Corruption Update: Obama State Department Won’t Say How Missing Records For $6B Were Stored

State Department Won’t Say How Missing Records For $6 Billion Were Stored – American Thinker

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A spokesperson for the State Department refuses to say if any missing contract files from March 2008 – March 2014 were stored electronically.

The American Thinker began covering the case of the missing records for $6 billion on April 5, 2014, soon after the State Department’s Office of Inspector General released two unclassified memos dated March 20, 2014.

Several news media outlets also covered the missing State Department records in early April, but, to date, there’s been little, if any, follow-up to the story. In short, it’s off the mainstream media radar.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

The fact that Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State for four of the six years covered by the missing files may explain the reluctance of the State Department to answer simple, factual inquiries about the missing records.

On September 14, 2014, the American Thinker followed-up its April 2014 story noting this quote from a Department of State spokesperson who asked to remain anonymous:

“At this time, the Department continues to work on the issues raised by the OIG in its audit and to improve its file management. We are in regular communication with the OIG [Office of Inspector General] to update them on our progress.”

Does “work on the issues” mean trying to locate the missing records? Or just cleaning up the accounting processes per. the OIG’s recommendations?

Below is a subsequent email thread, in sequence from September 16-22, which involved the anonymous spokesperson as well as three officials in the OIG (Office of the Inspector General). Names and email addresses are deleted.

From: Lee Cary
Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 2:25 PM
To: Spokesperson, Department of State
Cc: OIC Official #1 @state.gov; OIC Official #2 @state.gov; OIC Official#3 @state.gov
Subject: Media Query 9/16/14

Spokesperson’s name deleted,

Press Officer & Spokesperson

United States Department of State

202.____-____

Re. “Specifically, over the past 6 years, OIG has identified Department of State (Department) contracts with a total value of more than $6 billion in which contract files were incomplete or could not be located at all.” (Statement in first paragraph of March 20, 2014 document, “Management Alert Contract File Management Deficiencies”)

Name deleted,

I hope this finds you well.

Two questions:

1. Do the incomplete and/or missing files represent paper and/or electronic documents?

2. If one or more of the incomplete or missing files are electronic files, are the electronic back-ups of the original documents equally incomplete and/or missing?

Thank you.

Lee Cary

Writer for the American Thinker website

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From: Spokesperson, Department of State

Sent: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 1:29 PM

To: Lee Cary

Subject: RE: Media Query 9/16/14

Lee – I’ll see what I have for you, Name deleted

This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

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From: Lee Cary
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2014 10:45 AM
To: State Department spokesperson
Subject: Re: Media Query 9/16/14

Thank you, name deleted. Standing by,

Lee

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From: State Department Spokesperson

Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2014 4:36 PM

To: Lee Cary

Subject: RE: Media Query 9/16/14

This is to be attributed on background from a State Department official:

(1) Reports that there is $6 billion that can’t be accounted for are grossly inaccurate. The OIG’s March 2014 management alert noted that there were a number of incomplete files for our contracts, and those contracts’ cumulative value is $6 billion. As highlighted in our response to the OIG, this is an issue of which the Department is aware and IS taking steps to remedy. It is a paperwork issue, not an accounting issue.

Thanks, Name deleted.

This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

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From: Lee Cary
Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 3:51 PM
TO: State Department Spokesperson

Cc: Official #1 @state.gov; OIC Official #2 @state.gov; OIC Official#3 @state.gov; Lee Cary

Subject: Re: Media Query 9/16/14

Name deleted – Thank you for your response. It will, as before, be “attributed on background… etc.” when quoted.

The $6 billion was mentioned in the OIG’s March 20, 2014 memo as: “contracts with a total value of more than $6 billion in which contract files were incomplete or could not be located at all.”

I do not infer from the OIG’s memo that 6 billion dollars are missing, but, clearly, some degree of accounting for monies is missing, per. the OIG memo.

So…

Q.1. In general terms, what is the content of the missing information that is absent partially, and in some cases totally, from the subject contract files?

I don’t understand your response re. “paperwork issue” and “accounting issue.” On its face, the language (paperwork) designates the means of information storage/conveyance, while “accounting” logically pertains to the general content of the subject content – as in an accumulation of numbers. Numbers on paper would mean both the means of information and its general content.

Q.2. With respect, I repeat and expand my previous query: Are there any missing electronic files, in part or in full? If so, how many “contract files” are totally missing, and what is the approximate, total expenditures involved in those electronic files that are totally missing?

Name deleted, if you are unable to answer my queries, please forwarding me to someone who can/will do so.

Thanks, Lee Cary

Writer for the American Thinker website

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From: Lee Cary

Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 1:26 PM
To: OIG Official #1 @state.gov
Cc: AT editor
Subject: Fw: Media Query 9/16/14

Name deleted,

The questions below are simple [previous email was attached], direct and, it would seem, merely a matter of fact.

So why am I having so much trouble getting a straight answer from the Department of State spokesperson?

Can you enlighten me, sir.

Lee Cary

Writer for American Thinker website

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From: OIG Official #1

Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 12:34 PM

To: Lee Cary

Subject: RE: Media Query 9/16/14

Lee:

If you feel the response doesn’t answer your question, you may want to elevate your inquiry over at the Department to the senior press officer or director.

The main number for Press relations is 202-647-2492 (PAPress2@state.gov).

Name deleted

Signature block deleted

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From: Lee Cary
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 1:54 PM
To: PAPress@state.gov
Cc: OIG Official #1
Subject: Fw: Media Query 9/16/14

Senior Press Officer or Director (see referral below):

I am having no success getting responses to what are two simple and, I believe, clear factual questions that don’t require detailed, confidential information.

Perhaps someone there can help me.

The context for these questions is below:

Q.1. In general terms, what is the content of the missing information that is absent partially, and in some cases totally, from the subject contract files?

Q.2. With respect, I repeat and expand my previous query: Are there any missing electronic files, in part or in full? If so, how many “contract files” are totally missing, and what is the approximate, total expenditures involved in those electronic files that are totally missing?

Thank you.

Lee Cary

Writer for the American Thinker website

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Note: A query to the PAPress2@state.gov yielded only the following response.

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From: State Department Spokesperson

Sent: Monday, September 22, 2014 1:08 PM

To: Lee Cary

Cc: OIG Official #1

Subject: RE: Media Query 9/16/14

Hi Lee – This is not for attribution and please do not print my name:

I have responded to your requests, and we have nothing further for you from the press office. You are welcome to FOIA the State Department for the information you seek. The FOIA process is laid out here: http://foia.state.gov, as it is an office separate from the press office and OIG.

Hope this is helpful and take care,

Name deleted,

This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

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The failure of a government agency to answer questions is not an admission of guilt, nor necessarily evidence of any malfeasance or violation of any law(s).

But it is curious when the information requested and denied is, on its face, a matter of a simple, physical fact.

So why the unwillingness to identify the missing contract files as having been stored in part, or in total, electronically?

It raises this question: Is this now the fourth instance of significant electronically stored information having conveniently gone missing inside a major government agency? (1) The Department of Justice’s Fast & Furious operation. (2) The IRS scandal. (3) The Department of State’s Benghazi episode. And now this: (4) “contract files” representing $6,000,000,000 of Department of State expenditures are missing in part, or are completely missing.

The clear emphasis in the Office of Inspector General’s memos (linked above) is on the Department of State’s need to improve its accounting procedures. Is there even an effort underway to track and retrieve the missing information concerning $6 billion of expenditures?

Who is in charge of that effort, if it exists?

Are we to believe that there were/are no back-up copies of the missing contract files?

How far has the searched progressed, if there even is a search underway?

What did those expenditures buy?

And just what did happen to the documentation that’s missing? Any clues after six months?

Sandy Berger probably didn’t stuff paper files or hard drives into his socks and walk out of Foggy Bottom with the missing files.

This story does not deserve to die, but it’s headed in that direction.

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Obama Regime Forcing Gun Buyers To Declare Race, Ethnicity On ATF Form

Obama Administration Forcing New Gun Buyers To Declare Race, Ethnicity – Washington Times

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The Obama administration quietly has been forcing new gun buyers to declare their race and ethnicity, a policy change that critics say provides little law enforcement value while creating the risk of privacy intrusions and racial profiling.

With little fanfare, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2012 amended its Form 4473 – the transactional record the government requires gun purchasers and sellers to fill out when buying a firearm – to identify buyers as either Hispanic, Latino or not. Then a buyer must check his or her race: Indian, Asian, black, Pacific Islander or white.

The amendment is causing a headache for gun retailers, as each box needs to be checked off or else it’s an ATF violation – severe enough for the government to shut a business down. Many times people skip over the Hispanic/Latino box and only check their race, or vice versa – both of which are federal errors that can be held against the dealer.

Requiring the race and ethnic information of gun buyers is not required by federal law and provides little law enforcement value, legal experts say. And gun industry officials worry about how the information is being used and whether it constitutes an unnecessary intrusion on privacy.

“This issue concerns me deeply because, first, it’s offensive, and, secondly, there’s no need for it,” said Evan Nappen, a private practice firearms lawyer in New Jersey. “If there’s no need for an amendment, then there’s usually a political reason for the change. What this indicates is it was done for political reasons, not law enforcement reasons.”

ATF said the change came about because it needed to update its forms to comply with an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reporting standard put into effect during the Clinton administration. The ATF declined to comment on why race and ethnicity information are needed in the first place or what they are used for. On its prior 4473 forms, the bureau had been collecting race data.

“OMB’s race and ethnicity standards require agencies to ask both race and ethnicity in a specific manner (as done on [Form 4473]), and agencies may not ask for one without asking for the other,” wrote Elizabeth Gosselin, a spokeswoman for the ATF, in an emailed response to The Washington Times. She did not say why the agency suddenly made the change in response to a rule that was more than a decade old.

For ATF to ask for a purchaser’s race and ethnicity is not specifically authorized under federal statute, and since a government-issued photo ID – like a driver’s license – and a background check are already required by law to purchase a gun, the ethnicity/race boxes aren’t there for identification reasons, Mr. Nappen said.

“There is nothing [in ATF or OMB’s website links addressing the change in policy] that supports the requirement that ATF collect race-based information. The OMB guidance merely describes what categories of race should look like if information is collected,” Laura Murphy, the American Civil Liberties Union director for legislative affairs in Washington, said in an emailed statement.

In addition, Mrs. Murphy notes, the OMB guidance was supposed to be implemented by 2003; there’s no information given why ATF decided to make this change almost a decade later, she said.

“If there is a civil rights enforcement reason for the ATF to collect this data, I have not heard that explanation from ATF or any other federal agency,” said Mrs. Murphy.

Both the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza – the nation’s largest national Hispanic civil rights group – declined comment.

Access to the form

The 4473 form is supposed to be kept in a gun retailer’s possession at all times — allowing ATF agents to inspect the form only during the course of a criminal investigation or during a random audit of the dealer. The form is to be kept out of the hands of the government, hence the distinction between “sales/transaction form” and “registration form.” But that isn’t always the case, gun rights advocates say.

“We’ve been contacted by several dealers saying ATF is or has been making wholesale copies of their 4473 forms, and it’s just not legal,” said Erich Pratt, spokesman for Gun Owners of America, a gun advocacy group. “If this is what they’re doing somewhat out in the open, what’s going on behind closed doors? Are these names and demographic information getting phoned [in and] punched into a government computer? Do they ever come out?”

During the time ATF revised its 4473 form to include Hispanic or Latino as an ethnicity, the Obama administration was building gun control cases by saying U.S. firearms dealers were supplying Mexican gangs with weapons and that violence related to the sales was seeping across the border.

In March 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Mexico City and gave a speech against American gun stores and owners – blaming them for the drug cartels’ violence. Mrs. Clinton subsequently told CBS News that “90 percent” of the “guns that are used by the drug cartels against the police and military” actually “come from America.”

About a week later, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. made the same points at a gun trafficking conference outside of Mexico City. In April, the president himself flew down to Mexico to inform President Felipe Calderon that Mr. Holder was going to review U.S. law enforcement operations, according to a 2011 report by the American Thinker.

This political worldview may have fueled decision-making at ATF, Mr. Nappen suggests. Around the same time that ATF started specifying “Latino/Hispanic” on their U.S. purchasing forms, they also required border firearms dealers in Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico to start reporting multiple rifle sales.

In 2012, when ATF made the Form 4473 modification, they insisted their new reporting requirement for multiple rifle sales in those border states had led to “follow-up investigations involving transactions that might indicate firearms trafficking activities.”

“Was it coincidental [that] about the time the form changed the requirements came in that border states had to report multiple rifle sales, and there was a push in the antigun movement to claim American guns were arming Mexican cartels south of the border?” asked Mr. Nappen.

Although gun advocates speculate on the reasoning behind changing the form, on one thing they are clear: Requiring ethnicity and race to purchase a gun is a clear government overstep, violating Second Amendment rights.

“It’s an overreach, not authorized by Congress, taken upon [by ATF] unilaterally,” said Mr. Pratt. “The president has said his biggest frustration has been not getting gun control enacted – but we can see he’s been very active with his phone and his pen. And this certainly – either intentionally or unintentionally – feeds that notion.”

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*VIDEO* Ted Cruz Battles Leftists On Senate Floor Over Obama’s Illegal Amnesty Scheme



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

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Obama’s Speech Strategy: Open With Your Biggest Lie (Stu Tarlowe)

Obama’s Speech Strategy: Open With Your Biggest Lie – Stu Tarlowe

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Over the past several weeks, there’s been a plethora of discussion over Obama’s “strategy” vis-à-vis ISIS (aka ISIL), whether he actually had a strategy and, if so, what it might be.

Well, he certainly had a strategy for the speech he gave last night. Like an entertainer who opens his act with his biggest number, Obama’s strategy was to open his speech with the most blatant, brazen, bald-faced lie imaginable.

It had me livid within the first few minutes of his speech, when he had the colossal gall to state, “First of all, ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents.”

Really?” I found myself yelling at the radio. “What other planet are you on? What other universe or dimension do you inhabit? Have you ever read the ‘most holy Koran’?”

Please! Enough of this “religion of peace” malarkey already!

(This is a drastically cleaned-up version of what I found myself yelling at the radio; I found myself using a great number of intensifying gerunds as my blood pressure soared sky-high.)

It is precisely the fact that the Koran not only condones the killing of innocents but encourages it, Nay, demands it, that distinguishes Islam from all the other religions of the world, and reveals it as something other than a religion; it exposes Islam as a socio-political construct masquerading as a religion.

Surah 9:29 of the Koran, for instance:

“Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.”

As the Investigative Project on Terrorism points out, ISIS is devoutly following this Koranic injunction:

Christians have become subject to the jizyah, or poll tax, since IS seized Raqqa in Syria earlier this year and Mosul in Iraq earlier this summer. Those subject to the jizyah face death if they refuse to pay or convert to Islam. IS similarly cited the Islamic law book known as “Reliance of the Traveler” to justify killing Yazidis and requiring them to convert to its brand of Islam to be spared.

Even the phrase “the killing of innocents” doesn’t adequately reflect the mindset of Islam’s “holy book”. Islam’s quest for world domination by force is driven by the wholesale slaughter of innocents. It informs its adherents that Allah smiles on the wholesale slaughter of innocents, and that the more innocents sent to their doom, the more favor Muslims will curry with their “god”.

Of course, by Islamic “logic”, there are no “innocents”; they are all guilty, guilty of being “infidels”, and they are worthy only of conversion, enslavement, dhimmitude or death, with death being the preferred outcome (and usually delivered in the most violent, barbaric, bloodthirsty, gory, inhuman and diabolical means imaginable).

The fact that fellow Muslims are enslaved, mutilated and slain with the very same demonic glee proves nothing; even those slain (presumably for not being “Muslim enough”) held in their heart of hearts the same view of “the infidel”.

This is the very core of Islam; not “radical Islam”, not “fundamentalist Islam”, but Islam per se. It’s not a “perversion” of Islam; it’s not Islam that has been “hijacked”; it is intrinsic to Islam, and always has been.

Anyone who says otherwise is simply not paying attention, is willfully turning a blind eye to the obvious, or is complicit in furthering Islam’s murderous agenda. It certainly indicates a total ignorance of Islam’s history, which chronicles Islam’s mission of world domination by force that has been an integral part of this so-called “religion” since its very inception.

It really didn’t matter to me what other lies Obama perpetrated in the remainder of his speech (I’ll leave it to others to deconstruct and expose his other falsehoods, like his doubletalk about Syria); I might have even said to myself, “At this point, what difference does it make?

Obama must have figured (and perhaps rightly so, given the already dumbed-down state of so much of the American populace, thanks in part to a half-century of relentless propaganda and undermining of the educational system) that if the people would swallow that first shameless, unabashed lie, they’d swallow anything. Sadly, and tragically for our once-great nation, I fear that he was right.

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Related video:

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House “Condemns” Obama For Breaking Law In Bergdhal Deal, But Doesn’t Actually Do Anything To Him

Here’s How The House Just Condemned Obama – Western Journalism

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On Tuesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to condemn President Obama for violating federal law after Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was exchanged for five Taliban leaders held at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The lower chamber voted Tuesday 249-163 to pass HR 644, the title of which reads:

“Condemning the Obama administration’s failure to comply with the lawful statutory requirement to notify Congress before releasing individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and expressing national security concerns over the release of five Taliban leaders and the repercussions of negotiating with terrorists.”

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel testified before the House Armed Services Committee in June that negotiations to transfer five Taliban detainees had been ongoing for months.

In August, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report detailing how the Department of Defense violated the Fiscal Year 2014 Defense Appropriations Act by not reporting to Congress the Bergdahl/Taliban plan.

The resolution was introduced by Republicans Scott Rigell of Virginia and Reid Ribble of Wisconsin, and Democrats John Barrow of Georgia and Nick Rahall of West Virginia. Both Democrats are in competitive re-election campaigns.

Rigell condemned the Obama administration in a press release shortly after the vote, saying “The President ignored the law by failing to notify Congress of this serious decision.”

The thirty day notification requirement is not a perfunctory administrative action; it is not like breaking a lease with your landlord. The law exists to provide Congress time to consider serious national security decisions such as releasing terrorists like the Taliban five.

Barrow added in a press release of his own, “This transfer poses a major national security risk, and it complicates our efforts to combat terrorism worldwide. The President cannot treat congress as an afterthought or adversary, particularly with decisions impacting our national security and especially since, in this case, Congress could have helped the President get this decision right.”

As a resolution, it does not have the force of law and will not be considered in the Senate.

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Obama Lie Number 32,778

Boom! Politifact Catches Obama In A Lie In Yesterday’s Meet The Press Interview – Right Scoop

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Yesterday on Meet the Press, Obama told Chuck Todd that he was not specifically referring to ISIL in his infamous JV quote from the New Yorker in January:

TODD: “Long way, long way from when you described them as a JV team. Was that bad intelligence or your misjudgment?”

OBAMA: “Keep in mind I wasn’t specifically referring to ISIL. I’ve said that, regionally, there were a whole series of organizations that were focused primarily locally, weren’t focused on homeland, because I think a lot of us, when we think about terrorism, the model is Osama bin Laden and 9/11.”

But Politifact disagreed and gave the above statement by Obama a big fat LIE after contacting the author of the New Yorker piece in which the quote was originally published:

Critics have maligned Obama’s “JV” remark in recent weeks as the Islamic State continues to wreak havoc throughout Syria and Iraq. The origin of the comment is a New Yorker profile of Obama by editor David Remnick. The New Yorker published Remnick’s profile on Jan. 27, 2014. In it, he wrote, “In the 2012 campaign, Obama spoke not only of killing Osama bin Laden; he also said that Al Qaeda had been ‘decimated.’ I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Fallujah, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.”

Obama responded: “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” (For the nonsports fan, JV stands for junior varsity, and it usually means a high school or college’s secondary team.)

Remnick confirmed to PolitiFact that the interview took place on Jan. 7 and he was referencing a specific event that had happened just days before: the overtaking of the Iraq city of Fallujah on Jan. 3.

Al Jazeera America reported on Jan. 4: “On Friday, ISIL gunmen sought to win over the population in Fallujah, one of the cities they swept into on Wednesday. A commander appeared among worshippers holding Friday prayers in the main city street, proclaiming that his fighters were there to defend Sunnis from the government, one resident said.

Officials within the Iraqi government told the “Agence France-Presse that ISIL, the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, remained in control of parts of the two cities on Thursday,” according to NBC.

So when Remnick referenced an al Qaeda group taking over Fallujah, it’s clear whom he was talking about.

Obama said his JV comment “wasn’t specifically referring to ISIL.” He was not specifically asked about Islamic State, but it’s pretty clear this is the group that was being referenced in the conversation. The transcript backs this up, as do news events from the time of the discussion.

We rate the statement False.

And there it is. A big fat lie.

So first he blames bad intelligence and when that doesn’t work, he claims he was talking about something else.

Classic Obama.

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Ruskies Practicing Cruise Missile Strikes Against U.S. – Obama Continues To Golf

Russian Strategic Bombers Near Canada Practice Cruise Missile Strikes On U.S. – Washington Free Beacon

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Two Russian strategic bombers conducted practice cruise missile attacks on the United States during a training mission last week that defense officials say appeared timed to the NATO summit in Wales.

The Russian Tu-95 Bear bombers were tracked flying a route across the northern Atlantic near Iceland, Greenland, and Canada’s northeast.

Analysis of the flight indicated the aircraft were conducting practice runs to a pre-determined “launch box” – an optimum point for firing nuclear-armed cruise missiles at U.S. targets, said defense officials familiar with intelligence reports.

Disclosure of the nuclear bombing practice comes as a Russian general last week called for Moscow to change its doctrine to include preemptive nuclear strikes on the United States and NATO.

Gen. Yuri Yakubov, a senior Defense Ministry official, was quoted by the state-run Interfax news agency as saying that Russia’s 2010 military doctrine should be revised to identify the United States and the NATO alliance as enemies, and clearly outline the conditions for a preemptive nuclear strike against them.

Yakubov said among other needed doctrinal changes, “it is necessary to hash out the conditions under which Russia could carry out a preemptive strike with the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces” – Moscow’s nuclear forces.

The practice bombing runs are the latest in a series of incidents involving threatening Russian bomber flights near the United States. Analysts say the bomber flights are nuclear saber-rattling by Moscow as a result of heightened tensions over the crisis in Ukraine.

A spokesman for the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command declined to comment on the bomber flights in the North Atlantic.

No U.S. or Canadian fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the Bear-H bombers since the aircraft stayed outside the North American Air Defense Identification Zone.

Additional details of the incident that took place over the Labrador Sea, the stretch of the Atlantic between Greenland and Canada’s Labrador Peninsula, could not be learned.

However, officials said it took place during the NATO summit in Wales that was held Thursday and Friday.

The summit statement criticized “Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine [which] have fundamentally challenged our vision of a Europe whole, free, and at peace.”

In response to Russia’s actions, the alliance agreed to create a new Very High Readiness Joint Task Force in Eastern Europe that can deploy military forces in days.

“If required, they will also facilitate reinforcement of allies located at NATO’s periphery for deterrence and collective defense,” the NATO statement said.

U.S. Army troops will lead an international military exercise inside western Ukraine later this month. The exercises, known as “Rapid Trident 2014,” will begin Sept. 15 and include troops from several NATO and NATO-partner states, including Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Britain, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, and the United States.

Russian nuclear forces will conduct a large-scale exercise in mid-September, state news agencies reported.

The Tu-95 is a nuclear-capable bomber that is outfitted with six AS-15 nuclear-armed cruise missiles. The missiles have a range of over 1,800 miles.

Google Earth analysis reveals that a Tu-95 launch box located in the Labrador Sea and firing AS-15 missiles would be in range of Ottawa, New York, Washington, and Chicago, and could reach as far south as the Norfolk Naval base.

However, air-launched cruise missiles fired from that location and outside the air defense identification zone would be unable to reach Kings Bay, Georgia – the homeport for U.S. ballistic missile submarines and a key strategic nuclear target.

Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon strategic policymaker and currently senior analyst at the National Institute for Public Policy, said Russian leaders frequently issue public nuclear threats because they regard their nuclear arsenal as the main element of their great power status.

“Putin began what he called bomber ‘combat patrols’ in 2007 and they continue,” Schneider said. “They are designed to intimidate as well as practice nuclear bomber attacks.”

Schneider said that since the Ukraine crisis triggered by Moscow’s military annexation of Crimea, “there have been substantial numbers of all types of standard Russian nuclear threats.”

He said the threats have included nuclear exercises, bomber flights, and public statements, including Putin’s suggestion that NATO ‘not mess with us’ because Moscow remains a nuclear power.

Northern Command has confirmed that Russian strategic bomber flights increased sharply over the past six months.

Last month, at least 16 bomber incursions by the Russians took place within the northwestern U.S. and Canadian air defense zones over a period 10 days. It was the largest number of incursions since the end of the Cold War. U.S. fighter jets intercepted the Russian aircraft and followed them until they excited the defense zone.

In June, Russian bombers flew over the arctic prompting intercepts by Canadian fighters on two occasions. The Canadian government called the stepped up bomber flights a “strategic message” from Moscow amid heightened tensions.

And on June 20, the Russian Defense Ministry announced the test launch of six AS-15 missiles from a Bear bomber during military exercises.

That same month, on June 9, two Russian Bear bombers flew within 50 miles of the California coast in the closest strategic bomber flights near a U.S. coast since the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

Admiral Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, which is in charge of nuclear forces, said last month that he is concerned both by large-scale Russian nuclear exercises and by increased bomber flights near the United States.

“Clearly, we at the U.S. Strategic Command do monitor the strategic environment,” Haney said noting large-scale nuclear exercises during the Ukraine crisis.

“Any nation state has the right to train,” he added. “It’s just interesting how that information [on nuclear forces exercises] is readily available on YouTube. Clearly, the actions associated with Ukraine are problematic.”

On long-range strategic aircraft flights, Haney said: “I will say that the business of them coming close to the United States of America, we take very seriously.”

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