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The Isis terrorist group has seized enough radioactive material from government facilities to suggest it has the capacity to build a large and devastating “dirty” bomb, according to Australian intelligence reports.
Isis declared its ambition to develop weapons of mass destruction in the most recent edition of its propaganda magazine Dabiq, and Indian defence officials have previously warned of the possibility the terrorists could acquire a nuclear weapon from Pakistan.
According to the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, Nato has expressed deep concerns about the materials seized by Isis from research centres and hospitals that would normally only be available to governments.
The threat of Isis’s radioactive and biological weapons stockpile was so severe that the Australia Group, a 40-nation bloc dedicated to ending the use of chemical weapons, held a session on the subject at its summit in Perth last week.
“This is really worrying them,” Ms Bishop said in an interview with The Australian.
When they swept across territory in Syria and Iraq, she said, “the insurgents did not just clear out the cash from local banks”.
Last week Ms Bishop spoke at the Australia Group meeting about fears Isis was weaponising poisonous gases such as chlorine.
And speaking to The Australian, she confirmed that the concerns she was raising stemmed from reports filed by the Australian department of defence as well the foreign office.
The growing concerns about Isis’s development of weapons of mass destruction come at a time when experts fear the terrorist group will be “more active than ever” to mark the start of Ramadan and the one-year anniversary of its declaration of a “caliphate”.
Isis said it was changing its name to “Islamic State” following the first public address by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Mosul on 29 June last year, and the US-based Institute for the Study of War has noted that the group usually reserves its major operations to coincide with the Islamic holy month.
“Isis is likely to begin and end Ramadan with attempted spectacular military offensive actions in Iraq and Syria,” it said.
The much-beleaguered Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is facing yet another crisis – its second in two weeks – after a new report from the inspector general’s office at the Department of Homeland Security discovered that the agency did not adequately screen 73 airport workers who had been placed on terrorism-related watch lists.
Far from inspiring confidence, the inspector general’s report portrays the TSA as being at the mercy of complex regulations, a deficit of information from other agencies, and bureaucratic entanglements that prevented the agency from verifying that the information they received on aviation workers was accurate.
Under the heading “What We Found” the report describes:
TSA’s multi-layered process to vet aviation workers for potential links to terrorism was generally effective… However, our testing showed that TSA did not identify 73 individuals with terrorism-related category codes because TSA is not authorized to receive all terrorism-related information under current interagency watchlisting policy.
In addition to not being aware that 73 airport employees were on terrorism watch lists, the report also found that the TSA is also lacking accurate information about the criminal history and legal status of other employees who work in restricted areas.
The report explains:
TSA had less effective controls in place for ensuring that aviation workers 1) had not committed crimes that would disqualify them from having unescorted access to secure airport areas, and 2) had lawful status and were authorized to work in the United States. In general, TSA relied on airport operators to perform criminal history and work authorization checks, but had limited oversight over these commercial entities. Thus, TSA lacked assurance that it properly vetted all credential applications.
The TSA apparently wasn’t even able to fully verify the identities of their employees because records sometimes omitted a candidate’s full name or social security number.
Further, thousands of records used for vetting workers contained potentially incomplete or inaccurate data, such as an initial for a first name and missing social security numbers. TSA did not have appropriate edit checks in place to reject such records from vetting.
This latest outrage comes on the heels of an internal investigation released last week by the Department of Homeland Security which revealed that the TSA failed to detect banned weapons or imitation explosives 95% at America’s most highly-trafficked airports. This monumental failure rate led to the ouster of the TSA’s acting chief, Melvin Carraway.
In an official response to the report, the TSA promised to screen workers against a more inclusive database by the end of 2015.
On the matter of ISIS, presumed GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has embraced the same revisionist history promoted by Democrats, blaming Republican “hawks” for the group’s rise and expansion. “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party, who gave arms indiscriminately, and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS,”
Paul told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. If this is the senator’s conclusion, he hasn’t been paying attention to world events of the last several years very closely. If he had, he would recognize that Republicans “hawks,” sidelined throughout much of Obama’s tenure, have had minimal influence on the foreign policy debacles that have given rise to ISIS. Rather, it was Obama and Hillary Clinton who ran the show during this time, independent of any Republican input. And America is facing the disastrous national security ramifications as a result.
These hawks also wanted to bomb Assad, which would have made ISIS’s job even easier. They created these people. ISIS is all over Libya because these same hawks in my party loved – they loved Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya. They just wanted more of it, but Libya’s a failed state, and it’s a disaster. Iraq really is a failed state, or a vassal state now of Iran. So everything that they’ve talked about in foreign policy, they’ve been wrong about for twenty years, and yet they have somehow the gall to keep saying and pointing fingers otherwise.
ISIS started as an al-Qaeda off-shoot in Iraq headed by Osama bin Laden associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Al-Zarqawi’s primary targets were Iraq’s Shi’ite Muslim majority, a political calculation designed to curry favor with Iraq’s Sunni population, marginalized by the fall of Saddam Hussein. However, by 2005, even bin Laden’s al-Qaeda grew disenchanted with al-Qaeda in Iraq’s brutality. The American troop surge, in conjunction with Sunni Iraq’s own disenchantment with Zarqawi’s depravity, gave birth to the “Awakening” (rejection of al-Qaeda) that allowed the U.S. to prevail in Iraq. Far from “creating” ISIS, America was a key force holding back its reign of terror.
Mockery of Obama’s 2011 declaration
Unfortunately, a Shi’ite-dominated Maliki government looking for payback after years of Sunni Ba’athist domination, coupled with the Obama administration’s precipitous troop withdrawal in 2011, threw that victory away, ultimately making a mockery of Obama’s 2011 declaration he was leaving behind it a “sovereign, stable and self reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people.”
During the 2012 presidential campaign, Obama doubled down on his assertions, making withdrawal from Iraq one of the principal planks his 2012 reelection campaign, along with the president’s unconscionable and oft-repeated lie that al Qaeda was “on the run.” And while he blamed Maliki for the failure to negotiate a Status of Force Agreement (SOFA), it was Obama who ignored the recommendations of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen to leave at least 10,000 American troops in country after the failure of military brass to convince the president that 20,000 troops needed to be left behind. Thus, when Obama announced in August 2011 that he would commit only 3000 to 5000 troops, Iraqi leaders already facing anti-American political backlash concluded the president’s utter lack of seriousness was bad for their political careers. That impasse led to a breakdown in talks.
And it is not as if Obama was unaware of what could happen. “Multiple experts have testified before my committee that the Iraqis still lack important capacities in their ability to maintain their internal stability and territorial integrity,” said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon in October of 2011. “These shortcomings could reverse the decade of hard work and sacrifice both countries have endured to build a free Iraq.”
Ever since, Obama has done next to nothing as ISIS took over more and more territory in Iraq and Syria, to the point where even Democrats, including the reliably clueless Jimmy Carter, hammered the president for his non-strategy. “President Obama, it’s been hard to figure out exactly what his policy is. It changes from time to time,” Carter declared. “He’s been delayed. Sometimes he draws red lines in the sand on the Mideast and then when the time comes, he doesn’t go through with it.” Carter’s sentiment were echoed by former Intelligence Committee chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who also insisted Obama’s strategy had failed. And after the recent fall of Ramadi Janine Davidson, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, asked the ultimate question. “How much do you let ISIS continue to take ground having faith [it will be gained back?” she asked. “Is there a point at which you say, ‘We’ve got to stop this now with more than airpower?’”
As of now, the Obama administration’s answer is no.
As for Libya, while Paul is right that some hawks in the GOP favored that venture, their influence was marginal. It was Obama who bypassed Congress and unilaterally embarked on it, violating the War Powers Resolution in the process. As for the former Secretary of State, it is very apropos that Paul referred to that debacle as “Hillary Clinton’s war,” one described by an senior American intelligence official as “an intelligence-light decision.” That sentiment was shared by nearly a dozen other key officials in the intelligence and military communities, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, whose concerns about removing Muammar Gaddafi from power were routinely ignored.
It was also shared by Libyan officials who prepared a report indicating their fear the Clinton-led effort to overthrow of Gaddafi allowed weapons to flow to NATO-backed rebels with ties to al Qaeda. Those officials were particularly worried the training and weapons given to these “rebels” would lead to their spread throughout the region and turn Benghazi into a future haven for jihadists.
Even more important, U.S. intelligence officials didn’t believe Clinton’s rationale for removing Gaddafi. She insisted his regime was on the verge of committing genocide, a claim that was viewed by Pentagon officials and a key Democrat with such skepticism, they bypassed the State Department and opened separate secret diplomatic conversations with the Gadhafi regime. Unfortunately, Clinton’s worldview prevailed and the chaos ultimately engendered by her disastrous decision-making led directly to the assault of the American compound in Benghazi and the deaths of four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens. After that, Clinton blamed a video for the attack until that lie became untenable.
Today, Libya is a nation where ISIS is currently expanding its territory, in addition to the huge chunks of Iraq and Syria it already controls. That reality has alarmed U.S. officials due to Libya’s proximity to Europe, just across the Mediterranean Sea.
As for Syria, while there was a bipartisan vote in Sept. of 2014 approving the Obama administration’s request to arm Syrian rebels, that vote came a full year after the Washington Post reported that the CIA “has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria.” “The CIA shipments are to flow through a network of clandestine bases in Turkey and Jordan that were expanded over the past year as the agency sought to help Middle Eastern allies, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, direct weapons to moderate Syrian rebel forces,” the paper reported. In short, long before any input from Congress, the Obama administration was engaged in a haphazard, reckless policy of trying to arm rebels by allowing terrorism supporting countries like Qatar and Turkey to do the weapon transfers.
And even as the U.S. was monitoring those weapons flows, a document written in August 2012 reveals officials in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) were worried about the rise of ISI (ISIS) “which could declare an Islamic state… in Iraq and Syria” – a full 17 months before Obama dismissed them as a “JV team.” As for the establishment of a counter-terrorist cadre of Syrian rebels referred to by the Post, the Obama administration has finally begun training them in Jordan 20 months later – all 90 of them.
U.S. intelligence agencies knew about weapons shipments
Furthermore, documents obtained by Judicial Watch reveal U.S. intelligence agencies knew about weapons shipments far earlier than that. During the aftermath and ensuing uncertainty precipitated by Gaddafi’s downfall “in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012, weapons from the former military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria,”
All of the above, coupled with the administration’s inexplicable refusal to arm Kurdish fighters willing to take on ISIS, and the calculated ineffectiveness of the airstrikes Americans were told – eight months ago – would be more than enough to “degrade and defeat” the terrorist organization, makes one thing clear: the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton, not the GOP, owns the rise of these bloodthirsty savages.
Thus, one is left with only one reasonable explanation for Paul’s assertion: politics. Paul sees himself as the “crossover candidate” among GOP presidential contenders, even as he and his supports fervently believe his nonconformist approach to the issues of the day is his strongest asset. Fox News’s Brit Hume more accurately describes Paul as a candidate who “seems confused about which party he’s running in. There’s a segment of the Republican electorate which shares his somewhat paranoid views of things, and he’ll have their support, but that’s not a nominating set,” Hume declared. Columnist George Will explains why, noting that “events are not playing out the way he anticipated two years ago when he began running for president,” Will explained. “The world looks much more dangerous than it did.” That’s because it is.
Breaking tonight on CNN is the news that Pamela Geller was in fact one of the beheading targets of 26-year-old Usaama Rahim, a Muslim jihadi that police shot dead yesterday in Boston:
Usaamah Rahim, who was fatally shot after waving a military knife at law enforcement officers, was originally plotting to behead Pamela Geller, an activist and conservative blogger, law enforcement sources told CNN on Wednesday.
CNN host Erin Burnett gets Geller on the phone, and during the interview sites the Southern Poverty Law Center suggesting that Pamela Geller is the most visible and flamboyant figurehead of the anti-Muslim movement as they list her group as a ‘hate group’. She emphasizes the ‘hate group’ thing a couple of times, and then then asks Geller if she is stoking the flames of this ‘hate’ and if she relishes being the target of these attacks.
Talk about blaming the victim. Of course Geller responded by asking ‘who self promotes to get killed?’, pointing out the absurdity of the question.
Burnett also suggests in this interview that ‘two people died’ at Geller’s drawing Muhammad competition, as if to suggest they were bystanders who were victims of Geller’s hate or something, never mentioning that it was the terrorists themselves who died. Of course Geller corrected her.
The White House and the State Department are pushing back with unusual vigor against a New York Times article Monday that reports that “Tehran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent over the last 18 months of negotiations.” The revelation, based on the most recent reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Institute for Science and International Security, contradicts President Barack Obama’s repeated claims to have “frozen” Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon. The new information also suggests that Iran is, or will be, in violation of the interim nuclear deal.
Instead of expressing concern about Iran’s behavior, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf and White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes have tried to discredit, discount and deny the Times story.
Harf unleashed a series of angry tweets on Wednesday attacking the article and its author, while Rhodes tweeted his assurance that Iran has “consistently” lived up to its end of the bargain. Both are insisting that any apparent non-compliance by Iran is either inadvertent or mistaken, and that the Iranian regime will meet its obligations to reduce its nuclear stockpile drastically by June 30.
Richard Nephew reaffirms Iran has not violated JPOA and has consistently met its obligation to cap stockpile on time
4:58 PM – 3 Jun 2015
Why Iran’s growing uranium stockpile won’t derail a nuclear deal
Recent media reports have raised questions about whether Iran is adhering to its commitments under an interim nuclear agreement, even as Tehran and six world powers enter the final weeks of negotia..
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(The report to which Rhodes refers actually admits that the Iranian non-compliance “is an issue,” but argues, unconvincingly, that the excess material is “not a bomb’s worth,” and that “there should be some understanding for the complexity of the task on the part of the Iranians,” through Iran committed to that task knowing how difficult it might be.)
The trouble for the Obama administration is that no one believes it anymore, least of all the State Department press gallery, which chafed at Harf’s evasions on Wednesday.
There are several reasons for the administrations fading credibility. One is that the interim deal turned out to be far more lenient than even senior national security officials had been led to believe (it does not cover ballistic missiles, for example).
But the most important reason that no one believes the Obama administration is that the president has taken the military option off the table, most recently in an interview on Israeli television in which he said that there is no military solution to the problem.
Obama has demonstrated that he will do anything to preserve the façade of a nuclear deal–even though the Iranians continue to insist that they will not allow spot inspections of known nuclear facilities, much less military sites, to ensure compliance, and even though Iran continues its war against American allies and calls for “death to America” itself.
Iran would behave quite differently if it really worried about complying with the interim deal, and assuring the world that it had only peaceful intentions.
The simplest explanation for Iran’s failure to freeze its enrichment of uranium, or to convert the excess enrichment material in time, is that Iran knows it has a unique chance to build a bigger stockpile, and that Obama will not walk away.
Obama’s PR flacks cannot admit what Iran is doing, because then they would admit Obama has lied to the world. They protect Iran because in protecting Iran, they protect Obama.
Effectively, they are now tools of the Iranian regime.