Some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal have privately concluded that a key sanctions relief provision – a concession to Iran that will open the doors to tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with the Islamic regime – conflicts with existing federal statutes and cannot be implemented without violating those laws, Fox News has learned.
At issue is a passage tucked away in ancillary paperwork attached to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known. Specifically, Section 5.1.2 of Annex II provides that in exchange for Iranian compliance with the terms of the deal, the U.S. “shall… license non-U.S. entities that are owned or controlled by a U.S. person to engage in activities with Iran that are consistent with this JCPOA.”
In short, this means that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies will, under certain conditions, be allowed to do business with Iran. The problem is that the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, was explicit in closing the so-called “foreign sub” loophole.
Indeed, ITRA also stipulated, in Section 218, that when it comes to doing business with Iran, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent firms shall in all cases be treated exactly the same as U.S. firms: namely, what is prohibited for U.S. parent firms has to be prohibited for foreign subsidiaries, and what is allowed for foreign subsidiaries has to be allowed for U.S. parent firms.
What’s more, ITRA contains language, in Section 605, requiring that the terms spelled out in Section 218 shall remain in effect until the president of the United States certifies two things to Congress: first, that Iran has been removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, and second, that Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of weapons of mass destruction.
Additional executive orders and statutes signed by President Obama, such as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, have reaffirmed that all prior federal statutes relating to sanctions on Iran shall remain in full effect.
For example, the review act – sponsored by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Foreign Relations Committee, and signed into law by President Obama in May – stated that “any measure of statutory sanctions relief” afforded to Iran under the terms of the nuclear deal may only be “taken consistent with existing statutory requirements for such action.” The continued presence of Iran on the State Department’s terror list means that “existing statutory requirements” that were set forth in ITRA, in 2012, have not been met for Iran to receive the sanctions relief spelled out in the JCPOA.
As the Iran deal is an “executive agreement” and not a treaty – and has moreover received no vote of ratification from the Congress, explicit or symbolic – legal analysts inside and outside of the Obama administration have concluded that the JCPOA is vulnerable to challenge in the courts, where federal case law had held that U.S. statutes trump executive agreements in force of law.
Administration sources told Fox News it is the intention of Secretary of State John Kerry, who negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran’s foreign minister and five other world powers, that the re-opening of the “foreign sub” loophole by the JCPOA is to be construed as broadly as possible by lawyers for the State Department, the Treasury Department and other agencies involved in the deal’s implementation.
But the apparent conflict between the re-opening of the loophole and existing U.S. law leaves the Obama administration with only two options going forward. The first option is to violate ITRA, and allow foreign subsidiaries to be treated differently than U.S. parent firms. The second option is to treat both categories the same, as ITRA mandated – but still violate the section of ITRA that required Iran’s removal from the State Department terror list as a pre-condition of any such licensing.
It would also renege on the many promises of senior U.S. officials to keep the broad array of American sanctions on Iran in place. Chris Backemeyer, who served as Iran director for the National Security Council from 2012 to 2014 and is now the State Department’s deputy coordinator for sanctions policy, told POLITICO last month “there will be no real sanctions relief of our primary embargo… We are still going to have sanctions on Iran that prevent most Americans from… engaging in most commercial activities.”
Likewise, in a speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy last month, Adam Szubin, the acting under secretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial crimes, described Iran as “the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism” and said existing U.S. sanctions on the regime “will continue to be enforced… U.S. investment in Iran will be prohibited across the board.”
Nominated to succeed his predecessor at Treasury, Szubin appeared before the Senate Banking Committee for a confirmation hearing the day after his speech to the Washington Institute. At the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) asked the nominee where the Obama administration finds the “legal underpinnings” for using the JCPOA to re-open the “foreign sub” loophole.
Szubin said the foreign subsidiaries licensed to do business with Iran will have to meet “some very difficult conditions,” and he specifically cited ITRA, saying the 2012 law “contains the licensing authority that Treasury would anticipate using… to allow for certain categories of activity for those foreign subsidiaries.”
Elsewhere, in documents obtained by Fox News, Szubin has maintained that a different passage of ITRA, Section 601, contains explicit reference to an earlier law – the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, or IEEPA, on the books since 1977 – and states that the president “may exercise all authorities” embedded in IEEPA, which includes licensing authority for the president.
However, Section 601 is also explicit on the point that the president must use his authorities from IEEPA to “carry out” the terms and provisions of ITRA itself, including Section 218 – which mandated that, before this form of sanctions relief can be granted, Iran must be removed from the State Department’s terror list. Nothing in the Congressional Record indicates that, during debate and passage of ITRA, members of Congress intended for the chief executive to use Section 601 to overturn, rather than “carry out,” the key provisions of his own law.
One administration lawyer contacted by Fox News said the re-opening of the loophole reflects circular logic with no valid legal foundation. “It would be Alice-in-Wonderland bootstrapping to say that [Section] 601 gives the president the authority to restore the foreign subsidiary loophole – the exact opposite of what the statute ordered,” said the attorney, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations over implementation of the Iran deal.
At the State Department on Thursday, spokesman John Kirby told reporters Secretary Kerry is “confident” that the administration “has the authority to follow through on” the commitment to re-open the foreign subsidiary loophole.
“Under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the president has broad authorities, which have been delegated to the secretary of the Treasury, to license activities under our various sanctions regimes, and the Iran sanctions program is no different,” Kirby said.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the G.O.P. presidential candidate who is a Harvard-trained lawyer and ardent critic of the Iran deal, said the re-opening of the loophole fits a pattern of the Obama administration enforcing federal laws selectively.
“It’s a problem that the president doesn’t have the ability wave a magic wand and make go away,” Cruz told Fox News in an interview. “Any U.S. company that follows through on this, that allows their foreign-owned subsidiaries to do business with Iran, will very likely face substantial civil liability, litigation and potentially even criminal prosecution. The obligation to follow federal law doesn’t go away simply because we have a lawless president who refuses to acknowledge or follow federal law.”
A spokesman for the Senate Banking Committee could not offer any time frame as to when the committee will vote on Szubin’s nomination.
David Jacques, publisher of the Roseburg Beacon, told Bill O’Reilly on Monday that the people of Roseburg would not welcome Barack Obama if he came to town to politicize the funerals of the Umpqua College shooting victims.
Madman Chris Harper-Mercer murdered eight students and a teacher last week in a shooting spree on campus.
David Jacques and community leaders, including Douglas County commissioners, the police chief and local sheriff, do not want Obama to come grandstand in Roseburg for political purposes.
Now, there is a Facebook protest page set up to protest Obama in Roseburg.
They rolled out their “Unwelcome Mat.”
From the Defend Roseburg-Deny Barack Obama Facebook Protest page:
The anointed one his majesty king 0bama and the White House have announced a Friday arrival in Roseburg, Oregon in the wake of Oct 1st’s horrific tragedy at UCC.
Polarizing as usual, Mr 0bama has insisted on politicizing the event as a conduit for increased executive orders on gun control via means of his pen, and his phone.
This blatant disrespect of the victims families, the community and the town of Roseburg, Mr 0bama’s administration is flying not just the 747 that is airforce one to Oregon, but a three helicopter team of Sikorsky’s that make up HMX-1, known as Marine one to travel to Roseburg at the taxpayers expense.
We need a lot of people. Please come show your support for Roseburg, not the little man who has no respect for the constitution.
Local activist Casey Runyan is organizing the protest.
UPDATE: (7:30 PM ) 1,900 people have signed up to attend rally to protest Barack Obama.
A previously deported criminal alien from El Salvador who was convicted of kidnapping and raping a 12-year-old at gunpoint has made his way back to Texas across the porous U.S.-Mexico border. Agents with the U.S. Border Patrol arrested 34-year-old Rene Vladimir Escobar Bautista over the weekend near the border city of Hidalgo, court records obtained by Breitbart Texas revealed.
During an investigation into his background, authorities learned that Escobar had been deported in 2003 following a federal prison sentence on a child rape case. In 2001, federal authorities arrested Escobar who was 20-years-old at the time after he kidnapped a 12-year-old girl at gunpoint form her parents house in Long Island, New York and took her to North Carolina.
Court records from the New York case show that in 2002 rather than fight the case, Escobar took a plea deal and a judge found him guilty of the charge of taking a minor across state lines to engage in sexual activity. For that charge, Escobar was sentenced to spend 16 months in prison and then he was deported.
Escobar is just one of several criminal alien sexual predators who have been previously deported that have been arrested near the Texas border recently, as reported by Breitbart Texas.
In September, authorities arrested 22-year-old Jose Manuel Segovia near Roma Texas. Segovia had been previously convicted of attempted child rape.
Also in September, authorities arrested 47-year-old Pablo Medrano Banda who had been living in South Texas. Medrano had previously been convicted of indecency with a child by sexual contact.
In August, authorities arrested 23-year-old Mauricio Toto Xolo near the Texas border. Toto Xolo spent a year in prison following a 2010 rape conviction.
Also in August authorities arrested Joel Silva Duran, a 22-year-old convicted child rapist who had re-entered the country just months after having been deported.
The Obama administration tried to persuade Argentina to “provide the Islamic State of Iran with nuclear fuel” back in 2010.
President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner made these accusations during her speech this week to the General Assembly.
Nuclear fuel is a key component in nuclear weapons.
The United States mainstream media ignored this story for some odd reason?
UPDATE – Here is President Kirchner’s speech to the UN General Assembly.
(relevant accusation starts around the 19:45 minute mark)
When the Argentinians asked the administration to put it in writing – all communications ceased and the administration went silent.
The White House knew it would be unpopular with the American public.
President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, a leftist, made the claim Monday at the United Nations.
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner claimed Monday afternoon at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City that in 2010, the Obama administration tried to convince the Argentinians “to provide the Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear fuel,” reported Mediaite.
Kirchner said that two years into Obama’s first term, his administration sent Gary Samore, former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Argentina to persuade the nation to provide Iran with nuclear fuel, which is a key component of nuclear weapons.
Kirchner’s full remarks are as follows, per the Argentine president’s official website:
“In 2010 we were visited in Argentina by Gary Samore, at that time the White House’s top advisor in nuclear issues. He came to see us in Argentina with a mission, with an objective: under the control of IAEA, the international organization in the field of weapons control and nuclear regulation, Argentina had supplied in the year 1987, during the first democratic government, the nuclear fuel for the reactor known as “Teheran”. Gary Samore had explained to our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Héctor Timerman, that negotiations were underway for the Islamic Republic of Iran to cease with its uranium enrichment activities or to do it to a lesser extent but Iran claimed that it needed to enrich this Teheran nuclear reactor and this was hindering negotiations. They came to ask us, Argentines, to provide the Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear fuel. Rohani was not in office yet. It was Ahmadinejad’s administration and negotiations had already started.”…
Kirchner went on to say at the U.N. that when Samore was asked to provide the request in writing, all communications immediately ceased and Samore disappeared…
A federal judge Wednesday blocked the Obama administration from implementing new regulations on hydraulic fracturing, saying that the administration does not appear to have the statutory authority to do so.
The rule, finalized in March by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is the federal government’s first major attempt to regulate the innovative oil and gas extraction technique commonly known as fracking.
Fracking is generally regulated at the state level. BLM sought to impose additional restrictions on the practice for oil and gas wells on federal land.
Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming said that the agency appears to lack the statutory authority to do so and issued a preliminary injunction blocking BLM from implementing the rule.
“At this point, the Court does not believe Congress has granted or delegated to the BLM authority to regulate fracking,” Skavdahl wrote in his opinion.
In fact, BLM “previously disavowed authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing,” the judge noted.
The Environmental Protection Agency previously had the authority to regulate the fracking-related practices that the rule targets, but the 2005 Energy Policy Act stripped the agency of that authority.
“It is hard to analytically conclude or infer that, having expressly removed the regulatory authority from the EPA, Congress intended to vest it in the BLM, particularly where the BLM had not previously been regulating the practice,” Skavdahl wrote.
The ruling marks a major setback for Obama administration efforts to crack down on fracking, which has spurred unprecedented increases in U.S. oil and gas production since 2009.
The ruling does not scuttle the regulations, but rather prevents their implementation while a lawsuit brought by Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, Utah, and the Ute Indian tribe makes its way though the federal courts.
Two industry groups, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance, have also sued to block the rule.
“Today’s decision essentially shows BLM’s efforts are not needed and that states are – and have for 60 years been – in the best position to safely regulate hydraulic fracturing,” said IPAA spokesman Jeff Eshelman on the ruling.
Glaring shortcomings in cyber-security training throughout the State Department on former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s watch reflected a pervasive anti-security “culture” she encouraged there, according to multiple former intelligence and military officials.
Acting State Department Inspector General Harold W. Geisel issued six critical reports that charged top officials did not submit themselves to the department’s mandatory “security awareness training” during Clinton’s tenure. The training covers procedures for properly handling of sensitive and classified government documents and how to secure digital communications.
Senior officials from deputy assistant secretaries to chiefs of missions at U.S. embassies did not submit themselves to regular training sessions as required by the department and government-wide standards, according to Geisel.
Geisel first warned in November 2010 mandatory security training was not being given to senior department officials. A highly redacted November 2012 audit by the IG found in a random check of 46 officials that “all 46 employees had not taken the recommended role-based security-related training course in the time-frame (that is, 6 months) as recommended in the Information Assurance Training Plan.”
Annual IT security training is mandatory throughout the U.S. military and within all intelligence agencies and is required by the National Institute for Standards and Technology, which sets government-wide security standards.
“A strong IT security program cannot be put in place without significant attention given to training agency IT users on security policy, procedures, and techniques, as well as the various management, operational, and technical controls necessary and available to secure IT resources,” according to NIST publication 800, the “bible” for government security.
“Failure to give attention to the area of security training puts an enterprise at great risk because security of agency resources is as much a human issue as it is a technology issue,” NIST warned.
“When you get the training, they give you lots of scenarios and lots of duplicate and redundant situations where you see the impact of security violations,” said Col. James Waurishuk, who retired in August 2014 from the U.S. Special Operations Command.
“If you don’t take the training, you don’t see it, so you don’t understand it.” he said.
Waurishuk, a 30-year military veteran, was also critical of Clinton for hiring Bryan Pagliano, a former IT staffer with her unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign, in the department’s Bureau of Information Resources Management as a “strategic advisor.” Pagliano had no national security experience and no security clearance for handling classified documents.
“Here’s a person brought in for his campaign expertise, but doesn’t have knowledge, training or grasp of the national security environment, the threats and the gravity of failing to ensure secure environments. To put somebody at that level in charge without that degree of experience, that’s reckless,” Waurishuk said.
Other former military and intelligence officials blame Secretary Clinton for setting a poor example when she decided to conduct official government business on a private email account and a private server located at her home in New York.
“There was a corporate culture among the highest echelons of State Department that she perhaps deliberately chose to ignore these security protocols. And consequently, they just were not enforced,” said James Williamson, a former Special Forces and counter-terrorism officer who is now president and CEO of Global Executive Management. His firm offers crisis management, diplomatic and security services to its clients.
“I would hold Mrs. Clinton directly responsible for inculcation of this culture within her organization,” Williamson said.
Brig. Gen. (Ret.) General Kenneth Bergquist said effective government security awareness starts at the top.
“What you have is a culture that emanates from the top,” said Bergquist. He was selected by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the first president of the new Joint Special Operations University. He was assigned after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the U.S. Central Command as special operations staff director.
Clinton and her inner circle of aides and advisers “have no experience whatsoever or cultural reference to security of documents and security of information. They had never really been involved in any aspects of what I call the culture of security awareness. So they were starting out from a basis of ignorance,” said Bergquist, who also worked at the Central Intelligence Agency told the DCNF.
Geisel said in a November 2010 audit that the State Department “should improve methods to identify individuals with significant security responsibilities, ensure that they take the required training every 3 years, record the training records in the Office of Personnel Management-approved centralized system, and provide management with tools to monitor compliance with the training requirement.”
In July 2011 the IG found that there was a ‘lack of maintenance of classified information nondisclosure agreements” for security training.
The November 2011 IG audit found that “The Department is not tracking and documenting Significant Security Responsibilities (SSR) training attendance.”
In a redacted November 2012 audit, the IG warned that training for top State Department officials was widespread.
The IG’s office added that top line officials who held “significant security responsibility” personnel did not appear to be getting training.
Among those who were identified by the IG as not getting the security training were the State Department’s chief of mission, deputy assistant secretary, information management specialist, information technology specialist and the office director for the security engineering officer.
Bergquist said that he understood that many in Secretary Clinton’s inner circle did not want to bother with training. “They said, ‘I don’t want to spend four hours going through this type of training. I’ve got more important things to do. That’s low on my priority list,” the general said.
Bergquist called it “hubris. That kind of attitude permeates down.”
Obama White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett threw Hillary Clinton under the bus Wednesday at the Washington Ideas Forum, where she told interviewer Andrea Mitchell that the White House gave Clinton guidance forbidding her from using private email.
“Yes, there were. Yeah, absolutely,” Jarrett said when asked if the White House sent guidance to Cabinet secretaries about not using private email. “Obviously we want to make sure that we preserve all government records, and so there was guidance given that government business should be done on government emails and that if you did use a private email that it should be turned over.”
“That’s what she’s doing, as you said as recently as a few minutes ago,” Jarrett added. “And I think she has been asked about this multiple times, including by you Andrea. And I think she said, Look to do it again I probably made a mistake and I wouldn’t do it, and she’s working hard to comply with making sure that everything is pursuant to the Federal Records Act.”
Welcome to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Wild, Wild West show in Chicago, where bullets fly thicker than fleas around a stray dog.
Yesterday, the city saw a spasm of violence rare even for Chicago; 14 people were shot in 15 hours, including 6 dead.
As is his wont, Rahmbo blamed the “poor values” of gangbangers and wants tougher penalties for gun crimes.
The first of those shootings occurred Monday evening when a family on its way back from an outing was gunned down in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, leaving a pregnant mother and a grandmother dead and three others – including an 11-month-old boy – wounded, police said.
The second multiple shooting occurred about five hours later when two men and the mother of a 4-year-old were killed and two other people were wounded near a playground in the Fuller Park neighborhood on the South Side, according to police. A sister said the woman was killed coming to the aid of a relative.
The burst of violence follows two straight weekends when more than 50 people were shot in Chicago. That’s the first time that has happened on back-to-back weekends over the four years the Tribune has been tracking shootings. In August, more than 40 were shot on four consecutive weekends.
So far this year, at least 2,300 people have been shot in Chicago, about 400 more than during the same period last year, according to a Tribune analysis. Through Sunday, homicides have risen to 359, up 21 percent from 296 a year earlier, according to preliminary data from Chicago police.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday addressed the shooting in Back of the Yards, saying he was angry and “enough is enough.”
As he often does, Emanuel railed against the poor values of gangbangers. “Wherever you live, you should be able to get out of your car and go to your home,” said Emanuel, who attended the opening of a renovated Red Line CTA station at Clark and Division streets.
The mayor then returned to his oft-repeated themes of making all Chicago neighborhoods equally safe and calling for tougher penalties for crimes involving guns.
“You can say this happened in the neighborhood of the Back of the Yards, but everybody (who) woke up this morning, or heard it last night, felt a pain of anguish, and it’s time that our criminal justice system and the laws as it relates to access to guns and the penalties for using ’em reflect the values of the people of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said.
More illegal guns have been confiscated in Chicago this year than in New York and Los Angeles combined. This would seem to point to a policing problem, except it’s more complicated than that.
Chicago is a major distribution node for the Sinaloa drug cartel; 80% of the drugs in the city flow from that one gang. The key, then, would seem to be to smash the conduit of illegal drugs and guns and bust up the networks that supply most of the Midwest with drugs – a task easier said than done. The bulk of Chicago’s violence problem lies outside the city limits and actually originates in Mexico.
But the Obama administration has no desire to get caught up in Mexico’s war with the cartels, so no special enforcement methods are currently being considered. Clearly, in order to attack Chicago’s gun violence, it’s going to take a joint U.S.-Mexico-Chicago PD effort to break the back of Sinaloa and reduce the flow of guns and drugs into the city.
Among the 6,300 pages of Hillary Clinton emails released by the State Department on Wednesday are approximately 155 messages containing now-classified information that the former secretary of state sent or received on her unsecured, private email server system.
That raises the overall number of emails that contain information deemed to contain classified information to 343. The 155 figure is based on a preliminary analysis of the release.
The emails, most of which were classified as “confidential,” were sent in 2010 and 2011. Two records included in the release contain information that is now marked as “secret,” the second-highest classification category. One was an email Clinton aide Jake Sullivan sent to her on Jan. 21, 2011 regarding diplomatic talks in Turkey.
The State Department has asserted following previous Clinton email releases that information in the emails was not classified at the time the records were sent. But many observers have pushed back against the claim because many of the messages appear to discuss topics that were time- and event-specific.
Many of the emails contained information provided by foreign government officials. Executive orders have determined that such information should be “presumed” to be classified when originated.
Clinton herself has maintained that she did not send or receive emails containing information that was classified when sent. The Intelligence Community’s inspector general has disputed that claim, however, saying that it reviewed at least two emails that traversed Clinton’s server which contained information that was “top secret” at the time they were sent.
Wednesday’s release marks the fifth mass publication of Clinton emails. The first release, which occurred in May, was of nearly 300 pages of Clinton emails related to Libya and Benghazi. The other four releases were ordered by U.S. District Court judge Rudolph Contreras who is presiding over a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Vice News reporter Jason Leopold.
According to the State Department, 37 percent of Clinton’s emails have now been released, putting the agency ahead of a timeline set by Contreras.
Clinton turned over approximately 55,000 pages of her work-related emails to the State Department in December, nearly two years after leaving the agency.
Clinton herself sent a number of those now-classified emails. Wednesday’s release shows that Clinton sent at least two emails that contain sensitive information.
One was sent on March 6, 2010 and discussed Indonesia. The other was sent on March 4, 2010 and discussed Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister.
The first four releases contained at least eight emails containing information now deemed classified.
The topics of those heavily-redacted emails included discussions about Iran, Egypt, and Futenma Marine Corps base in Japan.
One of the more mysterious now-classified emails Clinton sent was to her longtime friend and ally, Sidney Blumenthal.
On Nov. 10, 2009 Blumenthal forwarded an email from Joe Wilson, who served as an ambassador during the Bill Clinton administration. In the email, Wilson pitched Clinton on an African energy company for which he was consulting. Clinton’s response to Blumenthal is redacted and has been classified as “confidential.”
Blumenthal himself has been a central figure in the email scandal. He sent Clinton dozens of intelligence reports on her personal email address. Clinton initially claimed that Blumenthal’s emails were “unsolicited.” But Clinton’s responses to her friend indicated that that was not the case. Clinton often encouraged Blumenthal to keep her posted on geopolitical developments.
Clinton was caught in another inconsistency regarding Blumenthal. Though she has claimed that she turned over all of her work-related emails, Blumenthal provided the House Select Committee on Benghazi with at least 15 emails that he exchanged with Clinton which were not included in the trove she gave to the State Department. That gap raised questions over whether Clinton or the State Department failed to turn over the emails.
Last week, the State Department said it recently handed over an additional 900 Benghazi-related emails it has had since December.
It was also reported last week that Clinton failed to turn over an email exchange she had shortly after becoming secretary of state in early 2009 with then-CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus. Clinton has said that at that time, she was using an email address she used while she was in the Senate. Months into her State Department tenure, Clinton began using an email address hosted on her private server.
On Sunday, the administration was taken by surprise for the umpteenth time when Russia, Iraq, Iran, and Syria announced an agreement, ostensibly to share intelligence about ISIS. This is part of a widening role for Russia in the region, Moscow having already established a new airbase to go along with its existing naval base in Syria. It is also a sign that Iraq is getting pulled further into the Russia-Syria-Iran axis – a new Axis of Evil – that is far more determined to keep Bashar Assad’s murderous regime in power than it is to fight ISIS. It is telling that Russia has started drone surveillance flights in Syria over areas controlled not by ISIS but by other rebel groups. In fact the more this Axis keeps Assad in place, the stronger that ISIS gets because ISIS feeds off the understandable resentment that ordinary Sunnis feel towards a regime that has been responsible for the vast majority of the killing in a conflict that has claimed over 225,000 lives.
The fact that Iraq has now formally joined this unholy alliance is a sign of how little influence the U.S. exercises anymore in Baghdad. This has been obvious for some time: Ever since the pullout of U.S. forces in 2011, Iran has become the dominant player in Iraq. Thus when the U.S. has protested to Iraq not to allow its airspace to be used for Iranian flights to resupply Assad – or more recently for Russian flights to create a new Russian military base in Syria – the government of Iraq has ignored American protestations. The Iraqis are happy to accept U.S. F-16s and other weapons and money, but they willfully snub Washington on its most basic demands and they know they will pay no price for doing so. After all, if President Obama could not even act against Assad for violating a “red line” on chemical weapons or against Iran for building a nuclear weapons program, what is he going to do against the Iraqi government for being in bed with these rogue states?
Instead of forcing Syria’s patrons to accept Assad’s removal from power, Obama now being forced to bow to the demands of Russia and Iran that Assad remain in Damascus. As the Daily Telegraph noted, “President Bashar al-Assad’s key backers declared victory on Sunday night after Western leaders who had previously backed Syrian rebels, including David Cameron, said they accepted he would stay in power, at least for the time being.”
Putin is winning, and he isn’t subtle about rubbing Obama’s nose in it. He is openly and understandably mocking the failed U.S. program to train Syrian rebels: “The initial aim was to train between 5,000 and 6,000 fighters, and then 12,000 more,” he said in an interview. “It turns out that only 60 of these fighters have been properly trained, and as few as 4 or 5 people actually carry weapons, while the rest of them have deserted with the American weapons to join ISIS.”
At least Putin is accurately reciting the facts about the U.S. failure to arm Syrian rebels. Harder to swallow is his brazen claim that the American program is not only a failure but illegal under international law. “In my view, providing military aid to illegitimate organizations contravenes the principles of international law and the U.N. Charter,” Putin said. “We back only legal government entities.”
What can you say? You can only chortle at Putin’s chutzpah. Here’s the dictator who illegally annexed Crimea and is now illegally sponsoring a breakaway movement in eastern Ukraine claiming that Russia only backs “legal government entities.” It’s hard to believe that even Putin believes what he’s saying. He just says whatever serves Russian interests in a particular moment, and – give credit where it’s due – he is succeeding in advancing his interests in the Middle East, at least as he conceives of them. As a final prize, he gets a sit-down with Obama on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, after the U.S. military already re-launched military-to-military talks with the Russian armed forces, thus effectively rewarding him for his bad behavior and breaking any Western attempts to isolate him.
While Russia appears to be purposeful in pursuing an amoral, anti-Western policy, the U.S. looks simply lost, bewildered, defeated. It’s not clear what policy the U.S. is pursuing anymore: Are we for or against Assad? For or against Iran? All we know for sure is that we are against ISIS but that we are not doing much to “degrade” and “destroy” it, as the president claimed a year ago. In fact the latest intelligence estimates suggest that it is drawing in more than 1,000 foreign fighters a month, more than replenishing its losses from U.S. air strikes.
I cannot remember a more confused or dispiriting moment in American foreign policy since the 1970s.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct official diplomatic business created many national security problems, but they may pale by comparison with the wreckage she left behind in her department’s main digital information security office.
Harold W. Geisel, the State Department’s acting Inspector General, issued eight scathing audits and investigation reports during Clinton’s tenure, repeatedly warning about worsening problems and growing security weaknesses within the Bureau of Information Resource Management, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.
Geisel’s critical comments about the deficiencies throughout IRM carry additional weight since he was not considered an “independent” IG. Watchdog groups noted Geisel had served as a U.S. Ambassador for Hillary’s husband, President Clinton, and had never been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
In fact, President Obama did not nominate an IG to the State Department during Clinton’s entire term. It was only in September 2013 that the Senate finally confirmed Geisel’s successor, Steve Linick, who currently occupies the the post.
After Clinton left the State Department in 2013, Linick quickly undertook remedial action to save the IRM. Barely two months after his Senate confirmation, he issued a “management alert” to State Department leadership, warning that IRM’s languishing security deficiencies since 2010 were still there.
“The department has yet to report externally on or correct many of the existing significant deficiencies, thereby leading to continuing undue risk in the management of information,” Linick said.
A spokesman for the Clinton campaign did not respond Sunday to a request for comment.
Clinton put Bryan Pagliano, her 2008 presidential campaign IT director, in the IRM in early 2009 as a “strategic advisor” who reported to the department’s deputy chief information officer. Pagliano had no prior national security experience or a national security clearance.
One of Pagliano’s jobs while working at the IRM was overseeing Clinton’s private email account and server. He recently refused to testify before Congress about his work for Clinton, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The IRM was established in 2002 by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell after the 9/11 Commission identified failure among government agencies like the FBI, CIA, Department of Defense and the State Department to exchange anti-terrorist intelligence. Powell and his successor, Condeleeza Rice, built the IRM to ensure secure communications among all U.S. embassies and consulates.
As Clinton entered the State Department, the IRM was the central hub for all of the department’s IT communication systems.
Geisel explained IRM’s primary role in one report, noting its “personnel are responsible for the management and oversight of the department’s information systems, which includes the department’s unclassified and classified networks” and “handles all aspects of information security for the department’s intelligence systems.”
Clinton instead allowed the IRM to degenerate into an office without a mission or strategy, according to multiple IG reports issued during and after her four years as the nation’s chief diplomat.
The seriousness of Clinton’s failure was summarized in a 2012 audit that warned, “the weakened security controls could adversely affect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information and information systems” used by U.S. officials around the world.
Geisel’s July 2013 inspection report issued after Clinton’s departure was so damning that the IRM became the butt of caustic comments throughout the IT world.
Network World, an IT review site, for example, headlined one of its articles on the issue with “FAIL: Your Tax Dollars at Play: the US State Department’s Bureau of Information of Resource Mis-Management.” The article charged that the IRM had become “a total joke.”
Another news outlet told its readers that the editors would “like to be able to tell you what the IRM does, but a new report from the Office of Inspector General concludes that it doesn’t really do anything.”
IRM “is evidently an aimless, over-funded LAN party with no real boss or reason to exist,” concluded reporter Jordan Brochette when the 2013 IG report was released.
Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, reviewed the IG reports for DCNF and concluded that “State’s IT security record is littered with questionable management, insecure systems, poor contract oversight, and inadequate training. The State IG’s reviews show a pattern of significant deficiencies and few, if any, corrections.”
Geisel issued his first audit of IRM in November 2009, eight months into Clinton’s term. It also was the first audit issued after Pagliano arrived at the bureau. Geisel identified many serious IT security deficiencies that year. Unfortunately, most of the problems would continue to be uncorrected throughout Clinton’s term.
One troubling observation early in Clinton’s secretaryship was that the IG found the State Department and even embassy chiefs of mission suffering from a lack of IT security training, including the lack of “security awareness training.”
The lack of IT security awareness by top State Department officials may partly explain why Clinton and her top aides saw no problems with the use of a personal email server.
Geisel also warned in late 2009 that at the IRM, he found “there were no Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for managing IT-related security weaknesses.”
In an audit about IRM in February 2010, the IG reviewed how well IRM officials were implementing Secretary Rice’s 2007 modernization and consolidation progam.
It was in this 2010 audit that the first hints emerged of poor management at the IRM. Geisel concluded the bureau’s leadership failed to satisfy vulnerable IRM field staff deployed at embassies and consulates. He called them IRM’s “customers.”
The IG “found a significant level of customer dissatisfaction among bureaus about the quality and timeliness of IT services after consolidation.”
In November 2010 Geisel issued yet another warning about shortcomings within IRM. In this report, the IG repeated that IRM “needed to make significant improvements” to address “security weaknesses,”
Once again, he emphasized that IRM had failed in providing mandatory “security awareness training” to all top security personnel. He also noted a failure to require all contractors to undergo mandatory security authorization.
“The department did not identify all employees who had significant security responsibilities and provide specialized training,” the IG charged.
The IG discovered other worrisome problems in 2010. It found officials failed to provide corrective patches for security problems in a third of the cases examined by his office. The IG also pointed to more than 1,000 “guest” IT accounts within the department’s IT systems that could provide entry paths for hackers.
Geisel further reported that the IRM had 8,000 unused email accounts and that department officials never changed the passwords on 600 active email embassy and consulate accounts.
There were also “24 of 25 Windows systems tested [that] were not compliant with the security configuration guidance.”
The damning IG reports continued in July 2011 when Geisel detailed serious problems afflicting a new IRM program called eDiplomacy that Clinton unveiled earlier that year.
Geisel was blunt: “eDiplomacy lacks a clear, agreed-upon mission statement that defines key goals and objectives. With the absence of performance measurement process, management has few means to evaluate, control, budget, and measure the success of its projects.”
Geisel painted an alarmingly negative assessment in a November 2011 audit on the IRM’s overall information security program. Specific details were redacted but the report warned for the first time of “additional security breaches,” saying “we identified weaknesses that significantly impact the information security program controls. If these control weaknesses are exploited, the department could be exposed to additional security breaches. Collectively, these control weaknesses represent a significant deficiency.”
If the breaches weren’t quickly fixed, the consequences would be harmful to “the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information and information systems.”
The IG noted in this 2011 audit that a relatively new program called OPNET suffered from nearly 10,000 defective user accounts that could be breached by hackers.
Geisel also identified another flaw in the audit – the failure of IRM officials to do “continuing monitoring” of Oracle for “control weaknesses.” Oracle is the department’s most widely used internal database management system.
A November 2012 audit repeated the earlier IG audi that with the mounting IRM deficiencies, “the department could experience security breaches. Collectively, the control weaknesses represent a significant deficiency, as to enterprise-wide security.”
The same report again pointed out that, under Clinton, IRM “had not fully taken corrective action to remediate all of the control weaknesses identified in the FY 2011 report. The weakened security controls could adversely affect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information and information systems.”
The November 2012 report again noted that training lagged and at times was non-existent. Among the positions that had not received IRM training were the department’s Chief of Mission, a deputy assistant secretary, information management specialists, information technology specialists and security engineers.
Again Geisel noted that within the bureau,“we found that all 46 employees had not taken the recommended role-based security-related training course in the [six month] time-frame, as recommended in the Information Assurance Training Plan.”
Another area of repeated failure was risk management. “The department’s risk management program for information security needs improvement at the system level.”
Geisel’s final – and most denunciatory – report on the IRM was issued in July 2013 and focused on Clinton’s final year in the department.
The report said that after years of deteriorating service, the IRM no longer performed a vital role in the department, with many of its duties usurped by other offices or simply ignored. The bureau “does not have a lead role in most of the functions it does perform and, for the most part, only compiles information generated by others,” Geisel concluded.
The IRM “does not have a mission statement outlining a vision for the office,” and “no document provides a clear connection between the work of IRM and the high-level goals outlined by the Chief Information Officer in the department’s IT Strategic Plan for FYs 2011-13.”
Under Clinton’s watch, new technologies and even social media were ignored by IRM, Geisel said, in the 2013 report that, “IRM policies do not mention the latest technologies and efforts within the department. For example, there is little mention and guidance for handling social media.”
And after four years under Clinton, the systems overseen by the IRM were still not considered user friendly.
“System owners described IRM tools as difficult to use and not user-friendly. Many commented that the tools would lock up while entering content, requiring information to be reentered. System owners attempted to share their frustrations with IRM, but to no avail.”
Perhaps Geisel’s most surprising criticisms, however, were that the “IRM is not engaged with IT strategic planning in the department,” and many of the department’s IT regulations had not been updated since 2007.
The State Department IG also compiled five classified audits of the IRM during Clinton’s tenure that were never made public.
By now, many have seen the reports that the clock was not a clock as the media is reporting. The video here does a great job of explaining why this “project” may have been an intentional ploy for CAIR’s agenda (GatewayPundit exposed details on this back story). JihadWatch reports that the family is now claiming the boy was “severely traumatized” and hires lawyers (who most likely represent CAIR). When MRCTV interviewed student’s on a college campus and they were shown the actual picture of the “clock,” all agree that they thought it was a picture of a bomb and would notify authorities if they saw this “invention” in a public space.
The No Agenda radio show with Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak does a great analysis on their Sep. 22 show (audio clip here). Curry and Dvorak dissect the carefully parsed answer from Ahmed to the press when the question is posed regarding the conversation Ahmed had with his teacher. The answer is simply “No” – NO OPENESS on the topic allowed and no details given.
Well maybe the tight lipped response was due to the fact that there was no “PROJECT” – thus no need for the suitcase clock to be discussed with the teacher. The Mayor of Irving, TX (a town not far from the Garland, TX shooting) presents some interesting insights in the audio from the Sep 24 show clip below. One insight seems to be that Ahmed probably never had the conversation he claims to have had in showing off his “invention” to the teacher, but rather the teacher simply found the suitcase and reacted to the suitcase, and did not know who the suitcase belonged to thus was NOT reacting to Ahmed (which again, may explain why the answer to the media’s question was “NO”). Listen to the full clip (directly at YouTube link here), or below:
Highlights of the above segment as follows:
1:00 minute marker: Garland, TX is near by Irving, TX, and CAIR is attempting to set up Islam tribunal courts, thus the Mayor is helping to enforce a measure to protect the constitution and U.S. law.
6:00 minute marker: The clock stunt was planned with CAIR for “civilization jihad”… possibly in response to the U.S. law being prepared in Irving, TX. Recall that the father of the Muslim kid has a past history with pushing Islam.
8:30 minute marker: Irving Mayor talking about the other side of the story that is not being reported by media… the family is ignoring any requests to cooperate. The breakdown of the High School… less than 10% of the demographics is white, thus racism is not a factor. The Muslim Clock kid was NON-Cooperative with police. The teacher did not know who the device belonged to… she was reacting to the device… not the student.
10:55 minute marker: Irving Mayor discusses that the kid is a constant “no-show” at scheduled meetings. The same time Ahmed was supposed to meet with the police chief and mayor… Ahmed was having a press conference instead with the CAIR representatives close at hand.
12:00 minute marker: Irving Mayor confirms that the timing of Obama’s pro-Muslim clock kid tweet is odd… in which Obama once again jumps to conclusions before facts are released.
For anyone that missed the Bill Maher clip mentioned in the audio, the full clip can be seen here.
Who ever knows how, or if, “the law” will apply to Democrat royalty? It sure looks as if Hillary Clinton committed perjury with her sworn statement that she turned over all of the official correspondence from her secret email server, and deleted only the yoga routines, cookie recipes, wedding reception plans, and so forth.
What the Associated Press reported on Friday afternoon sounds like the “game over” moment Democrats have been fearing since the Clinton email scandal came to a boil:
The Obama administration has discovered a chain of emails that Hillary Rodham Clinton failed to turn over when she provided what she said was the full record of work-related correspondence as secretary of state, officials said Friday, adding to the growing questions related to the Democratic presidential front-runner’s unusual usage of a private email account and server while in government.
The messages were exchanged with retired Gen. David Petraeus when he headed the military’s U.S. Central Command, responsible for running the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They began before Clinton entered office and continued into her first days at the State Department. They largely pertained to personnel matters and don’t appear to deal with highly classified material, officials said, but their existence challenges Clinton’s claim that she has handed over the entirety of her work emails from the account.
Hillary Clinton didn’t just “claim” she turned over all of her work-related emails. She signed a sworn statement to that effect in August, under penalty of perjury, and submitted it to a federal court. It’s the same statement her top aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills refused to sign.
Many observers thought the proverbial Other Shoe would drop on Clinton when the FBI started recovering deleted emails from the server she thought was wiped clean, but it doesn’t sound like we’ve even gotten to that closet full of Other Shoes yet. The AP report says this previously undisclosed string of Clinton emails was “first discovered by the Defense Department and then passed to the State Department’s inspector general.”
State Department spokesman John Kirby said these emails were received “in the last several days” and confirmed they “were not previously in the possession of the department.” He added that the State Department has forwarded the documents to Congress.
Also, try to contain your surprise, but Clinton and her campaign have been lying about when she started using her homebrew email server. These new emails between her and Petraeus “start on Jan. 10, 2009, with Clinton using the older email account. But by Jan. 28 – a week after her swearing in – she switched to using the private email address on a homebrew server that she would rely on for the rest of her tenure. There are less than 10 emails back and forth in total, officials said, and the chain ends on Feb. 1.”
The laughable “frequently asked questions” page produced by Clinton’s campaign claims she didn’t start using the homebrew server until March 18, 2009.
A newly uncovered document shows that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton personally signed off on a questionable employment decision she previously claimed she was not involved with.
Top Clinton aide Huma Abedin was able to work for the Clinton Foundation, Department of State and the private consulting firm Teneo Strategies as a Special Government Employee (SGE). When questioned about the arrangement, Clinton denied any involvement, but new documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that Clinton personally signed off on the position change.
Clinton signed the document March 23, 2012 to approve the change in title, according to the documents first reported by Politico.
The employment arrangement for Clinton’s deputy chief of staff raised questions about possible conflict of interest, particularly given allegations that Clinton used her position at the State Department to help the Clinton Foundation.
On top of that, the document appears to contradict statements Clinton made earlier about the arrangement.
In an interview with Andrea Mitchell at NBC that aired earlier this month, Mitchell asked Clinton about Abedin holding jobs at the Clinton Foundation, State Department, and Teneo, a firm started by a former Bill Clinton aide.
“Well, you know, I was not directly involved in that,” Clinton answered. “But everything that [Abedin] did was approved, under the rules, as they existed, by the State Department.”
Either Clinton does not think giving personal approval via her signature was being “directly involved,” or she was dishonest with Mitchell.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley has been critical of Abedin’s multiple interests and the lack of transparency.
“How can the taxpayer know who exactly SGEs are working for at any given moment?” Grassley said in a statement in late August. “How can the ethics officer at the State Department know?”
Now who’s being the child?
Conservative YouTube sensation CJ Pearson, a 13-year-old black middle schooler from Georgia, revealed on Wednesday that he’s been blocked from following President Obama on Twitter. He’s also unable to view the president’s tweets.
11,040 Likes – 4,948 Comments – 5,410 Shares
“It’s an honor,” Pearson tells The American Mirror, insisting he did nothing to warrant being blocked, except his most recent video released last week.
In the video, he accuses the president of playing politics with the Texas student who was suspended for bringing a clock to school that appeared to be a bomb.
“He’s used this child as a political prop,” Pearson said. “This president has used this child to push his radical, leftward agenda. And I think it’s disgusting, and I think many, many people agree.”
Pearson’s video has been viewed over 1.8 million times on YouTube.
UPDATE – 10:23 p.m.:
CJ says the White House issued a statement saying the president didn’t block him on Twitter. CJ responds here:
Hillary Clinton and her aides began collecting Clinton’s private emails in February of last year, eight months before the State Department formally requested copies of her work-related records.
The process of separating Clinton’s official communications from her personal ones therefore lasted nearly ten months, as her aides did not provide 55,000 printed pages of emails to the State Department until Dec. 2014.
On Feb. 15, 2014, Clinton paid Platte River Networks, the technology company hired in June 2013 to move her emails onto a new server, to set up a “separate archive email box” for her records.
Nearly two weeks later, she paid the company to shift emails from the archives onto a new system, according to Sen. Ron Johnson.
Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, wrote to Patrick Kennedy, State’s top records official, asking for documentation of the agency’s contact with Clinton aides prior to its official email request on Oct. 28, 2014.
The Wisconsin Republican suggested in his letter Tuesday that either the State Department or Clinton herself had misrepresented the nature of the agency’s initial request for Clinton’s emails.
Clinton has maintained her decision to hand over work-related emails was prompted by a routine housekeeping inquiry from the State Department, which she said had sent the same request to other secretaries of state.
However, John Kirby, State Department spokesman, told the Washington Post Tuesday the State Department only asked Clinton for her emails after discovering she never used a government account.
Officials made the discovery after unsuccessful attempts to locate Clinton’s records in response to congressional requests from the newly-formed House Select Committee on Benghazi.
Johnson cited a March statement from Clinton that implied she did not begin screening her emails until after the State Department approached her in October.
“After I left office, the State Department asked former secretaries of state for our assistance in providing copies of work-related emails from our personal accounts,” Clinton said in a press conference just days after the New York Times first broke news of her private email use.
“I responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work-related, which totaled roughly 55,000 printed pages, even though I knew the State Department already had the vast majority of them,” she said.
But Johnson said new information obtained by congressional investigators cast doubt on Clinton’s account of the exchange.
“[F]rom the information obtained by the committee, it appears that Secretary Clinton’s archiving and review of her emails were in fact aspects of a multi-month-long process that began as early as eight months prior to the State Department’s formal request,” he wrote.
Johnson said the discrepancy raises questions about the “rationale for and timing of” the agency’s decision to contact Clinton for her emails.
The new information about how long Clinton’s staff spent filtering her emails appears to have come from a pair of invoices for technical services that Platte River billed to Clinton Executive Services Corporation, a private company registered in New York, state records show.
Clinton’s team downplayed reports Wednesday that Clinton and the State Department had given conflicting accounts of the agency’s email request, repeating her defense that everything she has ever done in regards to her emails was legal and similar to actions taken by her predecessors.
Nice job “vetting,” Barack.
Pentagon-trained rebels are reported to have betrayed US and handed weapons over to an al-Qaeda affiliate immediately after entering Syria.
Fighters with Division 30 surrendered and handed over “all its weapons” to Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, sources alleged on Monday.
The moderate rebel group was the first faction to graduate from a US-led training programme in Turkey which aims to forge a fighting force on the ground in Syria to fight against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
“A strong slap [in the face] for America… the new group from Division 30 that entered yesterday hands over all of its weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra after being granted safe passage,” tweeted Abu Fahd al-Tunisi, who purports to be a member of the al-Qaeda affiliate.
“They also handed over a very large amount of ammunition and medium weaponry and a number of pick-ups.”
Abu Khattab al-Maqdisi, who also claims to be a Nusra member, added that Anas Ibrahim Obaid, Division 30’s commander, had explained to al-Nusra’s leaders that he had tricked the coalition because he needed weapons.
“He promised to issue a statement… repudiating Division 30, the coalition, and those who trained him,” tweeted Maqdisi on Monday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a pro-opposition UK-based watchdog, reported on Sunday that 75 Division 30 fighters had crossed into Syria from Turkey the previous morning with “12 four-wheel vehicles equipped with machine guns and ammunition”.