in Boston, MA. Email correspondence from Meisel revealed that he told a colleague that he had “a conduit” to obtain NOM’s confidential information. While testifying under oath in a deposition in the litigation, Meisel invoked the 5th Amendment against self-incrimination and refused to disclose the identity of his conduit. Documents obtained during the litigation prove that Meisel then provided NOM’s tax data to the Human Rights Campaign (whose president was a national Co-Chair of the Obama Reelection Campaign). The information was also published by the Huffington Post.

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*VIDEO* House Oversight And Government Reform Committee Hearing On Lois Lerner’s “Missing” Emails (Day 2)


…………………………THE WEASEL PARADE CONTINUES

……………………….Click on image above to watch video.

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Look, Another VA Medical Center Scandal!

VA Medical Center Scandal – Daily Caller

A failure to scan outsourced medical records has caused an approximate three- to five-month backlog at the Memphis Veteran Administration Medical Center, The Daily Caller has learned.

TheDC was exclusively given a photo snapped of the medical records room on June 12, 2014. In the photo, hundreds of unprocessed medical records sit idly, causing delays of up to five months.

According to a whistle-blower who wished to remain anonymous because they are still employed by the Memphis VA Medical Center, the medical records room is for entering test results and other medical data that occurs after a patient is outsourced for medical tests or procedures.

A recent audit by the VA found the Memphis VA Medical Center had an average wait time for the initial appointment of fifty days, which flagged this facility for extra inspections.

The medical records shown in the photo are generated when the VA refers a patient to another hospital for further medical procedures. Medical tests like colonoscopies, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and X-rays, are among the tests that can be performed by an outside hospital, said the whistle-blower.

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The outside hospital then sends their results back to the Memphis VA Medical Center, and those results are supposed to be scanned into the VA system.

Instead of being scanned in, the results are piling up, said the whistle-blower, causing further delays beyond the initial wait times.

“If you’re waiting for the results of a colonoscopy, [the added wait time is] the difference between life and death,” the whistle-blower told TheDC.

According to this whistle-blower, about an hour after TheDC sent VA communications officer Sandra Glover an email listing these charges, the medical records were moved from the medical records room and into the office of Rebecca England, the chief of Medical Records. Glover is a communications officer for the Veteran Integrated Services Network 9, which includes the Memphis VA Medical Center.

The Memphis VA Medical Center is now scrambling, asking dozens to work over-time in order to clear up the back log, and the VA police are investigating the source of the leak to TheDC, the whistle-blower noted.

TheDC sent a follow-up email to to Ms. Glover and she confirmed much of this story:

The Memphis VA Medical Center cares deeply for every veteran we are privileged to serve. Our goal is to provide the best quality care in a safe environment, as quickly and effectively as we can. After receiving the photograph you sent, we checked with the Memphis VA Medical Center to determine its validity and, if warranted, what actions could be taken to process those medical records as quickly as possible.

It was determined that the record – forwarded from the facility’s outpatient clinics – should have been processed, and subsequently the facility took the appropriate actions to scan them in to the electronic patient record. Memphis VA Medical Center hired a new supervisor two months ago in the patient records area and the consult process has been redesigned to better monitor timeliness. We continue to take action to strengthen oversight mechanisms to prevent delays.

While we regret that the files weren’t processed in a more timely fashion, this is an administrative function that did not impact patient outcomes. Critical clinical information was previously communicated with treating clinicians. In the end, these files have been addressed – which is what we want for the sake of all our patients. Thank you for your concern for our nation’s veterans and for bringing this to our attention.

TheDC spoke with a veteran who was likely affected by this backlog. Jesse Blakely served in the military in the early 1970s.

In November 2013, he walked into the Memphis VA Medical Center complaining of chest pains. After waiting several hours in the emergency room with no help, Blakely left and was treated at nearby Methodist Hospital.

Blakely said Methodist Hospital ran several tests as part of his treatment, but his follow-up appointment at the Memphis VA Medical Center didn’t occur until the beginning of June – more than six months later.

Blakely told TheDC that to add insult to injury, even though he was initially assured by the VA that his medical bills would be covered, he’s since been charged for his trip to the Methodist Hospital emergency room.

Earlier in June, TheDC broke exclusively that in 2010, the same Memphis VA Medical Center approved over $1 million in bonuses while closing a therapy pool just a few months later citing a lack of funds. Bill O’Reilly used that report as the basis of his “Is it Legal” segment the next day.

A staffer at the House Veteran Affairs Committee told TheDC the committee was unaware of any other VA hospitals where outsourced medical tests were causing back logs.

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*VIDEOS* Faith & Freedom Coalition Road To Majority Conference: Featuring Ted Cruz, Allen West, And Mike Lee


……………………..Click on images below to watch videos.

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MIKE LEE, MARCO RUBIO, TED CRUZ, ALLEN WEST, AND JOHN BOLTON

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LOUIE GOHMERT

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RAND PAUL

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TOM PRICE

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RICK SANTORUM

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HERMAN CAIN

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MICHELE BACKMANN

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STEVE KING

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Click HERE to visit the official website of the Faith & Freedom Coalition.

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*VIDEO* Trey Gowdy Gives One Of The Most Moving Speeches Ever To A Group Of High School Seniors


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*AUDIO* Mark Levin Calls Out GOP Over Incompetent IRS Investigation


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Infernal Revenue Service “Lost” Emails From Official Who Met Repeatedly With Top Obama Assistant

IRS ‘Lost’ Emails From Official That Met With Top Obama Assistant – Daily Caller

An IRS official whose emails were “lost” visited the White House frequently during the agency’s targeting of conservatives and met with a top assistant to President Obama who exchanged confidential information on conservative groups with the IRS.

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The IRS recently claimed that it lost emails from Nikole Flax, who served as chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller. Flax was one of seven IRS employees including ex-official Lois Lerner whose emails to and from White House officials and other Obama administration agencies were purportedly deleted and could not be handed over to congressional investigators.

Flax held personal meetings with a top assistant to President Obama and also colluded with Lerner to prosecute conservative activists.

Flax made 31 visits to the White House between July 12, 2010 and May 8, 2013, according to White House visitor logs. Flax’s visits started in the early days of the IRS targeting program and ended just two days before the IRS scandal broke on May 10, 2013.

Flax met twice in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew, on Oct. 5, 2012 and Jan. 15, 2013.

Who is Jeanne Lambrew?

As The Daily Caller reported, Lambrew exchanged confidential taxpayer information on conservative groups with IRS official Sarah Hall Ingram in 2012 as the White House tried to figure out how to deal with a lawsuit filed by a religious organization fighting Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. Lambrew also hosted 155 of Ingram’s 165 White House visits.

Lambrew, who started working for Obama as a health policy adviser to the then-senator’s 2008 presidential campaign, is identified as the most powerful official within the White House on Obamacare implementation.

Flax, who also met frequently at the White House with Obamacare architect Zeke Emanuel, also exchanged emails with Lerner that implicated Flax in the conservative targeting.

On May 8, 2013, the day that Flax made her last recorded White House visit, Lerner sent Flax an email asking for advice about a plan to coordinate with the Department of Justice to criminally prosecute conservative activists.

“I think we should do it,” Flax replied on May 9. “also need to include CI [Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to FEC [Federal Election Commision]. Does it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?”

The IRS’ loss of Flax’s emails drew unprecedented scorn from congressional investigators.

“Despite their attempt to bury the missing Lerner emails on page 15 of a 27 page letter that arrived late Friday, we now know documents from other central figures, like Nikole Flax, are missing,” House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Dave Camp and committee member Rep. Charles Boustany said in a statement. “The fact that Ms. Flax was a frequent visitor to the White House and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building only raises more questions. Who was she visiting at the White House and what were they talking about? Was she updating the White House on the targeting or was she getting orders? These are answers we don’t yet have, because — surprise, surprise — a few computers crashed. Plot lines in Hollywood are more believable than what we are getting from this White House and the IRS.”

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Brigitte Gabriel Sets Whiny, Muslim Woman Straight During ‘Benghazi Accountability Coalition’ Event (Videos)

Brigitte Gabriel Gives Fantastic Answer To Muslim Woman Claiming All Muslims Are Portrayed Badly – Right Scoop

This Heritage event on Benghazi has gotten a lot of press over the last day or two, with the left claiming the event turned ‘ugly‘ and that the Muslim woman was ‘pounced on’ and ‘bullied’ by members of the panel.

But after watching it myself, that characterization couldn’t be more wrong. In fact Brigitte Gabriel’s answer to this Muslim woman is perhaps the best answer I’ve ever heard to the ‘peaceful Muslims’ question.

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GABRIEL CLIP

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ENTIRE EVENT

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Most Corrupt Administration In History To Honor Illegals As “Champions Of Change” At White House Ceremony

White House To Welcome In, Honor Illegal Immigrants – Daily Caller

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President Obama’s White House will honor illegal immigrant activists at a ceremony Tuesday.

Two activists with the group Mi Familia Vota Education Fund will be honored as “Champions of Change” at a special White House ceremony.

Fernanda Zaragoza-Gomez, 19, a Colorado Mi Familia Vota canvasser, and Steven Arteaga Rodriguez, a Texas activist with the group, are both “DREAMers” who began their activism careers after applying for and gaining Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program established by Obama to provide living and working status for undocumented young immigrants.

The activist group, which has offices in six states, works for the goal of “expanding the electorate” through “direct, sustainable citizenship, voter registration, census education, GOTV and issue organizing in key states.”

Mi Familia Vota’s board of directors includes labor leader Eliseo Medina, who said in a 2010 speech that immigration reform will create a long-term progressive “governing coalition.”

“My father was deported and I never saw him again before he died,” honored activist Zaragoza-Gomez said in a statement. “I will keep working with Mi Familia Vota to grow Latino voter participation and push for commonsense immigration reform so that one day, other families won’t have to be separated, like I was from my father.”

While the White House is teaming with law enforcement officers, no arrests are expected to be made Tuesday.

The Daily Caller previously reported that Valerie Jarrett held a handful of secret meetings with illegal immigrant activists.

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Ranking Democrat Committee Member Elijah Cummings Implicated By IRS Email As Person Directing Lois Lerner

Elijah Cummings Implicated By IRS Email As Person Directing Lois Lerner – Last Great Stand

I wish I could say I am sorry to hear Rep. Cummings appears to have some MAJOR involvement in the I.R.S. scandal. With all of his incessant pissing and moaning about claims of a partisan witch hunt, and his attempts to stonewall Darrell Issa every time he had the MIC, I hope he is at the top of the list for people to be sent to prison. Remember this incident?

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At the very LEAST, he better resign (OR BE RESIGNED by Trey Gowdy) from the Benghazi Panel where the Democrats have one goal: Obstruct Justice. Needless to say he’s lost the privilege of being able to sit on that panel in my humble opinion.

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True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht responded Wednesday to reports that Rep. Elijah Cummings’ office may have prompted the IRS to target her group for additional scrutiny.

“Today’s committee action reveals what we knew all along. Partisan politics and the weaponization of government against opponents of this administration is real and continues,” Engelbrecht said in a statement. “Elijah Cummings has blocked the IRS abuse investigation all along. We now see clearly that two branches of government have colluded to target and silence private citizens.”

“America has come to a tipping point,” she added. “No more lies. No more cover-ups. No more collusion. Enough is enough. Finally, we have a chance for the rule of law to be re-established, thanks to the bold efforts of Chairman Issa and Rep. Jordan.”

She concluded: “We filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Cummings in February. Today we’re amending that filing to include this latest revelation. As I have said in my testimony before Congress; I will not retreat, I will not surrender, I will not be intimidated. I will not ask Rep. Cummings, Lois Lerner, Barack Obama, or anyone else, for permission to exercise my constitutional rights.”

The top Democrat on a House committee tasked with investigating the IRS scandal may have been involved in the targeting of a Texas-based conservative group, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Wednesday.

Citing documents obtained last week, Issa suggested in a memo that Rep. Elijah Cummings’ (D-Md.) supposed eagerness to end the IRS investigation may be due to the fact that the Maryland congressman’s office in August 2012 communicated with the IRS about True the Vote, a non-profit group dedicated to preventing voter fraud.

“The IRS and the Oversight Minority made numerous requests for virtually identical information from True the Vote, raising concerns that the IRS improperly shared protected taxpayer information with Rep. Cummings’ staff,” the Oversight panel said in a statement on its website.

The communications between Cummings’ office and the IRS included Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the targeting scandal. However, Issa’s documents show that she didn’t get involved in the True the Vote matter until January 2013.

The documents obtained by Issa show that Cummings’ staff told the IRS it was interested in obtaining “copies of all training materials used for volunteers, affiliates, or other entities,” from True the Vote.

About five days after Cummings’ office mentioned its interest in the conservative group, True the Vote received an email from the IRS requesting “a copy of [True the Vote’s] volunteer registration form,” “…the process you use to assign volunteers,” “how you keep your volunteers in teams,” and “how your volunteers are deployed… following the training they receive by you.”

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Holly Paz, the former director of the IRS exempt organizations office in Cincinnati, later sent True the Vote’s 990 forms to Cummings’ staff.

An email obtained by Issa’s office shows that Lerner at one point asked Paz of the True the Vote investigation: “Did we find anything?”

Paz responded that she had not.

“[T]hanks – check tomorrow please,” Lerner responded in an email.

True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht has testified before Congress about her experiences dealing with dozens of visits and intrusive questions from the IRS and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Explosives.

Cummings has previously stated that his office never asked the IRS about True the Vote, saying at one point in February that the suggestion was “absolutely incorrect and untrue.”

“Although you have previously denied that your staff made inquiries to the IRS about conservative organization True the Vote that may have led to additional agency scrutiny, communication records between your staff and IRS officials – which you did not disclose to Majority Members or staff – indicates otherwise,” Issa said.

“As the Committee is scheduled to consider a resolution holding Ms. Lerner, a participant in responding to your communications that you failed to disclose, in contempt of Congress, you have an obligation to fully explain your staff’s undisclosed contacts with the IRS,” he added

The Maryland congressman has been sent a copy of Issa’s letter, which has been co-signed by Reps. John Mica (R-N.Y.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), James Lankford (R-Texas) and Blake Ferenthold (R-Texas).

The House Oversight Committee is scheduled to meet Thursday to decide on whether Lerner should be held in contempt for her refusal to answer questions regarding the scandal. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday that he would be willing to bring the matter up to the House.

Here’s a copy of the communications between Cummings and the IRS:

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2014 04 09 OGR Chairmen to EEC True the Vote (1)

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Read the article at the Blaze here.

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Your Daley Gator ‘Whose Side Is Obama On, Anyway?’ War On Terror News Roundup (Pictures/Videos)

ISIS Terror Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Was Released By Obama From Camp Bucca In 2009 – Gateway Pundit

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has transformed a few terror cells on the verge of extinction into the most dangerous militant group in the world.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or Abu Dua was once held by the US in Camp Bucca Iraq.

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But the Obama administration shut down the Bucca prison camp and released its prisoners, including Abu Dua in 2009.

The Telegraph reported:

The FBI “most wanted” mugshot shows a tough, swarthy figure, his hair in a jailbird crew-cut. The $10 million price on his head, meanwhile, suggests that whoever released him from US custody four years ago may now be regretting it…

…Well-organised and utterly ruthless, the ex-preacher is the driving force behind al-Qaeda’s resurgence throughout Syria and Iraq, putting it at the forefront of the war to topple President Bashar al-Assad and starting a fresh campaign of mayhem against the Western-backed government in Baghdad.

On Tuesday, his forces achieved their biggest coup in Iraq to date, seizing control of government buildings in Mosul, the country’s third biggest city. Coming on top of similar operations in January that planted the black jihadi flag in the towns of Fallujah and Ramadi, it gives al-Qaeda control of large swathes of the north and west of the country, and poses the biggest security crisis since the US pull-out two years ago…

…“This guy was a Salafi (a follower of a fundamentalist brand of Islam), and Saddam’s regime would have kept a close eye on him,” said Dr Michael Knights, an Iraq expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“He was also in Camp Bucca for several years, which suggests he was already considered a serious threat when he went in there.”

That theory seems backed by US intelligence reports from 2005, which describe him as al-Qaeda’s point man in Qaim, a fly-blown town in Iraq’s western desert.

“Abu Duaa was connected to the intimidation, torture and murder of local civilians in Qaim”, says a Pentagon document. “He would kidnap individuals or entire families, accuse them, pronounce sentence and then publicly execute them.”

Why such a ferocious individual was deemed fit for release in 2009 is not known. One possible explanation is that he was one of thousands of suspected insurgents granted amnesty as the US began its draw down in Iraq. Another, though, is that rather like Keyser Söze, the enigmatic crimelord in the film The Usual Suspects, he may actually be several different people.

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Al-Qaeda ISIS members from ISIS celebrate in Diyala Province, Iraq.

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Democracy Now added this on the closing of Camp Bucca in 2009.

The US meanwhile has closed Camp Bucca, once its largest prison in Iraq. The Pentagon says it’s transferred Bucca’s remaining 180 prisoners to two jails near Baghdad. US Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth King said the prison’s closure comes as part of the US-Iraq security deal.

Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth King: “As a show of progress for the security agreement and moving forward the government of Iraq, we’re going to put the theater internment facility as a piece of history. And we’re going to – it will be history, and we’ll move forward from here and progress.”

Camp Bucca once hosted thousands of prisoners without charge, with many allegations of torture and abuse by US guards.

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ISIS Butchers Leave ‘Roads Lined With Decapitated Police And Soldiers': Battle For Baghdad Looms As Thousands Answer Iraqi Government’s Call To Arms And Jihadists Bear Down On Capital – Daily Mail

The full horror of the jihadists’ savage victories in Iraq emerged yesterday as witnesses told of streets lined with decapitated soldiers and policemen.

Blood-soaked bodies and blazing vehicles were left in the wake of the Al Qaeda-inspired ISIS fanatics as they pushed the frontline towards Baghdad.

They boasted about their triumphs in a propaganda video depicting appalling scenes including a businessman being dragged from his car and executed at the roadside with a pistol to the back of his head. The extent of the carnage came as:

Images from captured cities such as Mosul and Tikrit showed deserted streets, burnt out vehicles and discarded uniforms left by government troops fleeing the brutal fanatics;

ISIS leaders urged their bloodthirsty followers to continue their march and warned that battle would rage in Baghdad and in the holy city of Karbala;

Thousands of residents in the capital answered a call to arms to repel the invaders amid fears the government’s own troops were not up to the job;

Aid groups warned of a new refugee crisis after half a million terrified Iraqis left their homes to escape the jihadists.

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In the swathe of captured territory across northern Iraq, ISIS declared hardline Sharia law, publishing rules ordering women not to go outside ‘unless strictly necessary’, banning alcohol and smoking, and forcing all residents to attend mosques five times a day. BBC correspondent Paul Wood said one woman from Mosul, Iraq’s second city, had spoken of seeing a ‘row of decapitated soldiers and policemen’.

The refugee woman told how the victims’ heads were placed in rows – a trademark, trophy-style execution favoured by ISIS militants.

The fanatics captured Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s birthplace, by overrunning an army base and rounding up hundreds of soldiers and police. Dozens of members of a police special forces battalion were paraded on the back of a truck in the city.

As the balaclava-clad militants took Mosul and Tikrit, thousands of Baghdad’s residents young and old queued at recruiting stations to form a ‘Dad’s army’ to defend the capital.

Trucks carrying volunteers in uniform rumbled towards the frontlines to defend the city, with many chanting slogans against the ISIS militants.

Meanwhile the Iraqi air force carried out at least four bombing raids on insurgent positions in and around Mosul. State television showed targets exploding in black clouds.

Britons working in Baghdad’s Green Zone where most of the foreign embassies are based were on high alert. The lightning advance of ISIS has caused alarm in London, Washington and across the Middle East.

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Despite vastly outnumbering the jihadists, government troops have melted away in the face of the insurgents, allowing them to capture two helicopters, 15 tanks, weapons and several armoured cars that used belonging to the American military. They also seized £350million-worth of dinars by robbing a bank in Mosul.

According to bitter Iraqi footsoldiers, their commanders slipped away in the night rather than mount a defence of the city.

One said: ‘Our leaders betrayed us. The commanders left the military behind. When we woke up, all the leaders had left.’

Last night Barack Obama said America would help with ‘short-term immediate actions… militarily’ to push back the insurgents, but ruled out sending troops.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain would not get involved militarily because Iraq was now a democracy.

Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki vowed: ‘We are not going to allow this to carry on, regardless of the price. We are getting ready. We are organising.’

As the situation spiralled out of control, even Iran was said to have deployed two battalions from its Revolutionary Guard to help the Iraqi government retake Tikrit.

The development was likely to enrage Washington, which has been steadfast in its determination for Baghdad not to cosy up to Tehran.

It also emerged that members of Saddam’s old guard were joining the insurrection. Fighters loyal to his disbanded Baath Party were said to be actively supporting the rebels. ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham but has also been referenced as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

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Its insurgency is the biggest threat to Iraq since US troops withdrew in 2011.

ISIS commanders issued chilling warnings to any police officers or soldiers to ‘repent or be killed’.

In a sinister video, the extremists urged followers to ‘march to Baghdad – we have a score to settle’. They also pledged to take the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.

‘Continue your march as the battle is not yet raging,’ a voice said to be that of ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani says. ‘It will rage in Baghdad and Karbala. So be ready for it. Put on your belts and get ready.’

But taking Baghdad would be much tougher for ISIS than the towns where they have triumphed so far. The United Nations Security Council met behind closed doors last night to discuss the crisis.

Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, speaking in London, insisted the government had halted the rebel advance and even claimed insurgents were ‘on the run’.

But at Baiji, near Kirkuk, insurgents surrounded Iraq’s largest refinery. And the fighters have reached Samarra, 70 miles north of Baghdad.

About a quarter of Mosul’s two million residents have fled. The flood of terrified families escaping the fighting there was described as ‘one of the largest and swiftest mass movements of people in the world in recent memory’. Many have headed east into the autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Aid groups fear a new refugee crisis. Neighbouring countries already struggling to look after 2.8million refugees from the Syrian civil war now face the prospect of a new influx of displaced people desperately seeking a safe haven.

Meanwhile Iraqi Kurds seized control of the major northern oil city of Kirkuk today after the central government’s army abandoned its posts.The Kurds – a semi-autonomous ethnic group based in the north – have their own 250,000-strong military, but have not used them to engage ISIS.

Footage emerged yesterday evening from TIkrit, which appears to show a long line of captured men and boys, being forcibly marched down a highway in the city.

The minute-long video, uploaded to YouTube, showed a snaking column of men stretching the entire visible length of the stretch of road. A voice captured by the recording describes a great Islamic ‘family’ and later an ‘army’, suggesting a possible intention to recruit the captives.

Most of the men and boys have both hands on their heads, while others – some wearing head coverings and some bare-faced – move up and down the column encouraging the march.

The startling developments raise the spectre of Iraq being carved up and divided into several states. Respected commentators have raised the prospect that, with Kurdish forces holding the north, the Sunni ISIS militants taking parts of the north and west, leaving the central and south-eastern to the Shiite population who currently run the government and military.

Yesterday the Iraqi Ambassador to Washington warned the ‘integrity of Iraq is in question’, while Dr Ayad Allawi, a former prime minister of Iraq, added that a break-up was ‘not impossible’.

The governor of Mosul, who escaped the city and is now in Erbil in the Kurdish north, said that Iraq must be divided as centralisation had ‘failed’.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Atheel al-Nujaifi said prime minister Nouri al-Maliki ‘didn’t devolve authority to us before, but now we must do it. Now we are saying his centralisation policies have failed,’ Mr Nujaifi said.

Repercussions from the conflict are also being felt in global oil markets, where prices shot to a three-month high. The RAC said disruption could add more than 2p to the price of a litre of petrol.

The price of Brent crude rose $2 to a three-month high of more than $112 on fears about supply from the second-biggest producer in the Opec oil cartel.

The RAC said: ‘The worsening situation in Iraq is causing a knee-jerk reaction in the global fuel market with wholesale prices going up one pence over Wednesday and Thursday.’

This was likely to push the pump price of both petrol and diesel up by 2p per litre in the short term, the RAC said, ‘and this could well go much further’.

Iraq has insisted sectarian violence will not spread to the south, from which the vast majority of oil output comes.

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After the capture of Mosul, the Islamic State issued a triumphalist statement declaring that it would implement its strict version of Shariah law in Mosul and other regions it had overrun.

Its laws state that women should stay in their homes for modesty reasons, command residents to attend prayers five times a day, and warned thieves that they would have their hands cut off.

It came as Kurdish forces took full control of Iraq’s oil-rich city of Kirkuk after the federal army abandoned its bases there.

Peshmerga fighters, the security forces of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish north, swept into Kirkuk after the army abandoned its posts there, a peshmerga spokesman said.

‘The whole of Kirkuk has fallen into the hands of peshmerga. No Iraqi army remains in Kirkuk now’, said Jabbar Yawar.

Kurds have long dreamed of controlling Kirkuk, a city with huge oil reserves just outside their autonomous region, which they regard as their historical capital.

The swift move by their highly organised security forces demonstrates how this week’s sudden advance by ISIS fighters has redrawn Iraq’s map.

Insurgents surrounded Iraq’s largest refinery in the northern town of Baiji this afternoon – they first moved in late on Tuesday, closing in on the refinery, but later withdrew to the surrounding villages after reaching a deal with local tribal chiefs.

A White House spokesman this evening said that they believed the Iraqi government were in control of the facility, but had no further details.

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In the midst of the crisis, Iraq’s parliament failed to declare a nationwide state of emergency after not enough MPs turned up for a vote.

Opposition politicians representing Sunni and Kurdish populations boycotted parliament because the oppose a motion to give extraordinary powers to Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Turkey is negotiating for the release of 80 nationals held by ISIS in Mosul and cannot confirm reports that some of them have been freed, government officials said today.

The pro-government Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reported that the hostages, who include diplomatic staff, children and special forces soldiers, had been released to the Iraqi governor of Mosul and would be brought to Turkey tonight.

The capture of Mosul – along with the fall of Tikrit and the militants’ earlier seizure of the city of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi, the capital of western Anbar province – has undone hard-fought gains against insurgents in the years following the invasion by U.S.-led forces.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the abductions and the seizure of Iraqi territory by the militants, urging ‘the international community to unite in showing solidarity with Iraq as it confronts this serious security challenge.’

‘Terrorism must not be allowed to succeed in undoing the path towards democracy in Iraq,’ he added.

Mosul, the capital of Ninevah province, and the neighboring Sunni-dominated province of Anbar share a long and porous border with Syria, where the Islamic State is also active.

Without assigning direct blame, al-Maliki said a ‘conspiracy’ led to the massive security failure that allowed militants to capture Mosul, and said members of the security forces who fled rather than stand up to the militants should be punished.

‘We are working to solve the situation,’ al-Maliki said. ‘We are regrouping the armed forces that are in charge of clearing Ninevah from those terrorists.’

Iranian airlines cancelled all flights between Tehran and Baghdad due to security concerns, and the Islamic Republic has intensified security measures along its borders, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported.

Shiite Iran, a major regional power, has strong ties with Iraq’s government. Some 17,000 Iranian pilgrims are in Iraq at any given time, according to IRNA, which cited the director of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization.

Tikrit residents said the militant group overran several police stations in the Sunni-dominated city.

Two Iraqi security officials confirmed that the city, 80 miles north of Baghdad and the capital of Salahuddin province, was under ISIS’s control and that the provincial governor was missing.

The major oil refinery in Baiji, located between Mosul and Tikrit, remained in government control, the officials said. There were clashes and gunmen tried to take the town but were repelled in a rare success for Iraqi government forces protecting an important facility, the officials said.

The International Organisation for Migration estimated that 500,000 people fled the Mosul area, with some seeking safety in the Ninevah countryside or the nearby semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

Getting into the latter has become more difficult, however, with migrants without family members already in the enclave needing to secure permission from Kurdish authorities, according to the IOM.

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The Islamist militia is so ruthless and extreme that even al-Qaeda has cut ties and distances itself from them.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Isis), used to be part of the international terror network, but was cast out in February this year in light of its violent behaviour towards rival jihadist groups.

It is famed – and feared – for spreading hardline Islamic law to the areas it subdues. Transgressors are sentenced to death and swiftly executed in public, their bodies left to decay in the streets.

This treatment has even been doled out against other jihadist leaders, who have been assassinated in a brutal struggle over strategy in the Middle East. Young jihadists are increasingly drawn to Isis over less extreme groups – particularly in the light of their rapid military progress through Iraq.

In the past days the group has overrun the northern city of Mosul, and today also took Tikrit, the hometown of executed Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein.
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In February, the leader of al-Qaeda issued a statement dissociating itself from Isis, which it accused of ‘forbidden bloodshed’ directed at fellow fighters.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s chief, cut ties after Isis attempted to bolster its strength by merging with other rebels in Syria.

He said: ‘We weren’t informed about its creation, nor counselled. Nor are we satisfied with it: rather we ordered it to stop… Nor is al–Qaeda responsible for its actions and behaviour.’

The organisation is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has a U.S. bounty of $10million on his head, second only to al-Zawahiri.

The ISIS leader, who was born in 1971 in Baghdad, is touted as a battlefield commander and tactician.

Baghdadi, who has a degree in Islamic studies, apparently joined the insurgency that erupted in Iraq soon after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

He was taken as a prisoner of the Americans in Camp Bucca between 2005 and 2007 – it was here that one of the only two photos know to be in existence was taken of him.

He is known as ‘The Ghost’ to members of the pro-Assad Lebanese Shi-ite militia Hizballah.

The secretive Baghdadi talks with a scarf covering his face even when dealing with close allies, according to militants who worked with him in Iraq.

He addresses his ISIS followers through audio recordings posted to the internet, rather than in public places.

Military sources have reported his death on numerous occasions in the past years, but the fighter always seems to reappear. This has led to speculation that al-Baghdadi is in fact a name used jointly by several commanders.

Some estimates claim Isis group has in excess of 10,000 fighting men in its ranks. Many of its fighters are thought to be radicalised Western Muslims who have poured in from Europe and North American to join the fighting in Syria and elsewhere.

The group, which controls large areas of land in Syria, is thought to be pouring resources and money from those areas into its burgeoning Iraqi campaign, which has seen it tear through the northern regions on the country.

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Its military progress, largely unhindered by Iraq’s own security forces, have given it control over several highly valuable oil fields, which leaders will hope to exploit to strengthen their hand.

The situation has alarmed officials in Turkey, who called an emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors after 80 of its citizens were taken hostage by Isis.

‘Turkey briefed the other allies on the situation in (the Iraqi city of) Mosul and the hostage-taking of Turkish citizens, including the consul general,’ a NATO official said.

He said the meeting was held for informational purposes and not under Article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty, which permits a member of the 28-nation alliance to ask for consultations with other allies when it feels its security is threatened.

Turks seized included 48 from the consulate in Mosul – including the consul-general and three children. Separately, 28 truck drivers who were delivering diesel to a power plant were captured on Monday.

Meanwhile, Baghdad residents were stockpiling food, fuel and weaponry in anticipation of an attack on the capital in the coming days.

Prime Minister Maliki has previously encouraged ordinary Iraqis to take up arms against the advancing soldiers of Isis, especially in light of claims that members of the police and military are intentionally defecting.

Senior sources in the Iraqi government have said that they have a plan to take back Mosul, but were unclear on the details.

Isis is pushing to expand its territory, which currently straddles the border between Syria and Iraq, and includes land extremely close to the Turkish border.

The group’s centre of power is Raqqa, a city in northern Syria, which is being run under the regime’s oppressive and violent code.

Raqqa was heavily contested throughout the Syrian conflict, and was held by several rebel groups until Isis threw out all other contenders in 2013.

Recently Isis leaders imposed punitive rules on the city’s Christian population, demanding that they pay a levy of gold for ‘protection’ else face being killed on the streets for their faith.

Horrifying images have also emerged from the cities of crucifixions being used to punish men who attacked Isis fighters.

Seven men were sentenced to death after a grenade was thrown at a soldier near a roundabout in Raqqa. The men, who were riding motorbikes, were then hunted down by Isis forces, according to a statement from the group. Two of the men were sentenced to die by crucifixion.

One of the two was wrapped in a banner, which said: ‘This man fought against Muslims and threw a grenade in this place.’

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Obama To Release Osama Bin Laden’s Bodyguards – Conservative Tribune

Apparently President Obama’s new favorite hobby is seeing how quickly he can release the world’s most dangerous terrorists from Gitmo.

Hot on the heels of releasing five detainees in an illegal deal to obtain Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a possible deserter and defector, the President has made another wrong decision involving high ranking al-Qaeda prisoners.

One would think that after catching so much flack from the public and members of Congress, including a new investigation to add to the list of the ones that are already on-going, Obama would think twice before pulling another stunt that endangers American lives.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the president is about to do.

According to new reports, Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have approved the release of one of Osama bin Laden’s personal bodyguards. Yes, you read that correctly.

Via Daily Caller:

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have approved one of Osama bin Laden’s personal bodyguards for release or transfer from the Guantanamo Bay detention center to another country, according to prison records released by WikiLeaks and a recently published list of approved-transfer detainees from the Justice Department.

Idris Ahmad Abdu Qadir Idris is the second name on Holder’s Justice Department list of 55 Gitmo detainees approved for release or transfer. This detainee, according to a Jan. 26, 2008, Defense Department document published by WikiLeaks, provided security for bin Laden both before and after the deadly Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

“Detainee is assessed to be a member of al-Qaida and was identified as a bodyguard for Usama Bin Laden (UBL) beginning shortly before the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. Detainee is also assessed to be an al-Qaida recruiter associated with a Salafist network in Yemen,” the document reads. “Detainee transited through multiple extremist support guesthouses, received militant training at the al-Qaida al-Faruq Training Camp in Afghanistan (AF), and is assessed to have received advanced training.”

Spokespeople for the Justice Department and for the White House haven’t responded to requests for comment on why they want to release or transfer one of Bin Laden’s bodyguards from U.S. custody, even as reports surface suggesting the recent anti-American attacks in Libya were organized by a released Gitmo detainee.

Unbelievable. President Obama, the Commander-in-Chief, one of the top U.S. officials tasked with ensuring America’s safety, continues to release terrorists back into the wild, who will no doubt be back on the battlefield fighting against the U.S.

This man is either trying to destroy America, or he is the most intellectually inept president this nation has ever had in office. Obama needs to be impeached right now before he does any further damage to our civil liberties and our national security.

Please share this article if you agree President Obama is putting the nation in danger and needs to be impeached immediately.

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Alarmed By Iraq, Iran Open To Shared Role With U.S. – Reuters

Shi’te Muslim Iran is so alarmed by Sunni insurgent gains in Iraq that it may be willing to cooperate with Washington in helping Baghdad fight back, a senior Iranian official told Reuters.

The idea is being discussed internally among the Islamic Republic’s leadership, the senior Iranian official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official had no word on whether the idea had been raised with any other party.

Officials say Iran will send its neighbor advisers and weaponry, although probably not troops, to help its ally Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki check what Tehran sees as a profound threat to regional stability, officials and analysts say.

Islamist militants have captured swathes of territory including the country’s second biggest city Mosul.

Tehran is open to the possibility of working with the United States to support Baghdad, the senior official said.

“We can work with Americans to end the insurgency in the Middle East,” the official said, referring to events in Iraq.

“We are very influential in Iraq, Syria and many other countries.”

For many years, Iran has been aggrieved by what it sees as U.S. efforts to marginalize it. Tehran wants to be recognized as a significant player in regional security.

Common Cause

Relations between Iran and Washington have improved modestly since the 2013 election of President Hassan Rouhani, who promised “constructive engagement” with the world.

And while Tehran and the United States pursue talks to resolve the Islamic state’s decade-old nuclear standoff with the West, they also acknowledge some common threats, including the rise of al Qaeda-style militancy across the Middle East.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama said the United States was not ruling out air strikes to help Baghdad fight the insurgents, in what would be the first U.S. armed intervention in Iraq since the end of the U.S.-led war.

Rouhani on Thursday strongly condemned what he called violent acts by insurgent groups in the Middle East.

“Today, in our region, unfortunately, we are witnessing violence, killing, terror and displacement,” Rouhani said.

“Iran will not tolerate the terror and violence… we will fight against terrorism, factionalism and violence.”

Asked on Thursday about Iranian comments, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “Clearly, we’ve encouraged them in many cases to play a constructive role. But I don’t have any other readouts or views from our end to portray here today.”

Fearing Iraq’s war could spill into Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has urged the international community to back Maliki’s administration “in its fight against terrorism”.

Brigadier-General Mohammad Hejazi said Iran was ready to supply Iraq with “military equipment or consultations,” the Tasnim news agency reported. “I do not think the deployment of Iranian troops would be necessary,” he was quoted as adding.

The senior Iranian official said Iran was extremely worried about the advance of ISIL, also a major force in the war against Iran’s close ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, carving out a swathe of Syria territory along the Iraqi border.

“The danger of extremist Sunni terrorist in Iraq and the region is increasing… There have been several high-ranking security meetings since yesterday in Tehran,” the official said.

“We are on alert and we also follow the developments in Iraq very closely.”

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Militants ‘Ready For New Assault On Iraq’s Samarra’ – Yahoo News

Militants were gathering Friday for a new attempt to take the Iraqi city of Samarra, home to a revered Shiite shrine whose 2006 bombing sparked a sectarian war, witnesses said.

A major offensive launched by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and its allies late Monday has overrun second city Mosul and a swathe of northern and north-central Iraq.

Witnesses in the Dur area, between militant-held Tikrit and Samarra, said they saw “countless” vehicles carrying militants south during the night.

And witnesses in Samarra, just 110 kilometres (70 miles) north of Baghdad, said gunmen were gathering to the north, east and southeast of the city.

A tribal leader said that militants had approached the security forces in the city, asking them to leave peacefully and promising not to harm the Al-Askari shrine.

They also proposed that tribal leaders form a force to protect the shrine and the city’s residents, but security forces refused to withdraw, he said.

Militants already mounted two assaults on Samarra, one on Wednesday and one late last week, which were thwarted only after heavy fighting.

The Al-Askari shrine was bombed by militants in February 2006, sparking sectarian conflict between Iraq’s Shiite majority and Sunni Arab minority that left tens of thousands dead.

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Your Daley Gator ‘Obama Is Intentionally Losing The War On Terror’ News Roundup (Videos)

Now Tikrit Falls To Islamist Terrorists: Hundreds Of Thousands Flee As Second Iraqi City Is Seized By The Extremist Warlord Who Is More ‘Virulent And Violent Than Bin Laden’, And Will Baghdad Be Next? – Daily Mail

Iraq was under siege yesterday after Al Qaeda-inspired jihadists seized control of Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit and closed in on the country’s biggest oil refinery.

Coming less than 24 hours after the country’s second city Mosul was overrun by the militants, there were fears that the loss of Tikrit could open the way for an assault on Baghdad just 80 miles to the south.

British security firms working in the capital are said to have been put on high alert amid fears that insurgents will target the ‘Green Zone’ where most of the foreign embassies are based.

As well as Mosul and Tikrit, several other northern towns were reported to have fallen to the spectacular offensive by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

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And the fundamentalist fighters, led by former preacher Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, were today expected to take over the massive Baiji refinery after 250 security personnel abandoned their posts rather than fight.

ISIL was also battling security forces near the town of Samarra, 70 miles north of Baghdad on the main highway to Mosul, and home to a revered Shia shrine.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked parliament to declare a state of emergency to give him more powers as he called on the international community for help.

The sense of unravelling chaos in the country, from which American troops withdrew in 2011, was compounded this evening by a suicide bomber killing 16 in a Shi’te slum in the country’s capital Baghdad.

As night fell, several hundred gunmen were in Tikrit, with clashes still taking place between the insurgents and military units on its outskirts, according to city officials.

While the West has so far refused to assist with military support, the US has said it will come to the aid of the 500,000 people who have fled fierce fighting in Iraq.

Denouncing ISIS as ‘one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world, Stuart Jones, the nominee to be the next US envoy to Baghdad, told US politicians the United States ‘will continue to monitor the situation closely, and will work with our international partners to try to meet the needs of those who have been displaced’.

Today UK Foreign Secretary William Hague played down any suggestion of sending troops to support the Iraqi military.

The White House National Security Council said only: ‘President Obama promised to responsibly end the war in Iraq and he did’.

A country into which America poured so much blood and money faces the prospect of dealing with this major new military threat by itself in light of Western governments’ insistence that the matter is not their concern.

However, international momentum appeared to be turning as Turkey called a meeting of Nato officials in light of concerns over security and its captured citizens.

Militants seized 48 Turks from the Turkish consulate Mosul today including the consul-general, three children and several members of Turkey’s special forces. 28 Turkish lorry drivers were already being held.

Tonight Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned it will retaliate if any of its citizens and diplomats are harmed.

‘Right now we are engaged in calm crisis management, considering our citizens’ security. This should not be misunderstood. Any harm to our citizens and staff would be met with the harshest retaliation,’ he said.

The rampage through Mosul – which is near the Turkish and Syrian border – by the black banner-waving insurgents was a heavy defeat for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as he tries to hold onto power, and highlighted the growing strength of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The group has been advancing in both Iraq and neighboring Syria, capturing territory in a campaign to set up a militant enclave straddling the border.

This afternoon the Al Qaeda-inspired militants have seized control of Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit.

Iraqi security officials confirmed Tikrit was under the control of Isis and said the provincial governor was missing.

Tikrit, the capital of Salahuddin province, is 80 miles north of Baghdad.

The insurgents expanded their offensive closer to the Iraqi capital as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts following clashes.

A woman in Baghdad said: ‘People are buying up food and may not come to work tomorrow because they think the situation is getting to get worse.’

A Mosul businessman who has fled the city of Mosul told the Guardian: ‘The city fell like a plane without an engine.’

Another resident explained that after government forces began to desert the city they felt compelled to leave in case the government started to bomb the city to force out the militants.

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Today the governor of an Iraqi province said authorities are determined to recapture the northern city.

The Ninevah province governor, Atheel al-Nujaifi, said authorities have a plan to restore security and defeat the militants raiding government buildings, pushing out security forces and capturing military vehicles as thousands of residents fled.

Al-Nujaifi also accused senior commanders of the security forces of providing Baghdad with false information about the situation in Mosul and demanding that they should stand trial.

He also says smaller armed groups joined the al Qaeda breakaway group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant during the fight for control the city.

This morning Iraq’s foreign minister said Baghdad will cooperate with Kurdish forces to flush out militants from Mosul.

‘There will be closer cooperation between Baghdad and the regional Kurdistan government to work together and flush out these foreign fighters,’ Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said on the sidelines of a EU-Arab League meeting in Athens.

He called on all Iraqi leaders to come together to face the ‘serious, mortal’ threat to the country.

‘The response has to be soon. There has to be a quick response to what has happened,’ he said.

Militants have seized the Turkish consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and efforts are under way to ensure the safety of diplomatic staff, according to two Turkish government sources.

‘Certain militant groups in Mosul have been directly contacted to ensure the safety of diplomatic staff,’ a Turkish government source said, adding there was no immediate information on the status of the diplomats.

Last night militants advanced into the oil refinery town of Baiji, setting the court house and police station on fire and today they are unconfirmed reports that the town ‘in flames’.

They said around 250 guards at the refinery had agreed to withdraw to another town after the militants sent a delegation of local tribal chiefs to persuade them to pull out.

Baiji resident Jasim al-Qaisi, said the militants also warned local police and soldiers not to challenge them.

‘Yesterday at sunset some gunmen contacted the most prominent tribal sheikhs in Baiji via cellphone and told them: ‘We are coming to die or control Baiji, so we advise you to ask your sons in the police and army to lay down their weapons and withdraw before (Tuesday) evening prayer’.’

Militants entered Baiji late on Tuesday evening in around 60 vehicles, releasing prisoners in the town.

Baiji refinery is Iraq’s biggest, supplying oil products to most of the country’s provinces. A worker there said the morning shift had not been allowed to take over and the night shift was still working.

The United States condemned the siege ‘in the strongest possible terms.’

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White House spokesman Josh Earnest deplored ‘despicable’ acts of violence targeting civilians in Mosul. Mr Earnest said the group has gained strength from the situation in neighbouring Syria.

But the White House is not saying what additional military assistance the US might provide Iraq in response to the siege. Mr Earnest said the US is committed to its partnership with Baghdad but is urging Iraq’s government to take steps to be more inclusive of all Iraqis.

There were no immediate estimates on how many people were killed in the four-day assault, a stark reminder of the reversals in Iraq since U.S. forces left in late 2011.

Earlier this year, Islamic State fighters took control of Fallujah, and government forces have been unable to take it back.

Mosul is a much bigger, more strategic prize. The city and surrounding Ninevah province, which is on the doorstep of Iraq’s relatively prosperous Kurdish region, are a major export route for Iraqi oil and a gateway to Syria.

‘This isn’t Fallujah. This isn’t a place you can just cordon off and forget about,’ said Michael Knights, a regional security analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. ‘It’s essential to Iraq.’

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Al-Maliki pressed parliament to declare a state of emergency that would grant him greater powers, saying the public and government must unite ‘to confront this vicious attack, which will spare no Iraqi.’

Legal experts said these powers could include imposing curfews, restricting public movements and censoring the media.

Iraqi state television today reported that its legislators would meet on Thursday.

Parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni from Mosul, called the rout ‘a disaster by any standard.’

Regaining Mosul poses a daunting challenge for the Shiite prime minister.

The city of about 1.4 milliion has a Sunni Muslim majority and many in the community are already deeply embittered against his Shiite-led government.

During the nearly nine-year American presence in the country, Mosul was a major stronghold for al-Qaeda. U.S. and Iraqi forces carried out repeated offensives there, regaining a semblance of control but never routing the insurgents entirely.

‘It’s going to be difficult to reconstitute the forces to clear and hold the city,’ Knights said. ‘There aren’t a lot of spare forces around Iraq.’

Today UK Foreign Secretary William Hague told ITV News the civilian population of Mosul must be protected.

He added: ‘We left Iraq in the hands of elected Iraqi leaders with armed forces, with their own security forces, so it is primarily for them to deal with.’

‘It’s very important that Iraqis take the leadership and responsibility of dealing with this, working with neighbouring countries.

National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the U.S. would continue to help the Iraqi government fight ISIS.

‘President Obama promised to responsibly end the war in Iraq and he did,’ she said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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White House spokesman Josh Earnest deplored what he called the ‘despicable’ acts of violence against civilians in Mosul.

He said Washington is committed to its partnership with Baghdad but is urging the government to take steps to be more inclusive of all Iraqis.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks across Iraq in recent days ‘that have killed and wounded scores of civilians.’

He urged all political leaders ‘to show national unity against the threats facing Iraq, which can only be addressed on the basis of the constitution and within the democratic political process,’ according to U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Insurgents and Iraqi troops have been fighting for days in Mosul, but the security forces’ hold appeared to collapse late Monday night and early Tuesday.

Gunmen overran the Ninevah provincial government building – a key symbol of state control – Monday evening, and the governor fled the city.

The fighters stormed police stations, bases and prisons, capturing weapons and freeing inmates. Security forces melted away, abandoning many of their posts, and militants seized large caches of weapons.

They took control of the city’s airport and captured helicopters, as well as an airbase 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of the city, the parliament speaker said.

Later Tuesday, Islamic State fighters took over the large town of Hawija, 125 kilometers (75 miles) south of Mosul, according to officials there.

On Tuesday, the militants appeared to hold much of the eastern half of Mosul, which is bisected by the Tigris River. Residents said fighters were raising the black banners that are the emblem of the Islamic State.

Video taken from a car driving through the streets of Mosul and posted online showed burning vehicles in the streets, black-masked gunmen in pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns, and residents walking with suitcases.

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ISIL supporters posted photos on social media showing fighters next to Humvees and other U.S.-made military vehicles captured from Iraqi forces.

The video and photos appeared authentic and matched Associated Press reporting of the events.

A government employee who lives about a mile from the provincial headquarters, Umm Karam, said she left with her family Tuesday morning.

‘The situation is chaotic inside the city and there is nobody to help us,’ she said ‘We are afraid. … There is no police or army in Mosul.’ She spoke on condition she be identified only by her nickname for fear of her safety.

An estimated 500,000 people have fled Mosul, according to a U.N. spokesman in New York, citing the International Organization for Migration.

The spokesman said aid organizations hope to reach those in need with food, water, sanitation and other essential supplies as soon as the volatile security situation permits.

The Islamic State has ramped up its insurgency over the past two years, presenting itself as the Sunni community’s champion against al-Maliki’s government

The group was once al-Qaida’s branch in Iraq, but under its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi it has escalated its ambitions, sending fighters into Syria to join the rebellion against President Bashar Assad.

Its jihadists became notorious as some of the most ruthless fighters in the rebellion – and other rebels turned against it, accusing it of trying to hijack the movement.

Al-Qaida’s central command, angered over its intervention in Syria, threw the group out of the terrorist network.

But it has been making gains on both sides of the border. In Syria, it took control of an eastern provincial capital of Raqqa, and in the past month it has launched an offensive working its way toward the Iraqi border.

Islamic State fighters in eastern Syria crossed into Iraq to help their brethren in the Mosul area, activists on the Syrian side said.

They tried to take the border crossing itself, but Kurdish fighters on either side fended them off. The militants were able to seize the nearest Iraqi town to the border, Rabeea, the activists said.

The group earlier this year took over Fallujah and parts of Sunni-dominated Anbar province, and has stepped up its long-running campaign of bombings and other violence in Baghdad and elsewhere.

The Mosul crisis comes as al-Maliki is working to assemble a coalition after elections in late April, relying even more on Shiite parties. Sunnis and Kurds have grown increasingly disillusioned with al-Maliki, accusing him of dominating power.

The autonomous Kurdish region in the north has its own armed forces – the peshmerga – and on Tuesday, the region’s prime minister suggested his willingness to intervene beyond the formal borders of the self-ruled enclave.

That could be politically explosive, since the Mosul region lies on Kurdistan’s doorstep, has a significant Kurdish population, and the Kurds claim parts of the area.

Militant gains in territories the Kurds consider theirs could push them ‘to send in their own troops to protect communities they consider as part of their jurisdiction,’ said Jordan Perry, an analyst at risk analysis firm Maplecroft.

Kurdistan’s prime minister, Nechirvan Barzani, sharply criticized Baghdad’s handling of the Mosul crisis, saying the Kurds had tried unsuccessfully to work with Iraqi security forces to protect the city.

‘Tragically, Baghdad adopted a position which has prevented the establishment of this cooperation,’ he said in a statement.

Barzani urged the Kurds to aid those displaced from Mosul and called on the U.N. refugee agency to help with the relief effort.

He said the peshmerga are prepared to handle security in areas outside the regional government’s jurisdiction – presumably referring to parts around Mosul inhabited by Kurds that are disputed with the central government.

Kurdish official Razgar Khoushnaw said about 10,000 Mosul residents took refuge Tuesday in the Kurdish province of Irbil, while security officials in neighboring Dahuk province said 5,000 displaced people were let in there.

Far larger numbers of people are believed to have fled Mosul for other communities in the Ninevah countryside.

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Iraq Asked U.S. To Bomb ISIS Staging Areas Before They Took Mosul, Obama Said No – Weasel Zippers

I don’t get it, Obama drones Pakistan and Yemen like it’s going out of style but he won’t do it in Iraq?

WASHINGTON – As the threat from Sunni militants in western Iraq escalated last month, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki secretly asked the Obama administration to consider carrying out airstrikes against extremist staging areas, according to Iraqi and American officials.

But Iraq’s appeals for military assistance have so far been rebuffed by the White House, which has been reluctant to open a new chapter in a conflict that President Obama has insisted was over when the United States withdrew the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011.

The swift capture of Mosul by militants aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has underscored how the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have converged into one widening regional insurgency with fighters coursing back and forth through the porous border between the two countries. But it has also cast a spotlight on the limits the White House has imposed on the use of American power in an increasingly violent and volatile region.

A spokeswoman for the National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, declined to comment on Mr. Maliki’s requests and the administration’s response, saying in a statement, “We are not going to get into details of our diplomatic discussions, but the government of Iraq has made clear that they welcome our support” in combating the Islamic extremists. […]

Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s foreign minister, last year floated the idea that armed American-operated Predator or Reaper drones might be used to respond to the expanding militant network in Iraq. American officials dismissed that suggestion at the time, saying that the request had not come from Mr. Maliki.

By March, however, American experts who visited Baghdad were being told that Iraq’s top leaders were hoping that American air power could be used to strike the militants’ staging and training areas inside Iraq, and help Iraq’s beleaguered forces stop them from crossing into Iraq from Syria.

“Iraqi officials at the highest level said they had requested manned and unmanned U.S. airstrikes this year against ISIS camps in the Jazira desert,” said Kenneth M. Pollack, a former C.I.A. analyst and National Security Council official, who is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and who visited Baghdad in early March. ISIS is the acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as the militant group is known.

As the Sunni insurgents have grown in strength those requests have persisted. In a May 11 meeting with American diplomats and Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the head of the Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East, Mr. Maliki said that he would like the United States to provide Iraq with the ability to operate drones. But if the United States was not willing to do that, Mr. Maliki indicated he was prepared to allow the United States to carry out strikes using warplanes or drones.

Keep reading

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As Militants Advance In Iraq, U.S. Embassy In Baghdad Readies Evacuation – Hot Air

According to U.S. sources who spoke with The Blaze reporter Sara Carter, the United States Embassy in Baghdad is preparing plans to facilitate the evacuation of that massive facility as Islamic militant groups continue their blitz across that country.

“The U.S. official told TheBlaze that the U.S. Embassy, United Nations and other foreign organizations with a presence in Iraq are ‘preparing contingency plans to evacuate employees,’” The Blaze reported.

A counterterrorism expert added that the level of violence in Iraq is at levels “not seen since 2007,” just prior to the implementation of the “surge” strategy which temporarily pacified the growing insurgency in that country.

The $750 million complex is the world’s largest foreign embassy facility and was built to house tens of thousands of government employees and contractors, but it has not been fully staffed since the end of 2013.

The al-Qaeda-linked group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have already captured the cities of Mosul, Tikrit, and Fallujah, and may be setting their sights on the Iraqi capital. The group’s aim is to create a pan-Islamic state that stretches from the Mediterranean coast to the Iranian border.

The State Department has warned American citizens against traveling to Iraq amid the escalating violence.

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Al Qaeda Offshoot Captures American Humvees And Transfers Them To Syria – Business Insider

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a radical offshoot of al Qaeda, has taken control of Iraq’s second largest city.

Iraqi police and security forces reportedly fled Mosul prior to the attack, leaving the facilities of the city open for plunder. Mosul was a key area of focus for U.S. forces in an effect to stabilize Iraq, and large amounts of military hardware was left in the city for the Iraqis.

Iraq’s parliament speaker said that ISIS took control of the city’s airport and obtained helicopters. ISIS also took control of U.S. Humvees, which they are now proceeding to send to Syria.

The Humvees are reportedly in fine condition. The vehicles would be a significant upgrade to the current equipment that ISIS has, and it further increase their ability to carry out attacks in both Iraq and Syria.

One interesting note is that the U.S. military gave these Humvees to the Iraqi military, which was long ago infiltrated by Iran-backed groups that killed Americans.

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Phillip Smyth
@PhillipSmyth

Yet, ISF/Iraq Army was fully infiltrated by Iran-backed groups which killed US troops-and they were given those humvees. (Part 2)
12:27 PM – 10 Jun 2014

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Upwards of 150,000 people are now fleeing from Mosul towards Baghdad or Iraqi Kurdistan. U.S. trained Iraqi soldiers are apparently leaving behind their uniforms too as they flee from ISIS.

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Al Qaida-Inspired Militant Group Vows To March On Baghdad – CNS

The al-Qaida-inspired group that captured two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week vowed on Thursday to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led government’s ability to slow the assault following the insurgents’ lightning gains.

Fighters from the militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit on Wednesday as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts and yielded ground once controlled by U.S. troops.

That seizure followed the capture of much of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, the previous day. The group and its allies among local tribesmen also hold the city of Fallujah and other pockets of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province to the west of Baghdad.

Baghdad does not appear to be in imminent danger from a similar assault, although Sunni insurgents have stepped up car bombings and suicide attacks in the capital in recent months.

The capital, with its large Shiite population, would be a far harder target for the militants. So far, Islamic State fighters have stuck to the Sunni heartland and former Sunni insurgent strongholds where people are already alienated by the Shiite-led government over allegations of discrimination and mistreatment. The militants also would likely meet far stronger resistance, not only from government forces but by Shiite militias if they tried to advance on the capital.

In contrast, online video posted Thursday showed some Tikrit residents celebrating the militant takeover. As Islamic State fighters drove through largely empty streets in a captured military Humvee and a pickup truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun, what appeared to be a few dozen people shouted “God is great,” and celebratory gunfire could be heard. The video appeared authentic and was consistent with AP reporting.

The Islamic State’s spokesman vowed to take the fight into the capital at the heart of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government. In a sign of the group’s confidence, he even boasted that its fighters will take the southern Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf, which hold two of the holiest shrines for Shiite Muslims.

“We will march toward Baghdad because we have an account to settle there,” he said in an audio recording posted on militant websites commonly used by the group. The statement could not be independently verified.

Meanwhile, Kurdish fighters from the ethnic group’s autonomous enclave in the north showed signs of taking a greater role in fighting back against the Islamic State. Their role is a potential point of friction because both Sunni and Shiite Arabs are wary over Kurdish claims on territory outside their enclave.

Kurdish security forces known as peshmerga took over an air base and other posts abandoned by the Iraqi military in the ethnically mixed flashpoint city of Kirkuk, Brig. Halogard Hikmat, a senior peshmerga official told the Associated Press. But he denied reports the whole city was under peshmerga control.

“We decided to move… because we do not want these places with the weapons inside them to fall into the hands of the insurgents,” said Hikmat. Iraqi government officials could not be reached to confirm the account.

A force of 20 pick-up trucks carrying Islamic State militants attacked peshmerga positions near the town of Sinjar, on a highway between Mosul and the Syrian border. The two sides battled for four hours late Wednesday night in a firefight that killed nine militants and wounded four peshmerga, Hikmat said.

Militants also attacked an Iraqi security checkpoint Thursday in the town of Tarmiyah, 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Baghdad, killing five troops and wounding nine, said officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

After Mosul’s fall, al-Maliki asked parliament to declare a state of emergency that would give him the “necessary powers” to run the country – something legal experts said could include powers to impose curfews, restrict public movements and censor the media.

Lawmakers tried to hold a session to approve the measure Thursday, but too few showed up and they were unable to reach quorum to vote.

Hundreds of young men crowded in front of the main army recruiting center in Baghdad on Thursday after authorities urged Iraqis to help battle the insurgents.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, offered his country’s support to Iraq in its “fight against terrorism” during a phone call with his Iraqi counterpart, Iranian state TV reported.

Shiite powerhouse Iran, which has built close ties with Iraq’s postwar government, a day earlier said it was halting flights to Baghdad because of security concerns and has intensified security measures along its borders.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday blasted the Islamic State as “barbaric” and said that his country’s highest security body will hold an immediate meeting to review the developments in neighboring Iraq.

The Islamic State aims to create an Islamic emirate spanning both sides of the Iraq-Syria border. It has been able to push deep into parts of the Iraqi Sunni heartland once controlled by U.S. forces because police and military forces melted away after relatively brief clashes.

The White House said Wednesday that the United States was “deeply concerned” about the Islamic State’s continued aggression.

Human Rights Watch expressed concern Thursday about the group’s advances, noting its history of violence and other abuses. The rights group also called on Baghdad to deal with the crisis “without the brutal tactics for which civilians elsewhere in the country have long been paying a heavy price,” deputy Middle East director Nadim Houry said.

There were no reliable estimates of casualties or the number of insurgents involved, though several hundred gunmen were involved in the Tikrit fight, said Mizhar Fleih, the deputy head of the municipal council of nearby Samarra. An even larger number of militants likely would have been needed to secure Mosul, a much bigger city.

Mosul, the capital of Ninevah province, and the neighboring Sunni-dominated province of Anbar share a long and porous border with Syria, where the Islamic State is also active.

Mosul’s fall was a heavy defeat for al-Maliki. His Shiite-dominated political bloc came first in April 30 parliamentary elections – the first since the U.S. military withdrawal in 2011 – but failed to gain a majority, forcing him to try to build a governing coalition.

In addition to being Saddam’s hometown, Tikrit was a power base of his once-powerful Baath Party. The former dictator was captured by U.S. forces while hiding in a hole in the area and he is buried south of town in a tomb draped with the Saddam-era Iraqi flag.

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White House Worried As Militants Take Iraqi Cities – The Hill

The White House on Wednesday expressed concerns that Islamic militants had regained a foothold in Iraq after an al Qaeda-affiliated group seized control of a second major city.

Islamist militants seized the northern city of Tikrit on Wednesday, an action that sparked alarm in Washington and Baghdad, just days after rebel forces also captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.

“The situation in Iraq is grave,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest conceded to reporters traveling with the president Wednesday to Massachusetts.

“There is no doubt that the situation has deteriorated over the last 24 hours,” he added.

Earnest said the U.S. was “deeply concerned” the instability could create a humanitarian crisis, with reports saying Iraqi security forces had fled both cities and thousands of refugees were seeking shelter.

Rebel groups have allegedly seized control of government buildings and released prisoners, adding to the chaos.

Earnest called on Iraqi leaders to organize a response to turn back the rebel forces, and said Washington was offering its support to Baghdad.

The Iraqi government plans to meet Thursday in Baghdad to vote on whether to give Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki emergency powers that would give him broader latitude to combat the sectarian violence.

The U.S. also condemned the kidnapping of 49 Turkish diplomatic personnel in Mosul by the group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Earnest called the attack “despicable” and demanded the immediate release of the prisoners.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said earlier Wednesday that Secretary of State John Kerry had called Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to express “their mutual concern” about the security situation.

“We join Turkey and the international community in calling for the immediate release of Turkey’s kidnapped diplomatic personnel,” Psaki said.

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*FLASHBACK* Obama: ‘We’re Leaving Behind A Sovereign, Stable And Self-Reliant Iraq’ – CNS

When President Barack Obama removed the last U.S. forces from Iraq in December 2011, he announced that – as he had planned – the U.S. was leaving behind a “sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government.”

It was a “moment of success,” he said.

On Feb. 27, 2009, a little more than a month after his first inauguration, Obama gave a speech at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina that the White House entitled, “Responsibly Ending the War in Iraq.”

Obama said then that his strategy was based on the “achievable goal” of a “sovereign, stable and self-reliant” Iraq–and that he intended to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2011, as had been envisioned in the Status of Forces agreement negotiated by the Bush Administration.

“Today, I can announce that our review is complete, and that the United States will pursue a new strategy to end the war in Iraq through a transition to full Iraqi responsibility,” said Obama. “This strategy is grounded in a clear and achievable goal shared by the Iraqi people and the American people: an Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant. To achieve that goal, we will work to promote an Iraqi government that is just, representative, and accountable, and that provides neither support nor safe-haven to terrorists.”

“And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011,” said Obama. “We will complete this transition to Iraqi responsibility, and we will bring our troops home with the honor that they have earned.”

Almost three years later, on Dec. 14, 2011, when he was removing the last U.S. troops from Iraq, Obama gave a speech at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Here he said his strategy based on building a sovereign, stable, self-reliant Iraq had succeeded.

“It’s harder to end a war than begin one,” Obama said at Fort Bragg. “Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq – all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering – all of it has led to this moment of success. Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations. And we are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making.”

In the past seven months, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – a terrorist group that sprang from al Qaeda – has captured Fallujah and Mosul, and is now intent on capturing the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

In February, CIA Director John Brennan told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that al Qaeda camps on both sides of the Syrian-Iraq border are a threat to the United States.

“Do you believe that there are training camps that have been established on either side of the Iraqi or Syrian border for the purposes of training al Qaida operatives?” House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers asked Brennan.

Brennan said: “There are camps inside of both Iraq and Syria that are used by al Qaida to develop capabilities that are applicable both in the theater as well as beyond.”

Chairman Rogers asked: “Do you believe that that ungoverned space presents a real threat to the United States of America, via al Qaida operations, or the West?”

“I do,” said Brennan.

Obama had announced on Oct. 21, 2011, that all U.S. troops would in fact leave Iraq by the end of that year. The next day, the New York Times ran a story headlined: “Despite Difficult Talks, U.S. and Iraq Had Expected Some American Troops to Stay.” The top of that story said:

“President Obama’s announcement on Friday that all American troops would leave Iraq by the end of the year was an occasion for celebration for many, but some top American military officials were dismayed by the announcement, seeing it as the president’s putting the best face on a breakdown in tortured negotiations with the Iraqis. And for the negotiators who labored all year to avoid that outcome, it represented the triumph of politics over the reality of Iraq’s fragile security’s requiring some troops to stay, a fact everyone had assumed would prevail.”

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Former Border Patrol Agents Claim Current Flood Of Illegal Alien Children Orchestrated By Obama Regime

Ex-Border Agents: Immigrant Flood ‘Orchestrated’ – WorldNetDaily

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An organization of former Border Patrol agents Wednesday charged that the federal government, under the administration of President Obama, is deliberately arranging for a flood of immigrant children to arrive in America for political purposes.

“This is not a humanitarian crisis. It is a predictable, orchestrated and contrived assault on the compassionate side of Americans by her political leaders that knowingly puts minor illegal alien children at risk for purely political purposes,” said the statement released by the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers.

“Certainly, we are not gullible enough to believe that thousands of unaccompanied minor Central American children came to America without the encouragement, aid and assistance of the United States government,” the officers said.

“Anyone that has taken two six- to seven-year-old children to an amusement park can only imagine the problems associated with bringing thousands of unaccompanied children that age up through Mexico and into the United States.”

Republicans are blaming Obama’s immigration policies for enticing the illegals, particularly the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program launched in 2012, which recently was renewed.

More than 33,000 have been caught in Texas alone over the last eight months, the report said, overwhelming Border Patrol capabilities.

A federal judge even concluded the White House “has simply chosen not to enforce… border security laws.”

FoxNews.com reported this week Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer calls the situation a “creation” of the federal government, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., assigned blame for the “calamity” to Obama.

Fox News reported it had obtained a memo from an official with Customs and Border Protection who said the current policies are serving as an incentive for illegal aliens to sneak into the U.S.

“If the U.S. government fails to deliver adequate consequences to deter aliens from attempting to illegally enter the U.S., the result will be an even greater increase in the rate of recidivism and first-time illicit entries,” said Ronald Vitiello, a deputy Border Patrol chief.

Officials say among Obama’s policies that are attracting illegals is his instructions for “deferred action” for young illegals. Recently, the federal government said it was hunting for lawyers to provide legal help to children who are in the U.S. illegally.

The White House is asking for $1.4 billion more for the illegal-alien children, which by some estimates will grow to 150,000 next year.

The former Border Patrol agents said the campaign is a “political deception,” and the responsibility rests with the political leaders who support “a path to citizenship, regularization or any other form of amnesty for illegal aliens before providing for full protections for national security (jobs and economy) and public safety (the right of the people to be secure in their property and person).”

The officers argue that the non-enforcement of immigration laws is “the next step in becoming a failed state.”

“Yes, our leaders are guilty. However, we are responsible because it is the American voter [who] has placed untrustworthy people in positions of power and kept them there when they have clearly demonstrated that they have violated that public trust.

“These successful con artists are well dressed, attractive and charming,” the statement said.

The officers even questioned whether “this heartless criminal exploitation of Central American infants and children [will] finally awaken Americans to the ruse being foisted upon them by their government, the media and other interested parties.”

“Has America lost her ability to stand up against the tyrants and do what is right rather than what is easy? Obviously, this administration thinks you are as corrupt as they are and will vote them back into office or these young children would not be streaming into America to tug at your hearts and empty your heads of reason,” the statement said.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest this week said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is leading an effort to respond to the illegal alien children arriving in the U.S. He said many are “escaping abuse or persecution” and are being sent to locations in Texas and Oklahoma.

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Senator Vitter: Hitlery’s State Department Broke Law, Lied About Boko Haram Terror Threat

Senator: Clinton State Dept. Broke Law, Lied About Boko Haram Terror Threat – Washington Free Beacon

A leading senator has charged that Hillary Clinton’s State Department broke the law by intentionally obfuscating and downplaying to Congress the terror threat posed by the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram, which recently gained international infamy for violently kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls.

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Sen. David Vitter (R., La.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, petitioned Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday to explain why Clinton’s State Department misrepresented and downplayed key information about Boko Haram’s terrorist activities in its annual reports to Congress.

Former Secretary of State Clinton lied to Congress when she said that the State Department lacked the necessary information to designate Boko Haram as a terror group, according to Vitter’s letter, which presents new information about the State Department’s purported efforts to downplay the terror group’s impact.

Clinton’s State Department fought against efforts to designate Boko Haram for nearly two years, a move that likely limited U.S. efforts to confront the group earlier and allowed it to grow in strength.

Vitter charges that officials working under Clinton intentionally manipulated words and mislead Congress in its annual reports to create the impression that Boko Haram posed little to no threat.

Clinton’s State Department “repeatedly stated in the year leading up to the designation that it did not have data available or the necessary understanding to make the determination,” Vitter wrote to Kerry, according to a copy of unreleased letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

However, “recent evidence suggests Secretary Hillary Clinton and the State Departments not only knew of the extent, but also deliberately attempted to obfuscate the issue in order to avoid having to make the designation of Boko Haram as a [Foreign Terrorist Organization], including downplaying the State Department’s own Country Reports on Terrorism (CRT),” Vitter writes.

“Inaccuracies within official documents make it clear that the State Department misled Congress and the American people,” the letter states. “Evidence suggests that there was an internal decision by the Office of Coordinator for Counterterrorism to downplay official, legally required, intelligence data in order to purposefully avoid making the determination.”

Vitter demands in a series of questions that Kerry provide answers as to why the State Department “ignored data and misrepresented its legal requirements to Congress.”

U.S. law stipulates that the State Department provides Congress with “statistical information supported by data” in its annual reports on terrorist activities in foreign countries.

Officials in Clinton’s State Department failed to uphold this mandate, Vitter charges, citing evidence that reports of Boko Haram’s activity by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) were intentionally ignored.

The NCTC in 2011 “provided the State Department with the statistical information necessary to determine that Boko Haram was engaged in terrorist activity,” Vitter writes. “However, in completing the official annual CRT provided to Congress” at that time “the State Department chose not to include this information.”

New evidence suggests that NCTC information about Boko Haram’s terrorist activities was intentionally left out of the State Department’s reports to Congress, a move that effectively left lawmakers in the dark about the extremist group’s growing influence.

“In multiple cases, where the NCTC clearly labeled and claimed that Boko Haram was engaged in terrorist activity against foreign nations, Secretary Clinton’s office in their own report minimized the attack and separated the issue from Boko Haram,” according to Vitter’s letter.

A 2012 NCTC report, for instance, stated that Africa experienced 978 attacks in 2011, representing an 11.5 percent increase from 2010 levels.

This uptick was attributed “in large part to the more aggressive attack tempo of the Nigeria-based terrorist group Boko Haram,” according to a portion of the NCTC report included in Vitter’s letter.

The NCTC further reported in that year that Boko Haram had conducted a terror attack against Western targets, accounting for “the largest terrorist attack in the country to date,” according to the report.

Yet Clinton’s State Department deemphasized this data and “only chose to include loose evidence” in its own terrorism report to Congress, Vitter states.

“The conflict in Nigeria continued throughout the northern part of the country with hundreds of casualties as indigenous terrorist attacks increased,” the State Department wrote in its report to Congress at the time. “The Nigerian extremist group, Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for some of these attacks.”

Vitter says that this phrasing is proof of the State Department’s bid to create the impression that Boko Haram was a minimal threat.

“It appears that this variation in wording fails to meet the legal requirements based on information it received, and inserts a higher degree of doubt about whether Boko Haram is directly engaged in terrorist activity,” Vitter writes.

The State Department report issued under Clinton “ignores the NCTC labeling Boko Haram as a ‘terrorist group,’ instead suggesting that there may be a loose connection,” Vitter further adds.

“These facts are troubling considering multiple official reports between 2010 and 2012, including the Global Terrorism Database, concluded that Boko Haram was improving their capability to coordinate on an operational level with al Qaeda affiliates, including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Shabaab.”

Boko Haram has a long history of terrorism, having detonated a car bomb at a United Nations headquarters in Abuja, an attack that killed 23 and injured 81 others.

The State Department’s own reports from 2009 to 2013 further demonstrate that Boko Haram “steadily increased in deadliness and its connectivity to terrorist organizations,” according to Vitter’s letter.

Boko Haram has even gone on to top al-Shabaab and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula as the leading regional terrorist group, having killed nearly 4,000 people from 2009 to 2013.

Independent terrorism analysts have determined that Boko Haram and al Qaeda have been linked for more than a decade, and that the extremist group has ties to a least six al Qaeda affiliates, according to a recent report by the Henry Jackson Society (HJS).

There is also evidence that Boko Haram has taken direct orders from al Qaeda, according to HJS.

Yet the annual report to Congress “goes out of its way to downplay the effectiveness or lethality of the group.” Boko Haram’s connections to al Qeada were clear to U.S. authorities from at least 2010 on, according to information from the NCTC.

Following Boko Haram’s successful and deadly attack on the U.N. – an incident the NCTC dubbed “the largest terrorist attack in the country to date – Clinton’s State Department “largely dismissed the events and that data, claiming” in its report to Congress that “no terrorist attacks occurred in the Southern states of Nigeria.”

Independent terrorism analyst Olivier Guitta, research director for HJS, warned in a recent statement that “the international community has been underestimating Boko Haram, even though it is in the top 3 of the bloodiest terrorist groups in the world.”

Vitter is seeking answers as to why the State Department “manipulated words” and misled Congress.

“The State Department’s documents may have failed to explicitly label Boko Haram as a terrorist organization, in almost complete disregard of specific [National Counterterrorism Center] data, but my concern goes deeper to address the internal decision to manipulate words and mislead Congress,” he states in the letter to Kerry.

“The evidence suggests that the office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism may have intentionally exploited the statistical information provided to them by law in an attempt to neglect Boko Haram’s terrorist activity,” he adds.

Vitter has given Kerry until July 10 to respond to his queries about the issue.

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Embarrassingly Ignorant Public High School Prom Slogan: “This Is Are Story”

Chicago Public School’s Prom Slogan: “This Is Are Story” – Downtrend

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The Chicago Public School system is pretty bad. Students are not learning – not by a long shot.

Forty percent of freshmen in the school system do not go on to graduate and more than nine out of ten need remedial courses in college because they don’t know basic high school math and English. Only one-quarter of graduates are ready for college.

But those are just numbers. It’s quite another thing entirely when this lack of education smacks you right in the face.

The picture above, sadly, is not a joke. It’s the card for this year’s prom, with the theme: “This Is Are Story.”

Paul Robeson High School is on Chicago’s south side – a poor and dangerous part of town and one of the not-so-shining stars of the city’s massive public school system.

Who is to blame for this? Parents certainly, but most of them are stuck with these shoddy schools. Teachers there don’t seem to care. Their average salary is $76,000. They just received a 17 percent raise. The median annual income in Englewood, where Robeson High School is located, is about $12,255 per person. The unemployment rate is 23.6 percent.

What future do these children have when the public school system fails them so miserably? Who will stand up for them in a bureaucracy where teachers get massive raises while they graduate children who are unprepared for anything except manual labor?

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California Judge Rules Against Smarmy, Leftist Teacher’s Unions

California Judge Rules Against Teacher’s Unions And His Perspective Is Incredibly Refreshing – Independent Journal Review

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A California judge ruled today that current tenure statutes for teachers deprive students of their right to an education due to evidence so compelling that “it shocks the conscience.” This ruling will be submitted for further appellate review.

Furthermore, he specifically stated that judges should focus solely on the law when making a decision, and ignore politics and personal opinion. How wonderfully adroit.

That this Court’s decision will and should result in political discourse is beyond question, but such consequence cannot and does not detract from its obligation to consider only the evidence and law in making its decision.

At issue in the lawsuit, filed by nine public school students, are statutes of the CA Education Code that violate the state’s constitution by resulting in “grossly ineffective teachers obtaining and retaining permanent employment.”

In other words, the functional impossibility of firing “grossly ineffective” teachers and the resultant letting-go of “competent” ones, especially in low-performing schools, kept kids from getting the quality of education to which they are entitled.

The lawsuit was vigorously opposed by the California teachers’ unions. Which is a shocking revelation in-and-of-itself, to be sure. The head of the L.A. teachers union said this in response:

This decision today is an attack on teachers, which is a socially acceptable way to attack children. You attack teacher and student rights.

So, a clear statement that children are being substantially harmed by current rules, is actually an attack against those very children? One wonders what planet teachers’ union leaders originate from and how reality is perceived of on that sad, alien world. Because it’s certainly different down here on earth.

The particular items at issue:

1. Permanent Employment Statute – 2 years is not sufficient time to establish sufficient competence. Most states have 3 to 5 year periods and 4 states have no tenure system at all.

2. Dismissal Statutes – it is almost impossible to fire “grossly ineffective” teachers once they’ve received tenure, so most districts do not even try.

3. Last-In, First Out – the newest teachers get let go first, regardless of gifting or performance.

The sixteen pages of the decision, with its unyielding indictment of the current tenure rules on every page, is stunning in its evisceration of the status quo. No wonder the unions are outraged. The status quo is them.

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