Story 1: The American People’s Grievance: Barack Obama Is An Islamic Terrorist Denier — Evil or Stupid? — Stupid Is As Stupid Does — Yes, Both –Videos
“Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam. That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the “Islamic State.” And they propagate the notion that America — and the West, generally — is at war with Islam. That’s how they recruit. That’s how they try to radicalize young people. We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists. (Applause.) And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
~President Barack Obama, February 18, 2015
Forrest Gump (1/10) Best Movie Quote – Life is Like a Box of Chocolates (1994)
Obama schools Right Wing It is not Islamic Terrorism!
Afterburner w/Bill Whittle — Showtime: Evil or Stupid?
Bernard Haykel: How Islamic is the Islamic State?
“To say that IS is outside of the interpretive parameters of Islam is factually incorecct. […] There is no question that these people are drawign inspiration from Islamic texts. And they know these texts better than most Muslims”, Professor Bernard Haykel of Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies responds to an open rejection letter of the IS movement signed by 126 Sunni scholars.
Talking to War and Peace Talk, Professor Haykel also shared insights on the strand of Islamic tradition IS draws on and the reasons why these Sunni critics have been hesistant to condemn IS members as heretics.
The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on November 14, 2014.
The Folly of Bombing the Islamic State
“Bin Laden was very proud that he had only spent 500.000 dollars on the 9/11 attacks. The US in response to those attacks has probably spent 3 trillion dollars. So as a return on investment, Bin Laden has done really well”.
Professor Bernard Haykel of Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies elaborates on the current US-led airstrike-campaign against the Islamic State. He explores how that will be framed by the jihadist Sunni movements Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, and argues that these strikes will confirm their narrative of a conspiracy between the West, the Jews and the Shia Muslims. He stresses that “IS is not a Western problem, it is a Middle Eastern problem”. He also argues very strongly against foreign intervention, saying that: “Every time the West has intervened in the Middle East for the last 200 years it has led to a much worse situation both for the people of the region and for the West.”
The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on November 14, 2014.
Prof Haykel on the Islamic State and Al Qaeda
Is a Fractured Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt’s Future?
Genieve Abdo and Bernard Haykel – “Understanding the Complexities of Sunni — Shi’a Relations”
Who are the Muslim Brotherhood? – Truthloader
U.S. Policy and Islamism after the Arab Spring – Shimon Shamir – Clip from “Reflections on Islamism”
The History of the Muslim Brotherhood in 3 minutes
Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Overview
The American Muslim Brotherhood President – Barack Hussein Obama
The Great Deception New World Order & Muslim Brotherhood
An Alternative for U.S. Policy – Shimon Shamir – Clip from “Reflections on Islamism”
Islamism and Intervention against ISIS — Shimon Shamir – Clip from “Reflections on Islamism”
Reflections on Islamism: From the Muslim Brotherhood to the Islamic State
Obama Behind Muslim Brotherhood Caliphate Conspiracy
Former Muslim Brotherhood member: “Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim Terrorist”
Barack Obama is a Member of the Muslim Brotherhood
Treason Exposed! Obama Used Benghazi Attack to Cover Up Arms Shipments to Muslim Brotherhood
Why doesn’t Obama say “Islamic” terrorism?
While Obama Appeases Islamic Terrorists, Egyptian President Condemns Them! • Kelly File • 1/9/15 •
President Obama Islam Speech Summit Extremism (Full Speech) – We aren’t at war with Islam
Forrest Gump (1/9) Movie CLIP – Peas and Carrots (1994) HD
Remarks by the President in Closing of the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism
South Court Auditorium
4:20 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat.
Well, thank you, Lisa, for the introduction. Lisa is an example of the countless dedicated public servants across our government, a number of who are here today, who are working tirelessly every single day on behalf of the security and safety of the American people. So we very much appreciate her. And thanks to all of you for your attendance and participation in this important summit.
For more than 238 years, the United States of America has not just endured, but we have thrived and surmounted challenges that might have broken a lesser nation. After a terrible civil war, we repaired our union. We weathered a Great Depression, became the world’s most dynamic economy. We fought fascism, liberated Europe. We faced down communism — and won. American communities have been destroyed by earthquakes and tornadoes and fires and floods — and each time we rebuild.
The bombing that killed 168 people could not break Oklahoma City. On 9/11, terrorists tried to bring us to our knees; today a new tower soars above New York City, and America continues to lead throughout the world. After Americans were killed at Fort Hood and the Boston Marathon, it didn’t divide us; we came together as one American family.
In the face of horrific acts of violence — at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, or at a Jewish community center outside Kansas City — we reaffirmed our commitment to pluralism and to freedom, repulsed by the notion that anyone should ever be targeted because of who they are, or what they look like, or how they worship.
Most recently, with the brutal murders in Chapel Hill of three young Muslim Americans, many Muslim Americans are worried and afraid. And I want to be as clear as I can be: As Americans, all faiths and backgrounds, we stand with you in your grief and we offer our love and we offer our support.
My point is this: As Americans, we are strong and we are resilient. And when tragedy strikes, when we take a hit, we pull together, and we draw on what’s best in our character — our optimism, our commitment to each other, our commitment to our values, our respect for one another. We stand up, and we rebuild, and we recover, and we emerge stronger than before. That’s who we are. (Applause.)
And I say all this because we face genuine challenges to our security today, just as we have throughout our history. Challenges to our security are not new. They didn’t happen yesterday or a week ago or a year ago. We’ve always faced challenges. One of those challenges is the terrorist threat from groups like al Qaeda and ISIL. But this isn’t our challenge alone. It’s a challenge for the world. ISIL is terrorizing the people of Syria and Iraq, beheads and burns human beings in unfathomable acts of cruelty. We’ve seen deadly attacks in Ottawa and Sydney and, Paris, and now Copenhagen.
So, in the face of this challenge, we have marshalled the full force of the United States government, and we’re working with allies and partners to dismantle terrorist organizations and protect the American people. Given the complexities of the challenge and the nature of the enemy — which is not a traditional army — this work takes time, and will require vigilance and resilience and perspective. But I’m confident that, just as we have for more than two centuries, we will ultimately prevail.
And part of what gives me that confidence is the overwhelming response of the world community to the savagery of these terrorists — not just revulsion, but a concrete commitment to work together to vanquish these organizations.
At the United Nations in September, I called on the international community to come together and eradicate this scourge of violent extremism. And I want to thank all of you — from across America and around the world — for answering this call. Tomorrow at the State Department, governments and civil society groups from more than 60 countries will focus on the steps that we can take as governments. And I’ll also speak about how our nations have to remain relentless in our fight — our counterterrorism efforts — against groups that are plotting against our counties.
But we are here today because of a very specific challenge — and that’s countering violent extremism, something that is not just a matter of military affairs. By “violent extremism,” we don’t just mean the terrorists who are killing innocent people. We also mean the ideologies, the infrastructure of extremists –the propagandists, the recruiters, the funders who radicalize and recruit or incite people to violence. We all know there is no one profile of a violent extremist or terrorist, so there’s no way to predict who will become radicalized. Around the world, and here in the United States, inexcusable acts of violence have been committed against people of different faiths, by people of different faiths — which is, of course, a betrayal of all our faiths. It’s not unique to one group, or to one geography, or one period of time.
But we are here at this summit because of the urgent threat from groups like al Qaeda and ISIL. And this week we are focused on prevention — preventing these groups from radicalizing, recruiting or inspiring others to violence in the first place. I’ve called upon governments to come to the United Nations this fall with concrete steps that we can take together. And today, what I want to do is suggest several areas where I believe we can concentrate our efforts.
First, we have to confront squarely and honestly the twisted ideologies that these terrorist groups use to incite people to violence. Leading up to this summit, there’s been a fair amount of debate in the press and among pundits about the words we use to describe and frame this challenge. So I want to be very clear about how I see it.
Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam. That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the “Islamic State.” And they propagate the notion that America — and the West, generally — is at war with Islam. That’s how they recruit. That’s how they try to radicalize young people. We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists. (Applause.) And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam. (Applause.)
Now, just as those of us outside Muslim communities need to reject the terrorist narrative that the West and Islam are in conflict, or modern life and Islam are in conflict, I also believe that Muslim communities have a responsibility as well. Al Qaeda and ISIL do draw, selectively, from the Islamic texts. They do depend upon the misperception around the world that they speak in some fashion for people of the Muslim faith, that Islam is somehow inherently violent, that there is some sort of clash of civilizations.
Of course, the terrorists do not speak for over a billion Muslims who reject their hateful ideology. They no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God represents Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism. No religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism. (Applause.)
And to their credit, there are respected Muslim clerics and scholars not just here in the United States but around the world who push back on this twisted interpretation of their faith. They want to make very clear what Islam stands for. And we’re joined by some of these leaders today. These religious leaders and scholars preach that Islam calls for peace and for justice, and tolerance toward others; that terrorism is prohibited; that the Koran says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind. Those are the voices that represent over a billion people around the world.
But if we are going to effectively isolate terrorists, if we’re going to address the challenge of their efforts to recruit our young people, if we’re going to lift up the voices of tolerance and pluralism within the Muslim community, then we’ve got to acknowledge that their job is made harder by a broader narrative that does exist in many Muslim communities around the world that suggests the West is at odds with Islam in some fashion.
The reality — which, again, many Muslim leaders have spoken to — is that there’s a strain of thought that doesn’t embrace ISIL’s tactics, doesn’t embrace violence, but does buy into the notion that the Muslim world has suffered historical grievances — sometimes that’s accurate — does buy into the belief that so many of the ills in the Middle East flow from a history of colonialism or conspiracy; does buy into the idea that Islam is incompatible with modernity or tolerance, or that it’s been polluted by Western values.
So those beliefs exist. In some communities around the world they are widespread. And so it makes individuals — especially young people who already may be disaffected or alienated — more ripe for radicalization. And so we’ve got to be able to talk honestly about those issues. We’ve got to be much more clear about how we’re rejecting certain ideas.
So just as leaders like myself reject the notion that terrorists like ISIL genuinely represent Islam, Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam, that there’s an inherent clash in civilizations. Everybody has to speak up very clearly that no matter what the grievance, violence against innocents doesn’t defend Islam or Muslims, it damages Islam and Muslims. (Applause.)
And when all of us, together, are doing our part to reject the narratives of violent extremists, when all of us are doing our part to be very clear about the fact that there are certain universal precepts and values that need to be respected in this interconnected world, that’s the beginnings of a partnership.
As we go forward, we need to find new ways to amplify the voices of peace and tolerance and inclusion — and we especially need to do it online. We also need to lift up the voices of those who know the hypocrisy of groups like ISIL firsthand, including former extremists. Their words speak to us today. And I know in some of the discussions these voices have been raised: “I witnessed horrible crimes committed by ISIS.” “It’s not a revolution or jihad…it’s a slaughter…I was shocked by what I did.” “This isn’t what we came for, to kill other Muslims.” “I’m 28 — is this the only future I’m able to imagine?” That’s the voice of so many who were temporarily radicalized and then saw the truth. And they’ve warned other young people not to make the same mistakes as they did. “Do not run after illusions.” “Do not be deceived.” “Do not give up your life for nothing.” We need to lift up those voices.
And in all this work, the greatest resource are communities themselves, especially like those young people who are here today. We are joined by talented young men and women who are pioneering new innovations, and new social media tools, and new ways to reach young people. We’re joined by leaders from the private sector, including high-tech companies, who want to support your efforts. And I want to challenge all of us to build new partnerships that unleash the talents and creativity of young people — young Muslims — not just to expose the lies of extremists but to empower youth to service, and to lift up people’s lives here in America and around the world. And that can be a calling for your generation.
So that’s the first challenge — we’ve got to discredit these ideologies. We have to tackle them head on. And we can’t shy away from these discussions. And too often, folks are, understandably, sensitive about addressing some of these root issues, but we have to talk about them, honestly and clearly. (Applause.) And the reason I believe we have to do so is because I’m so confident that when the truth is out we’ll be successful. Now, a second challenge is we do have to address the grievances that terrorists exploit, including economic grievances. Poverty alone does not cause a person to become a terrorist, any more than poverty alone causes somebody to become a criminal. There are millions of people — billions of people — in the world who live in abject poverty and are focused on what they can do to build up their own lives, and never embrace violent ideologies.
Conversely, there are terrorists who’ve come from extraordinarily wealthy backgrounds, like Osama bin Laden. What’s true, though, is that when millions of people — especially youth — are impoverished and have no hope for the future, when corruption inflicts daily humiliations on people, when there are no outlets by which people can express their concerns, resentments fester. The risk of instability and extremism grow. Where young people have no education, they are more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and radical ideas, because it’s not tested against anything else, they’ve got nothing to weigh. And we’ve seen this across the Middle East and North Africa.
And terrorist groups are all too happy to step into a void. They offer salaries to their foot soldiers so they can support their families. Sometimes they offer social services — schools, health clinics — to do what local governments cannot or will not do. They try to justify their violence in the name of fighting the injustice of corruption that steals from the people — even while those terrorist groups end up committing even worse abuses, like kidnapping and human trafficking.
So if we’re going to prevent people from being susceptible to the false promises of extremism, then the international community has to offer something better. And the United States intends to do its part. We will keep promoting development and growth that is broadly shared, so more people can provide for their families. We’ll keep leading a global effort against corruption, because the culture of the bribe has to be replaced by good governance that doesn’t favor certain groups over others.
Countries have to truly invest in the education and skills and job training that our extraordinary young people need. And by the way, that’s boys and girls, and men and women, because countries will not be truly successful if half their populations — if their girls and their women are denied opportunity. (Applause.) And America will continue to forge new partnerships in entrepreneurship and innovation, and science and technology, so young people from Morocco to Malaysia can start new businesses and create more prosperity.
Just as we address economic grievances, we need to face a third challenge — and that’s addressing the political grievances that are exploited by terrorists. When governments oppress their people, deny human rights, stifle dissent, or marginalize ethnic and religious groups, or favor certain religious groups over others, it sows the seeds of extremism and violence. It makes those communities more vulnerable to recruitment. Terrorist groups claim that change can only come through violence. And if peaceful change is impossible, that plays into extremist propaganda.
So the essential ingredient to real and lasting stability and progress is not less democracy; it’s more democracy. (Applause.) It’s institutions that uphold the rule of law and apply justice equally. It’s security forces and police that respect human rights and treat people with dignity. It’s free speech and strong civil societies where people can organize and assemble and advocate for peaceful change. It’s freedom of religion where all people can practice their faith without fear and intimidation. (Applause.) All of this is part of countering violent extremism.
Fourth, we have to recognize that our best partners in all these efforts, the best people to help protect individuals from falling victim to extremist ideologies are their own communities, their own family members. We have to be honest with ourselves. Terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIL deliberately target their propaganda in the hopes of reaching and brainwashing young Muslims, especially those who may be disillusioned or wrestling with their identity. That’s the truth. The high-quality videos, the online magazines, the use of social media, terrorist Twitter accounts — it’s all designed to target today’s young people online, in cyberspace.
And by the way, the older people here, as wise and respected as you may be, your stuff is often boring — (laughter) — compared to what they’re doing. (Applause.) You’re not connected. And as a consequence, you are not connecting.
So these terrorists are a threat, first and foremost, to the communities that they target, which means communities have to take the lead in protecting themselves. And that is true here in America, as it’s true anywhere else. When someone starts getting radicalized, family and friends are often the first to see that something has changed in their personality. Teachers may notice a student becoming withdrawn or struggling with his or her identity, and if they intervene at that moment and offer support, that may make a difference.
Faith leaders may notice that someone is beginning to espouse violent interpretations of religion, and that’s a moment for possible intervention that allows them to think about their actions and reflect on the meaning of their faith in a way that’s more consistent with peace and justice. Families and friends, coworkers, neighbors, faith leaders — they want to reach out; they want to help save their loved ones and friends, and prevent them from taking a wrong turn.
But communities don’t always know the signs to look for, or have the tools to intervene, or know what works best. And that’s where government can play a role — if government is serving as a trusted partner. And that’s where we also need to be honest. I know some Muslim Americans have concerns about working with government, particularly law enforcement. And their reluctance is rooted in the objection to certain practices where Muslim Americans feel they’ve been unfairly targeted.
So, in our work, we have to make sure that abuses stop, are not repeated, that we do not stigmatize entire communities. Nobody should be profiled or put under a cloud of suspicion simply because of their faith. (Applause.) Engagement with communities can’t be a cover for surveillance. We can’t “securitize” our relationship with Muslim Americans — (applause) — dealing with them solely through the prism of law enforcement. Because when we do, that only reinforces suspicions, makes it harder for us to build the trust that we need to work together.
As part of this summit, we’re announcing that we’re going to increase our outreach to communities, including Muslim Americans. We’re going to step up our efforts to engage with partners and raise awareness so more communities understand how to protect their loved ones from becoming radicalized. We’ve got to devote more resources to these efforts. (Applause.)
And as government does more, communities are going to have to step up as well. We need to build on the pilot programs that have been discussed at this summit already — in Los Angeles, in Minneapolis, in Boston. These are partnerships that bring people together in a spirit of mutual respect and create more dialogue and more trust and more cooperation. If we’re going to solve these issues, then the people who are most targeted and potentially most affected — Muslim Americans — have to have a seat at the table where they can help shape and strengthen these partnerships so that we’re all working together to help communities stay safe and strong and resilient. (Applause.)
And finally, we need to do what extremists and terrorists hope we will not do, and that is stay true to the values that define us as free and diverse societies. If extremists are peddling the notion that Western countries are hostile to Muslims, then we need to show that we welcome people of all faiths.
Here in America, Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding. (Applause.) Generations of Muslim immigrants came here and went to work as farmers and merchants and factory workers, helped to lay railroads and build up America. The first Islamic center in New York City was founded in the 1890s. America’s first mosque — this was an interesting fact — was in North Dakota. (Laughter.)
Muslim Americans protect our communities as police officers and firefighters and first responders, and protect our nation by serving in uniform, and in our intelligence communities, and in homeland security. And in cemeteries across our country, including at Arlington, Muslim American heroes rest in peace having given their lives in defense of all of us. (Applause.)
And of course that’s the story extremists and terrorists don’t want the world to know — Muslims succeeding and thriving in America. Because when that truth is known, it exposes their propaganda as the lie that it is. It’s also a story that every American must never forget, because it reminds us all that hatred and bigotry and prejudice have no place in our country. It’s not just counterproductive; it doesn’t just aid terrorists; it’s wrong. It’s contrary to who we are.
I’m thinking of a little girl named Sabrina who last month sent me a Valentine’s Day card in the shape of a heart. It was the first Valentine I got. (Laughter.) I got it from Sabrina before Malia and Sasha and Michelle gave me one. (Laughter.) So she’s 11 years old. She’s in the 5th grade. She’s a young Muslim American. And she said in her Valentine, “I enjoy being an American.” And when she grows up, she wants to be an engineer — or a basketball player. (Laughter.) Which are good choices. (Laughter.) But she wrote, “I am worried about people hating Muslims…If some Muslims do bad things, that doesn’t mean all of them do.” And she asked, “Please tell everyone that we are good people and we’re just like everyone else.” (Applause.) Now, those are the words — and the wisdom — of a little girl growing up here in America, just like my daughters are growing up here in America. “We’re just like everybody else.” And everybody needs to remember that during the course of this debate.
As we move forward with these challenges, we all have responsibilities, we all have hard work ahead of us on this issue. We can’t paper over problems, and we’re not going to solve this if we’re always just trying to be politically correct. But we do have to remember that 11-year-old girl. That’s our hope. That’s our future. That’s how we discredit violent ideologies, by making sure her voice is lifted up; making sure she’s nurtured; making sure that she’s supported — and then, recognizing there are little girls and boys like that all around the world, and us helping to address economic and political grievances that can be exploited by extremists, and empowering local communities, and us staying true to our values as a diverse and tolerant society even when we’re threatened — especially when we’re threatened.
There will be a military component to this. There are savage cruelties going on out there that have to be stopped. ISIL is killing Muslims at a rate that is many multiples the rate that they’re killing non-Muslims. Everybody has a stake in stopping them, and there will be an element of us just stopping them in their tracks with force. But to eliminate the soil out of which they grew, to make sure that we are giving a brighter future to everyone and a lasting sense of security, then we’re going to have to make it clear to all of our children — including that little girl in 5th grade — that you have a place. You have a place here in America. You have a place in those countries where you live. You have a future.
Ultimately, those are the antidotes to violent extremism. And that’s work that we’re going to have to do together. It will take time. This is a generational challenge. But after 238 years, it should be obvious — America has overcome much bigger challenges, and we’ll overcome the ones that we face today. We will stay united and committed to the ideals that have shaped us for more than two centuries, including the opportunity and justice and dignity of every single human being.
Story 2: Memo To Obama Administration: Read Graeme Wood’s Atlantic Monthly Article: What ISIS Really Wants? — Videos
Journalist Graeme Wood on the Islamic State: VICE Meets
Islamic State militants ‘burn to death 45 in Iraq
Islamic State: The New Terror
The Battle for Iraq: Shia Militias vs. the Islamic State
The Islamic State (Full Length)
The Islamic State, a hardline Sunni jihadist group that formerly had ties to al Qaeda, has conquered large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group has announced its intention to reestablish the caliphate and has declared its leader, the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the caliph.
The lightning advances the Islamic State made across Syria and Iraq in June shocked the world. But it’s not just the group’s military victories that have garnered attention — it’s also the pace with which its members have begun to carve out a viable state.
Flush with cash and US weapons seized during its advances in Iraq, the Islamic State’s expansion shows no sign of slowing down. In the first week of August alone, Islamic State fighters have taken over new areas in northern Iraq, encroaching on Kurdish territory and sending Christians and other minorities fleeing as reports of massacres emerged.
VICE News reporter Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings.
Embedded with Al-Qaeda in Syria: ISIS and al-Nusra
Three years ago, an uprising against the Assad regime turned into what looked like a straightforward civil war between Syrian government forces and rebels. However, over time, what had started as a largely secular opposition movement began to take on more of a radical Islamist tone, with two al Qaeda offshoots — the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra — becoming the dominant forces on the ground across the rebel-held North.
One VICE filmmaker managed to secure unprecedented access to both al-Qaeda factions battling Syria’s government forces, despite the risk of journalists being kidnapped. This is a remarkable portrait of the foreign volunteers and local Syrians willing to fight and die to establish a new caliphate on Europe’s doorstep.
Ghosts of Aleppo (Full Length)
A City Left in Ruins: The Battle for Aleppo
Should ISIS Be Burning Captives? (David Wood)
Who Are The Salafis and Wahhabies Yusuf Estes Islam
Bernard Haykel: How Islamic is the Islamic State?
Prof Haykel on the Islamic State and Al Qaeda
IS is a symptom of a deep feeling amongst Sunni Arabs of being disenfranchised. […] It is the same sentiment that led to the emergence of Al-Qaeda.”
Professor Bernard Haykel of Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies elaborates on the root causes for the rise of the Islamic State, as a movement responding to the systemic disenfranchisement of Sunnis in the region.
Professor Haykel also explains why IS surpassed Al Qaeda in popularity and why the Arabian Peninsula has so vigorously supported U.S.- led airstrikes against IS.
Talking to War and Peace Talk, Professor Haykel responded to questions such as:
Why do people from the West join the Islamic State?
Why do the recruits burn their passports?
Should Western governments withdraw citizenship from jihadis?
What should be done about returning jihadis?
Can they be de-radicalized?
The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on November 14, 2014.
The Folly of Bombing the Islamic State
Killing Al-Baghdadi: the end of the Caliphate or part of the narrative?
SIS Tilting the Chess Board: The Dawn of a New Middle East Balance of Power – H. van Lynden lecture
The Henriette van Lynden lecture ‘ISIS Tilting the Chess Board: The Dawn of a New Middle East Balance of Power’, organised by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was held on Friday, 14 November 2014 in de Rode Hoed, Amsterdam.
The rise of ISIS as a failure of governance & the need for a broader response than CT-policy, by Ms. Mina al-Oraibi [0:6:36]
Links of ISIS ideology to Saudi Arabia’s wahabism and policy options by Prof. Bernard Haykel [0:19:52]
Iran’s interests and vision in the fight against ISIS by Dr. Ali Vaez [0:35:44]
Panel discussion moderated by Ernesto Braam [0:50:20]
Audience Q&A [1:05:25]
Ms. Mina al-Oraibi
Born in Iraq, she is the deputy editor-in-chief of prominent Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. She is an expert on transitions in the Arab region and American military doctrine. She regularly speaks with heads of state in the Middle East.
Prof. Bernard Haykel
Professor of Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University, specialised in Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf region. In addition, he is an Islam expert who focuses on Salafi movements and the roots of ISIS ideology. Particularly noteworthy is his contribution to the leading bestseller ‘Global Salafism’.
Dr. Ali Vaez
As an expert on Iran at the International Crisis Group in Washington D.C., he is a sought-after speaker on Iran’s influence in the region. He regularly appears on BBC and CNN, and publishes in Foreign Policy and the International Herald Tribune, among others.
Genieve Abdo and Bernard Haykel – “Understanding the Complexities of Sunni — Shi’a Relations”
Rising Sunni-Shiite violence threatens security in Iraq
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 1
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 2
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 3
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 4
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 5
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 6
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 7
Christiane Amanpour interviews Princeton Professor Bernard Haykel on Yemen
Bernard Haykel: Saudi Arabia’s Royal Family and the State
Bernard Haykel: Saudi Arabia’s Relationship with the U.S.
What ISIS Really Wants
By Graeme Wood
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.
Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.
We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. The Islamic State supporters I spoke with still refer to Osama bin Laden as “Sheikh Osama,” a title of honor. But jihadism has evolved since al-Qaeda’s heyday, from about 1998 to 2003, and many jihadists disdain the group’s priorities and current leadership.
Bin Laden viewed his terrorism as a prologue to a caliphate he did not expect to see in his lifetime. His organization was flexible, operating as a geographically diffuse network of autonomous cells. The Islamic State, by contrast, requires territory to remain legitimate, and a top-down structure to rule it. (Its bureaucracy is divided into civil and military arms, and its territory into provinces.)
We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. Peter Bergen, who produced the first interview with bin Laden in 1997, titled his first book Holy War, Inc. in part to acknowledge bin Laden as a creature of the modern secular world. Bin Laden corporatized terror and franchised it out. He requested specific political concessions, such as the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia. His foot soldiers navigated the modern world confidently. On Mohammad Atta’s last full day of life, he shopped at Walmart and ate dinner at Pizza Hut.
Nearly all the Islamic State’s decisions adhere to what it calls, on its billboards, license plates, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology.”
There is a temptation to rehearse this observation—that jihadists are modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise—and make it fit the Islamic State. In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.
The most-articulate spokesmen for that position are the Islamic State’s officials and supporters themselves. They refer derisively to “moderns.” In conversation, they insist that they will not—cannot—waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers. They often speak in codes and allusions that sound odd or old-fashioned to non-Muslims, but refer to specific traditions and texts of early Islam.
To take one example: In September, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the Islamic State’s chief spokesman, called on Muslims in Western countries such as France and Canada to find an infidel and “smash his head with a rock,” poison him, run him over with a car, or “destroy his crops.” To Western ears, the biblical-sounding punishments—the stoning and crop destruction—juxtaposed strangely with his more modern-sounding call to vehicular homicide. (As if to show that he could terrorize by imagery alone, Adnani also referred to Secretary of State John Kerry as an “uncircumcised geezer.”)
But Adnani was not merely talking trash. His speech was laced with theological and legal discussion, and his exhortation to attack crops directly echoed orders from Muhammad to leave well water and crops alone—unless the armies of Islam were in a defensive position, in which case Muslims in the lands of kuffar, or infidels, should be unmerciful, and poison away.
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.
Control of territory is an essential precondition for the Islamic State’s authority in the eyes of its supporters. This map, adapted from the work of the Institute for the Study of War, shows the territory under the caliphate’s control as of January 15, along with areas it has attacked. Where it holds power, the state collects taxes, regulates prices, operates courts, and administers services ranging from health care and education to telecommunications.
In November, the Islamic State released an infomercial-like video tracing its origins to bin Laden. It acknowledged Abu Musa’b al Zarqawi, the brutal head of al‑Qaeda in Iraq from roughly 2003 until his killing in 2006, as a more immediate progenitor, followed sequentially by two other guerrilla leaders before Baghdadi, the caliph. Notably unmentioned: bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al Zawahiri, the owlish Egyptian eye surgeon who currently heads al‑Qaeda. Zawahiri has not pledged allegiance to Baghdadi, and he is increasingly hated by his fellow jihadists. His isolation is not helped by his lack of charisma; in videos he comes across as squinty and annoyed. But the split between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State has been long in the making, and begins to explain, at least in part, the outsize bloodlust of the latter.
Zawahiri’s companion in isolation is a Jordanian cleric named Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, 55, who has a fair claim to being al-Qaeda’s intellectual architect and the most important jihadist unknown to the average American newspaper reader. On most matters of doctrine, Maqdisi and the Islamic State agree. Both are closely identified with the jihadist wing of a branch of Sunnism called Salafism, after the Arabic al salaf al salih, the “pious forefathers.” These forefathers are the Prophet himself and his earliest adherents, whom Salafis honor and emulate as the models for all behavior, including warfare, couture, family life, even dentistry.
The Islamic State awaits the army of “Rome,” whose defeat at Dabiq, Syria, will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse.
Maqdisi taught Zarqawi, who went to war in Iraq with the older man’s advice in mind. In time, though, Zarqawi surpassed his mentor in fanaticism, and eventually earned his rebuke. At issue was Zarqawi’s penchant for bloody spectacle—and, as a matter of doctrine, his hatred of other Muslims, to the point of excommunicating and killing them. In Islam, the practice of takfir, or excommunication, is theologically perilous. “If a man says to his brother, ‘You are an infidel,’ ” the Prophet said, “then one of them is right.” If the accuser is wrong, he himself has committed apostasy by making a false accusation. The punishment for apostasy is death. And yet Zarqawi heedlessly expanded the range of behavior that could make Muslims infidels.
Maqdisi wrote to his former pupil that he needed to exercise caution and “not issue sweeping proclamations of takfir” or “proclaim people to be apostates because of their sins.” The distinction between apostate and sinner may appear subtle, but it is a key point of contention between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Denying the holiness of the Koran or the prophecies of Muhammad is straightforward apostasy. But Zarqawi and the state he spawned take the position that many other acts can remove a Muslim from Islam. These include, in certain cases, selling alcohol or drugs, wearing Western clothes or shaving one’s beard, voting in an election—even for a Muslim candidate—and being lax about calling other people apostates. Being a Shiite, as most Iraqi Arabs are, meets the standard as well, because the Islamic State regards Shiism as innovation, and to innovate on the Koran is to deny its initial perfection. (The Islamic State claims that common Shiite practices, such as worship at the graves of imams and public self-flagellation, have no basis in the Koran or in the example of the Prophet.) That means roughly 200 million Shia are marked for death. So too are the heads of state of every Muslim country, who have elevated man-made law above Sharia by running for office or enforcing laws not made by God.
Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims. Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.
Musa Cerantonio, an Australian preacher reported to be one of the Islamic State’s most influential recruiters, believes it is foretold that the caliphate will sack Istanbul before it is beaten back by an army led by the anti-Messiah, whose eventual death— when just a few thousand jihadists remain—will usher in the apocalypse. (Paul Jeffers/Fairfax Media)
Centuries have passed since the wars of religion ceased in Europe, and since men stopped dying in large numbers because of arcane theological disputes. Hence, perhaps, the incredulity and denial with which Westerners have greeted news of the theology and practices of the Islamic State. Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest.
Their skepticism is comprehensible. In the past, Westerners who accused Muslims of blindly following ancient scriptures came to deserved grief from academics—notably the late Edward Said—who pointed out that calling Muslims “ancient” was usually just another way to denigrate them. Look instead, these scholars urged, to the conditions in which these ideologies arose—the bad governance, the shifting social mores, the humiliation of living in lands valued only for their oil.
Without acknowledgment of these factors, no explanation of the rise of the Islamic State could be complete. But focusing on them to the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.
Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”
Every academic I asked about the Islamic State’s ideology sent me to Haykel. Of partial Lebanese descent, Haykel grew up in Lebanon and the United States, and when he talks through his Mephistophelian goatee, there is a hint of an unplaceable foreign accent.
According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”
All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”
Our failure to appreciate the essential differences between ISIS and al-Qaeda has led to dangerous decisions.
The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam. The tax on Christians finds clear endorsement in the Surah Al-Tawba, the Koran’s ninth chapter, which instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” The Prophet, whom all Muslims consider exemplary, imposed these rules and owned slaves.
Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. “What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these texts,” Haykel said. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness that Muslims don’t normally have.”
Before the rise of the Islamic State, no group in the past few centuries had attempted more-radical fidelity to the Prophetic model than the Wahhabis of 18th‑century Arabia. They conquered most of what is now Saudi Arabia, and their strict practices survive in a diluted version of Sharia there. Haykel sees an important distinction between the groups, though: “The Wahhabis were not wanton in their violence.” They were surrounded by Muslims, and they conquered lands that were already Islamic; this stayed their hand. “ISIS, by contrast, is really reliving the early period.” Early Muslims were surrounded by non-Muslims, and the Islamic State, because of its takfiri tendencies, considers itself to be in the same situation.
If al-Qaeda wanted to revive slavery, it never said so. And why would it? Silence on slavery probably reflected strategic thinking, with public sympathies in mind: when the Islamic State began enslaving people, even some of its supporters balked. Nonetheless, the caliphate has continued to embrace slavery and crucifixion without apology. “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,” Adnani, the spokesman, promised in one of his periodic valentines to the West. “If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.”
In October, Dabiq, the magazine of the Islamic State, published “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour,” an article that took up the question of whether Yazidis (the members of an ancient Kurdish sect that borrows elements of Islam, and had come under attack from Islamic State forces in northern Iraq) are lapsed Muslims, and therefore marked for death, or merely pagans and therefore fair game for enslavement. A study group of Islamic State scholars had convened, on government orders, to resolve this issue. If they are pagans, the article’s anonymous author wrote,
Yazidi women and children [are to be] divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations [in northern Iraq] … Enslaving the families of the kuffar [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Koran and the narrations of the Prophet … and thereby apostatizing from Islam.
Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are thought to have immigrated to the Islamic State. Recruits hail from France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Australia, Indonesia, the United States, and many other places. Many have come to fight, and many intend to die.
Peter R. Neumann, a professor at King’s College London, told me that online voices have been essential to spreading propaganda and ensuring that newcomers know what to believe. Online recruitment has also widened the demographics of the jihadist community, by allowing conservative Muslim women—physically isolated in their homes—to reach out to recruiters, radicalize, and arrange passage to Syria. Through its appeals to both genders, the Islamic State hopes to build a complete society.
In November, I traveled to Australia to meet Musa Cerantonio, a 30-year-old man whom Neumann and other researchers had identified as one of the two most important “new spiritual authorities” guiding foreigners to join the Islamic State. For three years he was a televangelist on Iqraa TV in Cairo, but he left after the station objected to his frequent calls to establish a caliphate. Now he preaches on Facebook and Twitter.
Cerantonio—a big, friendly man with a bookish demeanor—told me he blanches at beheading videos. He hates seeing the violence, even though supporters of the Islamic State are required to endorse it. (He speaks out, controversially among jihadists, against suicide bombing, on the grounds that God forbids suicide; he differs from the Islamic State on a few other points as well.) He has the kind of unkempt facial hair one sees on certain overgrown fans of The Lord of the Rings, and his obsession with Islamic apocalypticism felt familiar. He seemed to be living out a drama that looks, from an outsider’s perspective, like a medieval fantasy novel, only with real blood.
Last June, Cerantonio and his wife tried to emigrate—he wouldn’t say to where (“It’s illegal to go to Syria,” he said cagily)—but they were caught en route, in the Philippines, and he was deported back to Australia for overstaying his visa. Australia has criminalized attempts to join or travel to the Islamic State, and has confiscated Cerantonio’s passport. He is stuck in Melbourne, where he is well known to the local constabulary. If Cerantonio were caught facilitating the movement of individuals to the Islamic State, he would be imprisoned. So far, though, he is free—a technically unaffiliated ideologue who nonetheless speaks with what other jihadists have taken to be a reliable voice on matters of the Islamic State’s doctrine.
We met for lunch in Footscray, a dense, multicultural Melbourne suburb that’s home to Lonely Planet, the travel-guide publisher. Cerantonio grew up there in a half-Irish, half-Calabrian family. On a typical street one can find African restaurants, Vietnamese shops, and young Arabs walking around in the Salafi uniform of scraggly beard, long shirt, and trousers ending halfway down the calves.
Cerantonio explained the joy he felt when Baghdadi was declared the caliph on June 29—and the sudden, magnetic attraction that Mesopotamia began to exert on him and his friends. “I was in a hotel [in the Philippines], and I saw the declaration on television,” he told me. “And I was just amazed, and I’m like, Why am I stuck here in this bloody room?”
The last caliphate was the Ottoman empire, which reached its peak in the 16th century and then experienced a long decline, until the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, euthanized it in 1924. But Cerantonio, like many supporters of the Islamic State, doesn’t acknowledge that caliphate as legitimate, because it didn’t fully enforce Islamic law, which requires stonings and slavery and amputations, and because its caliphs were not descended from the tribe of the Prophet, the Quraysh.
Baghdadi spoke at length of the importance of the caliphate in his Mosul sermon. He said that to revive the institution of the caliphate—which had not functioned except in name for about 1,000 years—was a communal obligation. He and his loyalists had “hastened to declare the caliphate and place an imam” at its head, he said. “This is a duty upon the Muslims—a duty that has been lost for centuries … The Muslims sin by losing it, and they must always seek to establish it.” Like bin Laden before him, Baghdadi spoke floridly, with frequent scriptural allusion and command of classical rhetoric. Unlike bin Laden, and unlike those false caliphs of the Ottoman empire, he is Qurayshi.
The caliphate, Cerantonio told me, is not just a political entity but also a vehicle for salvation. Islamic State propaganda regularly reports the pledges of baya’a (allegiance) rolling in from jihadist groups across the Muslim world. Cerantonio quoted a Prophetic saying, that to die without pledging allegiance is to die jahil (ignorant) and therefore die a “death of disbelief.” Consider how Muslims (or, for that matter, Christians) imagine God deals with the souls of people who die without learning about the one true religion. They are neither obviously saved nor definitively condemned. Similarly, Cerantonio said, the Muslim who acknowledges one omnipotent god and prays, but who dies without pledging himself to a valid caliph and incurring the obligations of that oath, has failed to live a fully Islamic life. I pointed out that this means the vast majority of Muslims in history, and all who passed away between 1924 and 2014, died a death of disbelief. Cerantonio nodded gravely. “I would go so far as to say that Islam has been reestablished” by the caliphate.
I asked him about his own baya’a, and he quickly corrected me: “I didn’t say that I’d pledged allegiance.” Under Australian law, he reminded me, giving baya’a to the Islamic State was illegal. “But I agree that [Baghdadi] fulfills the requirements,” he continued. “I’m just going to wink at you, and you take that to mean whatever you want.”
To be the caliph, one must meet conditions outlined in Sunni law—being a Muslim adult man of Quraysh descent; exhibiting moral probity and physical and mental integrity; and having ’amr, or authority. This last criterion, Cerantonio said, is the hardest to fulfill, and requires that the caliph have territory in which he can enforce Islamic law. Baghdadi’s Islamic State achieved that long before June 29, Cerantonio said, and as soon as it did, a Western convert within the group’s ranks—Cerantonio described him as “something of a leader”—began murmuring about the religious obligation to declare a caliphate. He and others spoke quietly to those in power and told them that further delay would be sinful.
Social-media posts from the Islamic State suggest that executions happen more or less continually.
Cerantonio said a faction arose that was prepared to make war on Baghdadi’s group if it delayed any further. They prepared a letter to various powerful members of ISIS, airing their displeasure at the failure to appoint a caliph, but were pacified by Adnani, the spokesman, who let them in on a secret—that a caliphate had already been declared, long before the public announcement. They had their legitimate caliph, and at that point there was only one option. “If he’s legitimate,” Cerantonio said, “you must give him the baya’a.”
After Baghdadi’s July sermon, a stream of jihadists began flowing daily into Syria with renewed motivation. Jürgen Todenhöfer, a German author and former politician who visited the Islamic State in December, reported the arrival of 100 fighters at one Turkish-border recruitment station in just two days. His report, among others, suggests a still-steady inflow of foreigners, ready to give up everything at home for a shot at paradise in the worst place on Earth.
Bernard Haykel, the foremost secular authority on the Islamic State’s ideology, believes the group is trying to re-create the earliest days of Islam and is faithfully reproducing its norms of war. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness” about the group’s dedication to the text of the Koran, he says. (Peter Murphy)
In London, a week before my meal with Cerantonio, I met with three ex-members of a banned Islamist group called Al Muhajiroun (The Emigrants): Anjem Choudary, Abu Baraa, and Abdul Muhid. They all expressed desire to emigrate to the Islamic State, as many of their colleagues already had, but the authorities had confiscated their passports. Like Cerantonio, they regarded the caliphate as the only righteous government on Earth, though none would confess having pledged allegiance. Their principal goal in meeting me was to explain what the Islamic State stands for, and how its policies reflect God’s law.
Choudary, 48, is the group’s former leader. He frequently appears on cable news, as one of the few people producers can book who will defend the Islamic State vociferously, until his mike is cut. He has a reputation in the United Kingdom as a loathsome blowhard, but he and his disciples sincerely believe in the Islamic State and, on matters of doctrine, speak in its voice. Choudary and the others feature prominently in the Twitter feeds of Islamic State residents, and Abu Baraa maintains a YouTube channel to answer questions about Sharia.
Since September, authorities have been investigating the three men on suspicion of supporting terrorism. Because of this investigation, they had to meet me separately: communication among them would have violated the terms of their bail. But speaking with them felt like speaking with the same person wearing different masks. Choudary met me in a candy shop in the East London suburb of Ilford. He was dressed smartly, in a crisp blue tunic reaching nearly to his ankles, and sipped a Red Bull while we talked.
Before the caliphate, “maybe 85 percent of the Sharia was absent from our lives,” Choudary told me. “These laws are in abeyance until we have khilafa”—a caliphate—“and now we have one.” Without a caliphate, for example, individual vigilantes are not obliged to amputate the hands of thieves they catch in the act. But create a caliphate, and this law, along with a huge body of other jurisprudence, suddenly awakens. In theory, all Muslims are obliged to immigrate to the territory where the caliph is applying these laws. One of Choudary’s prize students, a convert from Hinduism named Abu Rumaysah, evaded police to bring his family of five from London to Syria in November. On the day I met Choudary, Abu Rumaysah tweeted out a picture of himself with a Kalashnikov in one arm and his newborn son in the other. Hashtag: #GenerationKhilafah.
The caliph is required to implement Sharia. Any deviation will compel those who have pledged allegiance to inform the caliph in private of his error and, in extreme cases, to excommunicate and replace him if he persists. (“I have been plagued with this great matter, plagued with this responsibility, and it is a heavy responsibility,” Baghdadi said in his sermon.) In return, the caliph commands obedience—and those who persist in supporting non-Muslim governments, after being duly warned and educated about their sin, are considered apostates.
Choudary said Sharia has been misunderstood because of its incomplete application by regimes such as Saudi Arabia, which does behead murderers and cut off thieves’ hands. “The problem,” he explained, “is that when places like Saudi Arabia just implement the penal code, and don’t provide the social and economic justice of the Sharia—the whole package—they simply engender hatred toward the Sharia.” That whole package, he said, would include free housing, food, and clothing for all, though of course anyone who wished to enrich himself with work could do so.
Abdul Muhid, 32, continued along these lines. He was dressed in mujahideen chic when I met him at a local restaurant: scruffy beard, Afghan cap, and a wallet outside of his clothes, attached with what looked like a shoulder holster. When we sat down, he was eager to discuss welfare. The Islamic State may have medieval-style punishments for moral crimes (lashes for boozing or fornication, stoning for adultery), but its social-welfare program is, at least in some aspects, progressive to a degree that would please an MSNBC pundit. Health care, he said, is free. (“Isn’t it free in Britain, too?,” I asked. “Not really,” he said. “Some procedures aren’t covered, such as vision.”) This provision of social welfare was not, he said, a policy choice of the Islamic State, but a policy obligation inherent in God’s law.
Anjem Choudary, London’s most notorious defender of the Islamic State, says crucifixion and beheading are sacred requirements. (Tal Cohen/Reuters)
III. The Apocalypse
All Muslims acknowledge that God is the only one who knows the future. But they also agree that he has offered us a peek at it, in the Koran and in narrations of the Prophet. The Islamic State differs from nearly every other current jihadist movement in believing that it is written into God’s script as a central character. It is in this casting that the Islamic State is most boldly distinctive from its predecessors, and clearest in the religious nature of its mission.
In broad strokes, al-Qaeda acts like an underground political movement, with worldly goals in sight at all times—the expulsion of non-Muslims from the Arabian peninsula, the abolishment of the state of Israel, the end of support for dictatorships in Muslim lands. The Islamic State has its share of worldly concerns (including, in the places it controls, collecting garbage and keeping the water running), but the End of Days is a leitmotif of its propaganda. Bin Laden rarely mentioned the apocalypse, and when he did, he seemed to presume that he would be long dead when the glorious moment of divine comeuppance finally arrived. “Bin Laden and Zawahiri are from elite Sunni families who look down on this kind of speculation and think it’s something the masses engage in,” says Will McCants of the Brookings Institution, who is writing a book about the Islamic State’s apocalyptic thought.
During the last years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Islamic State’s immediate founding fathers, by contrast, saw signs of the end times everywhere. They were anticipating, within a year, the arrival of the Mahdi—a messianic figure destined to lead the Muslims to victory before the end of the world. McCants says a prominent Islamist in Iraq approached bin Laden in 2008 to warn him that the group was being led by millenarians who were “talking all the time about the Mahdi and making strategic decisions” based on when they thought the Mahdi was going to arrive. “Al-Qaeda had to write to [these leaders] to say ‘Cut it out.’ ”
For certain true believers—the kind who long for epic good-versus-evil battles—visions of apocalyptic bloodbaths fulfill a deep psychological need. Of the Islamic State supporters I met, Musa Cerantonio, the Australian, expressed the deepest interest in the apocalypse and how the remaining days of the Islamic State—and the world—might look. Parts of that prediction are original to him, and do not yet have the status of doctrine. But other parts are based on mainstream Sunni sources and appear all over the Islamic State’s propaganda. These include the belief that there will be only 12 legitimate caliphs, and Baghdadi is the eighth; that the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.
The Islamic State has attached great importance to the Syrian city of Dabiq, near Aleppo. It named its propaganda magazine after the town, and celebrated madly when (at great cost) it conquered Dabiq’s strategically unimportant plains. It is here, the Prophet reportedly said, that the armies of Rome will set up their camp. The armies of Islam will meet them, and Dabiq will be Rome’s Waterloo or its Antietam.
“Dabiq is basically all farmland,” one Islamic State supporter recently tweeted. “You could imagine large battles taking place there.” The Islamic State’s propagandists drool with anticipation of this event, and constantly imply that it will come soon. The state’s magazine quotes Zarqawi as saying, “The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify … until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.” A recent propaganda video shows clips from Hollywood war movies set in medieval times—perhaps because many of the prophecies specify that the armies will be on horseback or carrying ancient weapons.
Now that it has taken Dabiq, the Islamic State awaits the arrival of an enemy army there, whose defeat will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse. Western media frequently miss references to Dabiq in the Islamic State’s videos, and focus instead on lurid scenes of beheading. “Here we are, burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive,” said a masked executioner in a November video, showing the severed head of Peter (Abdul Rahman) Kassig, the aid worker who’d been held captive for more than a year. During fighting in Iraq in December, after mujahideen (perhaps inaccurately) reported having seen American soldiers in battle, Islamic State Twitter accounts erupted in spasms of pleasure, like overenthusiastic hosts or hostesses upon the arrival of the first guests at a party.
The Prophetic narration that foretells the Dabiq battle refers to the enemy as Rome. Who “Rome” is, now that the pope has no army, remains a matter of debate. But Cerantonio makes a case that Rome meant the Eastern Roman empire, which had its capital in what is now Istanbul. We should think of Rome as the Republic of Turkey—the same republic that ended the last self-identified caliphate, 90 years ago. Other Islamic State sources suggest that Rome might mean any infidel army, and the Americans will do nicely.
After mujahideen reported having seen American soldiers in battle, Islamic State Twitter accounts erupted in spasms of pleasure, like overenthusiastic hosts upon the arrival of the first guests at a party.
After its battle in Dabiq, Cerantonio said, the caliphate will expand and sack Istanbul. Some believe it will then cover the entire Earth, but Cerantonio suggested its tide may never reach beyond the Bosporus. An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come from the Khorasan region of eastern Iran and kill a vast number of the caliphate’s fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus—the second-most-revered prophet in Islam—will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory.
“Only God knows” whether the Islamic State’s armies are the ones foretold, Cerantonio said. But he is hopeful. “The Prophet said that one sign of the imminent arrival of the End of Days is that people will for a long while stop talking about the End of Days,” he said. “If you go to the mosques now, you’ll find the preachers are silent about this subject.” On this theory, even setbacks dealt to the Islamic State mean nothing, since God has preordained the near-destruction of his people anyway. The Islamic State has its best and worst days ahead of it.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was declared caliph by his followers last summer. The establishment of a caliphate awakened large sections of Koranic law that had lain dormant, and required those Muslims who recognized the caliphate to immigrate. (Associated Press)
IV. The Fight
The ideological purity of the Islamic State has one compensating virtue: it allows us to predict some of the group’s actions. Osama bin Laden was seldom predictable. He ended his first television interview cryptically. CNN’s Peter Arnett asked him, “What are your future plans?” Bin Laden replied, “You’ll see them and hear about them in the media, God willing.” By contrast, the Islamic State boasts openly about its plans—not all of them, but enough so that by listening carefully, we can deduce how it intends to govern and expand.
In London, Choudary and his students provided detailed descriptions of how the Islamic State must conduct its foreign policy, now that it is a caliphate. It has already taken up what Islamic law refers to as “offensive jihad,” the forcible expansion into countries that are ruled by non-Muslims. “Hitherto, we were just defending ourselves,” Choudary said; without a caliphate, offensive jihad is an inapplicable concept. But the waging of war to expand the caliphate is an essential duty of the caliph.
Choudary took pains to present the laws of war under which the Islamic State operates as policies of mercy rather than of brutality. He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.
Choudary’s colleague Abu Baraa explained that Islamic law permits only temporary peace treaties, lasting no longer than a decade. Similarly, accepting any border is anathema, as stated by the Prophet and echoed in the Islamic State’s propaganda videos. If the caliph consents to a longer-term peace or permanent border, he will be in error. Temporary peace treaties are renewable, but may not be applied to all enemies at once: the caliph must wage jihad at least once a year. He may not rest, or he will fall into a state of sin.
One comparison to the Islamic State is the Khmer Rouge, which killed about a third of the population of Cambodia. But the Khmer Rouge occupied Cambodia’s seat at the United Nations. “This is not permitted,” Abu Baraa said. “To send an ambassador to the UN is to recognize an authority other than God’s.” This form of diplomacy is shirk, or polytheism, he argued, and would be immediate cause to hereticize and replace Baghdadi. Even to hasten the arrival of a caliphate by democratic means—for example by voting for political candidates who favor a caliphate—is shirk.
It’s hard to overstate how hamstrung the Islamic State will be by its radicalism. The modern international system, born of the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, relies on each state’s willingness to recognize borders, however grudgingly. For the Islamic State, that recognition is ideological suicide. Other Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, have succumbed to the blandishments of democracy and the potential for an invitation to the community of nations, complete with a UN seat. Negotiation and accommodation have worked, at times, for the Taliban as well. (Under Taliban rule, Afghanistan exchanged ambassadors with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates, an act that invalidated the Taliban’s authority in the Islamic State’s eyes.) To the Islamic State these are not options, but acts of apostasy.
The United States and its allies have reacted to the Islamic State belatedly and in an apparent daze. The group’s ambitions and rough strategic blueprints were evident in its pronouncements and in social-media chatter as far back as 2011, when it was just one of many terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq and hadn’t yet committed mass atrocities. Adnani, the spokesman, told followers then that the group’s ambition was to “restore the Islamic caliphate,” and he evoked the apocalypse, saying, “There are but a few days left.” Baghdadi had already styled himself “commander of the faithful,” a title ordinarily reserved for caliphs, in 2011. In April 2013, Adnani declared the movement “ready to redraw the world upon the Prophetic methodology of the caliphate.” In August 2013, he said, “Our goal is to establish an Islamic state that doesn’t recognize borders, on the Prophetic methodology.” By then, the group had taken Raqqa, a Syrian provincial capital of perhaps 500,000 people, and was drawing in substantial numbers of foreign fighters who’d heard its message.
If we had identified the Islamic State’s intentions early, and realized that the vacuum in Syria and Iraq would give it ample space to carry them out, we might, at a minimum, have pushed Iraq to harden its border with Syria and preemptively make deals with its Sunnis. That would at least have avoided the electrifying propaganda effect created by the declaration of a caliphate just after the conquest of Iraq’s third-largest city. Yet, just over a year ago, Obama told The New Yorker that he considered ISIS to be al-Qaeda’s weaker partner. “If a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” the president said.
Our failure to appreciate the split between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and the essential differences between the two, has led to dangerous decisions. Last fall, to take one example, the U.S. government consented to a desperate plan to save Peter Kassig’s life. The plan facilitated—indeed, required—the interaction of some of the founding figures of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and could hardly have looked more hastily improvised.
Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it appears the best of bad military options.
It entailed the enlistment of Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, the Zarqawi mentor and al-Qaeda grandee, to approach Turki al-Binali, the Islamic State’s chief ideologue and a former student of Maqdisi’s, even though the two men had fallen out due to Maqdisi’s criticism of the Islamic State. Maqdisi had already called for the state to extend mercy to Alan Henning, the British cabbie who had entered Syria to deliver aid to children. In December, The Guardian reported that the U.S. government, through an intermediary, had asked Maqdisi to intercede with the Islamic State on Kassig’s behalf.
Maqdisi was living freely in Jordan, but had been banned from communicating with terrorists abroad, and was being monitored closely. After Jordan granted the United States permission to reintroduce Maqdisi to Binali, Maqdisi bought a phone with American money and was allowed to correspond merrily with his former student for a few days, before the Jordanian government stopped the chats and used them as a pretext to jail Maqdisi. Kassig’s severed head appeared in the Dabiq video a few days later.
Maqdisi gets mocked roundly on Twitter by the Islamic State’s fans, and al‑Qaeda is held in great contempt for refusing to acknowledge the caliphate. Cole Bunzel, a scholar who studies Islamic State ideology, read Maqdisi’s opinion on Henning’s status and thought it would hasten his and other captives’ death. “If I were held captive by the Islamic State and Maqdisi said I shouldn’t be killed,” he told me, “I’d kiss my ass goodbye.”
Kassig’s death was a tragedy, but the plan’s success would have been a bigger one. A reconciliation between Maqdisi and Binali would have begun to heal the main rift between the world’s two largest jihadist organizations. It’s possible that the government wanted only to draw out Binali for intelligence purposes or assassination. (Multiple attempts to elicit comment from the FBI were unsuccessful.) Regardless, the decision to play matchmaker for America’s two main terrorist antagonists reveals astonishingly poor judgment.
Chastened by our earlier indifference, we are now meeting the Islamic State via Kurdish and Iraqi proxy on the battlefield, and with regular air assaults. Those strategies haven’t dislodged the Islamic State from any of its major territorial possessions, although they’ve kept it from directly assaulting Baghdad and Erbil and slaughtering Shia and Kurds there.
Some observers have called for escalation, including several predictable voices from the interventionist right (Max Boot, Frederick Kagan), who have urged the deployment of tens of thousands of American soldiers. These calls should not be dismissed too quickly: an avowedly genocidal organization is on its potential victims’ front lawn, and it is committing daily atrocities in the territory it already controls.
One way to un-cast the Islamic State’s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding. Former pledges could of course continue to attack the West and behead their enemies, as freelancers. But the propaganda value of the caliphate would disappear, and with it the supposed religious duty to immigrate and serve it. If the United States were to invade, the Islamic State’s obsession with battle at Dabiq suggests that it might send vast resources there, as if in a conventional battle. If the state musters at Dabiq in full force, only to be routed, it might never recover.
Abu Baraa, who maintains a YouTube channel about Islamic law, says the caliph, Baghdadi, cannot negotiate or recognize borders, and must continually make war, or he will remove himself from Islam.
And yet the risks of escalation are enormous. The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide: irrespective of whether they have given baya’a to the caliph, they all believe that the United States wants to embark on a modern-day Crusade and kill Muslims. Yet another invasion and occupation would confirm that suspicion, and bolster recruitment. Add the incompetence of our previous efforts as occupiers, and we have reason for reluctance. The rise of ISIS, after all, happened only because our previous occupation created space for Zarqawi and his followers. Who knows the consequences of another botched job?
Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options. Neither the Kurds nor the Shia will ever subdue and control the whole Sunni heartland of Syria and Iraq—they are hated there, and have no appetite for such an adventure anyway. But they can keep the Islamic State from fulfilling its duty to expand. And with every month that it fails to expand, it resembles less the conquering state of the Prophet Muhammad than yet another Middle Eastern government failing to bring prosperity to its people.
The humanitarian cost of the Islamic State’s existence is high. But its threat to the United States is smaller than its all too frequent conflation with al-Qaeda would suggest. Al-Qaeda’s core is rare among jihadist groups for its focus on the “far enemy” (the West); most jihadist groups’ main concerns lie closer to home. That’s especially true of the Islamic State, precisely because of its ideology. It sees enemies everywhere around it, and while its leadership wishes ill on the United States, the application of Sharia in the caliphate and the expansion to contiguous lands are paramount. Baghdadi has said as much directly: in November he told his Saudi agents to “deal with the rafida [Shia] first … then al-Sulul [Sunni supporters of the Saudi monarchy] … before the crusaders and their bases.”
Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee, with apparent delight in each.
The foreign fighters (and their wives and children) have been traveling to the caliphate on one-way tickets: they want to live under true Sharia, and many want martyrdom. Doctrine, recall, requires believers to reside in the caliphate if it is at all possible for them to do so. One of the Islamic State’s less bloody videos shows a group of jihadists burning their French, British, and Australian passports. This would be an eccentric act for someone intending to return to blow himself up in line at the Louvre or to hold another chocolate shop hostage in Sydney.
A few “lone wolf” supporters of the Islamic State have attacked Western targets, and more attacks will come. But most of the attackers have been frustrated amateurs, unable to immigrate to the caliphate because of confiscated passports or other problems. Even if the Islamic State cheers these attacks—and it does in its propaganda—it hasn’t yet planned and financed one. (The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January was principally an al‑Qaeda operation.) During his visit to Mosul in December, Jürgen Todenhöfer interviewed a portly German jihadist and asked whether any of his comrades had returned to Europe to carry out attacks. The jihadist seemed to regard returnees not as soldiers but as dropouts. “The fact is that the returnees from the Islamic State should repent from their return,” he said. “I hope they review their religion.”
Properly contained, the Islamic State is likely to be its own undoing. No country is its ally, and its ideology ensures that this will remain the case. The land it controls, while expansive, is mostly uninhabited and poor. As it stagnates or slowly shrinks, its claim that it is the engine of God’s will and the agent of apocalypse will weaken, and fewer believers will arrive. And as more reports of misery within it leak out, radical Islamist movements elsewhere will be discredited: No one has tried harder to implement strict Sharia by violence. This is what it looks like.
Even so, the death of the Islamic State is unlikely to be quick, and things could still go badly wrong: if the Islamic State obtained the allegiance of al‑Qaeda—increasing, in one swoop, the unity of its base—it could wax into a worse foe than we’ve yet seen. The rift between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda has, if anything, grown in the past few months; the December issue of Dabiq featured a long account of an al‑Qaeda defector who described his old group as corrupt and ineffectual, and Zawahiri as a distant and unfit leader. But we should watch carefully for a rapprochement.
Without a catastrophe such as this, however, or perhaps the threat of the Islamic State’s storming Erbil, a vast ground invasion would certainly make the situation worse.
It would be facile, even exculpatory, to call the problem of the Islamic State “a problem with Islam.” The religion allows many interpretations, and Islamic State supporters are morally on the hook for the one they choose. And yet simply denouncing the Islamic State as un-Islamic can be counterproductive, especially if those who hear the message have read the holy texts and seen the endorsement of many of the caliphate’s practices written plainly within them.
Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now, and that crucifixion is wrong at this historical juncture. Many say precisely this. But they cannot condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Koran and the example of the Prophet. “The only principled ground that the Islamic State’s opponents could take is to say that certain core texts and traditional teachings of Islam are no longer valid,” Bernard Haykel says. That really would be an act of apostasy.
The Islamic State’s ideology exerts powerful sway over a certain subset of the population. Life’s hypocrisies and inconsistencies vanish in its face. Musa Cerantonio and the Salafis I met in London are unstumpable: no question I posed left them stuttering. They lectured me garrulously and, if one accepts their premises, convincingly. To call them un-Islamic appears, to me, to invite them into an argument that they would win. If they had been froth-spewing maniacs, I might be able to predict that their movement would burn out as the psychopaths detonated themselves or became drone-splats, one by one. But these men spoke with an academic precision that put me in mind of a good graduate seminar. I even enjoyed their company, and that frightened me as much as anything else.
Non-muslims cannot tell Muslims how to practice their religion properly. But Muslims have long since begun this debate within their own ranks. “You have to have standards,” Anjem Choudary told me. “Somebody could claim to be a Muslim, but if he believes in homosexuality or drinking alcohol, then he is not a Muslim. There is no such thing as a nonpracticing vegetarian.”
There is, however, another strand of Islam that offers a hard-line alternative to the Islamic State—just as uncompromising, but with opposite conclusions. This strand has proved appealing to many Muslims cursed or blessed with a psychological longing to see every jot and tittle of the holy texts implemented as they were in the earliest days of Islam. Islamic State supporters know how to react to Muslims who ignore parts of the Koran: with takfir and ridicule. But they also know that some other Muslims read the Koran as assiduously as they do, and pose a real ideological threat.
Baghdadi is Salafi. The term Salafi has been villainized, in part because authentic villains have ridden into battle waving the Salafi banner. But most Salafis are not jihadists, and most adhere to sects that reject the Islamic State. They are, as Haykel notes, committed to expanding Dar al-Islam, the land of Islam, even, perhaps, with the implementation of monstrous practices such as slavery and amputation—but at some future point. Their first priority is personal purification and religious observance, and they believe anything that thwarts those goals—such as causing war or unrest that would disrupt lives and prayer and scholarship—is forbidden.
They live among us. Last fall, I visited the Philadelphia mosque of Breton Pocius, 28, a Salafi imam who goes by the name Abdullah. His mosque is on the border between the crime-ridden Northern Liberties neighborhood and a gentrifying area that one might call Dar al-Hipster; his beard allows him to pass in the latter zone almost unnoticed.
A theological alternative to the Islamic State exists—just as uncompromising, but with opposite conclusions.
Pocius converted 15 years ago after a Polish Catholic upbringing in Chicago. Like Cerantonio, he talks like an old soul, exhibiting deep familiarity with ancient texts, and a commitment to them motivated by curiosity and scholarship, and by a conviction that they are the only way to escape hellfire. When I met him at a local coffee shop, he carried a work of Koranic scholarship in Arabic and a book for teaching himself Japanese. He was preparing a sermon on the obligations of fatherhood for the 150 or so worshipers in his Friday congregation.
Pocius said his main goal is to encourage a halal life for worshipers in his mosque. But the rise of the Islamic State has forced him to consider political questions that are usually very far from the minds of Salafis. “Most of what they’ll say about how to pray and how to dress is exactly what I’ll say in my masjid [mosque]. But when they get to questions about social upheaval, they sound like Che Guevara.”
When Baghdadi showed up, Pocius adopted the slogan “Not my khalifa.” “The times of the Prophet were a time of great bloodshed,” he told me, “and he knew that the worst possible condition for all people was chaos, especially within the umma [Muslim community].” Accordingly, Pocius said, the correct attitude for Salafis is not to sow discord by factionalizing and declaring fellow Muslims apostates.
Instead, Pocius—like a majority of Salafis—believes that Muslims should remove themselves from politics. These quietist Salafis, as they are known, agree with the Islamic State that God’s law is the only law, and they eschew practices like voting and the creation of political parties. But they interpret the Koran’s hatred of discord and chaos as requiring them to fall into line with just about any leader, including some manifestly sinful ones. “The Prophet said: as long as the ruler does not enter into clear kufr [disbelief], give him general obedience,” Pocius told me, and the classic “books of creed” all warn against causing social upheaval. Quietist Salafis are strictly forbidden from dividing Muslims from one another—for example, by mass excommunication. Living without baya’a, Pocius said, does indeed make one ignorant, or benighted. But baya’a need not mean direct allegiance to a caliph, and certainly not to Abu Bakr al‑Baghdadi. It can mean, more broadly, allegiance to a religious social contract and commitment to a society of Muslims, whether ruled by a caliph or not.
Quietist Salafis believe that Muslims should direct their energies toward perfecting their personal life, including prayer, ritual, and hygiene. Much in the same way ultra-Orthodox Jews debate whether it’s kosher to tear off squares of toilet paper on the Sabbath (does that count as “rending cloth”?), they spend an inordinate amount of time ensuring that their trousers are not too long, that their beards are trimmed in some areas and shaggy in others. Through this fastidious observance, they believe, God will favor them with strength and numbers, and perhaps a caliphate will arise. At that moment, Muslims will take vengeance and, yes, achieve glorious victory at Dabiq. But Pocius cites a slew of modern Salafi theologians who argue that a caliphate cannot come into being in a righteous way except through the unmistakable will of God.
The Islamic State, of course, would agree, and say that God has anointed Baghdadi. Pocius’s retort amounts to a call to humility. He cites Abdullah Ibn Abbas, one of the Prophet’s companions, who sat down with dissenters and asked them how they had the gall, as a minority, to tell the majority that it was wrong. Dissent itself, to the point of bloodshed or splitting the umma, was forbidden. Even the manner of the establishment of Baghdadi’s caliphate runs contrary to expectation, he said. “The khilafa is something that Allah is going to establish,” he told me, “and it will involve a consensus of scholars from Mecca and Medina. That is not what happened. ISIS came out of nowhere.”
The Islamic State loathes this talk, and its fanboys tweet derisively about quietist Salafis. They mock them as “Salafis of menstruation,” for their obscure judgments about when women are and aren’t clean, and other low-priority aspects of life. “What we need now is fatwa about how it’s haram [forbidden] to ride a bike on Jupiter,” one tweeted drily. “That’s what scholars should focus on. More pressing than state of Ummah.” Anjem Choudary, for his part, says that no sin merits more vigorous opposition than the usurpation of God’s law, and that extremism in defense of monotheism is no vice.
Pocius doesn’t court any kind of official support from the United States, as a counterweight to jihadism. Indeed, official support would tend to discredit him, and in any case he is bitter toward America for treating him, in his words, as “less than a citizen.” (He alleges that the government paid spies to infiltrate his mosque and harassed his mother at work with questions about his being a potential terrorist.)
Still, his quietist Salafism offers an Islamic antidote to Baghdadi-style jihadism. The people who arrive at the faith spoiling for a fight cannot all be stopped from jihadism, but those whose main motivation is to find an ultraconservative, uncompromising version of Islam have an alternative here. It is not moderate Islam; most Muslims would consider it extreme. It is, however, a form of Islam that the literal-minded would not instantly find hypocritical, or blasphemously purged of its inconveniences. Hypocrisy is not a sin that ideologically minded young men tolerate well.
Western officials would probably do best to refrain from weighing in on matters of Islamic theological debate altogether. Barack Obama himself drifted into takfiri waters when he claimed that the Islamic State was “not Islamic”—the irony being that he, as the non-Muslim son of a Muslim, may himself be classified as an apostate, and yet is now practicing takfir against Muslims. Non-Muslims’ practicing takfir elicits chuckles from jihadists (“Like a pig covered in feces giving hygiene advice to others,” one tweeted).
I suspect that most Muslims appreciated Obama’s sentiment: the president was standing with them against both Baghdadi and non-Muslim chauvinists trying to implicate them in crimes. But most Muslims aren’t susceptible to joining jihad. The ones who are susceptible will only have had their suspicions confirmed: the United States lies about religion to serve its purposes.
Within the narrow bounds of its theology, the Islamic State hums with energy, even creativity. Outside those bounds, it could hardly be more arid and silent: a vision of life as obedience, order, and destiny. Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death and eternal torture to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee or treacly pastry, with apparent delight in each, yet to me it seemed that to embrace their views would be to see all the flavors of this world grow insipid compared with the vivid grotesqueries of the hereafter.
I could enjoy their company, as a guilty intellectual exercise, up to a point. In reviewing Mein Kampf in March 1940, George Orwell confessed that he had “never been able to dislike Hitler”; something about the man projected an underdog quality, even when his goals were cowardly or loathsome. “If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon.” The Islamic State’s partisans have much the same allure. They believe that they are personally involved in struggles beyond their own lives, and that merely to be swept up in the drama, on the side of righteousness, is a privilege and a pleasure—especially when it is also a burden.
Fascism, Orwell continued, is
psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life … Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.
Nor, in the case of the Islamic State, its religious or intellectual appeal. That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model. Ideological tools may convince some potential converts that the group’s message is false, and military tools can limit its horrors. But for an organization as impervious to persuasion as the Islamic State, few measures short of these will matter, and the war may be a long one, even if it doesn’t last until the end of time.
Story 1: Senator Cruz Hails Victory of 26 States in Federal District Court with Judge Andrew S. Hanen’s Stopping Obama From Issuing of Work Permit Cards (Employment Authorization Document) for 4-5 Million Illegal Aliens in U.S. — Videos
US judge temporarily halts Obama’s immigration orders
A judge in Texas has temporarily halted a plan by US President Barack Obama to give a reprieve from deportation to millions of undocumented people.
The ruling by US District Judge Andrew Hanen gives a coalition of 26 states time to pursue a lawsuit aiming to permanently stop the orders.
Some parts of the policy would have started to take effect on Wednesday.
US Attorney General Eric Holder said he is seeking to overturn the Texas ruling and the courts will ultimately decide.
The coalition of states, led by Texas and made up of mostly conservative states in the South and Midwest, say the order would increase costs for law enforcement, health care and education.
On Tuesday the White House defended the legality of its policy, announced by President Obama in November after immigration-reform efforts had failed repeatedly in Congress.
President Obama’s unilateral move angered Republicans who are working to stop the executive action.
The House has approved a bill that would remove funding for the policies from the Department of Homeland Security’s budget. The measure has failed to pass the Senate and President Obama is expected to veto the bill.
Republicans hailed Mr Hanen’s injunction.
“The Texas court decision reached last night is a major turning point in the fight to stop Obama’s lawless amnesty,” said Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican.
The White House has said Obama’s executive order is not out of legal bounds and that the US Supreme Court and Congress have said federal officials can set priorities in enforcing immigration laws.
Twelve states as well as Washington DC and the US Conference of Mayors have come out in support of President Obama’s action, saying it would stimulate the economy.
The first of President Obama’s orders – to expand a programme that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the US illegally as children – was set to start on Wednesday.
The other major part of President Obama’s order, which extends deportation protections to parents of US citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years, was not expected to begin until 19 May.
Judge Nap: ‘Rare Ruling Against Obama Could Delay Amnesty Forever
Judge Andrew Napolitano said today that a new federal court ruling could actually delay President Obama’s immigration amnesty “forever.”
On FBN’s “Varney & Co.,” the judge explained the meaning behind the new ruling that temporarily blocks the implementation of Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
The ruling came late Monday after 26 states asked the court to delay the implementation until after the conclusion of a lawsuit challenging the legality of Obama’s orders.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen granted the preliminary injunction Monday after hearing arguments in Brownsville, Texas, last month. He wrote in a memorandum accompanying his order that the lawsuit should go forward and that without a preliminary injunction the states will “suffer irreparable harm in this case.”
“The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle,” he wrote, adding that he agreed with the plaintiffs’ argument that legalizing the presence of millions of people is a “virtually irreversible” action.
The first of Obama’s orders — to expand a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — was set to start taking effect Wednesday. The other major part of Obama’s order, which extends deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years, was not expected to begin until May 19.
Napolitano called Hanen’s ruling “rare,” saying one federal judge usually does not decide to stop the president from doing something. He said it’s more common for a federal judge to let an appeals court decide.
“You could count on one hand the number of times a single federal judge has done this to a President of the United States since World War II and you would not use all your fingers,” he said.
The case now moves to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that covers New Orleans and Houston.
Napolitano said the amnesty program is on hold “probably forever” unless the appeals court decides to overturn Hanen’s injunction.
He said it will probably take longer than two years – Obama’s remaining time in office – for the overall case to wind its way through the courts.
“The judge said the feds will probably lose and there is probably irreparable harm to the states, therefore I am going to stop this from happening and I’m going to stop it right now,” he explained.
Texas Judge’s Immigration Rebuke May Be Hard To Challenge
President Barack Obama’s administration faces a difficult and possibly lengthy legal battle to overturn a Texas court ruling that blocked his landmark immigration overhaul, since the judge based his decision on an obscure and unsettled area of administrative law, lawyers said. In his ruling on Monday that upended plans to shield millions of people from deportation, U S District Judge Andrew Hanen avoided diving into sweeping constitutional questions or tackling presidential powers head-on. Instead, he faulted Obama for not giving public notice of his plans. The failure to do so, Hanen wrote, was a violation of the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act, which requires notice in a publication called the Federal Register as well as an opportunity for people to submit views in writing. The ruling, however narrow, marked an initial victory for 26 states that brought the case alleging Obama had exceeded his powers with executive orders that would let up to 4. 7 million illegal immigrants stay without threat of deportation.
It’s a very procedural point – that he did this too quickly, said Michael Kagan, a law professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Hanen’s ruling left in disarray U S policy toward the roughly 11 million people in the country illegally. Obama said on Tuesday he disagreed with the ruling and expected his administration to prevail in the courts. The U S Justice Department was preparing an appeal of Hanen’s temporary injunction to the 5th U S Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Obama said. The court could consider an emergency request to block Hanen’s ruling, potentially within days, although most of the 23 judges on the court were appointed by Republican presidents. There was no consensus among lawyers with expertise in administrative law and immigration law on whether Hanen would be reversed on appeal. But they said the judge was wise to focus on an area of administrative law where legal precedent is sometimes fuzzy. In the near term, the narrow approach allowed Hanen to issue a temporary injunction barring federal agencies from putting Obama’s plans into place. An appointee of President George W. Bush, Hanen had previously criticized U S immigration enforcement as too lax.
BRAKE ON PRESIDENTIAL ACTIONHanen’s ruling turned on the Administrative Procedure Act’s requirement that a proposed rule or regulation appear in the Federal Register so people have a chance to comment. The Federal Register is a daily journal of U S government proceedings. The notice and comment requirement acts as a brake on all presidents, slowing their plans by months or years. The requirement, though, does not apply to interpretative rules or legislative rules, an exception that Justice Department lawyers said applied to Obama’s announcement in November.
For Hanen, the pivotal question became whether the new rules, such as granting work permits to potentially millions of illegal immigrants, was binding on federal agents or merely general guidance. He ruled that they were binding, and that Obama should have allowed for notice and comment. Lawyers with expertise in administrative law said there was little guidance from the U S Supreme Court on what qualifies as a rule that needs to be published, leaving disagreement among lower courts and a grey area for Hanen to work in. The case law as to what qualifies as a legislative rule is remarkably unclear, said Anne Joseph O’Connell, a University of California Berkeley law professor.
LENGTHY PROCESS LOOMSO’Connell said it was hard to predict how the appeals court would rule in the end, although she thought it was likely the court would lift Hanen’s temporary injunction and allow the Obama administration to begin putting its program in place. The subject is not strictly partisan, she said, because sometimes a liberal interest group might favor a strict requirement for notice and comment. An appeal before the 5th Circuit could take months, as lawyers file written briefs.
Immigration Delays Likely as DOJ Weighs Legal Options
Federal judge temporarily blocks Obama’s immigration executive action
Obama weighs in on Texas judge’s immigration ruling
Federal judge temporarily blocks Obama’s immigration executive action
No Clear End in Sight to Avoid Shutdown of Department of Homeland Security
Obama’s New Jobs Program: Work Permits for Illegal Aliens
Ted Cruz: White House ‘Counterfeiting Immigration Documents’
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, believes that the Obama administration is “counterfeiting immigration documents” under the president’s immigration plan.
Speaking to Fox News following a federal judge’s decision to temporarily halt President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, the potential Republican presidential contender said the commander in chief is ignoring federal law.
“One of the things it points out is the president has claimed, rather absurdly, that the basis of his authority is ‘prosecutorial discretion.’ That he’s simply choosing not to prosecute 4.5 million people here illegally,” Cruz told Fox News. “But what the district court concluded, quite rightly, is they’re doing far more than that. The administration is printing work authorizations. It is affirmatively acting in contravention of federal law. Basically, what its doing is counterfeiting immigration documents, because the work authorizations its printing are directly contrary to the text of federal law. It is dangerous when the president ignores federal law.”
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision late Monday puts on hold Obama’s orders that could spare from deportation as many as 5 million people who are in the U.S. illegally.
In a memorandum accompanying his order, Hanen said the lawsuit should go forward and that the states would “suffer irreparable harm in this case” without a preliminary injunction.
“The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle,” he wrote, adding that he agreed that legalizing the presence of millions of people is a “virtually irreversible” action.
Talking to reporters in the Oval Office, Obama said he disagreed with the ruling by Hanen that the administration had exceeded its authority. But he said that, for now, he must abide by it.
“We’re not going to disregard this federal court ruling,” Obama said, but he added that administration officials would continue to prepare to roll out the program. “I think the law is on our side and history is on our side,” he said.
Cruz called it a “major victory for the rule of law.”
“It’s interesting, (Obama) said the law is on his side. There’s at least one person who calls himself a legal scholar who disagrees, and his name is Barack Obama,” Cruz said. “Twenty-two times President Obama has admitted he doesn’t have the authority to issue unilateral amnesty. Twenty-two times he says the constitution doesn’t allow it. He said, ‘This is not a monarchy.’ That’s his quote. And then after the last election, he said never mind and issued it anyway.”
Obama’s directives would make more than 4 million immigrants in the United States illegally eligible for three-year deportation stays and work permits. Mostly those are people who have been in the country for more than five years and have children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. Applications for the first phase were to begin Wednesday, when as many as 300,000 immigrants brought illegally to the country as children could begin applying for an expansion of Obama’s 2012 program aimed at the younger immigrants known as Dreamers.
Hanen’s ruling late Monday night, in a case brought by 26 states led by Texas, said that Obama and his Homeland Security Department lacked the authority to take the actions they did.
“No statute gives the DHS the discretion it is trying to exercise here,” wrote Hanen, and he issued a stay blocking the actions from taking effect. His order was not a big surprise from a Republican-appointed judge who has showed a hard line on border issues.
The Obama administration could seek a stay of his order in addition to appealing to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that the Justice Department was deciding its next move.
He said, “I’ve always expected that this is a matter that will ultimately be decided by a higher court — if not the Supreme Court then a federal court of appeals.”
Federal Judge Blocks Implementation of Obama’s Executive Amnesty, For Now
By Patrick Brennan
A federal judge for the Southern District of Texas granted an injunction tonight blocking the implementation of President Obama’s sweeping executive action on immigration from November, which offered a form of temporary legal status and work authorization to millions of illegel immigrants. The judge, Andrew Hanen, is considering a case brought by the attorney generals of 26 states, which alleges that the executive action is improper and unconstitutional, and will harm the states by forcing them to pay for some benefits granted to newly legal immigrants, such as drivers’ licenses, and for higher law-enforcement costs.
The federal government is expected to immediately ask for a stay of the injunction. That would allow the feds to resume the process of preparing to grant quasi-legal status to millions of illegal immigrants — applications for one category of the president amnesty were to open this week. For now, that can’t happen; the decision from a higher court will probably take a few weeks.
Whatever the final decision is, this ruling should a bit of ammunition for Republicans who are currently trying to force some Democrats into agreeing to a government-funding bill in Congress that blocks the implementation of the order, which many Democrats once opposed.
Such an injunction isn’t granted unless the judge feels the plaintiffs have “a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.” Hanen’s ruling offers analysis of whether the states have standing to sue (on a number of grounds, he says they do), and whether they have a good chance at success.
The basic argument from the states that Hanen favors isn’t one about constitutional improprieties (he doesn’t get to that question, which the states have raised); it’s that the Department of Homeland Security has effectively created a whole new program and procedure without following any of the legally necessary steps. The Obama administration’s use of deferred action amounts to new rulemaking, Hanen suggests, because there’s so little evidence that the system, based on DACA, involves case-by-case discretion, as the feds claim it does.
Josh Blackman, a professor at the South Texas College of Law who’s written about the executive-amnesty issue for NR, has analysis of the full ruling here.
The ruling is certainly exciting for those who were troubled by the president’s actions, but a few reasons why not to get too excited:
The Fifth Circuit, the federal-court region that includes Texas, could stay the injunction relatively soon, though, allowing the granting of legal status to go forward. (Although the program could, in theory, eventually still be struck down.)
Hanen is not necessarily anything but a mainstream judge, but he is a Bush appointee who, the Times notes, has a record of hawkish immigration opinions. That has no bearing on the logic of his decision, but it might suggest other judges won’t necessarily agree with Hanen’s reasoning.
Whether states even have the right to challenge the president’s action isn’t entirely clear, partly because immigration enforcement is almost exclusively a federal domain. Attorney Ian Smith laid out the states’ case for standing on NROhere. Congressional Republicans have said they’d like to challenge the president’s order in court, too; their case for standing is considered more far-fetched. On the upside, the judge’s decision in Texas grants standing to the states on multiple grounds where they argue they have it, though not all of them.
Relatedly, courts are just pretty deferential when it comes to fights between the other two branches. Hanen’s ruling notes this repeatedly, maintaining that in order for the courts to halt the executive branch, it has to be actively, affirmatively doing something unauthorized, rather than just overstepping its bounds or abdicating its powers.
An Obama-appointed federal judge ruled in December that Sheriff Joe Arpaio didn’t have standing to sue over the president’s actions — a different case, for sure, but not entirely separate, since the 26 states involved in this case are alleging that legalized immigrants pose a law-enforcement threat, as Arpaio argued, too. The other case that has gone against Obama on this issue, a Pennsylvania federal judge’s ruling that the amnesty is unconstitutional, has been considered flimsy and overreaching; Blackman notes that Hanen’s decision is much better reasoned.
The lawsuit just challenges the executive action announced in November, which offers “deferred action” status, a form of theoretically temporary legal residency and work authorization, to illegal immigrants with specific ties to the U.S. — the parents of citizens, etc. The categories in all add up to 4 to 5 million eligible illegal aliens.
That comes on top of the close to a million illegal immigrants eligible for deferred action under the president’s 2012 executive action, which allowed illegal immigrants who’d come here at a young age and met a few other criteria to stay. The Texas court decision examines that program, known as DACA, in detail, but it isn’t at issue in the case. A number of outlets refer to this injunction as halting “DACA expansions,” which is true, but a bit of a misnomer: The “DACA expansions” are deferred action for adults and childhood arrivals who were older or otherwise ineligible for the DACA program the president started in 2012. They’re not really the same thing, and DACA itself — the status it gave to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and the application process they can still begin now if they haven’t gotten status — is unaffected.
This differs slightly from the political strategy Republicans have put forth in Congress: The bill the House passed earlier this year to fund the Department of Homeland Security would halt the DACA program, block the implementation of the president’s November action, and undo some of his other executive immigration policies, too.
Federal judge halts Obama amnesty; White House to appeal
By Stephen Dinan
A federal judge late Monday halted President Obama’s deportation amnesty, ruling he overstepped his powers in trying to grant legal status and “benefits and privileges” to millions of illegal immigrants, in a stunning decision that chides the president and throws the White House’s plans into disarray just a day before applications were to be accepted.
The White House said it will appeal Judge Andrew S. Hanen’s decision, but it’s unclear whether the case could reach the circuit court in New Orleans or even the Supreme Court before Wednesday, which is when the Homeland Security Department had planned to begin accepting the first applications under the new amnesty.
“The DHS was not given any ‘discretion by law’ to give 4.3 million removable aliens what the DHS itself labels as ‘legal presence,’ ” Judge Hanen wrote in issuing an injunction. “In fact, the law mandates that these illegally-present individuals be removed. The DHS has adopted a new rule that substantially changes both the status and employability of millions. These changes go beyond mere enforcement or even non-enforcement of this nation’s immigration scheme.”
In the immediate sense, the ruling will become a major part of the debate over homeland security funding that has roiled Capitol Hill, with Republicans insisting Mr. Obama’s actions were unconstitutional and should be halted through Congress’s spending power, and Democrats backing their president by filibustering to block funding for the Homeland Security Department altogether.
The ruling doesn’t mean those illegal immigrants are going to be deported immediately — indeed, Judge Hanen said they are likely not to be deported at all under Mr. Obama, who had set “priorities” putting them in little danger of ever being kicked out of the country, even without the formal amnesty.
The judge said Mr. Obama does have the right to set those priorities, but said it is likely a step too far for him to have set up a proactive program to grant them other benefits.
“The DHS may continue to prosecute or not prosecute these illegally-present individuals, as current laws dictate. This has been the status quo for at least the last five years and there is little-to-no basis to conclude that harm will fall upon the defendants if it is temporarily prohibited from carrying out the … program.”
One immigrant-rights group called his decision “judicial vigilantism,” while another called it a “minor legal bump” and said it’s “merely a matter of time” before they win legal status.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest was dismissive of the judge’s ruling, saying it contradicted Mr. Obama’s own lawyers, who told him he was “well within his legal authority.”
“Top law enforcement officials, along with state and local leaders across the country, have emphasized that these policies will also benefit the economy and help keep communities safe. The district court’s decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision,” Mr. Earnest said early Tuesday.
Judge Hanen’s exhaustive opinion, which ran to 123 pages, eviscerated the administration’s legal arguments. Where Mr. Obama claimed he was only issuing “guidance” and using his powers of prosecutorial discretion to make decisions on a case-by-case basis, the judge ruled that wording was “disingenuous” and ignored the substance of what the president was trying to do.
He also said Mr. Obama hurt his own case by saying he’d acted to “change the law,” implying a much more substantive legal program than his administration was arguing in court.
The president’s new plan, known as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, announced in November, was designed to cover more than 4 million illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, granting them a three-year stay of deportation, Social Security numbers and work permits to compete legally for jobs. The November order also expanded a 2012 program for so-called Dreamers, or illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
The initial Dreamer program is still in place, and covers more than 600,000 illegal immigrants, but Judge Hanen halted its expansion, as well as the new program for parents.
About 95 percent of those who applied for the 2012 Dreamer program were approved, while nobody who didn’t meet the strict criteria was — both factors that Judge Hanen said suggested this wasn’t “discretion,” but rather a new substantive legal policy that should have gone through the usual rule-making process.
“While [the program] does not provide legal permanent residency, it certainly provides a legal benefit in the form of legal presence (plus all that it entails) — a benefit not otherwise available in immigration laws,” the judge wrote. “In this case, actions speak louder than words.”
Still, almost none of those who would have been approved for the amnesty are in danger of deportation, thanks to Mr. Obama’s other, less-noticed policies that order immigration agents only to go after illegal immigrants with serious criminal records. That likely means only a couple million of the nearly 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. are likely to be in any danger of deportation.
Immigrant-rights advocates had expected the ruling and had been working ahead of time to discredit Judge Hanen, saying he had a “bias” against them, based on a December 2013 ruling.
In that ruling, Judge Hanen had spotted the surge of illegal immigrant children crossing the border earlier on, and had been critical of how Homeland Security officials had handled it, accusing them of being complicit in human trafficking because they would deliver the children to their illegal immigrant parents in the U.S. without trying to deport either party.
Last summer’s spike in illegal immigrant children from Central America bore out Judge Hanen’s concerns, with the administration belatedly admitting that the ease of getting across the border and being connected with family here in the U.S. was helping spur the surge.
Obama’s Amnesty Hits a Legal Roadblock If a Texas judge’s temporary stay against it is upheld, it could be headed to the Supreme Court.
ByAndrew C. McCarthy
ate Monday, a federal district judge in Texasissued a temporary injunction that bars the Obama administration from proceeding with the president’s unilateral decree of effective amnesty for millions of illegal aliens.
To be clear, the order issued by Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. court for the southern district of Texas in Brownsville is a temporary stay. It is not a ruling on the merits of the lawsuit brought by 26 states that claim they will suffer profound financial and other damage from the president’s lawless executive action — an action that Obama himself many times conceded would be lawless before he finally took it late last year.
Today, the Justice Department will seek an emergency order from the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to block Judge Hanen’s injunction. There is a good chance the Justice Department will succeed, at least temporarily. If the Fifth Circuit blocks the injunction, that, too, would not be a ruling on the merits of the case. It would just mean a return to the status quo that allows Obama to proceed with the implementation of his amnesty decree.
I imagine we will know by late this afternoon whether the Fifth Circuit will set aside the district court’s injunction.
Judge Hanen’s order would temporarily prevent the Obama administration from implementing the executive action — in particular, the issuance of positive legal benefits, like work permits, for illegal aliens despite the lack of statutory authorization. The stay would also allow Judge Hanen a chance to issue a final ruling on the merits of the case. Again, he has not at this point conclusively ruled that Obama’s executive amnesty violates the Constitution or other federal law.
To justify issuing the stay, however, he had to decide that the states that brought the lawsuit had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits. That is, in Hanen’s judgment, they have shown that they probably (1) have standing to sue, (2) will show that Obama violated the law, and (3) will suffer concrete harm from the violation (particularly economic harm).
The big question in the case is standing: Is the case properly brought by the states? If the Fifth Circuit, on an emergency appeal of the stay by the Justice Department, decides there is a likelihood that the states do not have standing, then it will vacate Judge Hanen’s stay. The appellate court could find a probability that standing is lacking because, for example, federal jurisprudence holds that immigration is mainly a federal responsibility, or because the harm the states say they will suffer from the executive amnesty is too speculative. (Again, note that we are talking about “likelihood” and “probability” here because these are preliminary, predictive determinations. The case has not been fully presented and ruled upon at this point.)
If the Fifth Circuit were to vacate the stay, that, again, would not be a ruling on the merits of the case. It would simply revert matters to where they stood before Judge Hanen’s order on Monday, meaning the administration could move ahead with its plans while we await a final ruling on the merits from Judge Hanen.
If, on the Justice Department’s emergency appeal, the Fifth Circuit were to decline to disturb Judge Hanen’s stay, there are at least three possibilities: (1) the Justice Department could appeal Judge Hanen’s stay to the Supreme Court; (2) the administration could accept the decision and hold off implementation of the executive order while waiting for Judge Hanen to issue a final ruling (which, all signs indicate, will go against the president); or (3) the president could do what he often does with statutes and court decisions that interfere with his agenda: simply ignore the judicial stay and begin implementing his amnesty decree.
I would bet on (1), an appeal to the Supreme Court. I do believe that Obama is inclined to (3), the lawless route, if all else fails. Obviously, however, the president would rather win in court if he can. That necessitates moving ahead with the judicial process while there are still rounds to play. The administration has a decent chance of getting the stay vacated in either the Fifth Circuit or the Supreme Court. Even if that fails, and Judge Hanen, as expected, renders a final decision against the president, the administration has a decent shot at getting such a ruling reversed by the Fifth Circuit or the Supreme Court. I expect the president to play this out. It may take many months, at least, and during that time there is a reasonable chance that some tribunal will lift the stay and allow him to begin implementing the amnesty pending a final appellate ruling on the merits.
This underscores what I have beenarguing for sometime. The courts are a very unlikely avenue for checking presidential lawlessness. The proper constitutional way to check the president’s executive order is for Congress to deny the funding needed to implement it. That is what Republicans in the House have done, by fully funding the lawful activities of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) but denying the funding for the unlawful executive amnesty. Democrats are blocking that legislation in the Senate, in the hope that, as the budget deadline approaches, the pro-Obama press (with regrettable help from George Will and Senator John McCain, among others) will convince the country that it is somehow the Republicans who are “shutting down” DHS.
On that score, I will briefly repeat what I’ve contended before:
The fact that politicians hang a sign that says “Homeland Security” on a dysfunctional bureaucratic sprawl does not mean that denying funds to that bureaucracy would harm actual homeland security in any material way.
We have a DHS only because of typical Beltway overreaction to a crisis — the need to be seen as “doing something” in response to public anger over the government’s misfeasance prior to the 9/11 attacks.
Homeland security in the United States is more than adequately provided for by the hundreds of billions of dollars that continue to be spent each year — and that Congress has already approved for this year — on the Justice Department, the FBI, the 17-agency intelligence community, the armed forces, and state and local police forces.
We did not have a DHS before 2003, and if it disappeared tomorrow, no one would miss it.
The agencies in DHS that actually contribute to protection of the homeland could easily be absorbed by other government departments (where they were housed before DHS’s creation).
Under Obama, the immigration law-enforcement components of DHS are not enforcing the immigration laws. Why should taxpayers expend billions of dollars on agencies that do not fulfill, and under this president have no intention of fulfilling, the mission that is the rationale for the funding?
In any event, as we await the next round in the courts, the speedy and certain way to stop a lawless president is to deny him the money he needs to carry out his designs.
Clarke came to widespread public attention for his role as counter-terrorism czar in the Clinton and Bush administrations in March 2004, when he appeared on the 60 Minutes television news magazine, released his memoir about his service in government, Against All Enemies, and testified before the 9/11 Commission. In all three instances, Clarke was sharply critical of the Bush administration’s attitude toward counter-terrorism before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and of the decision to go to war with Iraq.
In 1973, he began work in the federal government as a management intern in the U.S. Department of Defense. Beginning in 1985, Clarke served in the Reagan administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence. During the Presidential administration of George H.W. Bush, as the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, he coordinated diplomatic efforts to support the 1990-1991 Gulf War and the subsequent security arrangements. During the Clinton administration, Clarke became the counter-terrorism coordinator for the National Security Council. He remained counter-terrorism coordinator during the first year of the George W. Bush administration, and later was the Special Advisor to the President on cybersecurity and cyberterrorism. He resigned from the Bush administration in 2003.
Clarke’s positions inside the government have included:
Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs, 1989–1992
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence, 1985–1988
Clarke advised Madeleine Albright during the Genocide in Rwanda, to request the UN to withdraw all UN troops from Rwanda. She refused, but permitted Gen. Dallaire to keep a few hundred troops who managed to save thousands from the genocide. Later Clarke told Samantha Power “It wasn’t in American’s national interest. If we had to do the same thing today and I was advising the President, I would advise the same thing.” He directed the authoring of PDD-25 which outlined a reduced military and economic role for the United States in Rwanda as well as future peacekeeping operations.
Islamists took control in Sudan in a 1989 coup d’état and the United States adopted a policy of disengagement with the authoritarian regime throughout the 1990s. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, however, some critics charged that the U.S. should have moderated its policy toward Sudan earlier, since the influence of Islamists there waned in the second half of 1990s and Sudanese officials began to indicate an interest in accommodating U.S. concerns with respect to 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, who had been living in Sudan until he was expelled in May 1996. Timothy M. Carney, U.S. ambassador to Sudan between September 1995 and November 1997, co-authored an op-ed in 2002 claiming that in 1997 Sudan offered to turn over its intelligence on bin Laden but that Susan Rice, as NSC Africa specialist, together with the then NSC terrorism specialist Richard A. Clarke, successfully lobbied for continuing to bar U.S. officials, including the CIA and FBI, from engaging with the Khartoum government. Similar allegations (that Susan Rice joined others in missing an opportunity to cooperate with Sudan on counterterrorism) were made by Vanity Fair contributing editor David Rose and Richard Miniter, author of Losing Bin Laden.
Clarke was also involved in investigating Ramzi Yousef, one of the main perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing who traveled to the United States on an Iraqi passport. Yousef is the nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a senior al-Qaeda member. Many in the Clinton administration and the intelligence community believed this was evidence linking al-Qaeda’s activities and the government of Iraq.
In February 1999 Clarke wrote the Deputy National Security Advisor that one reliable source reported Iraqi officials had met with Bin Ladin and may have offered him asylum. Therefore, Clarke advised against surveillance flights to track bin Laden in Afghanistan: Anticipating an attack, “old wily Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad”, where he would be impossible to find. Clarke also made statements that year to the press linking “Iraqi nerve gas experts” and al-Qaeda to an alleged joint-chemical-weapons-development effort at the Al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan.
Michael Scheuer is the former chief of the bin Laden Unit at the Counterterrorist Center at the CIA. Matthew Continetti writes: “Scheuer believes that Clarke’s risk aversion and politicking negatively impacted the hunt for bin Laden prior to September 11, 2001. Scheuer stated that his unit, codename ‘Alec,’ had provided information that could have led to the capture and or killing of Osama bin Laden on ten different occasions during the Clinton administration, only to have his recommendations for action turned down by senior intelligence officials, including Clarke.”
Clarke and his communications with the Bush administration regarding bin Laden and associated terrorist plots targeting the United States were mentioned frequently in Condoleezza Rice‘s public interview by the 9/11 investigatory commission on April 8, 2004. Of particular significance was a memo from January 25, 2001, that Clarke had authored and sent to Condoleezza Rice. Along with making an urgent request for a meeting of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee to discuss the growing al-Qaeda threat in the greater Middle East, the memo also suggests strategies for combating al-Qaeda that might be adopted by the new Bush administration.
In his memoir, “Against All Enemies”, Clarke wrote that Condoleezza Rice made a decision that the position of National Coordinator for Counterterrorism should be downgraded. By demoting the office, the Administration sent a signal through the national security bureaucracy about the salience they assigned to terrorism. No longer would Clarke’s memos go to the President; instead they had to pass through a chain of command of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and her deputy Stephen Hadley, who bounced every one of them back.
Within a week of the inauguration, I wrote to Rice and Hadley asking ‘urgently’ for a Principals, or Cabinet-level, meeting to review the imminent Al-Qaeda threat. Rice told me that the Principals Committee, which had been the first venue for terrorism policy discussions in the Clinton administration, would not address the issue until it had been ‘framed’ by the Deputies.
At the first Deputies Committee meeting on Terrorism held in April 2001, Clarke strongly suggested that the U.S. put pressure on both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda by arming the Northern Alliance and other groups in Afghanistan. Simultaneously, that they target bin Laden and his leadership by reinitiating flights of the MQ-1 Predators. To which Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz responded, “Well, I just don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man bin Laden.” Clarke replied that he was talking about bin Laden and his network because it posed “an immediate and serious threat to the United States.” According to Clarke, Wolfowitz turned to him and said, “You give bin Laden too much credit. He could not do all these things like the 1993 attack on New York, not without a state sponsor. Just because FBI and CIA have failed to find the linkages does not mean they don’t exist.”
Clarke wrote in Against All Enemies that in the summer of 2001, the intelligence community was convinced of an imminent attack by al Qaeda, but could not get the attention of the highest levels of the Bush administration, most famously writing that Director of theCentral Intelligence AgencyGeorge Tenet was running around with his “hair on fire”.
At a July 5, 2001, White House gathering of the FAA, the Coast Guard, the FBI, Secret Service and INS, Clarke stated that “something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it’s going to happen soon.”
On March 24, 2004, Clarke testified at the public 9/11 Commission hearings. At the outset of his testimony Clarke offered an apology to the families of 9/11 victims and an acknowledgment that the government had failed: “I also welcome the hearings because it is finally a forum where I can apologize to the loved ones of the victims of 9/11…To the loved ones of the victims of 9/11, to them who are here in this room, to those who are watching on television, your government failed you. Those entrusted with protecting you failed you. And I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn’t matter because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask, once all the facts are out, for your understanding and for your forgiveness.”
Many of the events Clarke recounted during the hearings were also published in his memoir. Clarke charged that before and during the 9/11 crisis, many in the Administration were distracted from efforts against Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda organization by a pre-occupation with Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Clarke had written that on September 12, 2001, President Bush pulled him and a couple of aides aside and “testily” asked him to try to find evidence that Saddam was connected to the terrorist attacks. In response he wrote a report stating there was no evidence of Iraqi involvement and got it signed by all relevant agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the CIA. The paper was quickly returned by a deputy with a note saying “Please update and resubmit.” After initially denying that such a meeting between the President and Clarke took place, the White House later reversed its denial when others present backed Clarke’s version of the events.
This section’s tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. See Wikipedia’s guide to writing better articles for suggestions.(October 2013)
Before and after Clarke appeared before the 9/11 Commission, some critics tried to attack his credibility, launching a full-scale offensive against him: impugning his personal motives, claiming he was a disappointed job-hunter, that he sought publicity, and that he was a political partisan. They charged that he exaggerated perceived failures in the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies while exculpating the former Clinton administration from its perceived shortcomings.
According to some reports, the White House tried to discredit Clarke in a move described as “shooting the messenger.”New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman was more blunt, calling the attacks on Clarke “a campaign of character assassination.”
Some Republicans inside and outside the Bush administration questioned both Clarke’s testimony and his tenure during the hearings. Senate Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist took to the Senate floor to make a speech alleging Clarke told “two entirely different stories under oath”, pointing to congressional hearing testimony Clarke gave in 2002 and his 9/11 Commission testimony. Frist later speculated to reporters Clarke was trading on his former service as a government insider with access to the nation’s most valuable intelligence to sell a book.
During Clarke’s earlier testimony, he stated that Bill Clinton did not have a comprehensive plan on dealing with terrorism. During later testimony, he stated that President Clinton did have a comprehensive plan on dealing with terrorism. As summarized by the Toledo Blade, “In his August 2002 briefing, Mr. Clarke told reporters (1) that the Clinton administration had no overall plan on al-Qaeda to pass on to the Bush Administration; (2) that just days after his inauguration, Mr. Bush said he wanted a new, more comprehensive anti-terror strategy; (3) that Mr. Bush ordered implementation of anti-terror measures that had been kicking around since 1998, and (4) that before Sept. 11, Mr. Bush had increased fivefold the funding for CIA covert action programs against al-Qaeda. … It’s reasonable enough to argue that Mr. Bush could have done more to guard against terror, though it isn’t clear what. What is incredible is to argue – as Mr. Clarke did before the 9/11 Commission – that President Clinton was more concerned about al-Qaeda than Mr. Bush was.”
Clarke was criticized for his suggestions in 1999 of intelligence indicating a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, despite the fact Clarke and others concluded after investigations by 2001 that no link had been established. In Against All Enemies he writes, “It is certainly possible that Iraqi agents dangled the possibility of asylum in Iraq before bin Laden at some point when everyone knew that the U.S. was pressuring the Taliban to arrest him. If that dangle happened, bin Laden’s accepting asylum clearly did not,” (p. 270). In an interview on March 21, 2004, Clarke claimed that “there’s absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al-Qaeda, ever.” Clarke claimed in his book that this conclusion was understood by the intelligence community at the time of 9/11 and the ensuing months, but top Bush administration officials were pre-occupied with finding a link between Iraq and 9/11 in the months that followed the attack, and thus, Clarke argued, the Iraq war distracted attention and resources from the war in Afghanistan and hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Fox News, allegedly with the Administration’s consent, identified and released a background briefing that Clarke gave in August 2002, at the Administration’s request, to minimize the fallout from a Time magazine story about the President’s failure to take certain actions before 9/11. In that briefing on behalf of the White House, Clarke stated “there was no plan on Al-Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration,” and that after taking office President Bush decided to “add to the existing Clinton strategy and to increase CIA resources, for example, for covert action, fivefold, to go after Al-Qaeda.” At the next day’s hearing, 9/11 Commission member James Thompson challenged Clarke with the 2002 account, and Clarke explained: “I was asked to make that case to the press. I was a special assistant to the President, and I made the case I was asked to make… I was asked to highlight the positive aspects of what the Administration had done and to minimize the negative aspects of what the Administration had done. And as a special assistant to the President, one is frequently asked to do that kind of thing. I’ve done it for several Presidents.”
Another point of attack was Clarke’s role in allowing members of the bin Laden family to fly to Saudi Arabia on September 20, 2001. According to Clarke’s statements to the 9/11 Commission, a request was relayed to Clarke from the Saudi embassy to allow the members of the bin Laden family living in the U.S. to fly home. Clarke testified to the commission that he passed this decision in turn to the FBI via Dale Watson, and that the FBI at length sent its approval of the flight to the Interagency Crisis Management Group.However, FBI spokesman John Iannarelli denied that the FBI had a role in approving the flight: “I can say unequivocally that the FBI had no role in facilitating these flights.”
Clarke has also exchanged criticism with Michael Scheuer, former chief of the Bin Laden Issue Station at the CIA. When asked to respond to Clarke’s claim that Scheuer was “a hothead, a middle manager who really didn’t go to any of the cabinet meetings,” Scheuer returned the criticism as follows: “I certainly agree with the fact that I didn’t go to the cabinet meetings. But I’m certainly also aware that I’m much better informed than Mr. Clarke ever was about the nature of the intelligence that was available against Osama bin Laden and which was consistently denigrated by himself and Mr. Tenet.”
On March 28, 2004, at the height of the controversy during the 9/11 Commission Hearings, Clarke went on NBC’s Sunday morning news show, Meet the Press and was interviewed by journalist Tim Russert. In responding to and rebutting the criticism, Clarke challenged the Bush administration to declassify the whole record, including closed testimony by Bush administration officials before the Commission.
Cyberterrorism and cybersecurity
Clarke, as Special Advisor to the President on Cybersecurity, spent his last year in the Bush administration focusing on cybersecurity and the threat of terrorism against the critical infrastructure of the United States. At a security conference in 2002, after citing statistics that indicate that less than 0.0025 percent of corporate revenue on average is spent on information-technology security, Clarke was famously heard to say, “If you spend more on coffee than on IT security, then you will be hacked. What’s more, you deserve to be hacked.”
In June 2012 Clarke discussed issues of cybersecurity in depth in an interview on The Colbert Report in which he was seemingly misled into thinking that they were discussing cyber-security threats from the Chinese through the use of mobile devices such as iPads. Instead, Stephen Colbert was doing a humorous piece on the threats of Orangutans learning to use iPads. Indeed, when confronted on the issue directly, Clarke himself clarified that he was not discussing non-human primate based cyberterrorism threats. “Orangutans? You mean like apes?” said Clarke, “Are you sh**tin’ me? I’m talking about the Chinese.”
Post government career
Clarke is currently Chairman of Good Harbor Consulting and Good Harbour International, two strategic planning and corporate risk management firms; an on-air consultant for ABC News, and a contributor to the Good Harbor Report, an online community discussing homeland security, defense, and politics. He is an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School and a faculty affiliate of its Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He has also become an author of fiction, publishing his first novel, The Scorpion’s Gate, in 2005, and a second, Breakpoint, in 2007.
Clarke wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post on May 31, 2009 harshly critical of other Bush administration officials, entitled “The Trauma of 9/11 Is No Excuse”. Clarke wrote that he had little sympathy for his fellow officials who seemed to want to use the excuse of being traumatized, and caught unaware by Al-Qaeda‘s attacks on the USA, because their being caught unaware was due to their ignoring clear reports a major attack on U.S. soil was imminent. Clarke particularly singled out former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
In April 2010 Clarke released his book on Cyber War. In April 2012, Clarke wrote a New York Times op-ed addressing cyber attacks. In stemming cyber attacks carried out by foreign governments and foreign hackers, particularly from China, Clarke opined that the U.S. government should be authorized to “create a major program to grab stolen data leaving the country” in a fashion similar to how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security currently searches for child pornography that crosses America’s “virtual borders.” Moreover, he suggested that the US president could authorize agencies to scan Internet traffic outside the US and seize sensitive files stolen from within the United States. Clarke then stated that such a policy would not endanger privacy rights through the institution of a privacy advocate, who could stop abuses or any activity that went beyond halting the theft of important files. The op-ed did not offer evidence that finding and blocking files while they are being transmitted is technically feasible.
Following the 2013 high-speed fatal car crash of journalist Michael Hastings, a vocal critic of the surveillance state and restrictions on the press freedom under the Obama Administration tenure, Clarke was quoted as saying “There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers — including the United States — know how to remotely seize control of a car. So if there were a cyber attack on the car — and I’m not saying there was, I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.”
In 2013, Clarke served on an advisory group for the Obama administration, as it sought to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward Snowden. The report mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30′ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks, that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Clarke told Reuters on 11 April 2014 that the NSA had not known of Heartbleed.
On March 22, 2004, Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror—What Really Happened (ISBN 0-7432-6024-4), was published. The book was critical of past and present Presidential administrations for the way they handled the war on terrorboth before and after September 11, 2001 but focused much of its criticism on Bush for failing to take sufficient action to protect the country in the elevated-threat period before the September 11, 2001 attacks and for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which Clarke feels greatly hampered the war on terror, and was a distraction from the real terrorists.
Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action, 2004. In this book Clarke outlines his idea of a more effective U.S. counterterrorism policy. (ISBN 0-87078-491-9)
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Here are documents and evidence presented to the grand jury in Clayton, Mo., that was deciding whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting of Michael Brown. The documents were released by the St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch. Note: Some of the documents contain graphic language. NOV. 25, 2014 RELATED ARTICLE
Witnesses Told Grand Jury That Michael Brown Charged at Darren Wilson, Prosecutor Says
The most credible eyewitnesses to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., said he had charged toward Police Officer Darren Wilson just before the final, fatal shots, the St. Louis County prosecutor said Monday night as he sought to explain why a grand jury had not found probable cause to indict the officer.
The accounts of several other witnesses from the Ferguson neighborhood where Mr. Brown, 18 and unarmed, met his death on Aug. 9 — including those who said Mr. Brown was trying to surrender — changed over time or were inconsistent with physical evidence, the prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch, said in a news conference.
“The duty of the grand jury is to separate fact and fiction,” he said in a statement watched by a tense nation. “No probable cause exists to file any charges against Darren Wilson.”
Mr. McCulloch praised the grand jurors, who met on 25 days over a three-month period and heard 60 witnesses, for pouring “their hearts and souls into this process” and said that only by hearing all the evidence, as they had, could one fairly judge the case.
The task facing the St. Louis County grand jury was not to determine whether Officer Darren Wilson was guilty of a crime, but whether there was evidence to justify bringing charges, which could have ranged from negligent manslaughter to intentional murder.
The fact that at least nine members of the 12-member panel could not agree to indict the officer indicates that they accepted the narrative of self-defense put forth by Officer Wilson in his voluntary, four hours of testimony before the grand jury. Mr. McCulloch, in his summary of the months of testimony, said it was supported by the most reliable eyewitness accounts — from African-Americans in the vicinity of the shooting — as well as physical evidence and the consistent results of three autopsies.
At issue, under the Missouri law governing use of deadly force by law enforcement as well as general rules for self-defense, was if Officer Wilson “reasonably believed” that he or others were in serious danger.
According to transcripts released Monday night, Officer Wilson testified that after he encountered Mr. Brown and a friend walking in the street, he realized the pair might be those being sought for stealing cigarillos from a convenience store minutes earlier.
According to witnesses and blood and other evidence found inside the car, Officer Wilson first fired two shots while he struggled with Mr. Brown through the window of his patrol vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe, grazing Mr. Brown’s hand.
Mr. Brown started to run away, with Officer Wilson in chase, then stopped and turned. According to the prosecutor’s summary, the officer fired five shots as Mr. Brown charged him, then another five shots as he made what one witness called a “full charge.”
Only 90 seconds passed between Officer Wilson’s first encounter with the youths and the arrival of a backup police car, just after the shooting stopped, the prosecutor said.
Probable cause is not a stiff standard. It does not require that most of the evidence be incriminating, let alone be proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” as required in a criminal trial. Instead, grand juries are ordinarily instructed to issue an indictment when there is “some evidence” of guilt, legal experts said.
To Mr. Brown’s parents and their supporters, the case for bringing at least some charge in this case seemed open and shut. But the jurors also had to consider whether Officer Wilson acted within the limits of the lethal-force law, raising the threshold for an indictment.
Independent legal experts said it was impossible to analyze the grand jury decision without studying the transcripts of the testimony as well as the police reports, autopsies and forensic evidence that might shed light on what Mr. Brown was doing in his final seconds: whether he was menacing the officer or, as a friend who was with him said, trying to surrender.
Some people claiming to be eyewitnesses said Mr. Brown was shot in the back, Mr. McCulloch said, but later changed their stories when autopsies found no injuries entering his back. But others, African-Americans who did not speak out publicly, he said, consistently said that the youth had menaced the officer.
Mr. McCulloch, had promised that he would allay any suspicions about the fairness of the proceedings by releasing, with names redacted, transcripts of testimony and other evidence heard by the panel.
The release of grand jury information, secret by law, is rare, and Mr. McCulloch originally said he would first seek a judge’s permission. But on Monday, his office said it had determined that it had a right to release most of the transcripts and it did so Monday night.
The grand jury, which included three African-Americans, deliberated for two days. By law, the final vote on whether to bring an indictment is secret and the jurors are legally prohibited from discussing their deliberations.
The United States Department of Justice is conducting a separate investigation of whether Officer Wilson, who is white, intentionally acted to deprive Mr. Brown, an African-American, of his civil rights. But the bar for such cases is a high one, and officials have privately said they are unlikely to bring federal charges. The Justice Department is also conducting a broader investigation into the practices of the Ferguson Police Department.
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Protesters Turn Out in U.S. Cities Following Ferguson Decision
Rallies Largely Peaceful, Though Some Vandalism Occurred in at Least One City
ALEJANDRO LAZO and
Protests broke out in a number of U.S. cities following the decision on Monday by a grand jury not to indict a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager.
Marches and rallies had been planned in many of the nation’s largest cities, from New York to Chicago to Houston, regardless of the jury’s finding.
In New York, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Union Square in Manhattan. When the grand jury decision was announced, word quickly spread through the crowd. In a few minutes, most were holding one fist up in the air as they observed a moment of silence that lasted nearly five minutes.
The only audible sound was the shutter of press cameras. Some demonstrators were in tears.
WSJ’s Ben Kesling reports from the scene in Ferguson, Mo., after a grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown Photo: Getty Images
Then, with the cooperation of New York Police Department officers, the protesters began a spontaneous march, moving north along Sixth Avenue, blocking traffic. Protesters occupied several blocks as they marched toward Times Square.
“I feel like I don’t have an outlet for my anger,” said Monica Thompson, 29 years old, a social worker who lives in Harlem. “There’s not been an indictment. There’s an acceptance that black and brown lives don’t matter.”
A police helicopter hovered overhead as protesters marched and a large police presence accompanied the protest. No arrests were reported as of 10:30 p.m.
A sense of anger pulsed through the crowd. “They don’t know what they just started,” said Precious Etsekhume, 22, referring to the government and police. “They are going to regret every bad decision they made.”
At a New York news conference, the Rev. Al Sharpton , who has worked to bring attention to the case since Ferguson officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown, called for a federal investigation into the shooting, saying he had no confidence in local prosecutors.
Mr. Sharpton said the grand jury’s decision was expected but was “still an absolute blow to those of us that wanted to see a fair and open trial.”
Mr. Sharpton appeared with the family of Eric Garner, a New York City man whose death was caused by an apparent police chokehold, according to the city’s medical examiner. Mr. Garner’s family didn’t speak.
In Oakland, Calif. police and protesters clashed violently after groups of protesters blocked a major Bay Area freeway for hours, set piles of trash ablaze on city streets and looted retail shops in the city’s downtown area.
WSJ’s Ben Kesling reports from Ferguson, Mo., on the growing protests after a grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown. Photo: AP
After marching relatively peacefully for more than an hour, the crowd gathered near City Hall grew to stretch more than two city blocks, and became increasingly unruly, vandalizing buildings and smashing windows of a Chase Bank branch as they marched through downtown and then through the city’s increasingly gentrifying Lake Merritt neighborhood.
About 500 protesters ran up a freeway on ramp near a Trader Joe’s grocery store, the Oakland Police Department said, bringing traffic to a halt for hours on Interstate 580. Several arrests were made, Oakland police said, and the freeway was eventually reopened.
But clashes continued both near the freeway and in the city’s downtown, where the protests had originated. By midnight, protesters had ignited large fires on a street in downtown Oakland and looters could be seen breaking into several stores.
Inside a Metro PCS store, one woman tossed packages through a smashed glass door to gathered crowds. Down the street, young men hurled beer bottles at people passing bye.
Close to the city’s police headquarters, protesters confronted officers in full riot gear and gas masks, linking arms and advancing toward the police shortly after midnight. The police, in turn, advanced toward the protesters and some in the crowd threw water bottles and other objects at the officers.
“This is an unlawful assembly,” a policeman announced via a speaker system. “You may be arrested and subject to removal by force if necessary.”
A man in the crowd wearing a sweatshirt and carrying a bullhorn answered back with his own announcement.
“The Oakland Police Department is now under citizen’s arrest,” he said. “By the power invested in the people of California, the Oakland Police Department is now under arrest. We are arresting you for violating our civil rights.”
Clashes continued into the early morning as police steadily moved up the street arresting and confronting protesters.
D’Andre Teeter, 70, from Berkeley, said before the grand jury’s decision was announced that anything less than an indictment for murder would be an “outrage.”
”We are out here to say this has to stop, and we think the whole country must come to a halt regardless of the outcome of the grand jury’s decision,” he said.
Across the bay in San Francisco, a crowd of a few dozen people gathered in the Mission District to await the grand jury decision. Carrying signs reading “Justice 4 Mike Brown,” they booed and chanted, “The people say guilty! The people say guilty!” when the news came that Officer Wilson wouldn’t be indicted.
In downtown Atlanta, a handful of civil-rights activists gathered outside the Richard B. Russell Federal Building to address the media after the verdict was announced. Markel Hutchins, an African American minister, choked back tears at one point when describing how frustrated he was by the decision.
“If you don’t look like Michael Brown, or have a son or grandson or cousin that looks like Michael Brown, you will never understand why we feel the way we feel tonight,” he said.
With unseasonably chilly temperatures that swept into the area Monday night, most of downtown Atlanta was desolate and no major disturbances were reported. Civil-rights leaders said they planned a peaceful protest Tuesday evening.
In Philadelphia, the city’s police department was monitoring the situation and watching social media, said a spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter. The mayor earlier told reporters he recognizes the public’s right to demonstrate but urged people to do so nonviolently.
According to the Associated Press, several hundred protesters marched through downtown Philadelphia, yelling, “No justice, no peace, no racist police!” A similar protest of about 50 people in Pittsburgh was short-lived, with activists saying they plan to regroup Tuesday at the federal courthouse, the AP reported.
Law-enforcement officials in Los Angeles said they had prepared for potential unrest in the nation’s second-largest city, but a small protest march that started in Leimert Park in south L.A. blocked traffic along its route but otherwise remained peaceful.
As they marched on foot and on bicycles, the few dozen protesters carried signs, blew whistles and shouted: “If you’re sick of the murdering police, outta your house and into the street.” At one point, a few protesters briefly made their way onto a section of the I-10 freeway before police moved them back.
Cue Jnmarie, a 50-year-old pastor, said he met with police twice to prepare for the response to the grand jury’s decision. He said he is pushing for public policy changes, and doesn’t support violence. He said community organizers and religious leaders there aimed to do more than “blow off steam” about Michael Brown’s death.
”This is not just happening now,” he said. “It has been happening, and it’s part of the culture.”
Mr. Jnmarie described himself as a victim of racial profiling in Los Angeles and said the community is angry. “Police protect and serve everyone except people of color,” he said.
”We do everything in our power to facilitate lawful, peaceful demonstrations as long as they don’t become violent or destructive,” said Andy Neiman, spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.
In Seattle, where a protest march also was reported to be nonviolent, the police department said it hadn’t made any major preparations for protests. The department prefers to take a “rather toned-down approach to that sort of thing,” said Patrick Michaud, a Seattle police detective with the force’s public affairs unit.
In Baltimore, two groups said they would wait until Tuesday afternoon to march through downtown, regardless of the grand jury’s decision. “We want the time to have the largest gathering possible,” said Sharon Black, local representative of one of the groups, the Peoples Power Assembly. “It’s difficult to get a large, large group out in the middle of the night. We want our message to be heard.”
Ferguson and Other Cities React to Grand Jury Decision Not to Indict Darren Wilson
Journalists with The New York Times in Ferguson, Mo., are following a grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. On Monday night, the scene in downtown Ferguson grew increasingly unruly as the night wore on with the police using tear gas to disperse crowds who were throwing rocks and shattering store windows. Some businesses were looted, the police said. Protests also broke out in other cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Oakland and Seattle.
Follow Tuesday’s live updates and other ongoing coverage here.
A photograph of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson presented as evidence to the grand jury.Credit via St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office
Among the many things found in Darren Wilson’s grand jury testimony are several references to the way he felt intimidated by Michael Brown. Though Officer Wilson is himself a large man – nearly 6’4″, around 210 pounds, according to his own testimony — he repeatedly described Mr. Brown as aggressive, big, and threatening, often in vivid language. Here are a few excerpts from his description of the altercation at the window of his patrol car:
“I tried to hold his right arm and use my left hand to get out to have some kind of control and not be trapped in my car any more. And when I grabbed him, the only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan.”
“I felt that another one of those punches in my face could knock me out or worse. I mean it was, he’s obviously bigger than I was and stronger and the, I’ve already taken two to the face and I didn’t think I would, the third one could be fatal if he hit me right.”
“After seeing the blood on my hand, I looked at him and was, this is my car door, he was here and he kind of stepped back and went like this. And then after he did that, he looked up at me and had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked. He comes back towards me again with his hands up.”
A police officer from the nearby suburb of University City was shot overnight, but it was unclear if it was related to the grand jury’s decision in the Ferguson case, the St. Louis County police said early Tuesday.
The officer was shot in the arm was expected to be “okay,” the police said in a Twitter post. The police were searching for a suspect.
The officer was shot at the intersection of Canton Avenue and Lamb Avenue in University City, a police spokesman said.
12:42 A.M.Protesters Block Interstate 44 in St. Louis
Protesters shut down Interstate 44 at Grand Avenue in both directions in St. Louis on Monday.Credit J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, via Associated Press
12:33 A.M.Sounds of Gunfire and Alarms on Ferguson Streets
Fire roared through a Little Caesar’s restaurant on Monday night in Ferguson, Mo.CreditTannen Maury/European Pressphoto Agency
There were numerous stretches of Ferguson late Monday night where all was calm, all was well. Stores with “I Love Ferguson” signs in the windows. The red bows and holiday lights wrapped around the light poles downtown still perfectly intact.
But there were pockets that felt like a city under siege.
A Little Caesars Pizza shop was in flames. There were shattered windows at El Palenque Mexican restaurant, and at a UMB Bank branch. Thick smoke poured from the busted front entrance of a Walgreens pharmacy. Men stepped in but quickly stepped out, complaining that it was too hard to see anything because of the smoke. The sound of gunfire occasionally rang out in the distance, and the acidic smell and aftertaste of tear gas filled the air. One man exited the store and jokingly asked if anyone wanted cigarettes.
At the intersection of North Florissant Road and Hereford Avenue – “Ferguson, a city since 1894,” reads the sign at the corner – firefighters worked on putting out the Little Caesars blaze, but there were no police or fire officials at Walgreens. The fire inside continued to burn. Spectators drove up to the store, as did news crews. All the while, the pharmacy’s high-pitched security bell echoed, the soundtrack of the evening’s drama.
“Not often you get to see anarchy, huh?” one man taking pictures outside Walgreens said.
Protesters in Oakland blocked a highway on Monday night in response to the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson, Mo.Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times
In Oakland, Calif., protesters blocked a portion of Interstate 580, forcing cars to stop. One man said he had been sitting in his car for about 45 minutes. “I knew there would be protests, but I didn’t think it would get this hectic with shutting down the freeway and all the cops,” said the man, Alex Perez, 28, of Oakland. He was trying to get home, but said he was sympathetic to what the protesters were trying to do. “It was unwarranted for a kid to get shot.”
Demonstrators outside the White House on Monday.Credit Jabin Botsford/The New York Times
A gathering in downtown Seattle.Credit Evan McGlinn for The New York Times
12:29 A.M.Flight restrictions at Lambert-St. Louis International
Inbound flights to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport were not being permitted to land late Monday as a safety precaution, officials said. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary flight restriction, or TFR, affecting inbound flights, the airport said in a post on Twitter.
Demonstrators reacted on Monday night in Los Angeles to the grand jury’s decision not to indict Office Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.Credit Ringo Chiu/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Late on Monday night, a crowd of about 200 people had blocked traffic on Crenshaw Boulevard, a main thoroughfare through South Los Angeles. The crowd swelled to over 250 as it marched north, then turned east on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, a central strip that cuts through South Los Angeles toward downtown Los Angeles.
Beating drums, the crowd chanted: “Turn up, turn down, we do this for Mike Brown.”
The crowd was young, mostly in their 20s and 30s. Police squad cars and officers stood by at a few intersections. Some protesters carried their cellphones, recording officers or photographing the scene. Helicopters hovered overhead.
John K. Givens, 45, a Los Angeles resident who works at a freight trading company, marched with the crowd, wearing a gray Dodgers cap and a navy blue vest jacket. “I was emotionally bothered by the decision,” Mr. Givens said of the grand jury in the Ferguson, Mo., case.
Mr. Givens said that as a black male, violent interactions were to be expected. His younger brother, Mr. Givens said, had been beaten by a Los Angeles police officer. “It’s nothing new,” he said. “This is the one that got the most media attention.”
Monday night’s grand jury decision to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson over the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, led to riots in the Missouri city.
Although Michael Brown’s family, President Barack Obama, and authorities called for peaceful protests, the Ferguson was soon out of control.
The riots saw a return to the looting, fires and property damages which took place on a smaller scale in August, immediately after the shooting of Brown.
Scroll down for video
Damage done: Two buildings still smoulder after the riots that ravaged Ferguson, Missouri overnight
Before: A satellite image taken by Google in September 2012 show the buildings intact
As the sun rose on Tuesday, the cityscape of Ferguson looked worlds away from satellite and Google Street View snaps taken just months earlier.
Pictures from yesterday in comparison with images from before, tracked down byThe Wall Street Journal, show the damage done.
Last night, tens of thousands of people in more than 170 cities across America – including Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, among others – were demonstrating against the long-awaited verdict.
However, despite the St. Louis grand jury decision, federal investigations into the shooting of Michael Brown continue the US Attorney General said on Monday.
The Justice Department will continue to pursue two investigations, one into potential civil rights violations by Officer Wilson when he shot dead unarmed Brown in August this year, and one into the practices of the Ferguson Police force.
Damaged buildings in Ferguson following night of protests
Beauty lost: A beauty supply store has been left in ruins after Monday night’s riots
True beauty: A Google Street View snap from 2010 shows the shop in its original state
Burned out: A building in Ferguson only has its four walls left after being destroyed by fire
Better times: The building, which appears to be a shop, is pictured on Google earlier this year
The fire at the local Little Ceasars restaurant left the big orange sign in a melted lump on the ground
Neighborhood joint: There is no sign of its former glory, captured by Google in August 2012
Distraught: The manager of the Little Caesar’s said he understood the protesters were angry but added: ‘Speaking your mind – that’s America. You are supposed to be able to protest peacefully and make your point. But this…’
More destruction: The arson frenzy also hit South Florissant Street, about a mile away. This branch of Little Casear’s was burned out
Long way back: A woman stops to take a picture using her phone of the damage done
Still intact: The local Clean World Laundromat was still standing on Monday morning
Residents on the streets told MailOnline that the wreckage to Ferguson was so bad that it looked like ‘Ferganistan’.
Another said that it ‘looked like Iraq’.
Almost every building along South Florissant Street, where the Ferguson police station is located, had been ransacked or vandalised.
Tony Koenig and his brother Ray, 38 and 40, had taken the day off from working as school groundskeepers to help rebuild a Mexican restaurant run by a friend.
Tony said: ‘I have lived in Ferguson for 38 years and I have never seen anything like this. They just want street justice and they don’t care about how they get it.
‘This young generation. I cannot understand why they do what they do. The parents are to blame. When me and my brother grew up both our parents worked and we were raised knowing how to show respect, and that doesn’t happen these days.
‘We’ve had a hard enough time paying our mortgages after the economy went down. We don’t need this’.
Their friend Drew Canaday, who was also helping them, lives in the street next to South Florissant and said that it was ‘like a war’ the night before.
Destruction: :A rioter uses a stick to break a window at the Hunan Chop Suey Chinese Restaurant along West Florissant Ave last night
Nothing left: This was all that was left of the Hunan Chop Suey Chinese restaurant this morning after the fire wrecked it
As they were: The Hunan Chop Suey and TitleMax loans were both intact before last night’s orgy of violence
Burning: Cars parked outside one row of shops on West Florissant were targeted in the destruction spree
Attacked: McDonald’s on West Florissant was smashed up although not set on fire. It had previously (right) avoided damage
Crime scene: Much of West Florissant was under police guard today and described by officers as an active crime scene
‘Especially something this big. It takes dialogue and not everyone will be happy but that’s compromise.
‘These people don’t want to wait. That what today’s society has come to, not just here in Ferguson – this is America, this is the world.’
Further up South Florissant a Little Caesar’s pizza restaurant had been burned to the ground, as had the antiques store next to it.
The manager of the restaurant, who declined to give his name for fear of reprisals, said that 12 people had now been put out of work and did not know if the owners would rebuild.
The manager said that the store was destroyed by a tornado three years earlier and they did build it back but it cost ‘a lot of money’.
He said: ‘Most of the people here have families and they are very worried about what will come next for them.
‘I’m proud to work here and started as the dishwasher and worked my way up. I had a motorcycle accident and had my foot amputated and they were good enough to give me a job,
The manger, a widower with two children in their 20s, said that he was in principle on the side of the protesters but that this was ‘too far’.
He said: ‘I believe in their right to protest and what they’re doing is a just case.
‘Speaking your mind – that’s America. You are supposed to be able to protest peacefully and make your point. But this…’
Darlena Cunha is a Florida-based contributor to The Washington Post and TIME among dozens of other publications.
The violent protests in Ferguson, Mo., are part of the American experience. Peaceful protesting is a luxury only available to those safely in mainstream culture
When a police officer shoots a young, unarmed black man in the streets, then does not face indictment, anger in the community is inevitable. It’s what we do with that anger that counts. In such a case, is rioting so wrong?
Riots are a necessary part of the evolution of society. Unfortunately, we do not live in a universal utopia where people have the basic human rights they deserve simply for existing, and until we get there, the legitimate frustration, sorrow and pain of the marginalized voices will boil over, spilling out into our streets. As “normal” citizens watch the events of Fergusonunfurl on their television screens and Twitter feeds, there is a lot of head shaking, finger pointing, and privileged explanation going on. We wish to seclude the incident and the people involved. To separate it from our history as a nation, to dehumanize the change agents because of their bad and sometimes violent decisions—because if we can separate the underlying racial tensions that clearly exist in our country from the looting and rioting of select individuals, we can continue to ignore the problem.
While the most famous rant against the riots thus far comes from Hercules actor Kevin Sorbo, where he calls the rioters “animals” and “losers,” there are thousands of people echoing these sentiments. Sorbo correctly ascertains that the rioting has little to do with the shooting of an unarmed black man in the street, but he blames it on the typical privileged American’s stereotype of a less fortunate sect of human being—that the looting is a result of frustration built up over years of “blaming everyone else, The Man, for their failures.”
Because when you have succeeded, it ceases to be a possibility, in our capitalist society, that anyone else helped you. And if no one helped you succeed, then no one is holding anyone else back from succeeding. Except they did help you, and they are holding people back. So that blaming someone else for your failures in the United States may very well be an astute observation of reality, particularly as it comes to white privilege versus black privilege. And, yes, they are different, and they are tied to race, and that doesn’t make me a racist, it makes me a realist. If anything, I am racist because I am white. Until I have had to walk in a person of color’s skin, I will never understand, I will always take things for granted, and I will be inherently privileged. But by ignoring the very real issues this country still faces in terms of race to promote an as-of-yet imaginary colorblind society, we contribute to the problem at hand, which is centuries of abuses lobbied against other humans on no basis but that of their skin color.
PHOTOS: FERGUSON IGNITES WITH VIOLENCE OVERNIGHT
BARRETT EMKE FOR TIME
Law enforcement stands in full gear by tanks in Ferguson, Mo. on Nov. 24, 2014
Sorbo is not alone. A webpage devoted to Tea Party politics has hundreds of comments disparaging the rioters, bemoaning the state of our country and very much blaming skin color as the culprit of this debauched way of dealing with the state of our society.
“To hear the libs, one would think that burning and looting are a justifiable way to judge negative events that effect (sic) the black,” one person wrote. “I intentionally used black because of a fact that you do not hear of these events when another skin color is in play. It is about time that the blacks start cleaning their own backyards before they start on ours.”
However, even the Tea Party gets its name from a riot, The Boston Tea Party. For those who need a quick history brush-up, in 1773 American protesters dumped an entire shipment of tea into the Boston Harbor to protest The Tea Act, which colonists maintained violated their rights. In response to this costly protest and civil unrest, the British government enforced The Coercive Acts, ending local government in Massachusetts, which in turn led to the American Revolution and created our great country.
Samuel Adams wrote of the incident, claiming it “was not the act of a lawless mob, but was instead a principled protest and the only remaining option the people had to defend their constitutional rights” according to John K. Alexander, author ofSamuel Adams: America’s Revolutionary Politician.
That protest back in 1773 was meant to effect political and societal change, and while the destruction of property in that case may not have ended in loss of human life, the revolutionthat took place afterward certainly did. What separates a heralded victory in history from an attempt at societal change, a cry for help from the country’s trampled, today? The fact that we won.
In terms of riots being more common in black communities, that is true only when the riots are politically aimed.
The obvious example here is the L.A. Riots of 1992, after the Rodney King beating and verdict. I would put forth that peaceful protesting is a luxury of those already in mainstream culture, those who can be assured their voices will be heard without violence, those who can afford to wait for the change they want.
“I risk sounding racist but if this was a white kid there would be no riot,” another person wrote on the Tea Party page. “History shows us that blacks in this country are more apt to riot than any other population. They are stirred up by racist black people and set out to cause problems. End of story.”
And the racism they are fighting, the racism we are all fighting, is still alive and well throughout our nation. The modern racism may not culminate in separate water fountains and separate seating in the backs of buses, but its insidious nature is perhaps even more dangerous to the individuals who have to live under the shroud of stereotypical lies society foists upon them.
Instead of tearing down other human beings who are acting upon decades of pent-up anger at a system decidedly against them, a system that has told them they are less than human for years, we ought to be reaching out to help them regain the humanity they lost, not when a few set fire to the buildings in Ferguson, but when they were born the wrong color in the post-racial America.
Dozens in Boston face charges for Ferguson protest
By Martin Finucane and Peter Schworm
Dozens of people are facing charges after crowds took to the streets of Boston Tuesday night to protest a grand jury’s decision not to charge a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in the fatal shooting of a black teenager who was unarmed.
Boston police arrested 47 people on charges that include disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace, said police spokesman Officer James Kenneally.
Still, there were no major incidents or injuries reported in the mostly peaceful demonstrations.
“All in all, I think everybody handled themselves pretty well last night,” said Police Commissioner William Evans. “We wanted people to be able to express their frustration but, at the same time, we did want everybody to be safe.”
Demonstrations also took place in other cities around the country, including in New York, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., as the decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown sparked a heated national debate about law enforcement’s relationship with minority communities.
Map: Ferguson protests in US
Though most of the gatherings were peaceful the day after the announcement, many cities saw marchers disrupting traffic and getting into confrontations with police.
Photos: Protesters march
Anthony Braga: Why Boston’s protests were mostly peaceful
Sense of resigned anger in Boston
The Boston marchers faced arraignment Wednesday in Roxbury District Court and Boston Municipal Court. About half those arrested were Boston residents. Most were college students, Kenneally said.
Many were arrested at Melnea Cass Boulevard and Massachusetts Avenue, where there was a sit-in, he said.
Evans said at a news conference that police had gone with a “real soft approach.”
He said he felt the protest went well “because of our whole style,” which includes “great community relations” and a constant dialogue with the community.
He said police recognized a number of the protesters from Occupy Boston, which occupied an area in downtown Boston in 2011.
Police expect protests to continue as long as Ferguson itself is “hot,” but he said, “I’d like to continue dialogue so Boston can be a model of how protests should go.”
At Roxbury District Court, one protester being arraigned painted a less sunny view of how police behaved.
“I was struck in the face by police. They put me in a headlock and dragged me out of the protest group and they hit me in the face, they threw me on the ground. … They handled it pretty poorly,” said David Meredith, a Salem State junior from Revere. Meredith had a black eye, which he said police had inflicted on him.
“I wasn’t shocked. I was appalled, but I wasn’t shocked. The police were being very confrontational. They seemed very angry the entire time,” he said, noting that he saw an officer choking another man, who was holding a camera.
Both Boston police and State Police interacted with demonstrators. It wasn’t clear what agency the officers who confronted Meredith came from.
David Procopio, a State Police spokesman, said that “because of superb cooperation and coordination between State and Boston police, we were able to prevent protesters from entering the Southeast Expressway and the Mass. Turnpike.”
He added that monitoring social media “provided critical intelligence about protesters’ plans to try to disrupt traffic on state highways.”
One state trooper was bitten on the wrist by a protester, Procopio said. He was treated by Boston EMS on the scene.
An estimated 1,400 protesters marched from Dudley Square to the South Bay House of Correction, then onto the Massachusetts Avenue Connector near Interstate 93 before being blocked by police, the Globe reported Wednesday morning
The protesters spread across Boston, through Back Bay and the Financial District, meeting police again in Dewey Square — the former site of the Occupy encampment — outside South Station late Tuesday night, the Globe reported.
State troopers also assisted with other largely peaceful protests in Worcester, Northampton, and Springfield Tuesday night, Procopio said. No tactical and riot-control units were used, though they were on standby.
Procopio said State Police would maintain an increased presence at potential demonstration sites in Boston over the next several days.
NOTE: This table is based on incidents where some information about the offender is known by law enforcement; therefore, when the offender age, sex, and race are all reported as unknown, these data are excluded from the table.
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Ferguson Documents: How The Grand Jury Reached A Decision
After sitting through hours of testimony and reading through thousands of pages of documents, a grand jury decided that there was not enough probable cause to indict police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old.
Their decision, like the shooting that led up to all this, sparked violent protests overnight in Ferguson, Mo.
“The duty of the grand jury is to separate fact and fiction,” the prosecuting attorney, Robert P. McCulloch, said in a televised address Monday night. After weighing the evidence, at least nine of the 12 members of the grand jury decided that Wilson acted within the limits of the lethal-force law.
In a rare move and in an attempt to allay concerns about bias, McCulloch made public the mountain of evidence presented to the grand jury. We’re combing through the thousands of pages — including testimony from Wilson and many witnesses — and throughout the day, we’ll update this post with the pieces that help explain how the jury reached its decision.
Last Updated at 11:14 a.m. ET. Witness Testimony:
Leading up to this decision, witness testimony has been hotly debated — so much so that the symbol of this story has become protesters raising their hands, symbolically telling police, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
We have documents of dozens of witness interviews. If you listened to McCulloch last night, much of this jury’s decision came down to whether Brown was charging Wilson or surrendering or running away.
As we’ve detailed in another post, it’s really complicated. Some witnesses say Wilson started shooting after he got out of the car, some say he started shooting inside the car. Some say Brown was very clearly surrendering, others say it didn’t look like he had been hit at all.
Perhaps the simplest way to explain all of this is to take a close look at Witness 14.
Without a doubt, Witness 14 is sympathetic to Brown and, in fact, had run into him at least once in the past.
“[Brown] was to me, and I’m going to say it, he was executed,” the witness said. “[Wilson] had made up his mind he was going to kill him.”
That was the witness’ conclusion — that as Brown was shot, he was surrendering, he had his hands up.
That’s what the witness told local authorities. But when the feds interviewed Witness 14 and drilled down on the details, the witness’ assumptions became less clear.
Were Brown’s hands a sign of surrender? Or was he checking his injuries? Were his palms facing the officer or facing Brown?
The witness eventually says: “He was defenseless, hands up, he was trying to stay on his feet and you could see that his knees was beginning to buckle and he was going down.”
But the investigator eventually gets to a very important point. He leads the witness to say that Brown was moving toward Officer Wilson, who was screaming, “Stop,” as he fired his weapon:
Wilson is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 210 pounds. Brown was the same height and weighed about 290 pounds.
The officer said Brown and his associate Dorian Johnson were walking in the middle of the street, preventing normal traffic from passing. He said he told them to move to the sidewalk, and after a brief exchange Brown used a vulgarity at him. Wilson said he called for backup and tried open the door of his police car. Brown, he said, slammed the door shut. They struggled and Brown hit him in the face twice, Wilson said.
He said he thought, “What do I do to not get beaten inside my car?”
Wilson said he had considered using mace, his baton and his flashlight before drawing his gun and telling Brown, “Get back or I’m going to shoot you.” Brown then grabbed his gun, Wilson said, and twisted it and dug it down into the officer’s hip. The officer said he feared he would die if Brown got hold of the gun. He said he managed to raise the gun and fired twice. It just clicked. But the third time, the gun went off, startling both men.
That’s when, Wilson said, Brown looked up at him “and had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked. He comes back towards me again with his hands up.”
Wilson said he tried firing again but nothing happened. When he tried once more, it went off. Brown then hit him again, he said.
The officer said that when he looked up, Brown was running away. Wilson said he got out of the car, called for backup and began chasing Brown. He said Brown then stopped and he did, too. He said he ordered Brown to get on the ground, but the 18-year-old did not. He said Brown made an “aggravated sound” and ran back toward him. He said he warned Brown repeatedly to get on the ground, but when he did not comply the officer fired “a series of shots.”
“I don’t know how many I shot, I just know I shot it,” he said.
Wilson then proceeded to explain his rationale for why he chased Brown. He said he wanted to keep Brown “contained” until support arrived. He said he thought that if he could buy 30 seconds of time, until other officers arrived, they could “make the arrest, nothing happens, we are all good.”
“And it didn’t happen that way,” Wilson said.
Last Updated at 6:41 a.m. ET. The Documents:
We’ve uploaded most of the documents we received from prosecutors. We invite you to look through them and tip us off to anything you find interesting in the comments.
Timeline: Ferguson, Missouri police shooting and investigation
A St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said on Monday.
A timeline on the shooting and investigation follows.
Aug. 9 – While driving a police SUV, Wilson encounters Brown and a friend of Brown walking down the street about midday. Accounts differ but witnesses agree there was a confrontation and Wilson fired multiple shots at Brown, killing him. Autopsies found that Brown had been shot at least six times.
- A couple of hundred people gather at the scene and five dozen police officers are called to preserve order. Brown’s body is left in the street for about four hours.
Aug. 10 – At least two dozen businesses are damaged and one store is set on fire when looting breaks out during the protests, according to police. Thirty-two people are arrested and two officers injured.
Aug. 11 – Brown’s mother calls for calm. But in another night of unrest, police wearing riot gear fire tear gas to disperse hundreds of demonstrators.
Aug. 12 – President Barack Obama calls for reflection and promises a U.S. Justice Department investigation. Brown’s father urges an end to the violence.
Aug. 13 – Police use tear gas in clashes with protesters.
Aug. 14 – After complaints of heavy-handed police tactics, Governor Jay Nixon puts the Missouri Highway Patrol in charge of security, led by Captain Ron Johnson, an African-American from the area. Protests are boisterous but peaceful.
Aug. 15 – Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson identifies Wilson as the officer who shot Brown. Jackson releases security video of a strong-arm robbery at a convenience store minutes before the shooting that shows Brown shoving a store clerk.
Aug. 16 – Nixon declares a state of emergency and sets a curfew.
Aug. 17 – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder orders the Justice Department to conduct its own autopsy on Brown. Gunfire rings out during protests and police disperse demonstrators with tear gas.
Aug. 18 – Nixon lifts the curfew and sends the National Guard to Ferguson. The Brown family releases results of a private autopsy.
Aug. 20 – A St. Louis County grand jury begins hearing evidence.
Aug. 21-22 – The National Guard begins a gradual withdrawal amid two nights of muted protests.
Aug. 25 – Funeral services are held for Michael Brown.
Sept. 3 – Nixon lifts the Ferguson state of emergency.
Sept. 4 – U.S. Justice Department announces civil investigation of Ferguson police.
Sept. 25 – Jackson apologizes to Brown’s parents in a video.
Oct. 21 – Nixon says a special commission will examine social and economic conditions in Ferguson. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a county autopsy suggests Brown was shot once at close range in the hand, six times overall.
Oct. 22 – U.S. Justice Department calls recent leaks of information, including autopsy report, troubling.
Oct. 23 – Amnesty International report says law enforcement restrictions on peaceful protesters violated international standards.
Nov. 11 – Nixon says violence will not be tolerated if demonstrations follow grand jury announcement in Brown shooting.
Nov. 17 – Nixon declares a state of emergency, allowing him to call up National Guard in advance of a grand jury announcement.
Nov. 24 – Prosecutor says grand jury was presented with five possible charges, found no probable cause to bring charges against Wilson.
(Reporting by Scott Malone, Ellen Wulfhorst, Daniel Wallis, Nick Carey, Carey Gillam, Edward McAllister and Fiona Ortiz; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Bill Trott, Peter Cooney and Leslie Adler)
A Missouri grand jury heard evidence for months as it weighed whether to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of Michael Brown, which was followed by sometimes violent protests. Some answers to common questions about the grand jury:
Q: What was the grand jury deciding?
A: The grand jury considered whether there is enough evidence to charge Wilson with a crime and, if so, what that charge should be.
Q: How was the grand jury different from other juries?
A: The grand jury can determine only whether probable cause exists to indict Wilson, not whether he is guilty. If the jury indicts him, a separate trial jury will be seated to decide whether to convict or acquit him.
Q: How many people were on the grand jury and how were they selected?
A: The grand jury was composed of 12 people “selected at random from a fair cross-section of the citizens,” according to Missouri law. The jurors, whose identities were kept secret, were 75 percent white: six white men, three white women, two black women and one black man. St. Louis County overall is 70 percent white, but about two-thirds of Ferguson’s residents are black. Brown was black. The officer is white.
Q: Was the grand jury appointed for this specific case?
A: No. It was appointed for a four-month term. The grand jury had been hearing routine cases around the time Brown was killed and then turned its attention to the shooting.
The jury’s term was due to expire Sept. 10. That same day, county Judge Carolyn Whittingtonextended the term to Jan. 7 — the longest extension allowable by state law. The investigation was always expected to go longer than the typical grand jury term.
Q: How often did the grand jurors meet?
A: Their normal schedule was to meet once a week.
Q: Who was inside the grand jury room?
A: The jury, a prosecutor and a witness. Grand jury proceedings are closed to the public.
Q: What happened when the grand jury convened?
A: Prosecutors presented evidence and summoned witnesses to testify. A grand jury is a powerful tool for investigating crimes because witnesses must testify unless they invoke the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects against self-incrimination.
Typically, grand jurors hear a condensed version of the evidence that might be presented at a trial. In the Ferguson case, grand jurors are receiving more extensive evidence and testimony.
Q: Who testified to the grand jury?
A: The only witnesses known for certain to have testified were Wilson and Dr. Michael Baden, who performed a private autopsy on Brown on behalf of his family. But other witnesses and experts may also have appeared.
Q: What charges could be filed?
A: At the lower end is second-degree involuntary manslaughter, which is defined as acting with criminal negligence to cause a death. It is punishable by up to four years in prison.
First-degree involuntary manslaughter, defined as recklessly causing a death, is punishable by up to seven years in prison. Voluntary manslaughter, defined as causing a death “under the influence of sudden passion arising from adequate cause,” is punishable by five to 15 years in prison. Second-degree murder is defined as knowingly causing a death, or acting with the purpose of causing serious physical injury that ends up resulting in death. It is punishable by life in prison or a range of 10 to 30 years.
The most serious charge, first-degree murder, can be used only when someone knowingly causes a death after deliberation and is punishable by either life in prison or lethal injection.
Q: Do charges require a unanimous vote?
A: No. Consent from nine jurors is enough to file a charge in Missouri. The jury could also choose not to file any charges.
Q: Can jurors speak to the public?
A: No. Disclosing evidence, the name of a witness or an indictment can lead to a misdemeanor charge.
Q: What will be publicly disclosed when grand jurors reach a decision?
A: If Wilson is charged, the indictment will be made public, but the evidence will be kept secret for use at a trial. If Wilson is not indicted, McCulloch has said he will take the unusual step of releasing transcripts and audio recordings of the grand jury investigation.
Q: What preparations have been made?
A: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to help state and local police in case of civil unrest. At least one school district called off classes for Monday and Tuesday. Police have undergone training pertaining to protesters’ constitutional rights and have purchased more equipment, such as shields, helmets, smoke canisters and rubber bullets.
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Economic, Political Discontent Make for a Midterm Double Punch
By Gary Langer
Oct 28, 2014 7:00am
A double punch of economic and political dissatisfaction marks public attitudes in the closing week of the 2014 midterm campaign – a dynamic that reflects poorly on the president’s performance, bolstering his Republican opponents.
The discontent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll is palpable. Despite its fitful gains, seven in 10 Americans rate the nation’s economy negatively and just 28 percent say it’s getting better. In a now-customary result, 68 percent say the country’s seriously off on the wrong track.
There’s no respite politically. Six in 10 express little or no trust in the federal government to do what’s right. Fifty-three percent think its ability to deal with the country’s problems has worsened in the last few years; among likely voters that rises to 63 percent.
Views of the president’s performance suffer in kind. Barack Obama’s job approval rating, 43 percent overall, is virtually unchanged from his career-low 40 percent two weeks ago. A steady 51 percent disapprove, essentially the same all year. His ratings on the economy – still the country’s prime concern, albeit one of many – are similarly weak, a 10-point net negative score.
These elements appear poised to depress voting by dispirited Democrats, tipping the scale to customarily higher-turnout Republicans. Disapproval of Obama reaches 56 percent among likely voters, and three in 10 say they’ll show up at the polls to express opposition to him – twice as many as say they’ll vote to show him support.
The result is a 50-44 percent Republican advantage among likely voters in preference for U.S. House seats in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. That compares with a +3-point Democratic tally among all registered voters, showing how differential turnout shifts the balance.
EXPECTATIONS and DISAFFECTION
Other results may be equally cheering to the GOP. While the unpredictable nature of key Senate races makes it premature to be measuring for drapes in leadership offices, Americans by 13 points, 46-33 percent, expect the Republicans to win control. By nine points, 32-24 percent, more also call a good rather than a bad thing.
Four in 10, though, say who’s in control won’t make much difference – one sign of the more general public annoyance any incoming leaders are likely to face.
Disaffection may impact participation, as well. Just 68 percent of registered voters say they’re closely following the midterms, well down from 76 percent at about this time in 2010 and 80 percent in 2006. The share saying they’re certain to vote (or already voted), 65 percent, likewise is down, from 71 percent in 2010 and 76 percent in 2006. Actual turnout is lower still.
There’s another turn-off for prospective voters: the tone of the midterm campaigns. Americans by 2-1, 50 vs. 26 percent say the candidates in their congressional district have been mainly attacking each other rather than discussing the issues. The remaining quarter has no opinion, suggesting they’ve just tuned it all out.
When not firing salvos, campaigns have been working the phones: About one in four likely voters, 27 percent, say they’ve been personally contacted by an individual or organization working to support a House or Senate candidate. About equal numbers say they’ve been contacted on behalf of Republican vs. Democratic candidates; most by far have been contacted by both. No partisan advantage is apparent, suggesting a stalemate, at least overall, in this element of political trench warfare.
Midterms often are seen as referendums on the president, especially given the customary six-year itch. So it is with Obama: This year on average has been his worst in overall job approval since he took office, and it’s the first year a majority has disapproved.
Among groups, 2014 marks the first year Obama has averaged less-than-majority approval among moderates (48 percent this year so far), as well as approval only in the 30s among independents (37 percent on average). He’s averaged 33 percent approval among whites and 65 percent among nonwhites in 2014 – a vast difference, but both annual lows since he took office.
Obama’s troubles help explain another result – a 42-37 percent edge among likely voters for the Republican Party over the Democrats to handle the country’s main problems. Even among all adults, there’s just a 2-point gap between the parties on this question.
The results in congressional vote preference include notable divisions among groups. While Democratic candidates are a scant +5 among women, that turns to a 17-point Republican lead among men. Republican candidates likewise lead by a hefty 17 points among political independents. And while Democrats are +12 points among moderates, the GOP comes back with a vast 61-point advantage among conservatives, who rival moderates in their share of likely voters.
The Democrats have a typical lead among nonwhites, but they often also look to college-educated white women as key supporters. This year they’re only running evenly in that group, while losing 66 percent of white men and 57 percent of white women who lack a college degree.
Attitudinal groups also mark the GOP advantage. Democratic candidates lead by 71-24 percent among those who say the government’s ability to deal with problems has held steady or improved in recent years – but Republicans have nearly as large an advantage among those who say this has worsened, and there are far more of them. Republican candidates lead broadly, as well, among those who rate economic conditions negatively – again, the predominant group.
For all this, another result points to a lost opportunity for the Democrats. Seventy-one percent of all adults in this survey, and two-thirds of likely voters, think the U.S. economic system favors the wealthy rather than treating most people fairly. And likely voters who see a systemic bias for the wealthy prefer Democratic candidates over Republicans by a 20-point margin.
The tide turns because the minority who thinks the system is fair favors Republican candidates far more broadly – by 47 points, 72-25 percent. It’s an issue on which Democrats may find room to push back – if not this year, then in the presidential election two years off.
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 23-26, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,204 adults, including 1,032 registered voters and 758 likely voters, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0 points for the general population, registered voters and likely voters, respectively, including the design effect.
Partisan divisions in this survey, Democrats-Republicans-independents, are 32-24-36 percent among the general population, 35-26-33 percent among registered voters and 33-30-31 percent among likely voters.
Kent D. Johnson/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP Photo
The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.
Story 1: Obama Recklessly Endangers The Health of The American People By Allowing West Africans From Ebola Infected Countries To Fly Into United States — Open Borders To Illegal Aliens Fleeing Ebola Pandemic — Obama Panics And Appoints New Ebola Czar — Another Political Elitist Establishment (PEE) Washington Insider With No Executive Leadership or Medical Experience — Videos
CDC warns against travel ban on Ebola-affected countries
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Dr. Nicole Lurie – HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response
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Weekly Examiner: Obama appoints Ebola czar
Obama Appoints Ebola ‘czar’ As Anxiety Mounts
Source: Obama to name Ron Klain as Ebola czar
President Obama appoints Ron Klain as Ebola “czar”
Remarks of Ron Klain
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President Obama Speaks on Ebola
Fast Facts on US Hospitals
The American Hospital Association conducts an annual survey of hospitals in the United States. The data below, from the 2012 AHA Annual Survey, are a sample of what you will find in AHA Hospital Statistics, 2014 edition. The definitive source for aggregate hospital data and trend analysis, AHA Hospital Statistics includes current and historical data on utilization, personnel, revenue, expenses, managed care contracts, community health indicators, physician models, and much more.
AHA Hospital Statistics is published annually by Health Forum, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association. Additional details on AHA Hospital Statistics and other Health Forum data products are available at www.ahadataviewer.com. To order AHA Hospital Statistics, call (800) AHA-2626 or click on www.ahaonlinestore.com.
For further information or customized data and research, contact the AHA Resource Center at (312) 422-2050 or email@example.com.
*Registered hospitals are those hospitals that meet AHA’s criteria for registration as a hospital facility. Registered hospitals include AHA member hospitals as well as nonmember hospitals. For a complete listing of the criteria used for registration, please see Registration Requirements for Hospitals.
**Community hospitals are defined as all nonfederal, short-term general, and other special hospitals. Other special hospitals include obstetrics and gynecology; eye, ear, nose, and throat; rehabilitation; orthopedic; and other individually described specialty services. Community hospitals include academic medical centers or other teaching hospitals if they are nonfederal short-term hospitals. Excluded are hospitals not accessible by the general public, such as prison hospitals or college infirmaries.
***System is defined by AHA as either a multihospital or a diversified single hospital system. A multihospital system is two or more hospitals owned, leased, sponsored, or contract managed by a central organization. Single, freestanding hospitals may be categorized as a system by bringing into membership three or more, and at least 25 percent, of their owned or leased non-hospital preacute or postacute health care organizations. System affiliation does not preclude network participation.
**** Network is a group of hospitals, physicians, other providers, insurers and/or community agencies that work together to coordinate and deliver a broad spectrum of services to their community. Network participation does not preclude system affiliation.
Ebola has officially made it to the US, but there is absolutely no reason to freak out. That’s in large part thanks to Emory University Hospital’s state-of-the-art isolation ward, which is better-equipped to field Ebola cases than any ordinary hospital in the country. Here’s a look at the tech that keeps doctors and nurses safe.
Emory is one of four high-level biocontainment patient care units in the US; the others are located at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana, and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. We spoke with Dr. Angela Hewlett, associate medical director at the Nebraska Biocontainment Patient Care Unit — the largest of the four facilities — about biocontainment suits, wearing three pairs of gloves, and custom air pressure systems.
Perhaps the most comfort Hewlett was able to provide is that none of the super-fancy tech that these four high-level isolation wards have at their disposal is even necessary for Ebola. “There’s a big fear factor with this illness but really, these types of patients can taken care of at any good healthcare facility,” says Dr. Hewlett.
That’s because the Ebola virus easily dies outside of the human body, so unless you’ve been handling a sick person’s blood or feces, you are almost certainly A-OK. Ebola is pretty darn hard to get compared to an airborne disease like SARS or even the regular old flu. But with a mortality rate of up to 90 per cent — and over 50 per cent with the strain in the current outbreak — we still need to keep doctors and nurses as safe as we can. Here’s how Nebraska Biocontainment Unit keeps diseases like Ebola — and much, much worse — from spreading in the hospital.
Negative air pressure. As with Emory in Atlanta, the isolation unit in Nebraska is isolated from the rest of the general hospital. It runs on its own air circulation system, and the air is passed through a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter before it is vented outside of the building. That’s the same kind of precautions that you would see in a biosafety level 4 lab (the highest) that works with deadly or highly contagious diseases.
In addition, the biocontainment unit has negative air pressure, which means that air pressure inside the isolation rooms is slightly lower than that outside. Essentially, air is gently sucked into the room, so particles from inside the room can’t float out when you open a door. As another line of protection, ultraviolet lights zap any viruses or bacteria in the air or on surfaces.
Full-body suits and THREE pairs of gloves. The Biocontainment Unit is equipped with gear that covers you head to toe, in some places three times over. That includes personal respirators, headgear, full-body suits and gloves. Healthcare workers wear three pairs, including one thick pair that protects against needle accidents, and then two pairs of ordinary gloves so they have an extra pair to work with patients.
Entering and exiting the room becomes an elaborate production because putting on and taking off all the gear can take more than 10 minutes each way. A second person assists to make sure every piece of equipment is put on right and there are no rips or tears in any of the protective gear. Afterwards, every piece of equipment is wiped down to kill the pathogen; in the case of Ebola, simple bleach is enough to do the trick. The full-body suit is discarded after each use.
Training and training and training. Having fancy technology is great but not if you don’t know how to use it properly. “They have to go through really extensive training,” says Hewlett of the the 30-person team that works in the unit. They get 80 hours of training before they can begin, followed by monthly meetings and quarterly drills, where the photos in this post were taken.
It’s worth reiterating that most of this equipment and these procedures go above and beyond protecting for Ebola. The air systems and full-body suits are really there to guard against possible airborne diseases, like smallpox or SARS or some highly contagious avian flu viruses that may emerge in the future.
In fact, the CDC’s current guidelines for treating Ebola in U.S. hospitals require only gloves, goggles, a facemask, and a gown in most situations. Even if someone inadvertently brings Ebola to other hospitals, it’s highly unlikely to spread in the U.S. The situation is different in Africa, where inadequate equipment and fear of healthcare workers has contributed to the worsening situation.
A State Department official did visit Nebraska to see whether the unit would be ready to accept any Ebola patients in the future, though the facility hasn’t yet been used despite being open for nine years. There hasn’t been a disease serious enough to merit it. “This is good thing,” says Dr. Hewlett, “However with world travel the way it is, it is inevitable these things are going to come eventually.” If and when Ebola does come to the U.S. again, we are definitely prepared, which is not something we can say about what else may be coming down the line.
Pictures: University of Nebraska Medical Center
Obama names Ron Klain as Ebola ‘czar’
President Obama tapped veteran government insider Ron Klain to coordinate his administration’s efforts to contain the Ebola virus Friday.
Klain, a former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, is well-known by Obama and White House aides. He was selected for his management experience and contacts throughout the government, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
“He is the right person for the job,” Earnest said, particularly the challenge of “integrating the interagency response.”
Klain’s appointment marks a swift turnabout for Obama, who until Thursday had resisted calls to appoint a single official to run the government’s response to Ebola.
Asked Thursday about the prospect of an “Ebola czar,” Obama said, “It may make sense for us to have one person, in part just so that after this initial surge of activity, we can have a more regular process just to make sure that we’re crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s going forward.”
From recounts to stimulus to Ebola: Ron Klain’s resume
Obama did not mention Klain’s appointment during a speech Friday to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but he said his administration is taking an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to fighting Ebola.
The administration has come under increased pressure to name an anti-Ebola coordinator in the wake of news that two nurses in Dallas contracted the deadly virus. Both had treated a man who died of Ebola.
Klain played a high-profile file in Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign. Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey portrayed him in an HBO movie on that year’s Florida recount.
The Ebola response includes efforts to screen travelers from West African nations where Ebola has reached epidemic proportions and killed more than 4,500 people. Klain will help coordinate the assistance the U.S. military provides in West Africa.
Some Republican lawmakers criticized Obama for entrusting the job to a former government manager rather than a professional.
Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., tweeted, “Worst ebola epidemic in world history and Pres. Obama puts a government bureaucrat with no healthcare experience in charge. Is he serious?”
Members of the public health community expressed surprise.
“When are they going to stop making mistakes?” said Robert Murphy, the director of the Center for Global Health at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “We need a czar, but optimally a strong public health expert. I am so disappointed. This is not what we need.”
Physician Amesh Adalja, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said, “It’s clear that there’s a desperate desire for an organized approach to dealing with this outbreak. I don’t necessarily think we need a disease-specific czar — we have one for HIV — but more of an emerging infectious diseases/biosecurity coordinator who reports to the president.”
The Ebola position is designed to be more managerial in nature, involving an array of government agencies ranging from the Pentagon to Health and Human Services.
“This is much broader than a medical response,” Earnest said.
As for Republican criticism, Earnest joked, “That’s a shocking development.” He noted that national elections are less than three weeks away.
Klain may weigh in on another question facing the administration: the prospect of a U.S. travel ban from West African nations where there have been Ebola outbreaks.
Obama and aides have disputed the need for a travel ban, questioning whether it would work and arguing that it might create unintended problems.
Thursday, Obama said experts in infectious diseases have told him “a travel ban is less effective than the measures that we are currently instituting that involve screening passengers who are coming from West Africa.”
Klain is likely to take a low key role publicly.
Earnest said Obama wasn’t looking for an Ebola expert but “an implementation expert.”
He confirmed Klain’s title: “Ebola response coordinator.”
Klain will report to two officials involved in the anti-Ebola effort: homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco and national security adviser Susan Rice.
Obama is pleased with the work of Monaco and Rice, but “given their management of other national and homeland security priorities, additional bandwidth will further enhance the government’s Ebola response,” a White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The president has long known Klain, who helped prepare him for debates with Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign.
Klain has been out of government since leaving Biden’s staff during Obama’s first term.
The administration’s Ebola evasions reveal its disdain for the American people.
The administration’s handling of the Ebola crisis continues to be marked by double talk, runaround and gobbledygook. And its logic is worse than its language. In many of its actions, especially its public pronouncements, the government is functioning not as a soother of public anxiety but the cause of it.
An example this week came in the dialogue between Megyn Kelly of Fox News andThomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control.
Their conversation focused largely on the government’s refusal to stop travel into the United States by citizens of plague nations. “Why not put a travel ban in place,” Ms. Kelly asked, while we shore up the U.S. public-health system?
Dr. Frieden replied that we now have screening at airports, and “we’ve already recommended that all nonessential travel to these countries be stopped for Americans.” He added: “We’re always looking at ways that we can better protect Americans.”
“But this is one,” Ms. Kelly responded.
Dr. Frieden implied a travel ban would be harmful: “If we do things that are going to make it harder to stop the epidemic there, it’s going to spread to other parts of—”
Ms. Kelly interjected, asking how keeping citizens from the affected regions out of America would make it harder to stop Ebola in Africa.
“Because you can’t get people in and out.”
“Why can’t we have charter flights?”
“You know, charter flights don’t do the same thing commercial airliners do.”
“What do you mean? They fly in and fly out.”
Dr. Frieden replied that limiting travel between African nations would slow relief efforts. “If we isolate these countries, what’s not going to happen is disease staying there. It’s going to spread more all over Africa and we’ll be at higher risk.”
Later in the interview, Ms. Kelly noted that we still have airplanes coming into the U.S. from Liberia, with passengers expected to self-report Ebola exposure.
Dr. Frieden responded: “Ultimately the only way—and you may not like this—but the only way we will get our risk to zero here is to stop the outbreak in Africa.”
Ms. Kelly said yes, that’s why we’re sending troops. But why can’t we do that and have a travel ban?
“If it spreads more in Africa, it’s going to be more of a risk to us here. Our only goal is protecting Americans—that’s our mission. We do that by protecting people here and by stopping threats abroad. That protects Americans.”
Dr. Frieden’s logic was a bit of a heart-stopper. In fact his responses were more non sequiturs than answers. We cannot ban people at high risk of Ebola from entering the U.S. because people in West Africa have Ebola, and we don’t want it to spread. Huh?
In testimony before Congress Thursday, Dr. Frieden was not much more straightforward. His answers often sound like filibusters: long, rolling paragraphs of benign assertion, advertising slogans—“We know how to stop Ebola,” “Our focus is protecting people”—occasionally extraneous data, and testimony to the excellence of our health-care professionals.
It is my impression that everyone who speaks for the government on this issue has been instructed to imagine his audience as anxious children. It feels like how the pediatrician talks to the child, not the parents. It’s as if they’ve been told: “Talk, talk, talk, but don’t say anything. Clarity is the enemy.”
The language of government now is word-spew.
Dr. Frieden did not explain his or the government’s thinking on the reasons for opposition to a travel ban. On the other hand, he noted that the government will consider all options in stopping the virus from spreading here, so perhaps that marks the beginning of a possible concession.
It is one thing that Dr. Frieden, and those who are presumably making the big decisions, have been so far incapable of making a believable and compelling case for not instituting a ban. A separate issue is how poor a decision it is. To call it childish would be unfair to children. In fact, if you had a group of 11-year-olds, they would surely have a superior answer to the question: “Sick people are coming through the door of the house, and we are not sure how to make them well. Meanwhile they are starting to make us sick, too. What is the first thing to do?”
The children would reply: “Close the door.” One would add: “Just for a while, while you figure out how to treat everyone getting sick.” Another might say: “And keep going outside the door in protective clothing with medical help.” Eleven-year-olds would get this one right without a lot of struggle.
If we don’t momentarily close the door to citizens of the affected nations, it is certain that more cases will come into the U.S. It is hard to see how that helps anyone. Closing the door would be no guarantee of safety—nothing is guaranteed, and the world is porous. But it would reduce risk and likelihood, which itself is worthwhile.
Africa, by the way, seems to understand this. The Associated Press on Thursday reported the continent’s health-care officials had limited the threat to only five countries with the help of border controls, travel restrictions, and aggressive and sophisticated tracking.
All of which returns me to my thoughts the past few weeks. Back then I’d hear the official wordage that doesn’t amount to a logical thought, and the unspoken air of “We don’t want to panic you savages,” and I’d look at various public officials and muse: “Who do you think you are?”
Now I think, “Who do they think we are?”
Does the government think if America is made to feel safer, she will forget the needs of the Ebola nations? But Americans, more than anyone else, are the volunteers, altruists and in a few cases saints who go to the Ebola nations to help. And they were doing it long before the Western media was talking about the disease, and long before America was experiencing it.
At the Ebola hearings Thursday, Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) said, I guess to the American people: “Don’t panic.” No one’s panicking—except perhaps the administration, which might explain its decisions.
Is it always the most frightened people who run around telling others to calm down?
This week the president canceled a fundraiser and returned to the White House to deal with the crisis. He made a statement and came across as about three days behind the story—“rapid response teams” and so forth. It reminded some people of the statement in July, during another crisis, of the president’s communications director, who said that when a president rushes back to Washington, it “can have the unintended consequence of unduly alarming the American people.” Yes, we’re such sissies. Actually, when Mr. Obama eschews a fundraiser to go to his office to deal with a public problem we are not scared, only surprised.
But again, who do they think we are? You gather they see us as poor, panic-stricken people who want a travel ban because we’re beside ourselves with fear and loathing. Instead of practical, realistic people who are way ahead of our government.
Klain’s early experience on Capitol Hill included serving as Legislative Director for U.S. RepresentativeEd Markey. From 1989 to 1992, he served as Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, overseeing the legal staff’s work on matters of constitutional law, criminal law, antitrust law, and Supreme Court nominations. In 1995, Senator Tom Daschle appointed him the Staff Director of the Senate Democratic Leadership Committee.
Klain joined the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1992. He ultimately was involved in both of Bill Clinton‘s campaigns, oversaw Clinton’s judicial nominations, and was General Counsel to Al Gore’s recount committee in the 2000 election aftermath. Some published reports have given him credit for Clinton’s “100,000 cops” proposal during the 1992 campaign; at a minimum, he worked closely with Clinton aide Bruce Reed in formulating it. In the White House, he was Associate Counsel to the President, directing judicial selection efforts, and led the team that won confirmation of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Klain left the judicial selection role in 1994 to become Chief of Staff and Counselor to Attorney General Janet Reno. In 1995, he became Assistant to the President, and Chief of Staff and Counselor to Al Gore.
During Klain’s tenure as Gore’s Chief of Staff, Gore consolidated his position as the likely Democratic nominee in 2000. Still, Klain was seen as too loyal to Clinton by some longtime Gore advisors. Feuding broke out between Clinton and Gore loyalists in the White House in 1999, and Klain was ousted by Gore campaign chairmanTony Coelho in August of that year. In October 1999, he joined the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers. A year later, Klain returned to the Gore campaign, once Coelho was replaced by William M. Daley. Daley hired Klain for a senior position in the Gore campaign and then named him General Counsel of Gore’s Recount Committee.
In 1994, Time named Klain one of the “50 most promising leaders in America” under the age of 40. In 1999, Washingtonian magazine named him the top lawyer in Washington under the age of 40, and the American Bar Association’s Barrister magazine named him one of the top 20 young lawyers nationwide. The National Law Journal named him one of its Lawyers of the Year for 2000.
Klain helped Fannie Mae overcome “regulatory issues”.Lobbying on “regulatory issues concerning Fannie Mae” in 2004, as disclosure forms indicate Klain did, involved convincing Congress and Fannie Mae’s regulators that Fannie Mae wasn’t doing anything dangerous, and wasn’t exposing taxpayers to risk. In other words, Ron Klain got paid to help fuel the housing bubble up until a couple of years before it popped.
During the 2004 Presidential campaign, Klain worked as an adviser to Wesley Clark in the early primaries. Later, during the General Election, Klain was heavily involved behind the scenes in John Kerry‘s campaign and is widely credited for his role in preparing Senator Kerry for a strong performance in the debates against President George W. Bush, which gave Kerry a significant boost in the polls. He then acted as an informal adviser to Evan Bayh, who is from Klain’s home state of Indiana. Klain has also commented on matters of law and policy on televised programs such as the Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, Capital Report,NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and Crossfire.
In 2005, Klain left his partnership at O’Melveny & Myers to serve as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of a new investment firm, Revolution LLC, launched by AOL co-founder Steve Case.
Klain was mentioned as a possible replacement for White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, but opted to leave the White House for a position in the private sector in January 2011.
Klain apparently signed off on President Obama’s support of a $535 million loan guarantee for now-defunct solar-panel company Solyndra. Despite concerns about whether the company was viable, Klain approved an Obama visit, stating, “The reality is that if POTUS visited 10 such places over the next 10 months, probably a few will be belly-up by election day 2012.”
Dr. Lurie is the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The mission of her office is to lead the nation in preventing, responding to and recovering from the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters, ranging from hurricanes to bioterrorism.
Dr. Lurie was previously Senior Natural Scientist and the Paul O’ Neill Alcoa Professor of Health Policy at the RAND Corporation. There she directed RAND’s public health and preparedness work as well as RAND’s Center for Population Health and Health Disparities. She also served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health in the US Department of Health and Human Services; in state government, as Medical Advisor to the Commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Health; and in academia, as Professor in the University of Minnesota Schools of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Lurie has a long history in the health services research field, primarily in the areas of access to and quality of care, mental health, prevention, public health infrastructure and preparedness and health disparities.
Dr. Lurie attended college and medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, and completed her residency and MSPH at UCLA, where she was also a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar. She is the recipient of numerous awards, and is a member of the Institute of Medicine.
Finally, Dr. Lurie continues to practice clinical medicine in the health care safety net in Washington, DC. She has three sons.
The Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response serves as the Secretary’s principal advisor on matters related to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies. The ASPR also coordinates interagency activities between HHS, other Federal departments, agencies, and offices, and State and local officials responsible for emergency preparedness and the protection of the civilian population from acts of bioterrorism and other public health emergencies. The mission of her office is to lead the nation in preventing, responding to and recovering from the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters. Dr. Lurie was nominated to the position by President Obama on May 12, 2009 and her confirmation by the U.S. Senate was announced by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on July 10, 2009.
Dr. Lurie has served as the Senior Natural Scientist and the Paul O’ Neill Alcoa Professor of Health Policy at the RAND Corporation. There she directed RAND’s public health and preparedness work as well as RAND’s Center for Population Health and Health Disparities. She has previously served in federal government, as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health in the US Department of Health and Human Services; in state government, as Medical Advisor to the Commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Health; and in academia, as Professor in the University of Minnesota School of Medicine and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Dr. Lurie has a long history in the health services research field, primarily in the areas of access to and quality of care, managed care, mental health, prevention, public health infrastructure and preparedness and health disparities.
Lurie has served as the Senior Editor for Health Services Research and has served on editorial boards and as a reviewer for numerous journals. She has served on the council and was President of the Society of General Internal Medicine, and on the board of directors for Academy Health, and has served on multiple other national committees.
Story 1: When Will Obama Close United States Airports and Borders To Flights and Travelers From Ebola Virus Disease Infected Countries Such As Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria? Time To Follow Saudi Arabia’s Stringent Ebola Checks! — Videos
Story 1: When Will Obama Close United States Airports and Borders To Flights and Travelers From Ebola Virus Disease Infected Countries Such As Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria? Time To Follow Saudi Arabia’s Stringent Ebola Checks! — Videos
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Pandemic Influenza: Science, Economics, and Foreign Policy: Session Two: The Economics
Watch experts analyze the economic effects of pandemic influenza including on the labor force and trade.
This session was part of a CFR symposium, Pandemic Influenza: Science, Economics, and Foreign Policy, which was cosponsored with Science Magazine.
Yanzhong Huang, Director, Center for Global Health Studies, Seton Hall University
Andrew Jack, Pharmaceutical Correspondent, Financial Times
Michael T. Osterholm, Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), University of Minnesota (via teleconference)
Robert E. Rubin, Co-Chair, Council on Foreign Relations; Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Saudi Arabia bans Ebola-stricken countries from hajj pilgrimage
With the arrival of approximately two million people from around the world in Saudi Arabia for the annual hajj pilgrimage, there are a group of pilgrims who were not welcomed.
The Saudi government has banned the entry of travelers from three countries currently dealing with the Ebola epidemic: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The decision to reject visa requests from these countries has affected 7,400 people, according to the Associated Press.
Despite banning pilgrim seekers from West Africa, Saudi officials are granting visas to pilgrims travelling from Nigeria. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz International Airport has provided them with two exclusive lounges as a precaution.
“So far 118,000 pilgrims have arrived by air from Nigeria. There was not a single suspected case of the deadly virus among anyone of them,” said Abdul Ghani Al-Malki, supervisor of hajj affairs at the airport.
Saudi officials have also been closely monitoring incoming flights from Kenya, Congo and other countries with reported cases of Ebola. Al-Malki told the local Saudi Gazettethat airport’s health inspection center ensured that planes and their passengers were not only free of Ebola, but other contagious diseases as well. “We have double-checked the papers that prove the airplanes had been sprayed twice before taking off to their destinations.”
Saudi Arabia plays down Ebola concern for Hajj pilgrimage
Some in the crowd wore face masks – a possible precaution over Ebola fears
Two million Muslims have begun the annual Hajj pilgrimage, a five-day ritual central to Islam.
This year there have been concerns pilgrims may spread the contagious diseases Ebola and MERS.
Saudi Arabia, where the Hajj takes place, played down fears on Ebola, having banned pilgrims from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
Their decision has excluded 7,400 Muslims, though it is estimated that 1.4m of the pilgrims are international.
Some of the numbers involved in 2014’s Hajj – in 60 seconds
Saudi Arabia has claimed this year’s Hajj is Ebola free as pilgrims flooded into Mina, 5km (three miles) from the holy city of Mecca, for the start of the pilgrimage.
As well as refusing visas to those from the three countries worst hit by Ebola, Saudi authorities asked all visitors to fill out medical screening cards and detail their travels over the past three weeks.
But Ebola is not the only disease concerning the Saudi government.
MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, hit Saudi Arabia badly in the spring of this year.
Since 2012, there have been more than 750 cases of MERS in the country. Of this total 319 people died, some of whom were health workers.
The meaning of Hajj
Pilgrims walk around the Kaaba in Mecca, the building is the most sacred place in Islam and the direction of prayer for Muslims
Hajj is an annual five-day pilgrimage which all able-bodied Muslims are required to perform at least once in their lives, if they can afford it
It is the fifth and final pillar of Islam and is supposed to cleanse Muslims of sin and bring them closer to each other and God
The pilgrims, or Hajjis, wear simple white garments called “ihram” which give them all equal status
Those going on the hajj are required to abstain from sex, not to argue, kill anything or hunt and to avoid shaving and cutting their nails
Pilgrims perform several rituals during the hajj including walking counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba in Mecca, drinking from the Zam Zam Well and performing a symbolic stoning of the devil.
Will Airborne Ebola Become A Modern Global Plague?
The last several months have led to much confusion about the spread of the Ebola virus. Health officials and governments first denied that a serious threat existed and took no significant action to prevent its spread outside of West Africa. Then, after it had made it’s way to six different countries in the region, officials at the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control started to panic. Apathy gave way to the real fear that we were facing a virus on a whole different scale than ever before.
At its current rate, some mathematical models show that the virus could infect anywhere from 20,000 to 100,000 by the end of the year, with over 4,000 people worldwide having been infected thus far. About 2,300 people, over 50% of those who have contracted it, have died.
Fired Up Obama to Immigration Activists: ‘No Force On Earth Can Stop Us’
‘Si se puede, si votamos! Yes, we can, if we vote!’
BY DANIEL HALPER
A fired up President Barack Obama had a message to immigration activists at a dinner this evening in Washington, D.C.: “no force on earth can stop us.”
“The clearest path to change is to change [the voter turnout] number,” said Obama “Si se puede, si votamos! Yes, we can, if we vote!”
“You know, earlier this year, I had a chance to host a screening of the film Cesar Chavez at the White House, and I was reminded that Cesar organized for nearly 20 years before his first major victory. He never saw that time as a failure. Looking back, he said, I remember the families who joined our movement and paid dues long before there was any hope of winning contracts. I remember thinking then that with spirit like that, no force on earth could stop us.
“That’s the promise of America then and that’s the promise of America now. People who love this country can change it. America isn’t Congress. America isn’t Washington. America is the striving immigrant who starts a business or the mom who works two low-wage jobs to give her kids a better life. America is the union leader and the CEO who put aside their differences to make the economy stronger. America is the student who defies the odds to become the first in the family to go to college. The citizen who defies the cynics and goes out there and votes. The young person who comes out of the shadows to demand the right to dream. That’s what America is about.
“And six years ago, I asked you to believe, and tonight, I ask you to keep believing, not just in my ability to bring about change, but in your ability to bring about change. Because in the end, DREAMer is more than just a title, it’s a pretty good description of what it means to be an American.
“In an abundance of caution, we have activated the appropriate infection control protocols, including isolating the patient,” said hospital spokesperson Kerry-Ann Hamilton in a statement. “Our medical team continues to evaluate and monitor progress in close collaboration with the CDC and the Department of Health.”
Hamilton did not share further details about the patient, citing privacy reasons, but said the hospital will provide updates as warranted.
The D.C. Department of Health released a statement shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday, saying that the department has been working with the CDC and Howard University Hospital to monitor “any patients displaying symptoms associated with the Ebola virus.”
There are no confirmed cases of Ebola in D.C., said the statement.
At Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, Maryland, a patient is in isolation with “flu-like symptoms and a travel history that matches criteria for possible Ebola,” according to a statement from the hospital. Lab results indicate the patient has another illness.
“We are working closely with the Montgomery County Health Department and State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) as well as the CDC to manage this case and to ensure we continue to be prepared to care for patients with Ebola symptoms,” the statement said.
“We will only be making an announcement if and when there is a laboratory confirmed case, and that announcement would be made in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the CDC,” Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Mary Anderson said.
The White House announced Friday that senior administration officials will hold a briefing on the U.S. government’s response to the Ebola pandemic at 4:30 p.m., NBC News reported.
As public health advocates had warned, the raging Ebola outbreak in West Africa has begun to affect Westerners, though the disease is difficult to spread casually.
The cameraman, Ashoka Mukpo, had been working with chief medical correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman. NBC News is flying Mukpo and the entire team back to the U.S. so Mukpo can be treated and the team can be quarantined for 21 days.
Snyderman told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that she and the rest of her crew have shown no signs of the disease and have taken precautions while covering the outbreak, including washing their hands with bleach.
The crew are quarantining themselves as a precaution.
“There is no risk to people who have been in contact with those who have been sick with Ebola and recovered, or people who have been exposed and have not yet shown symptoms,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden of the CDC.
Officials Say About 100 Individuals Will Be Monitored for Potential Exposure
By ANA CAMPOY, DREW HINSHAW and DAN FROSCH
The number of people in Texas who are being screened for potential exposure to Ebola expanded to approximately 100, and four members of a family close to the U.S. patient were ordered to remain in their Dallas home. (Photo: AP)
The number of people in Texas who are being screened for potential exposure to Ebola expanded Thursday to roughly 100, as health officials cast a wide net to try to prevent the one confirmed case of the disease from sparking an outbreak.
Four members of a family close to Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man diagnosed with the virus, were ordered to remain in their Dallas home and not receive any visitors until at least Oct. 19, to pass the 21-day maximum incubation period for the often-deadly disease.
The 100 people being screened represent a “very wide net,” including some who possibly had brief encounters with Mr. Duncan, Texas health officials said. They added that the number is likely to drop as they narrow the list to those actually at potential risk of infection.
Thursday, an American freelance journalist in Liberia tested positive for the disease, his father and his employer, NBC News, said. The 33-year-old man is tentatively scheduled to be transported back to the U.S. on Sunday.
In Mr. Duncan’s case, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said officials so far have identified only “a handful” of individuals who may have had close contact with him.
The public health search comes as authorities in Liberia grapple with how Mr. Duncan managed to leave their country and bring Ebola to the U.S. despite government efforts to stop transmission of the virus, a journey that took him from a neighborhood of tin-roof houses in a West African capital to an isolation ward at a Dallas hospital.
Before traveling to Texas via Belgium, Mr. Duncan escorted a woman to a treatment ward in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, where she was turned away and died of the virus within hours, said Irene Seyou, Mr. Duncan’s next-door neighbor.
In a community near where U.S. victim Thomas Eric Duncan lived in Monrovia, many have died and children are worried they will be taken away. Glenna Gordon for The Wall Street Journal
On Sept. 16, several health workers arrived in Mr. Duncan’s neighborhood in Monrovia to investigate a report that a pregnant 18-year-old woman, recently sent home from a nearby clinic, had shown Ebola symptoms that included vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding, said Prince Toe and other members of the Ebola Response Team in the capital’s 72nd community.
But when the team arrived in the neighborhood, residents insisted the pregnant teenager had been in a car accident, said Mr. Toe, the unit’s supervisor. When the neighbors grew rowdy at being pressed for information, the team turned back, he said.
At Liberia’s airport, the temperatures of arriving and departing passengers are checked three times by security guards—at the entrance, before the check-in desk and at the metal detectors—to screen out those who display Ebola’s hallmark early symptom, a fever.
Passengers are asked to fill out questionnaires about whether they had been in contact with any Ebola victims. Mr. Duncan lied on those forms—and would be prosecuted for doing so if he returns to Liberia—the Associated Press reported Liberia’s government as saying Thursday.
Mr. Duncan is in an isolation unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, which initially sent him home with antibiotics after he complained of illness, only to accept him on Sunday after he returned in an ambulance. Hospital officials have since conceded that they erred by not taking him in initially after he mentioned his symptoms and country of origin.
Hospital officials said Thursday that Mr. Duncan’s condition continued to be serious. Dr. Frieden of the CDC said Mr. Duncan’s physicians were discussing the possible use of experimental treatments with his family.
Edward Goodman, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital’s epidemiologist, said the team of doctors treating Mr. Duncan has received guidelines from the CDC but that there is no specific treatment for Ebola other than supportive measures, such as keeping the patient well hydrated to avoid organ damage and supplying oxygen.
Most of the 100 people Texas is tracking for potential Ebola exposure haven’t been ordered to stay home. Officials said they ordered four of Mr. Duncan’s family members to remain in their home because the family disobeyed their request to stay there. They said the family, which was examined Thursday, hadn’t developed any symptoms. A law enforcement official is stationed outside their apartment to make sure they don’t leave.
Ebola is a highly contagious virus, but only if you come into contact with certain bodily fluids of those infected. What do scientists know about how it’s transmitted? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.
Judge Clay Jenkins, the highest elected official in Dallas County, said there were no plans to issue similar orders for other people. Local and state health officials said they had delivered groceries to the family and were arranging for a contractor to clean the apartment. Mr. Jenkins said it appeared that sealed bags filled with Mr. Duncan’s belongings, including his clothes and sheets, were still inside, and that the family had pushed mattresses against the wall.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings sought to assure the public that the risk of contagion was minimal. “We’re getting the word out and people are starting to understand what has happened,” he said.
Still, at schools attended by five children who came into contact with Mr. Duncan, attendance was down to 86% from the 95% level that is normal, said Mike Miles, superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District, who added that custodians were doing extra cleaning.
While officials sought to control the panic over Ebola in Texas, some people who had come into contact with Mr. Duncan wondered why he hadn’t received treatment sooner.
Joe Joe Jallah said he met Mr. Duncan last week when visiting Mr. Jallah’s former wife, Louise Troh, the same woman Mr. Duncan had come to see in the U.S.
Ms. Troh declined to speak about the situation when reached by phone.
Mr. Jallah, who has a daughter with Ms. Troh, said he listened as Mr. Duncan described how dire things had become in Liberia, and how rigorous the health screenings were during his trip to the U.S.
Several days later, on Saturday, Mr. Jallah said he heard that Mr. Duncan had fallen ill at Ms. Troh’s apartment. Concerned, Mr. Jallah went back.
“He was lying down on the floor with a comforter. He said he was sick and that he had no appetite,” Mr. Jallah said.
“I said, ‘Did you go to the hospital?’ He said, ‘Yes, but they did nothing for me,’” Mr. Jallah recalled. “I said, ‘You should eat so you can gain strength.’”
The next day, Mr. Jallah said he returned after his daughter, Youngor Jallah, a nurse’s aide who visits her mother frequently, called, sounding frantic and saying that Mr. Duncan was still sick.
Ms. Jallah said Mr. Duncan had been up all night with diarrhea. His eyes were red, he seemed exhausted and had no appetite for the breakfast she made. He tried to drink some tea. Ms. Jallah took his temperature and it was 104, she said.
Ms. Jallah decided to call an ambulance. When emergency workers came, she informed them that Mr. Duncan was sick and had traveled to Dallas from a virus stricken-region in Africa. The workers put masks over their faces.
Ms. Jallah said she has since been told she and her family must stay in their home for 17 more days.
“I am concerned for myself. When I took his blood pressure, I never had no protection. I worry about my kids. My kids were over there with my mom,” she said.
Osterholm has been particularly outspoken on the lack of international prepardness for an influenzapandemic. Osterholm has also been an international leader against the use of biological agents as weapons targeted toward civilians.
Osterholm serves on the editorial boards of five journals, and is a reviewer for another two dozen. He is a past president of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and has served on the CDC National Center for Infectious Diseases Board of Scientific Counselors from 1992 to 1997.
Osterholm serves on the IOM Forum on Emerging Infections. He has served on the IOM Committee on Emerging Microbial Threats to Health in the 21st Century and the IOM Committee on Food Safety, Production to Consumption, and he was a reviewer for the IOM Report on Chemical and Biological Terrorism. He is a frequent consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Defense, and the CDC.
Story 1: Democrats Lose 50 Year War on Poverty Start 100 Year War on Work: Millennial Moocher Mania — Grow The Government Shrink The Economy and Employment! — Progressive Permanent Poverty People — Videos Videos
The Chicago professor examined the law’s incentives for the poor not to get a job or work harder, and this week Beltway budgeteers agreed.
By JOSEPH RAGO
In September, two weeks before the Affordable Care Act was due to launch, President Obama declared that “there’s no serious evidence that the law . . . is holding back economic growth.” As for repealing ObamaCare, he added, “That’s not an agenda for economic growth. You’re not going to meet an economist who says that that’s a number-one priority in terms of boosting growth and jobs in this country—at least not a serious economist.”
In a way, Mr. Obama had a point: “Never met him,” says economist Casey Mulligan. If the unfamiliarity is mutual, the confusion is all presidential. Mr. Mulligan studies how government choices influence the incentives and rewards for work—and many more people may recognize the University of Chicago professor as a serious economist after this week. That’s because, more than anyone, Mr. Mulligan is responsible for the still-raging furor over the Congressional Budget Office’s conclusion that ObamaCare will, in fact, harm growth and jobs.
Rarely are political tempers so raw over an 11-page appendix to a dense budget projection for the next decade. But then the CBO—Congress’s official fiscal scorekeeper, widely revered by Democrats and Republicans alike as the gold standard of economic analysis—reported that by 2024 the equivalent of 2.5 million Americans who were otherwise willing and able to work before ObamaCare will work less or not at all as a result of ObamaCare.
As the CBO admits, that’s a “substantially larger” and “considerably higher” subtraction to the labor force than the mere 800,000 the budget office estimated in 2010. The overall level of labor will fall by 1.5% to 2% over the decade, the CBO figures.
Mr. Mulligan’s empirical research puts the best estimate of the contraction at 3%. The CBO still has some of the economics wrong, he said in a phone interview Thursday, “but, boy, it’s a lot better to be off by a factor of two than a factor of six.”
The CBO’s intellectual conversion is all the more notable for accepting Mr. Mulligan’s premise, which is that what economists call “implicit marginal tax rates” in ObamaCare make work less financially valuable for lower-income Americans. Because the insurance subsidies are tied to income and phase out as cash wages rise, some people will have the incentive to remain poorer in order to continue capturing higher benefits. Another way of putting it is that taking away benefits has the same effect as a direct tax, so lower-income workers are discouraged from climbing the income ladder by working harder, logging extra hours, taking a promotion or investing in their future earnings through job training or education.
The CBO works in mysterious ways, but its commentary and a footnote suggest that two National Bureau of Economic Research papers Mr. Mulligan published last August were “roughly” the most important drivers of this revision to its model. In short, the CBO has pulled this economist’s arguments and analysis from the fringes to center of the health-care debate.
For his part, Mr. Mulligan declines to take too much credit. “I’m not an expert in that town, Washington,” he says, “but I showed them my work and I know they listened, carefully.”
At a February 2013 hearing he pointed out several discrepancies between the CBO’s marginal-tax-rate work and its health-care work, and, he says, “That couldn’t persist forever. There would have to be a time where they would reconcile those two approaches somehow.” More to the point, “I knew eventually it would be acknowledged that when you pay people for being low income you are going to have more low-income people.”
Mr. Mulligan thinks the CBO deserves particular credit for learning and then revising the old 800,000 number, not least because so many liberals cited it to dispute the claims of ObamaCare’s critics. The new finding might have prompted a debate about the marginal tax rates confronting the poor, but—well, it didn’t.
Instead, liberals have turned to claiming that ObamaCare’s missing workers will be a gift to society. Since employers aren’t cutting jobs per se through layoffs or hourly take-backs, people are merely choosing rationally to supply less labor. Thanks to ObamaCare, we’re told, Americans can finally quit the salt mines and blacking factories and retire early, or spend more time with the children, or become artists.
Mr. Mulligan reserves particular scorn for the economists making this “eliminated from the drudgery of labor market” argument, which he views as a form of trahison des clercs. “I don’t know what their intentions are,” he says, choosing his words carefully, “but it looks like they’re trying to leverage the lack of economic education in their audience by making these sorts of points.”
A job, Mr. Mulligan explains, “is a transaction between buyers and sellers. When a transaction doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. We know that it doesn’t matter on which side of the market you put the disincentives, the results are the same. . . . In this case you’re putting an implicit tax on work for households, and employers aren’t willing to compensate the households enough so they’ll still work.” Jobs can be destroyed by sellers (workers) as much as buyers (businesses).
He adds: “I can understand something like cigarettes and people believe that there’s too much smoking, so we put a tax on cigarettes, so people smoke less, and we say that’s a good thing. OK. But are we saying we were working too much before? Is that the new argument? I mean make up your mind. We’ve been complaining for six years now that there’s not enough work being done. . . . Even before the recession there was too little work in the economy. Now all of a sudden we wake up and say we’re glad that people are working less? We’re pursuing our dreams?”
The larger betrayal, Mr. Mulligan argues, is that the same economists now praising the great shrinking workforce used to claim that ObamaCare would expand the labor market.
He points to a 2011 letter organized by Harvard’s David Cutler and the University of Chicago’s Harold Pollack, signed by dozens of left-leaning economists including Nobel laureates, stating “our strong conclusion” that ObamaCare will strengthen the economy and create 250,000 to 400,000 jobs annually. (Mr. Cutler has since qualified and walked back some of his claims.)
“Why didn’t they say, no, we didn’t mean the labor market’s going to get bigger. We mean it’s going to get smaller in a good way,” Mr. Mulligan wonders. “I’m unhappy with that, to be honest, as an American, as an economist. Those kind of conclusions are tarnishing the field of economics, which is a great, maybe the greatest, field. They’re sure not making it look good by doing stuff like that.”
Mr. Mulligan’s investigation into the Affordable Care Act builds on his earlier work studying the 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka the stimulus.
The Keynesian economists who dominate Mr. Obama’s Washington are preoccupied by demand, and their explanation for persistently high post-recession unemployment is weak demand for goods and thus demand for labor. Mr. Mulligan, by contrast, studies the supply of labor and attributes the state of the economy in large part to the expansion of the entitlement and welfare state, such as the surge in food stamps, unemployment benefits, Medicaid and other safety-net programs. As these benefits were enriched and extended to more people by the stimulus, he argues in his 2012 book “The Redistribution Recession,” they were responsible for about half the drop in work hours since 2007, and possibly more.
The nearby chart tracks marginal tax rates over time for nonelderly household heads and spouses with median earnings. This index is a population-weighted average over various ages, jobs, employment decisions like full-time versus part-time. Basically, the chart shows the extra taxes paid and government benefits foregone as a result of earning an extra dollar of income.
The stimulus caused a spike in marginal rates, but at least it was temporary. ObamaCare will bring them permanently into the 47% range, or seven percentage points higher than in early 2007. Mr. Mulligan says the main response to his calculations is that people “didn’t realize the cumulative effect of these things together as a package to discourage work.”
Mr. Mulligan is uncomfortable speculating about whether the benefits of this shift outweigh the costs. Perhaps the public was willing to trade market efficiency for more income security after the 2008 crisis. “As an economist I can’t argue with that,” he says. “The thing that I argue with is the denial that there is a trade-off. I argue with the denial that if you pay unemployed people you’re going to get more unemployed people. There are consequences of that. That doesn’t mean the consequences aren’t worth paying. But you can’t deny the consequences for the labor market.”
One major risk is slower economic growth over time as people leave the workforce and contribute less to national prosperity. Another is that social programs with high marginal rates end up perpetuating the problems they’re supposed to be alleviating.
So amid the current wave of liberal ObamaCare denial about these realities, how did Mr. Mulligan end up conducting such “unconventional” research?
“Unconventional?” he asks with more than a little disbelief. “It’s not unconventional at all. The critique I get is that it’s not complicated enough.”
Well, then how come the CBO’s adoption of his insights is causing such a ruckus?
“I would phrase the question a little differently,” Mr. Mulligan responds, “which is: Why didn’t conventional economic analysis make its way to Washington? Why was I the only delivery boy? Why wasn’t there a laundry list?” The charitable explanation, he says, is that there was “a general lack of awareness” and economists simply didn’t realize everything that government was doing to undermine incentives for work. “You have to dig into it and see it,” he explains. “The Affordable Care Act’s not going to come and shake you out of your bed and say, ‘Look what’s in me.’ ”
Judging by their reaction to the CBO report, the less charitable explanation is that liberals would have preferred that the public never found out.
Mr. Rago is a member of the Journal’s editorial board.
Lawmakers Spar Over CBO’s U.S. Health-Law Findings
Questions Over Impact on Workforce Create ‘Hysteria’ on Capitol Hill
A new report outlining the effect of the Affordable Care Act on the labor market continued to reverberate on Capitol Hill Wednesday, with lawmakers in both parties saying the findings bolstered their view of how the law would play out.
Republicans at a House Budget Committee hearing said the report, released Tuesday, shows the health law will drive people out of the work force. Democrats countered that the report shows the law will give workers flexibility to leave jobs they are locked into because of health-care benefits.
The sparring came in response to a Congressional Budget Office analysis concluding that subsidies in the law, combined with easier access to health care, would create incentives for many Americans to cut their work hours, leading to a net reduction of 1.5% to 2% from 2017 through 2024. This would be the equivalent of reducing the labor force by 2.5 million workers in 2024, the CBO found.
“The effects we estimated are almost entirely choices by people,” CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf said at the hearing. He said, for example, that the labor changes wouldn’t be driven by employers cutting jobs, but rather workers deciding to cut back on their hours to take care of their children, parents, or to pursue other interests.
The report struck a chord in Washington. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D., N.Y.) said at the hearing that the analysis by CBO, a nonpartisan agency that advises Congress, had caused “hysteria.”
Many Republicans said the CBO confirmed their long-held belief that the law would have a direct impact on the labor market and harm economic growth. They said it would expedite the decline in labor-force participation, which is expected to worsen in coming years as more aging Americans drop out of the work force.
“These changes—they disproportionately affect low-wage workers,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) said. “Translation: Washington is making the poverty trap worse.”
Democrats on Wednesday said the study confirmed their belief that the law would free many Americans from a phenomenon known as “job lock,” or the idea that people don’t change their jobs for fear of losing their health benefits.
“More Americans will be able to voluntarily, choose—choose—to work fewer hours or not take a job because they don’t depend on that job any more for the provision of health insurance,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) said. “Before the Affordable Care Act, if you lost your job, you lost your health insurance.”
Mr. Elmendorf stressed that the law’s impact on the labor market could be difficult to predict. He agreed, for example, with one Republican lawmaker who said that by reducing the number of hours worked by many Americans, it would reduce overall wages and lower the amount of money people paid in taxes from 2017 through 2024.
But he also agreed with a Democratic lawmaker who said the law could—in the short-term—create some new jobs by freeing up disposable income from workers who previously had to set aside money for health coverage.
The law’s impact on the labor market has drawn the focus of researchers since it was passed, in part because the law makes so many changes to health-care delivery that its broader economic impacts have proved difficult to predict.
A 2013 study by researchers at Northwestern University, Columbia University and the University of Chicago estimated the Affordable Care Act’s impact could be particularly acute, including among Americans who are near retirement and hang on to jobs to retain health care before they qualify for Medicare at age 65.
The study found the new law “creates a nonemployer option for health insurance that is going to be fairly priced for a large number of Americans, and that hasn’t been available,” said Craig Garthwaite, an assistant professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and one of the study’s co-authors.
But he said there is a trade-off to the broader access to health care, and said “there should be some pause for concern here about any policies that actually weaken labor-force attachment.”
CBO Report Forecasts More People Will Opt to Work Less as They Seek Coverage Through Affordable Care Act
By LOUISE RADNOFSKY and DAMIAN PALETTA
The new health law is projected to reduce the total number of hours Americans work by the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time jobs in 2021, a bigger impact on the workforce than previously expected, according to a nonpartisan congressional report.
The analysis, by the Congressional Budget Office, says a key factor is people scaling back how much they work and instead getting health coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The agency had earlier forecast the labor-force impact would be the equivalent of 800,000 workers in 2021.
Because the CBO estimated that the changes would be a result of workers’ choices, it said the law, President Barack Obama‘s signature initiative, wouldn’t lead to a rise in the unemployment rate. But the labor-force impact could slow growth in future years, though the precise impact is uncertain.
Social programs in the United States
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Social Security Administration, created in 1935, was the first major federal welfare agency and continues to be the most prominent.
The programs vary in eligibility requirements and are provided by various organizations on a federal, state, local and private level. They help to provide food, shelter, education, healthcare and money to U.S. citizens through primary and secondary education, subsidies of college education, unemployment disability insurance, subsidies for eligible low-wage workers, subsidies for housing, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, pensions for eligible persons and health insurance programs that cover public employees. The Social Security system is the largest and most prominent social aid program.Medicare is another prominent program.
Not including Social Security and Medicare, Congress allocated almost $717 billion in Federal funds in 2010 plus $210 billion was allocated in state funds ($927 billion total) for means tested welfare programs in the United States–later (after 2010) expenditures are unknown but higher. As of 2011, the public social spending-to-GDP ratio in the United States was below the OECD average.
Total Social Security and Medicare expenditures in 2013 were $1.3 trillion, 8.4% of the $16.3 trillion GNP (2013) and 37% of the total Federal expenditure budget of $3.684 trillion.
In addition to government expenditures private welfare spending in the United States is thought to be about 10% of the U.S. GDP or another $1.6 trillion.
[hide]Characteristics of Households by Quintile 2010
Earners Per Household
Married couples (%)
Single Parents or Single (%)
Ages of Householders
65 years +
Work Status householders (%)
Worked Full Time (%)
Worked Part Time (%)
Did Not Work (%)
Education of Householders (%)
Less than High School
High School or some College
Bachelor’s degree or Higher
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Social programs have been implemented to promote a variety of societal goals, including alleviating the effects of poverty on those earning or receiving low income or encountering serious medical problems, and ensuring retired people have a basic standard of living.
Eligibility for welfare benefits depends on a variety of factors, including gross and net income, family size, pregnancy, homelessness, unemployment, and serious medical conditions like blindness, kidney failure or AIDS.
Drug Testing for applicants
Drug testing in order for potential recipients to receive welfare has become an increasingly controversial topic. Richard Hudson, a Republican from North Carolina claims he pushes for drug screening as a matter of “moral obligation” and that testing should be enforced as a way for the United States government to discourage drug usage.  Others claim that ordering the needy to drug test “stereotypes, stigmatizes, and criminalizes” them without need.  States that currently require drug tests to be performed in order to receive public assistance include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah.
A chart showing the overall decline of average monthly welfare benefits (AFDC then TANF) per recipient 1962–2006 (in 2006 dollars).
Some have argued that welfare has come to be associated with poverty. Martin Gilens, assistant professor of Political Science at Yale University, argues that blacks have overwhelmingly dominated images of poverty over the last few decades and states that “white Americans with the most exaggerated misunderstandings of the racial composition of the poor are the most likely to oppose welfare”. This perception possibly perpetuates negative racial stereotypes and could increase Americans’ opposition and racialization of welfare policies.
In FY 2010, African-American families comprised 31.9% of TANF families, white families comprised 31.8%, and 30.0% were Hispanic. Since the implementation of TANF, the percentage of Hispanic families has increased, while the percentages of white and black families have decreased. In FY 1997, African-American families represented 37.3% of TANF recipient families, white families 34.5%, and Hispanic families 22.5%. The population as a whole is composed of 63.7% whites, 16.3% Hispanic, 12.5% African-American, 4.8% Asian and 2.9% other races. TANF programs at a cost of about $20.0 billion (2013) have decreased in use as Earned Income Tax Credits, Medicaid grants, food stamps (SNAP),Supplemental Security Income (SSI), child nutrition programs (CHIP), housing assistance, Feeding Programs (WIC & CSFP) along with about 70 more programs have increase to over $700.0 billion more in 2013.
In 2002, total U.S. social welfare expenditure constitutes over 35% of GDP, with purely public expenditure constituting 21%, publicly supported but privately provided welfare services constituting 10% of GDP and purely private services constituting 4% of GDP. This compared to the “welfare” states of France and Sweden where welfare spending ranges from 30% to 35% of GDP.
The Great Recession made a large impact on welfare spending. In a 2011 article, Forbes reported, “The best estimate of the cost of the 185 federal means tested welfare programs for 2010 for the federal government alone is $717 billion, up a third since 2008, according to the Heritage Foundation. Counting state spending of about $210 million, total welfare spending for 2010 reached over $920 billion, up nearly one-fourth since 2008 (24.3%)”–and increasing fast. The previous decade had seen a 60% decrease in the number of people receiving welfare benefits, beginning with the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, but spending did not decrease proportionally during that time period.
Impact of social programs
[hide]Average Incomes and Taxes
CBO Study 2009*
Tax rate %3
Taxes Pd. 5
Source: Congressional Budget Office Study
1. Market Income = All wages, tips, incomes etc. as listed on Income tax form
2. Federal Transfers = all EITC, CTC, medicaid, food stamps (SNAP), Social Security, SSI etc. received
3. Average tax rate includes all Social Security, Medicare, income, business income, excise, etc. taxes.
4. Net Federal taxes paid in dollars
5. Percent of all federal taxes paid
6. #W = Average number of workers per household in this quintile
7. % Net Income = percentage of all national income each quintile receives after taxes and transfers.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, social programs significantly raise the standard of living for low-income Americans, particularly the elderly. The poorest 20% of American households earn a before-tax average of only $7,600 – less than half of the federal poverty line. Social programs increase those households’ before-tax income to $30,500. Social Security and Medicare are responsible for two-thirds of that increase.
Public Health nursing made available through child welfare services, 1935.
Federal Social Welfare programs
Colonial legislatures and later State governments adopted legislation patterned after the English “poor” laws. Aid to veterans, often free grants of land, and pensions for widows and handicapped veterans, have been offered in all U.S. wars. Following World War I, provisions were made for a full-scale system of hospital and medical care benefits for veterans. By 1929, workers’ compensation laws were in effect in all but four States. These state laws made industry and businesses responsible for the costs of compensating workers or their survivors when the worker was injured or killed in connection with his or her job. Retirement programs for mainly State and local government paid teachers, police officers, and fire fighters—date back to the 19th century. All these social programs were far from universal and varied considerably from one state to another.
Prior to the Great Depression the United States had social programs that mostly centered around individual efforts, family efforts, church charities, business workers compensation, life insurance and sick leave programs along with some state tax supported social programs. The misery and poverty of the great depression threatened to overwhelm all these programs. The severe Depression of the 1930s made Federal action almost a necessity, as neither the States and the local communities, businesses and industries, nor private charities had the financial resources to cope with the growing need among the American people. Beginning in 1932, the Federal Government first made loans, then grants, to States to pay for direct relief and work relief. After that, special Federal emergency relief like the Civilian Conservation Corps and other public works programs were started. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s administration proposed to Congress federal social relief programs and a federally sponsored retirement program. Congress followed by the passage of the 37 page Social Security Act, signed into law August 14, 1935 and “effective” by 1939–just as World War II began. This program was expanded several times over the years.
After the Great Society legislation of the 1960s, for the first time a person who was not elderly or disabled could receive need-based aid from the federal government.[dubious – discuss] Aid could include general welfare payments, health care through Medicaid, food stamps, special payments for pregnant women and young mothers, and federal and state housing benefits.
In 1968, 4.1% of families were headed by a woman receiving welfare assistance; by 1980, the percentage increased to 10%. In the 1970s, California was the U.S. state with the most generous welfare system. Virtually all food stamp costs are paid by the federal government. In 2008, 28.7 percent of the households headed by single women were considered poor.
Welfare reform (1990s)
Before the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, welfare assistance was “once considered an open-ended right,” but welfare reform converted it “into a finite program built to provide short-term cash assistance and steer people quickly into jobs.” Prior to reform, states were given “limitless” money by the federal government, increasing per family on welfare, under the 60-year-old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. This gave states no incentive to direct welfare funds to the neediest recipients or to encourage individuals to go off welfare benefits (the state lost federal money when someone left the system). Nationwide, one child in seven received AFDC funds, which mostly went to single mothers.
In 1996, under the Bill Clintonadministration, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which gave more control of the welfare system to the states though there are basic requirements the states need to meet with regards to welfare services. Still, most states offer basic assistance, such as health care, food assistance, child care assistance, unemployment, cash aid, and housing assistance. After reforms, which President Clinton said would “end welfare as we know it,”amounts from the federal government were given out in a flat rate per state based on population.
Each state must meet certain criteria to ensure recipients are being encouraged to work themselves out of welfare. The new program is called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). It encourages states to require some sort of employment search in exchange for providing funds to individuals, and imposes a five-year lifetime limit on cash assistance. The bill restricts welfare from most legal immigrants and increased financial assistance for child care. The federal government also maintains an emergency $2 billion TANF fund to assist states that may have rising unemployment.
Following these changes, millions of people left the welfare rolls (a 60% drop overall), employment rose, and the child poverty rate was reduced. A 2007 Congressional Budget Office study found that incomes in affected families rose by 35%. The reforms were “widely applauded” after “bitter protest.”The Times called the reform “one of the few undisputed triumphs of American government in the past 20 years.”
Critics of the reforms sometimes point out that the massive decrease of people on the welfare rolls during the 1990s wasn’t due to a rise in actual gainful employment in this population, but rather, was due almost exclusively to their offloading into workfare, giving them a different classification than classic welfare recipient. The late 1990s were also considered an unusually strong economic time, and critics voiced their concern about what would happen in an economic downturn.
National Revieweditorialized that the Economic Stimulus Act of 2009 will reverse the welfare-to-work provisions that Bill Clinton signed in the 1990s, and will again base federal grants to states on the number of people signed up for welfare rather than at a flat rate. One of the experts who worked on the 1996 bill said that the provisions would lead to the largest one-year increase in welfare spending in American history. The House bill provides $4 billion to pay 80% of states’ welfare caseloads. Although each state received $16.5 billion annually from the federal government as welfare rolls dropped, they spent the rest of the block grant on other types of assistance rather than saving it for worse economic times.
[hide]Spending on largest Welfare Programs
Federal Spending 2003-2013*
Medicaid Grants to States
Food Stamps (SNAP)
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Child Nutrition Program (CHIP)
Support Payments to States, TANF
Feeding Programs (WIC & CSFP)
Low Income Home Energy Assistance
* Spending in millions of dollars
The following is a short timeline of welfare in the United States:
1880s–1890s: Attempts were made to move poor people from work yards to poor houses if they were in search of relief funds.
1893–1894: Attempts were made at the first unemployment payments, but were unsuccessful due to the 1893–1894recession.
1932: The Great Depression had gotten worse and the first attempts to fund relief failed. The “Emergency Relief Act”, which gave local governments $300 million, was passed into law.