Obama unleashes 3,853 regs, 18 for every law, record 97,110 pages of red tape
By PAUL BEDARD(@SECRETSBEDARD)•12/30/16 9:28 AM
President Obama‘s lame duck administration poured on thousands more new regulations in 2016 at a rate of 18 for every new law passed, according to a Friday analysis of his team’s expansion of federal authority.
While Congress passed just 211 laws, Obama’s team issued an accompanying 3,852 new federal regulations, some costing billions of dollars.
The 2016 total was the highest annual number of regulations under Obama. Former President Bush issued more in the wake of 9/11.
The proof that it was an overwhelming year for rules and regulations is in the Federal Register, which ended the year Friday by printing a record-setting 97,110 pages, according to the analysis from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
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The annual “Unconstitutional Index” from Clyde Wayne Crews, CEI’s vice president for policy, said that it was much higher under Obama than under former President George W. Bush.
“The multiple did tend to be higher during Obama administration. Bush’s eight years averaged 20, while Obama’s almost-eight have averaged 29,” said his report, first provided to Secrets.
His index is meant to show that it is the federal bureaucracy, not Congress, that levies the most rules. “There’s no pattern to any of this, since the numerators and denominators can vary widely; there had been 114 laws in 2015, and a multiple of 39. The multiple can be higher with fewer laws, or with more regulations, holding the other constant. The point is that agencies do the bulk of lawmaking, no matter the party in power,” he wrote.
President-elect Trump has promised to slash federal regulations, even pledging to cut two current rules for every one he imposes. Congressional leaders have also promised to slash rules and regulations that have escalated under Obama.
How Tesla Builds Electric Cars | Tesla Motors Part 2 (WIRED)
Electric Car Quality Tests | Tesla Motors Part 3 (WIRED)
Fatal Telsa crash shows limits of self-driving technology
The U.S. government is investigating the first reported death of a driver whose car was in self-driving mode when he crashed. Joshua D. Brown, 40, died May 7 when his Tesla Model S, which was operating on “autopilot,” failed to activate its brakes and hit a truck in Florida.
The crash raises questions about autonomous and semi-autonomous cars, their capabilities and their limits. Here are answers to some of those questions:
Q: ARE THERE SELF-DRIVING CARS ON U.S. STREETS RIGHT NOW?
A: Yes, but in limited numbers. Various companies, including Google, Ford and Uber, have test fleets of autonomous cars running in specific areas, including Mountain View, California, and Austin, Texas. Right now, those vehicles always have a steering wheel, brakes and a driver ready to take over in case of a problem, but prototype cars without steering wheels are also being developed.
Q: HOW DO THEY WORK?
A: A network of cameras, radars and lasers feeds information to the car’s computers, helping to fill in the gaps in the GPS system, which knows how to get the car from point to point. Cameras let the car see what’s around it, while radar senses things in the dark or in inclement weather. Lasers constantly scan the road and give a three-dimensional picture of what’s going on.
Q: ARE THERE LAWS ALLOWING SELF-DRIVING CARS?
A: Right now, it’s a patchwork. Eight states — including Nevada, Michigan, Florida and Tennessee — and Washington D.C. have laws allowing autonomous vehicles. Other states have legislation in the works. Later this summer, the federal government is expected to release guidelines for the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles.
Q: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SELF-DRIVING CARS?
A: Self-driving cars have the potential to save lives by anticipating accidents before they happen. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said Friday that 90 percent of car accidents are caused by human error, and distracted or drowsy driving accounts for some 13 percent of those crashes. The accidents cost about $870 billion a year globally.
Q: CAN I BUY A SELF-DRIVING CAR?
A: No. A few automakers offer cars and SUVs with semi-autonomous modes that can perform some functions without help from the driver, including maintaining a set speed, braking, changing lanes and even parallel parking. Semi-autonomous features can be found on high-end vehicles from Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti and Volvo. Some lower-priced models have them, too. Toyota, for example, plans to make automatic emergency braking standard on its vehicles by 2017, ahead of a self-imposed deadline of 2022 that most automakers have agreed to.
Q: WHEN WILL COMPLETELY SELF-DRIVING CARS BE AVAILABLE TO CONSUMERS?
A: That’s not yet clear. Volvo plans a large-scale test of driverless cars in Sweden next year. Google wants to make cars available to the public around the end of 2019. BMW, Intel and Israel’s Mobileye have teamed up to roll out the cars by 2021.
IHS Automotive, a consulting firm, predicts that the U.S. will see the earliest deployment of autonomous vehicles, with several thousand on the road by 2020. That number will rise to 4.5 million vehicles by 2035, IHS says. But even if the vehicles are on the road, they might not be in your garage. The earliest self-driving cars might be on-demand taxis, employee shuttles or other shared vehicles.
Q: WHAT ARE THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGES TO GETTING AUTONOMOUS CARS ON THE ROAD?
A: Driverless cars need detailed maps to follow, and companies are still mapping roads. They also can have trouble staying within lanes in heavy rain or snow. And, as the Tesla crash showed, there will always be scenarios that driverless cars can’t foresee or navigate correctly. Brown’s car didn’t see an oncoming tractor-trailer because it was white against a brightly lit sky. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the car’s radar is also designed to tune out what looks like overhead signs to prevent false braking.
Q: HOW COULD THE TESLA AUTOPILOT NOT SEE SOMETHING AS LARGE AS A TRACTOR-TRAILER?
A: Raj Rajkumar, a computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University who leads its autonomous vehicle research, said computers can’t be programmed to handle every situation. But Tesla may need to adjust its radar, he said.
Tesla would not comment directly on the radar and computer programs, but the company issued a statement saying that it continually advances its software by analyzing hundreds of millions of miles of driving data. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking at the design and performance of Tesla’s system as part of its investigation.
Tesla has plenty of customers, but still no profit
by Jackie Wattles
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is spending some nights in a sleeping bag on a factory floor.
He’s keeping a very close eye on the electric car maker’s production.
“My desk is at the end of the production line,” Musk told investors Wednesday after the company posted its quarterly earnings report. “I have a sleeping bag in a conference room [nearby] and I use it quite often.”
Tesla’s biggest challenge is scaling up manufacturing to meet customers’ demand — and that’s why the factory isn’t just where Musk is sleeping, it’s where Tesla is spending billions of dollars.
Tesla (TSLA) said Wednesday that it’s decided to invest more than $2 billion on production capacity this year — $750 million more than initially planned.
But that means Musk won’t be able to deliver on what he previously told investors: Tesla may finally turn a profit in 2016.
“Naturally, this will impact our ability to be net cash flow positive for the year, but given the demand for Model 3, investing to meet that demand is the best long-term decision for Tesla,” Musk said.
The company posted a net loss of $282 million for last quarter.
The automaker made a name for itself with two $70,000-plus luxury models — the Model S and Model X — but a successful mass market vehicle is the cornerstone of Musk’s plan to grow the company.
The first Model 3’s are expected to reach customers next year, and he wants the company’s new gigafactory to be churning them out “at capacity” by the end of 2017. Musk said the company plans to start making 500,000 cars per year by 2018. For comparison, the company made about 50,000 in 2015.
To do that, the company is also looking to hire top-tier manufacturing talent, which Musk said is the “most significant” factor in ensuring a bright future for Tesla.
It’s unclear why, but the company also announced earlier in the day on Wednesday that its vice presidents of production and manufacturing are leaving the company.
Musk’s production plans may face other problems. He has given Tesla suppliers a July 1, 2017 deadline to ship the parts he’s ordered, but “it’s like college term papers. There’s always late term papers.”
Musk also said he plans to start producing more car components in-house — another reason he’s investing more money in Tesla’s manufacturing capabilities.
Tesla affirmed earlier guidance that it plans to put 80,000 to 90,000 new electric cars on the road this year, and that’s despite hitting a production snag with the Model X recently that made the company miss its quarterly delivery guidance.
And the Model S is still selling well. Orders were up 45% compared to the same quarter last year.
Tesla’s stock has struggled in 2016, down more than 7% since January. Shares were essentially flat after-hours when the company issued its report.
Tesla is a hot mess—there is no path to profitability
Michael Pento, president of Pento Portfolio Strategies
Tuesday, 3 May 2016 | 1:55 PM ETCNBC.com
Tesla shares got a little pop in after-hours trading Wednesday after the electric car maker delivered an earnings report in line with expectations and an optimistic outlook.
But I think the stock’s run is already over.
The primary reason? Profitability.
Tesla stock soared for a few months starting in February following news that pre-orders for the electric-car maker’s Model 3, with a price tag of $35,000, were approaching 400,000 units.
But, as well-known short seller Jim Chanos so perfectly put it in an interview with CNBC: “We have all kinds of questions on the profitability of the business.”
First, the Model 3. This was Tesla’s play for an “affordable” electric car but it appears to be affordable for everyone EXCEPT Tesla.
Tesla loses more than $4,000 on each of its high-end Model S electric sedans; and that model’s cost is between $70 and $108k. With margins like that, one has to assume a $35k Model 3 can’t be the answer to solving Tesla’s red ink.
Tesla’s income statement reveals the company is hemorrhaging cash at a robust clip. Furthermore, according to TheStreet Ratings, they have a net profit margin of -26.38 percent and a quick ratio of 0.49, which means they have 49 cents in available cash to pay every $1 of current liabilities.
Worse than its lousy earnings and cash flow, Tesla is grossly overvalued compared to its peers. Tesla’s market cap is more than $30 billion, compared to Fiat Chrysler at around $10 billion and Ferrari at around $8 billion. Being valued at 3x more than FCAU — an established and profitable company — looks especially absurd when considering FCAU produces annual sales of over $130 billion, while Tesla produces revenue of only $4 billion.
Furthermore, Tesla’s market cap is nearly two-thirds of General Motors‘ market cap. This is despite the fact that General Motors has a history of selling 10 million cars at a profit each year and Tesla sold less than 100,000 cars last year at a loss. They would have to sell 6.6 million cars this year to justify its current valuation. With less than 400,000 cars on pre-order that doesn’t appear likely anytime soon.
First, he pointed out that, on the back of falling oil prices, demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is slowing. Second, there is growing competition that will cut into Tesla’s margins as prices for EVs fall. Tesla has a lot of competition over the next few years. The industry is already awaiting the Apple car with bated breath that is set to launch in four years. And GM’s Chevy Bolt is similarly priced with a similar range and is set to come out this year. And then we have the Nissan Leaf expected to more competitive in the coming months and years. And add to that first generation vehicles like the BMW i3.
And in China, they have the EV Company LeEco, which recently unveiled its very first electric car that includes self-driving and self-parking capability using voice commands via a mobile app. Besides LeEco, there is another Chinese EV auto maker that sold more electric cars last year than Tesla, Nissan or GM, it’s called BYD Co. and is now targeting the U.S. market.
Lutz believes that competition from industry heavyweights like these could “kill” Tesla in the future.
“The major OEMs like GM, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, etc … they have to build electric cars, a certain number, in order to satisfy the requirements in about half of the states. Those have to be jammed into the marketplace, otherwise they can no longer sell SUVs and full-size pickups and the stuff that they really make money on. So that is going to generically depress the prices of electric vehicles,” Lutz warned.
Lutz also explained that companies such as General Motors will not be making any money on their “Tesla killer.” They are making these vehicles to appease Washington.
“The majors are going to accept the losses on the electric vehicles as a necessary cost of doing business in order to sell the big gasoline stuff that people really want. Well, Tesla does not have that option,” Lutz said.
But Musk has a strategy for driving down the cost of his electric car that hinges on achieving economies of scale, bringing down the production cost of the battery pack by 30 percent. This hinges on the success of their future Nevada home called the “Gigafactory.”
The Gigafactory is a one-stop shopping in battery-pack production. The company currently buys battery packs through a deal with Panasonicand has partnered with Panasonic in this venture. Production volume at the Gigafactory is anticipated to be the equivalent of over 30 gigawatt-hours per year; this would mean the Gigafactory would produce more storage than all the lithium battery factories in the world combined. The $5 billion dollar plant is as big as the Pentagon Tesla, and Tesla is hoping to produce 500,000 lithium ion batteries annually.
Musk recently laid out his Energy-branded battery ambition in rock star glory. At the event spectacle, Musk declared that his batteries would someday render the world’s energy grid obsolete. “We are talking about trying to change the fundamental energy infrastructure of the world,” he said.
Musk envisions his affordable, clean energy will one day power the remote villages of underdeveloped countries as well as allowing the average homeowner in industrial nations to go off the grid.
But before you sever your ties with your electrical company, it’s worth noting that not everyone thinks Musk’s plans are achievable – at least not in the time frame he envisions.
Panasonic, the supplier of the lithium-ion cells that form the foundation of Tesla’s batteries, and partner on the company’s forthcoming battery factory — calls Musk’s claims a lot of hyperbole.
“We are at the very beginning in energy storage in general,” said Phil Hermann, chief energy engineer at Panasonic Eco Solutions. “Most of the projects currently going on are either demo projects or learning experiences for the utilities. There is very little direct commercial stuff going on. Elon Musk is out there saying you can do things now that the rest of us are hearing and going, ‘really?’ We wish we could, but it’s not really possible yet.”
And far from the grand stage with little fanfare buried in their November 10Q Tesla also sought to tamper investor’s expectations: “Given the size and complexity of this undertaking, the cost of building and operating the Gigafactory could exceed our current expectations, we may have difficulty signing up additional partners, and the Gigafactory may take longer to bring online than we anticipate.”
With a company saddled with debt and cash-strapped, who is going to shoulder the burden of a delay in the Gigafactory realizing its full potential? That would be shareholders through stock dilution or the American tax payer – but most likely a combination of both. There are those who believe that Musk’s real genius is in following government subsidies.
Tesla’s model relies strongly on a “green” administration. According to the Los Angeles Times, all of Musk’s ventures: Tesla Motors, SolarCityand Space Exploration Technologies, known as SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support. The figure underscores a common theme running through his emerging empire: a public-private financing model underpinning long-shot start-ups.
The promise is that the Tesla stockholders and the tax subsidizing public will greatly benefit from major pollution reductions as electric cars break through as viable alternative and gain access to mass-market production.
And frankly, I’m not convinced that electric cars are even good for the environment. First, it’s important to note that at this time, these cars don’t power themselves — they are plugged into an outlet in your garage that connects to an electric power plant. Second, there are a lot of environmental questions about the lithium battery itself. In a 2012 study titled “Science for Environment Policy” published by the European Union, a comparison was made of the lithium ion batteries to other types of batteries available such as; lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal-hydride and sodium Sulphur. They concluded that the lithium ion batteries have the largest impact on metal depletion, making recycling more complicated.
Musk may be a genius and a visionary but the truth is that Tesla has an unproven business model and a stock that is massively overpriced. Even if some year in the distant future there exists the charging infrastructure and pricing available to make electric vehicles conducive to supplant the internal combustion engine, Tesla faces an onslaught of competition that will most likely drive its profit margins further into the red for years to come.
So, as far as I’m concerned, the stock is not a buy — no matter what earnings say. The math just doesn’t add up.
Senator Blunt Discusses Harmful Effects Of EPA’s Clean Power Plan 8/4/15
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Obama’s climate agenda on trial
By Devin Henry
A slate of major environmental rules rolled out by the Obama administration in 2015 will face serious challenges in the new year, as opponents look to beat back the president’s ambitious policies — a core piece of his legacy.
In the lead-up to the landmark Paris climate talks in December — an event that yielded a first-of-its-kind global agreement to cut carbon emissions — the Obama administration released a series of sweeping new environmental rules, each garnering both condemnation and deep-pocketed opposition from interest looking to torpedo the regulations in 2016.
As Obama enters the final year of his presidency, much of his focus on environmental issues will be implementing and preserving the work he’s already done. If 2015 was the year he pushed his environmental agenda forward, 2016 could be the year he looks to preserve it.
Here are some of the biggest regulations Obama finalized or proposed last year, and how they’ll be litigated in 2016.
Clean Power Plan
The most notable environmental rule issued in 2015 was the climate rule for power plants, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation designed to cut carbon emissions from the power sector.
The rule is the centerpiece of Obama’s climate change agenda, and the biggest promise he took with him to the United Nations climate talks. It’s designed to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
Environmentalists hailed the rule, but it has met with scorching opposition from Republicans, commodity groups, businesses and utilities. Opponents have argued that, while the rule will cut carbon emissions, it will do so at the expense of jobs and American energy bills, which could go up as states shift to cleaner energy mixes.
Dozens of opponents sued against the rule the day in October that it hit the Federal Register, arguing the EPA went beyond its legal authority in assigning states carbon reduction targets.
“EPA’s rule is flatly illegal and one of the most aggressive executive branch power grabs we’ve seen in a long time,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. “The EPA cannot do what it intends to do legally.”
The EPA defended the rule as one with “strong scientific and legal foundations” and has sought to protect it from the lawsuits. Opponents want federal judges to issue a stay on the rule and, with legal filings on the matter due on Dec. 23, the first judicial skirmish over the rule is set for early 2016.
Clean Water Rule
A federal court dealt a blow to another EPA rule in 2015 when it blocked implementation of a new rule setting regulatory authority over small waterways.
The so-called “Waters of the United States” rule looks to clarify which streams, wetlands and other smaller waterways the federal government has regulatory authority over.
But opponents of the rule — Republicans, red states and the agriculture industry among them — argue the rule is overly-broad and an unjust expansion of federal power. They sued against the regulation, and two federal courts issued separate injunctions against it in 2015, ruling that opponents have a strong case and could win when their challenges move forward.
The EPA and Army Corps. of Engineers have maintained that the rule is legal and plans to fight the lawsuits against it. The stay didn’t overturn the rule: the courts need to go through the process of making a full ruling on it, and the appeals process could eventually bring the water rule to the Supreme Court.
When the Obama administration finalized a new standard for acceptable concentrations of surface-level ozone particles, neither industrial groups nor public health and environmental coalitions were pleased.
Businesses and manufacturers sued over the new 70-parts-per-billion standard in December, arguing that the new standard would be hard to implement and lead to billions of dollars in compliance costs.
“The EPA’s ozone regulation, which could be one of the most expensive in history, is unworkable and overly burdensome for manufacturers and America’s job creators,” said Linda Kelly, the senior vice president and general counsel for the National Association of Manufacturers.
Greens and health officials defended the EPA’s ability to issue the new rule, which came out in October. But they filed lawsuits of their own, arguing regulators should have finalized a standard even stricter than the one they landed on.
“This standard leaves kids, seniors and asthmatics without the protection doctors say they need from this dangerous pollutant,” Earthjustice attorney David Baron said. “The EPA has a duty to set standards that assure our air is safe to breathe. We say they violated that duty here.”
Even before the ozone rule was released, both sides said they expected to sue over the final standard, citing their dueling lawsuits against the EPA the last time it updated the rule, in 2008.
Neither side succeeded then, and the rule stood.
Beyond legal challenges, the power plant, water and ozone rules could all face challenges from congressional Republicans, as well.
While legislative measures stopping the rules are dead with Obama in office, Republicans showed last year that they were willing to try using the appropriations process to block them anyway.
Key Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have said they plan to exhaust their legislative options for blocking the regulations even with Obama in office. But McConnell acknowledged in October that lawmakers’ hands are likely tied for now, despite passing a since-vetoed Congressional Review Act resolution against the power plan.
“Our options to stop [the Clean Power Plan] are quite limited,” McConnell said then. “We do have the possibility of a CRA. The weakness of that, obviously, is that even though we can pass it through here with a simple majority, [Obama is] likely to veto it.”
The Obama administration led off 2015 promising to take action on methane emissions from oil and natural gas drilling sites.
The EPA proposed rules in August to require drillers use new technologies to track and block accidental and purposeful leaks when producing and transmitting oil and gas. The proposal kicked up a potential fight with the gas industry.
Greens have said a strong methane rule is one of the last major climate initiatives Obama can effectively push through during his final term in office. Methane has about 25 times the global warming power of carbon dioxide, and a push to cut down on leaks will compliment Obama’s work on carbon emissions elsewhere, they say.
Drillers, though, are skeptical of the rule, saying they are already taking steps to cut methane leaks on their own. They support EPA’s opt-in programs for cutting methane emissions, but warn that actual regulations could “undermine American competitiveness” in the oil and gas sector.
“EPA’s proposal for additional methane regulations on oil and gas wells and transmission are duplicative and costly,” Howard Feldman, the senior director of regulatory and scientific affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, said in December. “They could also undermine the progress our industry has made lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”
Republicans, too, have opposed new methane rules, with House Natural Resources Committee chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) calling the proposal “another unprecedented attack” on oil and gas interests.
The agency hopes to finalize the rule by the spring.
Phillips was a strategist on voting patterns for Richard Nixon‘s 1968 campaign, which was the basis for a book, The Emerging Republican Majority, which predicted a conservativerealignment in national politics, and is widely regarded as one of the most influential recent works in political science. His predictions regarding shifting voting patterns in presidential elections proved accurate, though they did not extend “down ballot” to Congress until the Republican revolution of 1994. Phillips also was partly responsible for the design of the Republican “Southern strategy” of the 1970s and 1980s.
Later, he became a critic of Republicans from the south and west, the area he had identified as the “Heartland”, the future core of Republican votes. He had also identified the “Yankee Northeast” as the future Democratic stronghold, foreshadowing the current split between Red States and Blue States. More than 30 years before the 2004 election, Phillips foresaw such previously Democratic states as Texas and West Virginia swinging to the Republicans and Vermont and Maine becoming Democratic states.
Phillips worked for Richard Nixon‘s presidential campaign in 1968, and wrote a book on what has come to be known as the “Southern strategy” of the Republican Party. The book was entitled The Emerging Republican Majority and argued that the southern states of the US would keep the Republicans winning Presidential Elections and more than offset the Northeast states, based on racial politics. As he stated to the New York Times Magazine in 1970,
“All the talk about Republicans making inroads into the Negro vote is persiflage. Even ‘Jake the Snake’ [Senator Jacob Javits of New York] only gets 20 percent. From now on, Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote, and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”
American Theocracy (2006)
Allen Dwight Callahan states the book’s theme is that the Republican Party (GOP), religious fundamentalism, petroleum, and borrowed money are an “Unholy Alliance.” The last chapter, in a nod to his first major work, is titled “The Erring Republican Majority.” American Theocracy “presents a nightmarish vision of ideological extremism, catastrophic fiscal irresponsibility, rampant greed and dangerous shortsightedness.”
He identifies three broad and related trends — none of them new to the Bush years but all of them, he believes, exacerbated by this administration’s policies — that together threaten the future of the United States and the world. One is the role of oil in defining and, as Phillips sees it, distorting American foreign and domestic policy. The second is the ominous intrusion of radical Christianity into politics and government. And the third is the astonishing levels of debt — current and prospective — that both the government and the American people have been heedlessly accumulating. If there is a single, if implicit, theme running through the three linked essays that form this book, it is the failure of leaders to look beyond their own and the country’s immediate ambitions and desires so as to plan prudently for a darkening future.
Phillips uses the term financialization to describe how the U.S. economy has been radically restructured from a focus on production, manufacturing and wages, to a focus on speculation, debt, and profits. Since the 1980s, Phillips argues in American Theocracy,
the underlying Washington strategy… was less to give ordinary Americans direct sums than to create a low-interest-rate boom in real estate, thereby raising the percentage of American home ownership, ballooning the prices of homes, and allowing householders to take out some of that increase through low-cost refinancing. This triple play created new wealth to take the place of that destroyed in the 2000-2002 stock-market crash and simultaneously raised consumer confidence.
Nothing similar had ever been engineered before. Instead of a recovery orchestrated by Congress and the White House and aimed at the middle- and bottom-income segments, this one was directed by an appointed central banker, a man whose principal responsibility was to the banking system. His relief, targeted on financial assets and real estate, was principally achieved by monetary stimulus. This in itself confirmed the massive realignment of preferences and priorities within the American system….
Likewise, huge and indisputable but almost never discussed, were the powerful political economics lurking behind the stimulus: the massive rate-cut-driven post-2000 bailout of the FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate) sector, with its ever-climbing share of GDP and proximity to power. No longer would Washington concentrate stimulus on wages or public-works employment. The Fed’s policies, however shrewd, were not rooted in an abstraction of the national interest but in pursuit of its statutory mandate to protect the U.S. banking and payments system, now inseparable from the broadly defined financial-services sector.
American Theocracy was reviewed widely. The New York Times Book Review wrote “It is not without polemic, but unlike many of the more glib and strident political commentaries of recent years, it is extensively researched and frighteningly persuasive…”The Chicago Sun-Times wrote “Overall, Phillips’ book is a thoughtful and somber jeremiad, written throughout with a graceful wryness… a capstone to his life’s work.”
Bad Money (2008)
Kevin Phillips examines America’s great shift from manufacturing to financial services. He also discusses America’s petroleum policies and the tying of the dollar to the price of oil. Phillips suggests that the Euro and the Chinese Yuan/Renminbi are favorites to take the dollar’s place in countries hostile towards America, like Iran. He then tackles the lack of regulatory oversight employed in the housing market and how the housing boom was allowed to run free under Alan Greenspan. The book concludes with the proposal that America is employing bad capitalism and extends Gresham’s Law of currency to suggest that our good capitalism will be driven out by the bad.
The Emerging Republican Majority (1969)
Mediacracy: American Parties and Politics in the Communications Age (1974) ISBN 0-385-04945-5
Electoral Reform and Voter Participation (with Paul H. Blackman, 1975)
Post-Conservative America: People, Politics, and Ideology in a Time of Crisis (1982) ISBN 0-394-52212-5
Staying on Top: The Business Case for a National Industrial Strategy (1984) ISBN 0-394-53744-0
The Politics of Rich and Poor: Wealth and Electorate in the Reagan Aftermath (1990) ISBN 0-394-55954-1
Boiling Point: Democrats, Republicans, and the Decline of Middle Class Prosperity (1993) ISBN 0-679-40461-9
Arrogant Capital: Washington, Wall Street and the Frustration of American Politics (1994) ISBN 0-316-70618-3
The Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics and the Triumph of Anglo-America (1998) ISBN 0-465-01369-4
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Mark Levin on Paul Ryan’s radical pro Amnesty ideology
UN-led Mass Migration Destroying U.S. Nationhood
Understanding the Impact of Europe’s Migrant Crisis
Would Paul Ryan Be a Good Choice for House Speaker?
What We Can Expect If Congress Passes TPP
The Nuances Behind the Republican Presidential Debate
How Trump’s Attack on McCain Didn’t Go Far Enough
Iran Deal Courtesy of CFR New World Order Crowd
‘2030 Agenda’: Latest UN Plan for World Government
‘Two-party system an illusion, both funded from same source’
“MORE AND MORE PEOPLE “FED UP WITH THIS “RIGGED TWO-PARTY SYSTEM”!
The Two-Party System is Making America Ungovernable- Intelligence Squared U.S.
Andrew Horning on Breaking the Two Party System 1 18 2014
Reagan Warned Us About Obama
Mark Steyn on Racism, Slavery, and the Democratic Party
Rush To Beck: “We May Be Looking At Barack Obama Destroying The Democrat Party”
Mind blowing speech by Robert Welch in 1958 predicting Insiders plans to destroy America
Ron Paul – Judge Napolitano What if the two party system is a sham? – Fox Business
ObamaCare 101: What the Healthcare Law Means to You Part 1 of 3
Art Thompson, CEO of The John Birch Society, takes you into the new healthcare law. He identifies a pattern of government broken promises, revealing that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Find out what’s really in the new law and what you can expect long term.
ObamaCare 101: What the Healthcare Law Means to You Part 2 of 3
ObamaCare 101: What the Healthcare Law Means to You Part 3 of 3
John Birch Society: Oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
William F. Jasper, Senior Editor for The New American magazine, explains how President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an “an all-out assault on our national sovereignty,” and how It would unconstitutionally transfer legislative powers from the U.S. Congress, our state legislatures, and our city and county governments to multi-national corporations and unaccountable international bureaucrats at the World Trade Organization, or WTO. Incredibly, it also would transfer judicial powers from our federal and state courts — which are bad enough — to globalist TPP judges at regional tribunals and the WTO.
DECLINE of EMPIRES: The Signs of Decay
Archie Bunker on Democrats
Archie Bunker predicts conditions under Obama
George Carlin – It’s a big club and you ain’t in it
Obama Job Approval Steady in 27th Quarter at 45.9%
by Jeffrey M. Jones
Average 45.9% approval similar to 46.1% in prior quarter
Obama has been under 50% approval for most of his presidency
Approval midrange compared with other presidents’ 27th quarters
PRINCETON, N.J. — President Barack Obama’s job approval rating in his 27th quarter in office, from July 20 to Oct. 19, averaged 45.9%, essentially unchanged from his 46.1% average for the prior quarter.
Obama’s daily approval ratings also varied little within his most recent quarter, averaging 46% nearly every week during the quarter. There were just two modest but notable exceptions. In late August, as U.S. stocks fell in response to concerns about problems in the Chinese economy, his weekly approval rating dipped to 44%. And in late September it rose to 48% during the week of Pope Francis’ U.S. trip, which included a widely covered visit with Obama at the White House.
Since he became president nearly seven years ago, Obama has averaged 47% job approval. There have been only five quarters when he had majority approval, with four of those occurring during the first year of his presidency, the so-called “honeymoon phase” when new presidents tend to be rated positively. The only other time Obama’s quarterly approval exceeded 50% was perhaps the most consequential one — the 16th quarter, in which he was re-elected.
Obama’s 27th Quarter Midrange Compared With Other Presidents
Obama is the sixth post-World War II president to serve a 27th quarter in office. Two of these — Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Clinton — were rated quite positively at this stage in their presidencies, with average approval ratings of 65.3% and 59.7%, respectively.
In contrast, Harry Truman (23.0%) and George W. Bush (33.2%) were decidedly unpopular at the same point of their presidencies. Truman’s 27th quarter average is the worst quarterly average for any president in Gallup’s polling history.
Obama’s 27th quarter average, along with Ronald Reagan’s, is between these two extremes. Reagan averaged 47.0% approval, slightly better than Obama’s 45.9%.
After presidents have served nearly seven years in office, Americans’ opinions of them are pretty well-established and unlikely to change unless a major international or domestic crisis occurs. Clinton’s and Bush’s approval ratings did not change between their 27th and 28thquarters. Truman, Eisenhower and Reagan saw modest improvements of a few percentage points.
Americans’ opinions of Obama have been steady this year, holding near 46%. If his approval ratings do not improve dramatically during the remainder of his presidency, his full-term approval rating average, currently 47%, will rank among the lowest for post-World War II presidents, tied with Gerald Ford’s and better than only Truman’s (45.4%) and Jimmy Carter’s (45.5%).
Obama’s relatively low approval ratings may be as much a function of the era in which he is governing as it is a reflection on his leadership, management and decision-making. There have been relatively few international crises that helped to boost his public support, as the 9/11 attacks and Iraq War did for Bush, and as similar crises have done for other presidents. Arguably the only “rally event” in Obama’s presidency was the capture of Osama bin Laden. Obama also took office during the Great Recession, and the economic recovery since it ended has been slow and uneven.
But Obama is also governing in a time of extreme partisan polarization. In Congress, that has meant political gridlock since Democrats lost control of the U.S. House in the 2010 midterm elections. In the American public, it is evident in his historically low support from the opposition party. Obama’s average 13% approval rating among Republicans is on pace to be the lowest job approval rating from the opposition party by a full 10 percentage points, behind Bush’s average 23% approval rating among Democrats. By comparison, Clinton averaged 27% approval among Republicans, and presidents before Clinton averaged 40% approval from the opposition.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 20-Oct. 19, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 45,663 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
In U.S., New Record 43% Are Political Independents
by Jeffrey M. Jones
Record 43% of Americans are political independents
Democrats maintain edge among those with a party preference
Democratic advantage smaller in 2014 than in 2013
PRINCETON, N.J. — An average 43% of Americans identified politically as independents in 2014, establishing a new high in Gallup telephone poll trends back to 1988. In terms of national identification with the two major parties, Democrats continued to hold a modest edge over Republicans, 30% to 26%.
Since 2008, the percentage of political independents — those who identify as such before their leanings to the two major parties are taken into account — has steadily climbed from 35% to the current 43%, exceeding 40% each of the last four years. Prior to 2011, the high in independent identification was 39% in 1995 and 1999.
The recent rise in political independence has come at the expense of both parties, but more among Democrats than among Republicans. Over the last six years, Democratic identification has fallen from 36% — the highest in the last 25 years — to 30%. Meanwhile, Republican identification is down from 28% in 2008 to 26% last year.
The latest results are based on aggregated data from 15 separate Gallup telephone polls conducted throughout 2014.
These changes have left both parties at or near low points in the percentage who identify themselves as core supporters of the party. Although the party identification data compiled in telephone polls since 1988 are not directly comparable to the in-person polling Gallup collected before then, the percentages identifying as Democrats prior to 1988 were so high that it is safe to say the average 30% identifying as Democrats last year is the lowest since at least the 1950s.
Republican identification, at 26%, is a shade higher than the 25% in 2013. Not since 1983, the year before Ronald Reagan’s landslide re-election victory, have fewer Americans identified as Republicans.
The decline in identification with both parties in recent years comes as dissatisfaction with government has emerged as one of the most important problems facing the country, according to Americans. This is likely due to the partisan gridlock that has come from divided party control of the federal government. Trust in the government to handle problems more generally is the lowest Gallup has measured to date, and Americans’ favorable ratings of both parties are at or near historical lows. Thus, the rise in U.S. political independence likely flows from the high level of frustration with the government and the political parties that control it.
Democrats’ Edge in Party Identification and Leaning Shrinks
Although independents claim no outright allegiance to either major party, it is well-known that they are not necessarily neutral when it comes to politics. When pressed, most independents will say they lean to one of the two major parties. For example, last year an average of 17% of Americans who initially identified as independents subsequently said they “leaned” Republican, 15% were independents who leaned Democratic, with the remaining 11% not expressing a leaning to either party.
Since partisan leaners often share similar attitudes to those who identify with a party outright, the relative proportions of identifiers plus leaners gives a sense of the relative electoral strength of the two political parties, since voting decisions almost always come down to a choice of the two major-party candidates. In 2014, an average 45% of Americans identified as Democrats or said they were Democratic-leaning independents, while 42% identified as Republicans or were Republican-leaning independents.
That the three-point Democratic edge was down from six points in 2013, and among Democrats’ smaller advantages the past 25 years. Democrats usually hold an advantage in this combined measure of party affiliation. In fact, the only year Republicans held a notable edge since Gallup began tracking independents’ political leanings was in 1991, the year Republican President George H.W. Bush’s approval ratings soared after the United States’ victory in the Persian Gulf War. Democrats’ high point came in 2008, in the final year of George W. Bush’s administration and the year Barack Obama was first elected president.
However, the three-point Democratic advantage for all of 2014 obscures the change that occurred during the year. On a quarterly basis, Democrats started out 2014 with a five-point edge, similar to their advantage in 2013. That dipped to two points by the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, likely in response to Republicans’ success in the 2014 midterm elections, Republicans held a slight advantage of one point.
Since 2008, Americans have been increasingly reluctant to identify with either the Republican or Democratic Party, and now a record 43% claimed political independence in 2014. Given historical trends, 2015 could bring a new record, as the percentage identifying as independents typically increases in the year before a presidential election, averaging a 2.5-point increase in the last six such years.
Although Democrats typically have an advantage in partisanship, that edge shrunk in 2014 and in the last months of the year the parties were essentially on equal footing. With each party controlling part of the federal government — Democrats the presidency and Republicans the Congress — they each will have a say in how the nation addresses its major challenges in the coming year. However, in recent years divided control of government has more often than not resulted in partisan gridlock, and Americans’ frustration with the frequent political stalemate is evident. Continued frustration with the government would likely encourage more Americans to identify as independents this year.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted January-December 2014, with a combined random sample of 16,479 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
New Emails Reveal Obama White House Worked on Concocting Benghazi Lie DURING the Attacks
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said on Thursday that the Obama White House was contacting YouTube owner Google during the Benghazi terrorist attacks, working on the false narrative even before Americans were out of harm’s way and before the intelligence community examined available evidence.
The still classified Obama State Department email, according to Issa, shows that the Obama White House rushed to settle on the false narrative of the anti-Islamic YouTube video instigating the attacks, which was completely at odds with the conclusions reached by reports from the ground.
This new evidence destroys the Obama White House claims, communicated by Obama spokesman Jay Carney, that the White House obtained the false narrative from CIA talking points, since, according to Congressman Issa, the communication with YouTube was conducted by the Obama White House before any CIA talking points were concocted.
The subject line of the email, ironically sent at 9:11 p.m. (the attacks took place on 9/11/12) on the night of the attack, was “Update on Response to actions – Libya,” hours before the attack had ended.
“The e-mail shows the White House had hurried to settle on a false narrative — one at odds with the conclusions reached by those on the ground — before Americans were even out of harm’s way or the intelligence community had made an impartial examination of available evidence,” Issa said.
Issa has called for the Obama White House to declassify the email.
According to Issa, one of the items noted in the email stated, “White House is reaching out to U-Tube [sic] to advise ramifications of the posting of the Pastor Jon video.”
Issa scolded current Secretary of State, Democrat John Kerry, for just now turning over a classified version of the email, some 20 months after the attack, while calling on the regime to release a unclassified copy.
“Unfortunately, Secretary Kerry and the State Department continue to try to keep this information from the public, only turning this document over to Congress last month. While the information I have cited from this email is clearly unclassified, the State Department has attempted to obstruct its disclosure by not providing Congress with an unclassified copy of this document that redacted only classified portions outlining what the Department of Defense and the Secretary of State were doing in response to the attack in Benghazi that night.”
“This tactic prevents the release of the email itself,” said Issa.
Paul Ryan officially declares candidacy for House speaker
Rep. Paul Ryan officially announced his bid Thursday night to become the next House speaker after securing backing from the three major political factions inside the House GOP conference.
“I never thought I’d be speaker,” Ryan wrote in a letter to his Republican colleagues. “But I pledged to you that if I could be a unifying figure, then I would serve — I would go all in. After talking with so many of you, and hearing your words of encouragement, I believe we are ready to move forward as one, united team. And I am ready and eager to be our speaker.”
The Wisconsin Republican snapped up endorsements from a centrist Republican caucus called the Tuesday Group as well as from the more conservative Republican Study Committee.
“After hearing Paul lay out his vision for the future of the Republican conference, I am confident that he is the right person to lead the House going forward,” Rep. Bill Flores, chairman of the RSC, said in a statement Thursday. “He has the policy expertise, conservative principles and strong values we need in our next speaker.”
The endorsements came after Ryan won support from most members of the House Freedom Caucus — a group of about 40 hard-line conservatives — late Wednesday night.
“I’ve spoken with many of you over the past few days, and I can sense the hunger in our conference to get to work,” Ryan wrote. “I know many of you want to show the country how to fix our tax code, how to rebuild our military, how to strengthen the safety net, and how to lift people out of poverty. I know you’re willing to work hard and get it done, and I think this moment is ripe for real reform.”
Ryan, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, announced Tuesday he would run for the top leadership job if he got support from all GOP factions. He gave his colleagues until Friday to decide whether to support him.
He had repeatedly said he did not want the job but was pressed to run by Republicans who see him as the best candidate to unite the GOP conference.
“Whatever our differences, we’re all conservatives,” Ryan wrote in his letter. “We were elected to defend the constitution. We share the same principles. We all believe America is the land of opportunity — the place where you should be able to go as far as your talents and hard work will take you.”
Republicans will choose a new speaker next week — voting in conference next Wednesday to pick their nominee and on the House floor next Thursday. Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is set to resign next Friday.
The rebellious Freedom Caucus was Ryan’s biggest obstacle to becoming speaker. He did not win the group’s official backing because he fell short of its requirement that at least 80% of its members agree on an endorsement. He won support from about 70% of caucus members.
The caucus’ qualified support, combined with endorsements from the other two GOP groups, are enough to clear Ryan’s path — and possibly end the weeks-long leadership scramble inside the House GOP conference.
Eighty-one percent of Republican insiders say that the likelihood that Trump becomes their party’s nominee is more today than it was a month ago.
The odds that Donald Trump wins the Republican presidential nomination are going up.
Eighty-one percent of Republican insiders say the likelihood that Trump becomes their party’s nominee is more today than it was a month ago, and 79 percent of Democrats said the same. That’s according to the POLITICO Caucus, our weekly bipartisan survey of top strategists, operatives and activists in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
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“I can’t even describe the lunacy of him as our nominee. But reason has not applied to date in this race, and my hopes are fleeting that it will ever surface,” lamented an Iowa Republican, who like all participants was granted anonymity in order to speak freely.
“Predictions of his demise keep not coming true,” added a New Hampshire Republican.
Asserted a South Carolina Republican, “Donald Trump being the GOP nominee is now within the realm of possibility.”
Twenty-two percent of Caucus Republicans said Trump has a 50-50 shot at becoming the Republican nominee; the same percentage said he has a 30 percent chance. The rest of the respondents were divided, with the majority saying his odds are still less than 50 percent. But more than 8-in-10 GOP respondents said those are better odds than they gave Trump a month ago.
The results are notable because they represent a big shift in the thinking of POLITICO Caucus insiders, who this summer were deeplyskeptical of Trump’s staying power.
“Trump will be among 3-4 finalists well into April; of that there is no doubt,” an Iowa Republican said.
Added a New Hampshire Republican, who like all participants responded via an online survey: “Numbers are numbers and you have to give them credence. I remain skeptical that he has the ability to turn people out, come primary day, but I [have] been wrong about this campaign every step of the way so far.”
Several insiders pointed to both Trump’s persistent leads in polls and evidence of organization on the ground.
“I think he’s now mounting a serious campaign,” a South Carolina Republican said. “His stump speech had matured and even though the novelty of his candidacy is wearing off, his straight talk is appealing to people who are so sick of being lied to by the political class.”
Another Iowa Republican agreed, saying, “The more time that goes by that he continues to lead — the more likely it is he wins. That simple. Also, comparatively, he is building a real campaign. More so than many others.”
“Not sure why anyone should be so surprised that Trump’s campaign is getting so serious in terms of infrastructure build-out,” a New Hampshire Democrat said. “Trump may be a jerk, but he is an extremely successful jerk. He has the means and the smarts to compete everywhere — and he is not slowing down.”
That’s not the case in Nevada, noted several Republicans there, who said they see little evidence of a strong Trump ground game there.
But, one Republican from that state admonished: “He has demonstrated that he is durable in a way that Herman Cain, Michele [Bachmann] and Newt Gingrich were not. … A lot can happen in the next few months, but it is time for everyone to stop whistling past the graveyard and realize that this is real and he could be our standard-bearer.”
However, several insiders also predict that, though his odds have improved, the rest of the Republican Party will coalesce against him if he still appears to be a serious contender for the nomination when voting begins.
“Maybe, just maybe, Trump wins an early contest or two. That will trigger a much stronger Stop Trump movement,” a New Hampshire Republican said. “The party will nominate Bob Dole — in 2016 —before it will nominate Trump. And a Trump nomination would result in a third candidate emerging.”
Several insiders also said Trump couldn’t withstand waves of scrutiny stemming from attacks launched by super PACs and big donors that, they said, may be just around the corner.
“The summer of Trump has lasted longer than conventional wisdom suggested it would,” a South Carolina Republican said. “It’s going to take a sustained, multi-pronged paid media effort to educate voters that Trump is not a conservative and has flip-flopped on practically every issue. Major donors are quickly getting to the place where they are ready to fund such an effort.”
All eyes on Jeb
The pressure is on for Jeb Bush in next week’s GOP debate, insiders said. Forty-seven percent of Republicans, and 41 percent of Democrats, said the former Florida governor is the candidate with the most riding on the contest, set for next Wednesday in Boulder, Colo.
“Jeb really needs a knock-out performance — it needs to be all him with nobody even close. Otherwise those fumes he’s on are going to evaporate even quicker,” a New Hampshire Republican said.
An Iowa Republican said he doesn’t even need to go that far, but he does need to step up his performance.
“Riding at 6 percent in the polls has rattled Jeb’s donors and volunteers,” this insider said. “He doesn’t need a breakout performance, but he needs to be in the mix and in the top tier of the debate or risk getting shoved to the background and overshadowed by Rubio and others seeking to win over mainstream Republican voters.”
Marco Rubio was a distant second choice for which candidate was under the most pressure for a strong debate, pulling in 13 percent of the overall Republican vote and 24 percent of the Democratic vote.
“Rubio has been the one constant at third place, and it’s time he breaks out of that and starts cutting into Trump/Carson,” a South Carolina Democrat said. “It’s no longer ‘early’ and it’s not the final stretch, but this is the part of the horse race where jockeys know they have to start making their moves if they want to be in position to win.”
Fire-breathing scourge of Wall Street on the campaign trail — and reliable friend of Wall Street in the boardroom. That’s Hillary Clinton — and the big-money crowd thinks it’s in on the game.
For all her populist rhetoric against hedge-funders and the like, Clinton has received more donations from CEOs than any candidate in the GOP — you know, the party of the greedy rich.
More than 760 of Clinton’s presidential donors have listed their occupation as CEO or some variation, according to a Big Crunch analysis of federal election forms.
That’s as many as have given to Republican hopefuls Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz combined.
And it doesn’t even include people like hedge-fund CEO Robert Mercer, who prefers to list himself as a “financial consultant” — or those who’ve given instead to pro-Hillary super-PACs. (Or all the folks who’ve bought goodwill over the years by giving to the Clinton Foundation.)
Surprising? No. We’re talking about a woman who’s made millions from hefty six-figure fees for speeches to, among others, groups headed by those same CEOs.
She’s also raked in many millions more for her campaign from corporate lawyers, lobbyists and bankers.
Still, that hasn’t stopped her from declaring, “Wall Street, you’ve had your president. Now we need a president for Main Street.”
And never mind what that seems to imply about the guy in the Oval Office now. Or that just one of her speeches costs four times the average American’s salary.
Wall Street gets it. The fat cats figure she’s just saying what she must to placate her party’s Sanders-Warren hard-left wing.
As one hedge-fund manager told Politico: “Nobody takes it like she’s going after them personally.”
It’s just Hillary being Hillary. Which is to say, all things to all people.
A virulent strain of Clinton Derangement Syndrome, which scientists and Republicans thought had been wiped out at the end of the last century, is now afflicting millions of conservative Americans. Some Republicans so detest Hillary Clinton they are badly underestimating how likely she is, at this point in the campaign, to be America’s 45thpresident. Their denial is just as strong now as it was a month ago, before Clinton began a run of political victories that have enhanced her prospects, all while the roller derby/demolition derby that is the Republican nomination contest has continued to harm the GOP’s chances of winning back the White House.
To be sure, nothing ever happens in a linear or tidy fashion with the Clintons; she is certain to add more chapters to the Perils of Hillary saga before Election Day 2016. Bernie Sanders could still upend her in Iowa, New Hampshire, or both, which could throw the nomination battle into unadulterated bedlam. Even if Clinton is nominated, a strong Republican candidate could absolutely defeat her next November, with victory as simple as the party putting forth a nominee who is more likeable to voters and better on television. Indeed, many elite and grassroots Republicans believe Clinton’s personality, which they can’t stand, will keep her out of the Oval Office no matter what.
But October has been good to Clinton: a glittering debate performance, the decision of potential rival Joe Biden not to run (greatly simplifying her path to the nomination), the vanquishing of Republicans during her daylong Benghazi hearing, and a solid turn at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner Saturday night. All have improved Clinton’s odds of cruising into the White House twelve months hence, and have thrown into sharper relief some of the advantages she has had all along.
To state the obvious, Clinton faces two tasks to become commander-in-chief: get enough delegates to beat Sanders and then sew up 270 electoral votes. The more easily she can complete her first mission (especially compared to the wooly nomination battle of her eventual Republican opponent), the more easily achievable will be her second goal.
Here, then, are some of the advantages the Democratic frontrunner has now, many of which have been ignored or discounted by the people who want to beat her so badly they can’t think straight:
Hillary has shown she can handle Bernie Sanders, despite his plucky persona, raw grassroots appeal, and authentic authenticity.The Vegas debate and Clinton’s improved poll standing has given her and her team a revived notion that Sanders will end up a nuisance rather than a real threat. She has confidence she can face him down in the three debates remaining before Iowa. Without Biden in the race, Clinton is not going to have to play three-dimensional chess and can focus her energies on Sanders alone.
Bernie has shown he doesn’t quite understand how to play big moments in the big leagues.First the debate and now the Jefferson-Jackson dinner—Sanders prepared more for both evenings than the organic Vermonter normally would for any political event, but even his advisers concede that neither occasion represented the kind of performance that Sanders will eventually have to present if he is going to stop the prohibitive front-runner. He was very strong Saturday night but aides say they are still having trouble fully convincing him that not all campaign events are created equal.
Hillary is getting better at managing (and shaking off) the personal pang of her likability deficit.At the J-J dinner, in her recent television interviews, and in her Benghazi testimony, she is showing more of her real self (even the all-too-human tetchy, the airily dismissive, the lordly—without knee-jerk defensiveness or wide-eyed guile), and not getting tied in knots over how she is coming off. While this version of Hillary is still nails-on-a-chalkboard to her conservative critics, it is a huge improvement over the recent past and probably enough to win under the right circumstances.
Biden’s withdrawal means Clinton will lock up even more commitments from the Democratic establishment, giving her even more super delegates and making it easier to bounce back if Sanders wins Iowa, New Hampshire, or both. I reported in August that Clinton’s camp already had in hand private commitments from enough of the elected and party officials who are automatic delegates to the national convention next summer (so-called super delegates) that she was one fifth of her way to the nomination. That number has increased significantly in recent weeks and will go up now that Biden has passed on the race. This allows Team Clinton to make a robust argument about her inevitability and gives it a squadron of surrogates from the left, center, and right of the Democratic Party to wound Sanders, buck her up if she stumbles, and, eventually, argue that the senator should get out of the competition if she wins early.
Hillary has massive support from labor unions.The party’s most important constituency group in terms of ground troops and campaign resources is now moving decisively towards Clinton, also giving her more working-class cred and undermining one of Sanders’ strongest rhetorical plays—that she is out of touch with the economic grassroots. And long-invested unions will provide her important foot soldiers in the general election battlegrounds, as they have since time began for Democratic presidential nominees.
Hillary could be the de facto Democratic nominee by Feb. 8. Her team privately believes that, given the way expectations have been set up, even narrow wins in the two first-voting contests would not be discounted. Clinton has robust field operations in both states and could diligently grind her way to victories. Even Sanders’ top aides acknowledge that, barring other factors, it could be game, set, match if Hillary starts the voting year with twin wins, giving Brooklyn ample incentive to go all in there and try to put it away early.
Hillary’s husband now seems fired up and ready to go.Although a little rusty over the weekend in Iowa in his 2015 campaign trail debut, accounts from aides to both Clintons suggest the former president has learned lessons from his performance eight years ago, when he arguably hurt his wife’s chances as much as he helped her. He has been kept in the loop on the campaign’s thinking, receives polling information on a regular basis, and has participated in some strategy discussions with the team. The campaign seems happy with him, and he seems happy with the campaign, and that is a big change from 2008. Both campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign manager Robby Mook have good and confident relationships with the FPOTUS, who seems less ambivalent than last time about becoming the First Lad.
Hillary’s campaign is much less tense and fractious than was the 2008 team. There are fraught moments in Brooklyn, as in any campaign, and Clinton’s donors can get restive awfully quick, but this year’s model is one of relative peace and tranquility. Zen masters Podesta, Mook, and communications chief Jennifer Palmieri set the “been there, done that, seen that, dealt with that” sensibility.
Hillary’s team at last is convincing rich Democrats to come around to the super-PAC game.Clinton loyalist Guy Cecil is now topping Priorities USA and he has brought in a new cast of folks to supplement holdovers such as Paul Begala, Jim Messina, and Harold Ickes, all of whom have experience rubbing shoulders with the mega-wealthy and prying seven-figure checks out of their hands. Cecil knows how to leverage hot buttons like the Koch brothers and the threat of more conservative Supreme Court justices and unified GOP control of Washington to maintain momentum and encourage the participation of those previously reluctant to muck about in the big money world that many liberals despise and disdain.
Hillary has a first-class opposition research team that is saving nuggets to use once Republicans pick their nominee.Oppo veteran Christina Reynolds heads an operation that can afford to play a long game, teasing out incremental research in conjunction with allies such as the Democratic National Committee but knowing full well that holding back powerful tidbits until the late spring or summer, when the eventual Republican nominee will be most vulnerable, is supremely smart. The research operations of the Republican presidential campaigns, on the other hand, are currently focused on each other (although the independent group America Rising is hoping to make up the gap).
The Republican nominee is more likely to emerge bloodied, broke, and behind. A nominating calendar and delegate rules designed to avoid the kind of extended intra-party fight that crippled Mitt Romney’s general election effort will almost certainly be no match for a fifteen candidate field, a number of whom can make a decent argument that they’ll win the prize. The ferociousness and deep pockets of gladiators Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and the possibility that the party establishment will end up intervening with tens of millions of dollars in negative TV spots means a long, gory slog that might not find resolution until after the national convention in Cleveland in mid-July. (Of course, if Trump is ultimately the nomination victor, then “broke” should not be a factor.)
As the nominee, Hillary will effectively control the DNC and will exercise free rein over the convention.Even with Sanders a remaining foe, Hillaryland is coordinating fundraising with the national and state parties, strategizing about installing allies at the party headquarters in DC, and gaming out what the Philly convention will look like. If Clinton is the standard bearer, make no mistake: Brooklyn will convert the DNC into its wholly owned subsidiary and will take over every jot and tittle of convention planning and execution. This type of control typically leads to less friction and a smoother running enterprise, including on-message convention speakers.
Republicans are erroneously convinced they can beat Clinton solely with talk of Benghazi, e-mails, and other controversies that have nothing to do with the economy and the real lives of real people.Nowhere does the Fox News-Rush Limbaugh echo chamber more hurt Republican chances of beating Clinton than in the politics of scandal and controversy. To paraphrase the famous line attributed to Pauline Kael: everyone who conservatives know think the Clintons should be in prison. The problem is that swing voters don’t share that view in sufficient numbers to actually warrant banking a victory on placing those arguments front and center. Kevin McCarthy’s acknowledgement that the Benghazi committee was set up to damage Clinton politically has not just polluted the select committee’s efforts; it also means that one of the most effectively tried-and-true Team Clinton defenses (that any controversy that swirls around her is a ginned up political attack because Republicans don’t want to talk about real issues) has got legs straight through next November.
Hillary is ready for the debates.She won’t have as many debates in which to hone her skills as the eventual GOP nominee, but she has many other edges, including her 2008 experience; the fact that going forward she will face only one or two opponents—rather than nine or so—on the debate stage (much closer to the dynamics in a general election); her professionalized and experienced debate prep team (many of whom worked the same gig for Barack Obama); and her own fearsome, dogged, and scrupulous preparation.
Hillary’s pollster knows how to find issues that test 80-20 or 70-30, and the candidate knows how to translate them on the stump.While Republican presidential candidates thrash around competing to see who can be the most anti-immigrant, pro-tax cuts for the wealthy, anti-abortion and gay marriage, and pro-climate change-denying, Clinton’s pollster and strategist Joel Benenson is busy finding topics she can talk about in a general election that garner overwhelming support from the public across the political spectrum and will put the GOP nominee on the defensive. Nothing makes a Clinton running for president more confident and effective than having mainstream boldface issues to use as a cudgel.
Obama’s approval rating is holding at a level that would make Clinton’s path much easier. Yes, the economy is not going gangbusters. Yes, ObamaCare is not universally popular (to say the least). Yes, the world is filled with dangerous hot spots and looming, chilling threats. But barring some major change in his fortune, Obama’s current approval rating of around 46% is likely to sustain through Election Day, a high enough figure, history suggests, to keep him from being a drag on his party’s nominee and chosen successor.
Hillary’s team is already thinking about general election targeting.One of the pages Brooklyn has taken from the Obama playbook is to start thinking about the general election early. That includes using contests in caucuses and primaries states that will be battlegrounds next November to build up a team, target data, establish media relationships, and keep it all humming after the nominating contest and throughout the duration. It also includes living by the dictum “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours let’s negotiate over,” hawkishly protecting the nearly 250 electoral votes and voting groups Democrats have won consistently over the last several cycles while looking to expand the targeting efforts demographically and geographically.
Hillary would inherit a considerable demographic edge in a general election. Republicans have done next to nothing, and clearly much more harm than good since Mitt Romney lost in 2012, to make in-roads with the so-called coalition of the ascendant. Clinton would almost certainly have an overwhelming edge with African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, LGBT voters, young people, and single women, and the future contours of the Republican nomination fight are not likely to make the party’s challenge with these groups any easier.
Hillary would also inherit a considerable Electoral College edge in a general election.The Democrats don’t have quite the Electoral College “lock” that the GOP had in the ‘70s and ‘80s but it is pretty close. A strong Republican nominee could make Clinton play defense in states such as Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and Colorado. But the safe Democrat states would give her a huge leg up, and demographic changes mean Clinton could be playing offense in places such as Georgia and Arizona under the right circumstances. Political pros in both parties believe some of the leading Republican contenders would give Clinton a chance to surpass her husband’s 1992 electoral vote total of 370 if they are her eventual competition.
Clinton advisers are well aware of these many advantages. They are staying largely mum for now, preferring to let the candidate’s recent positive media coverage speak for itself and not relinquish any tactical advantage of surprise.
They also know the FBI probe into her e-mails, Bill Clinton’s portfolio, or something new and super controversial could upend her standing at any time. And the raucous Republican nomination process could yet yield a strong general election opponent for her. This list is not meant to gloss over the considerable challenges Clinton is sure to face even if everything goes as planned on her side—not to mention if things start to go south. And a few savvy Republican operatives are ringing the alarm bell in private strategy sessions, urging the party to try to address as many of these deficits as soon as possible.
But don’t be surprised if reports soon surface mirroring what happened almost exactly eight years ago, when Clinton asked top advisers to secretly begin planning her vice presidential selection process—and her presidential transition. Republicans would surely see those steps as wildly premature, but given all of Clinton’s advantages now, she may consider it simply prudent planning.
Story 1: House Select Committee investigating Benghazi — The Unintended Consequences Of President Obama’s Undeclared War on Libya and Central Intelligence Agency Covert Operations in Libya and Syria — Congress Did Nothing To Stop An Imperial President — The Lying and Blame Game On Display — “Disgusting and Reprehensible” — Videos
Obama and Hillary Blame Youtube Video for Benghazi Terrorist Attack as Coffins Arrive
Our Fallen Heroes
Published on Sep 15, 2012
President Obama speaks about the tragic loss of four of our fellow Americans who were serving in our diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. These Americans represented the best of our country; without people like them, we could not sustain our freedoms or security, or provide the leadership that the entire world depends on. During this time of turmoil in many different countries, the President makes it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths, but as Commander in Chief, he will never tolerate efforts to harm our fellow Americans and will ensure that those who attack our people find no escape from justice.
Obama and Press Secretary Carney Blame a Video for the Benghazi Attack
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White House Covers Up Benghazi Terrorist Attack
13 hours in Benghazi FULL VERSION INTERVIEW 5 parts combined.
ABC News’ Jon Karl hammers Jay Carney over New bombshell Benghazi emails
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Email Reveals Obama Advisor Urged Susan Rice to Blame Video for Benghazi
Exclusive: Docs Show Weapons Going From Benghazi To Syria – Benghazi Gate – Happening Now
Breaking: Hillary Clinton Knew About Libyan Arms Shipments to Syria in 2011
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew that the US was sending arms from Libya to Syria back in 2011. She denied this during public testimony (under oath) in early 2013 after the Benghazi terrorist attack.
Melvin Goodman on why CIA Director Brennan is dangerous
The show is going to be about the response to CIA director Brennan’s press conference two weeks ago and then an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations last week, an on the record interview with Charlie Rose in New York about his plans to restructure the CIA to try to bring a more integrity to intelligence and make it less politicized. We are going to hear from today Melvin Goodman. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University. He is he is a former CIA analyst. Melvin Goodman is the author of Failure of Intelligence: the Decline and Fall of the CIA and the forthcoming book On the Path to Dissent: A Whistleblower at the CIA. Goodman is the national security columnist for Counterpunch, and he said of CIA director ‘s plan to restructure the CIA and I quote “Simply, it takes the CIA further from Truman’s concept and closer to the ability to politicize intelligence. Operations are part of the policy world and not the intelligence world. The Centers have made it too easy to provide the intelligence that the ‘masters’ desire, whether they are the masters on CIA’s 7th floor or the policy masters. Brennan’s world was the Center for Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism, and many of the intelligence errors and operational errors of the past 15 years have emanated from those centers. Organizationally, it makes no sense — what are the directorates of operations and analysis — they sound as if they are HR experts.”
CNN Benghazi Claims: Report alleges CIA operatives in Libya were sending weapons to Syrian rebels
Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin suspects US Was Running Guns To Syrian Rebels Via Benghazi
Clinton Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary
Even by the standards of arms deals between the United States and Saudi Arabia, this one was enormous. A consortium of American defense contractors led by Boeing would deliver $29 billion worth of advanced fighter jets to the United States’ oil-rich ally in the Middle East…E
Why is Benghazi still a big issue for Hillary Clinton? BBC News
General Petraeus Testifies Before Congress For The First Time Since Resigning As Director Of CIA
Select Committee on Benghazi Holds First Hearing
Former CIA Director and General David Petraeus (Ret.) testified at a hearing on U.S. policy toward the Middle East and combating ISIS* in the region. He talked about his support for military enclaves in Syria and for greater military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and ISIS. He also gave his assessment of the Russian military build-up in Syria and of the Iran nuclear agreement.
At the beginning of his testimony, General Petraeus apologized for what what he called his “serious mistake” of sharing classified information with his biographer, with whom he also had an extramarital affair.
Select Committee on Benghazi Holds Second Hearing
Select Committee on Benghazi Holds Third Hearing
Rep. Gowdy: Either Petraeus Will Come Before Congressional Committee Or He Will Be Subpoenaed
Rep. Trey Gowdy addresses Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during his opening statement at a hearing Thursday by the House Select Committee on Benghazi. trey gowdy elivers opening statement of benghazi committee hearing with hillary clinton. trey gowdy says ‘We are going to find the #Truth because there is no expiration of it.’ Chairman Trey Gowdy opens #Benghazi hearing: ‘Previous investigations were not thorough. Trey Gowdy to Clinton: Trey Gowdy addressed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally at a high-stakes hearing on Thursday, telling the Democratic presidential candidate that the panel’s investigation is not about her. “Madame Secretary, I understand some people — frankly in both parties — have suggested this investigation is about you,” Gowdy said. “Let me assure you it is not. And let me assure you why it is not. This work is about something much more important than any single person. It is about four U.S. government workers, including our Ambassador, murdered by terrorists on foreign soil. It is about what happened before, during, and after the attacks that killed these four men.” He continued: “It is about what this country owes those who risk their lives to serve it. It is about the fundamental obligation of our government to tell the truth — always — to the American people. Not a single member of this Committee signed up for an investigation into you or your email system. We signed up because we wanted to honor the service and sacrifice of four people sent to a foreign land to represent us – who were killed – and do everything we can to prevent it from happening to others.” Gowdy also presented several key questions he would be asking in his opening statement: Why were there so many requests for more security personnel and equipment, and why were those requests denied in Washington? Why did the State Department compound in Benghazi not even come close to meeting proper security specifications? What policies were we pursuing in Libya that required a physical presence in spite of the escalating violence? Who in Washington was aware of the escalating violence in Libya? What special precautions, if any, were taken on the anniversary of 9-11? What happened in Washington after the first attack and what was the response to that attack? What did the military do or not do? What did our leaders in Washington do or not do and when? Why was the American public given such divergent accounts of what caused these attacks? And why is it so hard to get information from the very government these four men were representing and serving and sacrificing for?
Benghazi panel chair: Investigation not about Hillary Clinton
South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Select Committee investigating Benghazi, tells Hillary Clinton in his opening statement that the probe is not singularly focused on the former secretary of state.
Hillary Clinton gave her opening statement to the House Select Committee investigating the 2012 attacks at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
Benghazi Hearing Committee Chairman on Hillary Clinton’s Emails | The New York Times
Trey Gowdy questions Hillary Clinton (Part 1)
Trey Gowdy questions Hillary Clinton (Part 2)
Clinton to panel: 3 things we learned from Benghazi
Trey Gowdy GRILLS Hillary Clinton Benghazi Committee Hearing
Trey Gowdy GRILLS Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi Committee Hearing. trey gowdy went off on hillary clinton about blumenthal and more. watch the explosive exchange. Hillary Clinton coolly hit back at her Republican interrogators on the Benghazi committee during her long-awaited testimony on Thursday, rebuffing claims she was detached as the situation in Libya deteriorated and asserting she did not use email to conduct the “vast majority” of her work as secretary of state.
The Democratic front-runner told the House Selection Committee on Benghazi, which is 18 months into its probe of the 2012 attacks on the consulate in Libya, that the tragedy does not deserve partisan attacks, while insisting the U.S. needs to stay committed to diplomatic engagement.
“Despite all the previous investigations and all the talk about partisan agendas, I’m here to honor those we lost and to do what I can to aid those who serve us still,” Clinton said, speaking slowly and deliberately during her opening statement. “My challenge to you, members of this committee, is the same challenge I put to myself…. Let’s be worthy of the trust the American people bestow on us… they expect us to rise above partisanship. And I hopes it’s what we’ll strive for today and in the future.”
Republicans questioned Clinton about why numerous requests for additional security never made it Clinton’s attention. She said they went to the right place: to personnel who handled security. And when they pressed her on why she kept the compound open or did not give it additional, she retorted that she never received a recommendation to shut down the mission—even after two attacks on the compound.
The hearing kicked off on Thursday with the partisan sniping that has been the hallmark of the committee’s work, with House Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy defended his investigation, assuring Clinton that his probe is not centered on her.
WATCH LIVE: Hillary Clinton testifies before Benghazi Committee
“Madame Secretary, I understand some people — frankly in both parties — have suggested this investigation is about you. Let me assure you it is not,” Gowdy said in his opening statement, adding that it was about the people who were killed.
He also blamed her in part for the fact that the inquiry has dragged on for a year and a half.
The State Department only realized it did not have Clinton’s emails after they requested documents, triggering a lengthy process by which the department had to ask her and her top aides who also sometimes used private email for work purposes to turn them over.
“You had an unusual email arrangement with yourself, which meant the State Department could not produce your emails to us,” Gowdy said. “When you left the State Department you kept those public records to yourself for almost two years….Those decisions were your decisions, not ours… It just took longer to get them and garnered more attention in the process.
Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) blasted the committee as a partisan witch-hunt out to get Clinton, saying Republicans formed the panel because they “did not like the answers they got” in previous probe—“so they set up this select committee with no rules, no deadlines and a unlimited budget.”
“They set the noose because you’re running for president,” Cummings said, raising his voice before calling for the panel to disband. “It is time for Republicans to end this …fishing expedition.”
It only took Cummings a few minutes to highlight a number of embarrassing moments for Gowdy in recent weeks, including comments by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y) and a fired GOP Benghazi investigator who all suggested the panel was either out to hurt Clinton or increasingly focused on investigating her.
REP. Martha Roby vs Hillary Clinton at House Select Committee on Benghazi 10/22/15
Rep Jim Jordan Goes After Hillary ‘Where’d the False Narrative Start It Started With You’
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More Background Information
Weekly Address: Carrying on the Work of
America’s intelligence community, explained
THE RECRUIT – Spy School: Inside the CIA Training Program, 1 of 2
THE RECRUIT – Spy School: Inside the CIA Training Program, 2 of 2
Special Activities Division
Published on Aug 15, 2014
The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) National Clandestine Service (NCS) responsible for covert operations known as “special activities”. Within SAD there are two separate groups, SAD/SOG for tactical paramilitary operations and SAD/PAG for covert political action.
Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations that include the collection of intelligence in hostile countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated. As such, members of the unit (called Paramilitary Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers) normally do not carry any objects or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government. If they are compromised during a mission, the government of the United States may deny all knowledge.
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The CIA began as a spy agency after World War Two, but soon the CIA was planning and executing covert operations across the globe without proper congressional oversight. From the removal of the democratically elected leaders of Iran and Guatemala to the attempted invasion of Cuba, to the removal of every secular government in the Middle East, the influence of the agency is insidious. But how can a democratic society tolerate such a secret and lethal institution that works against the very values America seeks to uphold around the world?
CIA Covert Operations in Africa: How Does the U.S. Government Make Decisions?
According to the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, a covert operation (also as CoveOps or covert ops) is “an operation that is so planned and executed as to conceal the identity of or permit plausible denial by the sponsor.” It is intended to create a political effect which can have implications in the military, intelligence or law enforcement arenas. Covert operations aim to fulfill their mission objectives without any parties knowing who sponsored or carried out the operation. It is normally financed by government revenues but in this age of super-empowered individuals and corporations they could become a common tool of power beyond traditional war and diplomacy.
Under United States law, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) must lead covert operations unless the president finds that another agency should do so and properly informs the congress. Normally, the CIA is the US Government agency legally allowed to carry out covert action. The CIA’s authority to conduct covert action comes from the National Security Act of 1947. President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12333 titled in 1984. This order defined covert action as “special activities”, both political and military, that the US Government could legally deny. The CIA was also designated as the sole authority under the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act and in Title 50 of the United States Code Section 413(e). The CIA must have a “Presidential Finding” issued by the President of the United States in order to conduct these activities under the Hughes-Ryan amendment to the 1991 Intelligence Authorization Act. These findings are then monitored by the oversight committees in both the US Senate and the House of Representatives. As a result of this framework, the CIA “receives more oversight from the Congress than any other agency in the federal government”. The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, responsible for Covert Action and “Special Activities”. These special activities include covert political influence and paramilitary operations. The division is overseen by the United States Secretary of State.
Special Activities Division – Special Operations Group | SAD SOG
Published on Jun 30, 2015
The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as “special activities”. Within SAD there are two separate groups, SAD/SOG for tactical paramilitary operations and SAD/PAG for covert political action. The Special Activities Division reports directly to the Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service.
Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations that include the collection of intelligence in hostile countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated. As such, members of the unit (called Paramilitary Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers) normally do not carry any objects or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government. If they are compromised during a mission, the United States government may deny all knowledge.
SOG is generally considered the most secretive special operations force in the United States. The group selects operatives from other tier one special mission units such as Delta Force, DEVGRU and ISA, as well as other United States special operations forces, such as USNSWC, MARSOC, Special Forces, SEALs and 24th STS.
SOG Paramilitary Operations Officers account for a majority of Distinguished Intelligence Cross and Intelligence Star recipients during any given conflict or incident which elicits CIA involvement. An award bestowing either of these citations represents the highest honors awarded within the CIA organization in recognition of distinguished valor and excellence in the line of duty. SAD/SOG operatives also account for the majority of the names displayed on the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters indicating that the agent died while on active duty.
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Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations that include the collection ofintelligence in hostile countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated. As such, members of the unit (called Paramilitary Operations Officers and Specialized Skills Officers) normally do not carry any objects or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government. If they are compromised during a mission, the United States government maydeny all knowledge.
SOG Paramilitary Operations Officers account for a majority of Distinguished Intelligence Cross and Intelligence Star recipients during any given conflict or incident which elicits CIA involvement. An award bestowing either of these citations represents the highest honors awarded within the CIA organization in recognition of distinguished valor and excellence in the line of duty. SAD/SOG operatives also account for the majority of the names displayed on the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters indicating that the agent died while on active duty.
Political Action Group (PAG) is responsible for covert activities related to political influence, psychological operations and economic warfare. The rapid development of technology has added cyberwarfare to their mission. Tactical units within SAD are also capable of carrying out covert political action while deployed in hostile and austere environments. A large covert operation usually has components that involve many, or all, of these categories, as well as paramilitary operations. Political and Influence covert operations are used to support U.S. foreign policy. Often overt support for one element of an insurgency would be counter-productive due to the impression it would have on the local population. In such cases, covert assistance allows the U.S. to assist without damaging these elements in the process. Many of the other activities (such as propaganda, economic and cyber) support the overall political effort. There have been issues in the past with attempts to influence the US media such as in Operation Mockingbird. However, these activities are now subject to the same oversight as all covert action operations.
SAD provides the President of the United States with an option when overt military and/or diplomatic actions are not viable or politically feasible. SAD can be directly tasked by the President of the United States or the National Security Council at the President’s direction. This is unlike any other U.S. special mission force. However, SAD/SOG has far fewer members than most of the other special missions units, such as the U.S. Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Delta Force) or Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU).
The political action group within SAD conducts the deniable psychological operations, also known as black propaganda, as well as “Covert Influence” to effect political change as an important part of any Administration’s foreign policy. Covert intervention in a foreign election is the most significant form of political action. This could involve financial support for favored candidates, media guidance, technical support for public relations, get-out-the-vote or political organizing efforts, legal expertise, advertising campaigns, assistance with poll-watching, and other means of direct action. Policy decisions could be influenced by assets, such as subversion of officials of the country, to make decisions in their official capacity that are in the furtherance of U.S. policy aims. In addition, mechanisms for forming and developing opinions involve the covert use of propaganda.
Propaganda includes leaflets, newspapers, magazines, books, radio, and television, all of which are geared to convey the U.S. message appropriate to the region. These techniques have expanded to cover the internet as well. They may employ officers to work as journalists, recruit agents of influence, operate media platforms, plant certain stories or information in places it is hoped it will come to public attention, or seek to deny and/or discredit information that is public knowledge. In all such propaganda efforts, “black” operations denote those in which the audience is to be kept ignorant of the source; “white” efforts are those in which the originator openly acknowledges himself; and “gray” operations are those in which the source is partly but not fully acknowledged.
There remains some conflict between the National Clandestine Service and the more clandestine parts of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), such as the Joint Special Operations Command. This is usually confined to the civilian/political heads of the respective Department/Agency. The combination of SAD and USSOCOM units has resulted in some of the most notable successes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to include the locating and killing of Osama bin Laden. SAD/SOG has several missions. One of these missions is the recruiting, training, and leading of indigenous forces in combat operations. SAD/SOG and its successors have been used when it was considered desirable to have plausible deniability about U.S. support (this is called a covert operation or “covert action”). Unlike other special missions units, SAD/SOG operatives combine special operations and clandestine intelligence capabilities in one individual. These individuals can operate in any environment (sea, air or ground) with limited to no support.
The Pentagon commissioned a study to determine whether the CIA or the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) should conduct covert action paramilitary operations. Their study determined that the CIA should maintain this capability and be the “sole government agency conducting covert action.” The DoD found that, even under U.S. law, it does not have the legal authority to conduct covert action, nor the operational agility to carry out these types of missions. The operation in May 2011 that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden was a covert action under the authority of the CIA.
SAD/SOG has several hundred officers, mostly former members of special operations forces (SOF) and a majority from theJoint Special Operations Command (JSOC). The CIA has also recruited individuals within the agency. The CIA’s formal position for these individuals is “Paramilitary Operations Officers” and “Specialized Skills Officers.” Paramilitary Operations Officers attend the Clandestine Service Trainee (CST) program, which trains them as clandestine intelligence operatives (known as “Core Collectors” within the Agency). The primary strengths of SAD/SOG Paramilitary Officers are operational agility, adaptability, and deniability. They often operate in small teams, typically made up of six operators (with some operations being carried out by a single officer), all with extensive military special operations expertise and a set of specialized skills that does not exist in any other unit. As fully trained intelligence case officers, Paramilitary Operations Officers possess all the clandestine skills to collect human intelligence—and most importantly—to recruit assets from among the indigenous troops receiving their training. These officers often operate in remote locations behind enemy lines to carry out direct action (including raids and sabotage), counter-intelligence, guerrilla/unconventional warfare, counter-terrorism, and hostage rescue missions, in addition to being able to conduct espionage via HUMINT assets.
There are four principal elements within SAD’s Special Operations Group: the Air Branch, the Maritime Branch, the Ground Branch, and the Armor and Special Programs Branch. The Armor and Special Programs Branch is charged with development, testing, and covert procurement of new personnel and vehicular armor and maintenance of stockpiles of ordnance and weapons systems used by SOG, almost all of which must be obtained from clandestine sources abroad, in order to provide SOG operatives and their foreign trainees with plausible deniability in accordance with U.S. Congressional directives.
Together, SAD/SOG contains a complete combined arms covert military. Paramilitary Operations Officers are the core of each branch and routinely move between the branches to gain expertise in all aspects of SOG. As such, Paramilitary Operations Officers are trained to operate in a multitude of environments. Because these officers are taken from the most highly trained units in the U.S. military and then provided with extensive additional training to become CIA clandestine intelligence officers, many U.S. security experts assess them as the most elite of the U.S. special missions units.
One of the OSS’ greatest accomplishments during World War II was its penetration of Nazi Germany by OSS operatives. The OSS was responsible for training German and Austrian commandos for missions inside Nazi Germany. Some of these agents included exiled communists and socialist party members, labor activists, anti-NaziPOWs, and German and Jewish refugees. At the height of its influence during World War II, the OSS employed almost 24,000 people.
OSS Paramilitary Officers parachuted into many countries then behind enemy lines, including France, Norway, Greece and The Netherlands. In Crete, OSS paramilitary officers linked up with, equipped and fought alongside Greek resistance forces against the Axis occupation.
OSS was disbanded shortly after World War II, with its intelligence analysis functions moving temporarily into the U.S. Department of State. Espionage and counterintelligence went into military units, while paramilitary and related functions went into an assortment of ‘ad hoc’ groups, such as the Office of Policy Coordination. Between the original creation of the CIA by the National Security Act of 1947 and various mergers and reorganizations through 1952, the wartime OSS functions generally went into CIA. The mission of training and leading guerrillas generally stayed in the United States Army Special Forces, but those missions required to remain covert were folded into the paramilitary arm of the CIA. The direct descendant of the OSS’ Special Operations is the CIA’s Special Activities Division.
After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in October 1950, the CIA inserted SAD paramilitary teams into Tibet to train and lead Tibetan resistance fighters against thePeople’s Liberation Army of China. These teams selected and then trained Tibetan soldiers in the Rocky Mountains of the United States; training occurred atCamp Hale. The SAD teams then advised and led these commandos against the Chinese, both from Nepal and India. In addition, SAD Paramilitary Officers were responsible for the Dalai Lama‘s clandestine escape to India, narrowly escaping capture and certain execution by the Chinese government.
According to a book by retired CIA officer John Kenneth Knaus, entitled Orphans Of The Cold War: America And The Tibetan Struggle For Survival, Gyalo Thondup, the older brother of the 14th (and current) Dalai Lama, sent the CIA five Tibetan recruits. These recruits were then trained in paramilitary tactics on the island ofSaipan in the Northern Marianas. Shortly thereafter, the five men were covertly returned to Tibet “to assess and organize the resistance” and selected another 300 Tibetans for training. U.S. assistance to the Tibetan resistance ceased after the 1972 Nixon visit to China, after which the United States and China normalized relations.
The CIA sponsored a variety of activities during the Korean War. These activities included maritime operations behind North Korean lines. Yong Do Island, connected by a rugged isthmus to Pusan, served as the base for those operations. These operations were carried out by well-trained Korean guerrillas. The four principal U.S. advisers responsible for the training and operational planning of those special missions were Dutch Kramer, Tom Curtis, George Atcheson and Joe Pagnella. All of these Paramilitary Operations Officers operated through a CIA front organization called the Joint Advisory Commission, Korea (JACK), headquartered at Tongnae, a village near Pusan, on the peninsula’s southeast coast. These paramilitary teams were responsible for numerous maritime raids and ambushes behind North Korean lines, as well as prisoner of warrescue operations. These were the first maritime unconventional warfare units that trained indigenous forces as surrogates. They also provided a model, along with the other CIA-sponsored ground based paramilitary Korean operations, for theMilitary Assistance Command, Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) activities conducted by the U.S. military and the CIA/SAD in Vietnam. In addition, CIA paramilitary ground-based teams worked directly for U.S. military commanders, specifically with the 8th Army, on the “White Tiger” initiative. This initiative included inserting South Korean commandos and CIA Paramilitary Operations Officers prior to the two major amphibious assaults on North Korea, including the landing at Inchon.
The Bay of Pigs Invasion (known as “La Batalla de Girón”, or “Playa Girón” in Cuba), was an unsuccessful attempt by a U.S.-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba and overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The plan was launched in April 1961, less than three months after John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency of the United States. TheCuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, trained and equipped by Eastern Bloc nations, defeated the exile-combatants in three days.
The National Liberation Army of Bolivia (ELN-Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Bolivia) was a communist guerrilla force that operated from the remote Ñancahuazú region against the pro-U.S. Bolivian government. They were joined by Che Guevara in the mid-1960s. The ELN was well equipped and scored a number of early successes against the Bolivian army in the difficult terrain of the mountainous Camiri region. In the late 1960s, the CIA deployed teams of SAD Paramilitary Operations Officers to Bolivia to train the Bolivian army in order to counter the ELN. These SAD teams linked up with U.S. Army Special Forces and Bolivian Special Forces to track down and capture Guevara, who was a special prize because of his leading role in the Cuban Revolution. On October 9, 1967, Guevara was executed by Bolivian soldiers on the orders of CIA paramilitary operative Félix Rodríguez shortly after being captured, according to CIA documents.
Vietnam and Laos
South Vietnam, Military Regions, 1967
The original OSS mission in Vietnam under MajorArchimedes Patti was to work with Ho Chi Minh in order to prepare his forces to assist the United States and their Allies in fighting the Japanese. After the end of World War II, the US agreed at Potsdam to turn Vietnam back to their previous French rulers and in 1950 the US began providing military aid to the French.
CIA Paramilitary Operations Officers trained and led Hmong tribesmen in Laos and Vietnam, and their actions of these officers were not known for several years. Air America was the air component of the CIA’s paramilitary mission in Southeast Asia and was responsible for all combat, logistics and search and rescue operations in Laos and certain sections of Vietnam. The ethnic minority forces numbered in the tens of thousands and they conducted direct actions mission, led by Paramilitary Operations Officers, against the communist Pathet Lao forces and their North Vietnamese allies.
Elements of SAD were seen in the CIA’s Phoenix Program. One component of the Phoenix Program was involved in the capture and killing of suspected Viet Cong (National Liberation Front – NLF) members. Between 1968 and 1972, the Phoenix Program captured 81,740 National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF or Viet Cong) members, of whom 26,369 were killed. This was a large proportion of U.S. killings between 1969 and 1971. The program was also successful in destroying their infrastructure. By 1970, communist plans repeatedly emphasized attacking the government’s “pacification” program and specifically targeted Phoenix agents. The NLF also imposed quotas. In 1970, for example, communist officials near Da Nang in northern South Vietnam instructed their agents to “kill 400 persons” deemed to be government “tyrant[s]” and to “annihilate” anyone involved with the “pacification” program. Several North Vietnamese officials have made statements about the effectiveness of Phoenix.
MAC-V SOG (Studies and Observations Group) (which was originally named the Special Operations Group, but was changed for cover purposes), was created and active during the Vietnam War. While CIA was just one part of MAC-V SOG, it did have operational control of some of the programs. Many of the military members of MAC-V SOG joined the CIA after their military service. The legacy of MAC-V SOG continues within SAD’s Special Operations Group.
Maritime activities against the USSR
In 1973, SAD/SOG and the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology built and deployed the USNS Glomar Explorer (T-AG-193), a large deep-sea salvage ship, on a secret operation. This operation was called Project Azorian (erroneously called Project Jennifer by the press). Her mission was to recover a sunken Sovietsubmarine, K-129, which had been lost in April 1968. A mechanical failure caused two-thirds of the submarine to break off during recovery, but SAD recovered two nuclear-tipped torpedoes, cryptographic machines and the bodies of six Soviet submariners. An alternative theory claims that all of K-129 was recovered and that the official account was an “elaborate cover-up”.
In 1979, the U.S.-backed Anastasio Somoza Debayle dictatorship in Nicaragua fell to the socialist Sandinistas. Once in power, the Sandinistas disbanded theNicaraguan National Guard, who had committed many human rights abuses, and arrested and executed some of its members. Other former National Guard members helped to form the backbone of the Nicaraguan Counterrevolution or Contra. SAD/SOG paramilitary teams were deployed to train and lead these forces against the Sandinista government. These paramilitary activities were based in Honduras and Costa Rica. Direct military aid by the United States was eventually forbidden by the Boland Amendment of the Defense Appropriations Act of 1983. The Boland Amendment was extended in October 1984 to forbid action by not only the Defense Department, but also to include the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Boland Amendment was a compromise because the U.S. Democratic Party did not have enough votes for a comprehensive ban on military aid. It covered only appropriated funds spent by intelligence agencies. Some of Reagan’s national security officials used non-appropriated money of the National Security Council (NSC) to circumvent the Amendment. NSC officials sought to arrange funding by third parties. These efforts resulted in the Iran-Contra Affair of 1987, which concerned Contra funding through the proceeds of arms sales to the Islamic Republic of Iran. No court ever made a determination whether Boland covered the NSC and on the grounds that it was a prohibition rather than a criminal statute, no one was indicted for violating it. Congress later resumed aid to the Contras, totaling over $300 million. The Contra war ended when the Sandinistas were voted out of power by a war-weary populace in 1990.Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega was re-elected as President of Nicaragua in 2006 and took office again on January 10, 2007.
CIA personnel were also involved in the Salvadoran civil war. Some allege that the techniques used to interrogate prisoners in El Salvador foreshadowed those later used in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, when a similar counter-insurgency program was proposed in Iraq, it was referred to as “the Salvador Option”.
Location of Somalia
SAD sent in teams of Paramilitary Operations Officers into Somalia prior to the U.S. intervention in 1992. On December 23, 1992, Paramilitary Officer Larry Freedman became the first casualty of the conflict in Somalia. Freedman was a former ArmyDelta Force operator who had served in every conflict that the U.S. was involved in, both officially and unofficially, since Vietnam. Freedman was killed while conducting special reconnaissance in advance of the entry of U.S. military forces. His mission was completely voluntary, as it required entry into a very hostile area without any support. Freedman was awarded the Intelligence Star on January 5, 1993 for his “extraordinary heroism”.
SAD/SOG teams were key in working with JSOC and tracking high value targets (HVT), known as “Tier One Personalities”. Their efforts, working under extremely dangerous conditions with little to no support, led to several very successful joint JSOC/CIA operations. In one specific operation, a CIA case officer, Michael Shanklin and codenamed “Condor”, working with a CIA Technical Operations Officer from the Directorate of Science and Technology, managed to get a cane with a beacon in it to Osman Ato, a wealthy businessman, arms importer, and Mohammed Aideed, a money man whose name was right below Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s on the Tier One list.
Once Condor confirmed that Ato was in a vehicle, JSOC‘s Delta Force launched a capture operation.
a Little Bird helicopter dropped out of the sky and a sniper leaned out and fired three shots into the car’s engine block. The car ground to a halt as commandos roped down from hovering Blackhawks [sic], surrounded the car and handcuffed Ato. It was the first known helicopter takedown of suspects in a moving car. The next time Jones saw the magic cane, an hour later, Garrison had it in his hand. “I like this cane,” Jones remembers the general exclaiming, a big grin on his face. “Let’s use this again.” Finally, a tier one personality was in custody.
President Bill Clinton withdrew U.S. forces on May 4, 1994.
In June 2006, the Islamic Courts Union seized control of southern Somalia, including the country’s capital Mogadishu, prompting the Ethiopian government to send in troops to try to protect the transitional government. In December, the Islamic Courts warned Ethiopia they would declare war if Ethiopia did not remove all its troops from Somalia. Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, leader of the Islamic Courts, called for a jihad, or holy war, against Ethiopia and encouraged foreign Muslim fighters to come to Somalia. At that time, the United States accused the group of being controlled by al-Qaeda, but the Islamic Courts denied that charge.
In 2009, PBS reported that al-Qaeda had been training terrorists in Somalia for years. Until December 2006, Somalia’s government had no power outside of the town of Baidoa, 150 miles (240 km) from the capital. The countryside and the capital were run by warlords and militia groups who could be paid to protect terrorist groups.
CIA officers kept close tabs on the country and paid a group of Somali warlords to help hunt down members of al-Qaeda according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, issued a message calling for all Muslims to go to Somalia.On January 9, 2007, a U.S. official said that ten militants were killed in one airstrike.
On September 14, 2009, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a senior al-Qaeda leader in East Africa as well as a senior leader in Shabaab, al Qaeda’s surrogate in Somalia, was killed by elements of U.S. Special Operations. According to a witness, at least two AH-6 Little Bird attack helicopters strafed a two-car convoy. Navy SEALs then seized the body of Nabhan and took two other wounded fighters captive. JSOC and the CIA had been trying to kill Nabhan for some time including back in January 2007, when an AC-130 Gunship was called in on one attempt. A U.S. intelligence source stated that CIA paramilitary teams are directly embedded with Ethiopian forces in Somalia, allowing for the tactical intelligence to launch these operations. Nabhan was wanted for his involvement in the 1998 United States embassy bombings, as well as leading the cell behind the 2002 Mombasa attacks.
From 2010 to 2013, the CIA set up the Somalia National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) by providing training, funding and diplomatic access. In the same time period, the EU and UN has spent millions of dollars for the military training of the Somali National Army (SNA). NISA is considered a professional Somali security force that can be relied upon to neutralize the terrorist threat. This force responded to the complex al-Shabaab attack on the Banadir Regional Courthouse in Mogadishu which killed 25 civilians. NISA’s response however saved 100s and resulted in the death of all the al-Shabaab guerrillas involved.
Significant events during this timeframe included the targeted drone strikes against British al-Qaida operative Bilal el-Berjawi  and Moroccan al-Qaida operative Abu Ibrahim. It also included the rescue of U.S. citizen Jessica Buchanan by U.S. Navy SEALs. All likely aided by intelligence collection efforts in Somalia.
Hamid Karzai with Special Forces and CIA Paramilitary in late 2001.
During the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Paramilitary Operations Officers were instrumental in equippingMujaheddin forces against the Soviet Army. Although the CIA in general, and a Texas congressman named Charlie Wilson in particular, have received most of the attention, the key architect of this strategy was Michael G. Vickers. Vickers was a young Paramilitary Operations Officer from SAD/SOG. The CIA’s efforts have been given credit for assisting in ending the Sovietinvolvement in Afghanistan and bringing Taliban to power.
SAD paramilitary teams were active in Afghanistan in the 1990s in clandestine operations to locate and kill or capture Osama Bin Laden. These teams planned several operations, but did not receive the order to execute from President Bill Clintonbecause the available intelligence did not guarantee a successful outcome weighed against the extraordinary risk to the SAD/SOG teams that would execute the mission. These efforts did however build many of the relationships that would prove essential in the 2001 U.S. Invasion of Afghanistan.
On September 26, 2001, members of the Special Activities Division, led by Gary Schroen, were the first U.S. forces inserted into Afghanistan. The Northern Afghanistan Liaison Team entered the country nine days after the 9/11 attack and linked up with the Northern Alliance as part of Task Force Dagger.
They provided the Northern Alliance with resources including cash to buy weapons and prepared for the arrival of USSOCOM forces. The plan for the invasion of Afghanistan was developed by the CIA, the first time in United States history that such a large-scale military operation was planned by the CIA. SAD, U.S. Army Special Forces, and the Northern Alliance combined to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan with minimal loss of U.S. lives. They did this without the use of conventional U.S. military ground forces.
What made the Afghan campaign a landmark in the U.S. Military’s history is that it was prosecuted by Special Operations forces from all the services, along with Navy and Air Force tactical power, operations by the Afghan Northern Alliance and the CIA were equally important and fully integrated. No large Army or Marine force was employed”.
The valor exhibited by Afghan and American soldiers, fighting to free Afghanistan from a horribly cruel regime, will inspire even the most jaded reader. The stunning victory of the horse soldiers – 350 Special Forces soldiers, 100 C.I.A. officers and 15,000 Northern Alliance fighters routing a Taliban army 50,000 strong – deserves a hallowed place in American military history”.
Small and highly agile paramilitary mobile teams spread out over the countryside to meet with locals and gather information about the Taliban and al-Qa’ida. During that time, one of the teams was approached in a village and asked by a young man for help in retrieving his teenage sister. He explained that a senior Taliban official had taken her as a wife and had sharply restricted the time she could spend with her family. The team gave the man a small hand-held tracking device to pass along to his sister, with instructions for her to activate it when the Taliban leader returned home. The team responded to her emergency signal, capturing the senior Taliban official and rescuing the sister. The siblings’ tearful reunion left the team at a loss for words—a rarity for the normally loud warriors of CIA’s Special Activities Division.
In December 2001, SAD/SOG and the Army’s Delta Force tracked down Osama bin Laden in the rugged mountains near the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan.Former CIA station chief Gary Berntsen as well as a subsequent Senate investigation claimed that the combined American special operations task force was largely outnumbered by al-Qaeda forces and that they were denied additional US troops by higher command. The task force also requested munitions to block the avenues of egress of bin Laden, but that request was also denied. The team allegedly uncovered evidence in the subsequent site exploration that bin Laden’s ultimate aim was to obtain and detonate a nuclear device in a terrorist attack. According to other press reports, SAD were ineffectual and “Bin Laden and bodyguards walked uncontested out of Tora Bora and disappeared into Pakistan’s unregulated tribal area.”
In September 2009, the CIA planned on “deploying teams of spies, analysts and paramilitary operatives to Afghanistan, part of a broad intelligence ‘surge’ ordered by President Obama. This will make its station there among the largest in the agency’s history.” This presence is expected to surpass the size of the stations in Iraq and Vietnam at the height of those wars. The station is located at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and is led “by a veteran with an extensive background in paramilitary operations”. The majority of the CIA’s workforce is located among secret bases and military special operations posts throughout the country.
Also in 2009, General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, planned to request an increase in teams of CIA operatives, including their elite paramilitary officers, to join with U.S. military special operations forces. This combination worked well in Iraq and is largely credited with the success of that surge. There have been basically three options described in the media: McChrystal’s increased counterinsurgency campaign; a counter-terror campaign using special operations raids and drone strikes; and withdrawal. The most successful combination in both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been the linking up of SAD and military special forces to fight alongside highly trained indigenous units. One thing all of these options have in common is a requirement for greater CIA participation.
The End Game
According to the current and former intelligence officials, General McChrystal also had his own preferred candidate for the Chief of Station (COS) job, a good friend and decorated CIA paramilitary officer. The officer had extensive experience in war zones, including two previous tours in Afghanistan with one as the Chief of Station, as well as tours in the Balkans, Baghdad and Yemen. He is well known in CIA lore as “the man who saved Hamid Karzai‘s life when the CIA led the effort to oust the Taliban from power in 2001″. President Karzai is said to be greatly indebted to this officer and was pleased when the officer was named chief of station again. According to interviews with several senior officials, this officer “was uniformly well-liked and admired. A career paramilitary officer, he came to the CIA after several years in an elite Marine unit”.
General McChrystal’s strategy included the lash up of special operations forces from the U.S. Military and from SAD/SOG to duplicate the initial success and the defeat of the Taliban in 2001 and the success of the “Surge” in Iraq in 2007. This strategy proved highly successful and worked very well in Afghanistan with SAD/SOG and JSOC forces conducting raids nearly every night having “superb results” against the enemy.
In 2001, the CIA’s SAD/SOG began creating what would come to be called Counter-terrorism Pursuit Teams (CTPT). These units grew to include over 3,000 operatives by 2010 and have been involved in sustained heavy fighting against the enemy. It is considered the “best Afghan fighting force”.
Located at 7,800 feet (2,400 m) above sea level, Firebase Lilley in Shkin serves as a “nerve center for the covert war”. This covert war includes being a hub for these CTPT operations with Firebase Lilley being just one in a constellation of CIA bases across Afghanistan. These units have not only been highly effective in combat operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, but have also been used to engage with the tribes in areas with no other official government presence.
This covert war also includes a large SOG/CTPT expansion into Pakistan to target senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA). CTPT units are the main effort in both the “Counterterrorism plus” and the full “Counterinsurgency” options being discussed by the Obama administration in the December 2010 review. SOG/CTPT are also key to any exit strategy for the U.S. government to leave Afghanistan, while still being able to deny al-Qaeda and other trans-national extremists groups a safehaven both in Afghanistan and in the FATA of Pakistan.
In January 2013, a CIA drone strike killed Mullah Nazir a senior Taliban commander in the South Waziristan area of Pakistan believed responsible for carrying out the insurgent effort against the US military in Afghanistan. Nazir’s death degraded the Taliban.
The U.S. has decided to lean heavily on CIA in general and SAD specifically in their efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan as it did in Iraq. There are plans being considered to have several US Military special operations elements assigned to CIA after the withdrawal.
On November 5, 2002, a missile launched from a CIA-controlled Predator drone killed al-Qaeda members traveling in a remote area in Yemen. SAD/SOG paramilitary teams had been on the ground tracking their movements for months and called in this air strike. One of those in the car was Ali Qaed Senyan al-Harthi, al-Qaeda’s chief operative in Yemen and a suspect in the October 2000 bombing of the destroyer USS Cole. Five other people, believed to be low-level al-Qaeda members, were also killed to include an American named Kamal Derwish. Former Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz called it “a very successful tactical operation” and said “such strikes are useful not only in killing terrorists but in forcing al-Qaeda to change its tactics”.
“It’s an important step that has been taken in that it has eliminated another level of experienced leadership from al-Qaeda,” said Vince Cannistraro, former head of counter-terrorism for the CIA and current ABC News consultant. “It will help weaken the organization and make it much less effective.” Harithi was on the run, pursued by several security forces who were looking for him and Muhammad Hamdi al-Ahdal, another suspect in the USS Cole bombing case.
In 2009, the Obama administration authorized continued lethal operations in Yemen by the CIA. As a result, the SAD/SOG and JSOC have joined together to aggressively target al-Qaeda operatives in that country, both through leading Yemenese special forces and intelligence driven drone strikes. A major target of these operations is ImamAnwar al-Aulaqi, an American citizen with ties to both Nidal Hassan, the alleged Fort Hood attacker, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas 2009 attempted bomber of Northwest Airline flight 253. Imam al-Aulaki was killed on September 30, 2011 by an air attack carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command.
SAD paramilitary teams entered Iraq before the 2003 invasion. Once on the ground they prepared the battle space for the subsequent arrival of U.S. military forces. SAD teams then combined with U.S. Army special forces (on a team called the Northern Iraq Liaison Element or NILE). This team organized the KurdishPeshmerga for the subsequent U.S. led invasion. This joint team combined in Operation Viking Hammer to defeat Ansar al-Islam, an Islamist group allied to al-Qaeda, which several battle-hardened fighters from Afghanistan had joined after the fall of the Taliban, in a battle for control over the northeast of Iraq – a battle that turned out being one of the “most intense battles of Special Forces since Vietnam”. This battle was for an entire territory that was completely occupied by Ansar al-Islam and was executed prior to the invasion in February 2003. If this battle had not been as successful as it was, there would have been a considerable hostile force in the rear of the U.S./secular Kurdish force in the subsequent assault on the Iraqi army to the south. The U.S. side was represented by paramilitary operations officers from SAD/SOG and the army’s 10th Special Forces Group (10th SFG). 10th SFG soldiers were awarded three Silver Stars and six Bronze Stars with V for valor for this battle alone  and several paramilitary officers were awarded the Intelligence Star for valor in combat. This battle was a significant direct attack and victory on a key U.S. opponent. It resulted in the deaths of a substantial number of militants and the uncovering of a crude laboratory that had traces of poisons and information on chemical weapons at Sargat. The team found foreign identity cards, visas, and passports on the enemy bodies. They had come from a wide variety of Middle Eastern and north African countries including Yemen, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Tunisia, Morocco, and Iran.Sargat was also the only facility that had traces of chemical weapons discovered in the Iraq war.
The village of Biyara and Base of Ansar al-Islam 2001–2003
In a 2004 U.S. News & World Report article, “A firefight in the mountains”, the author states:
“Viking Hammer would go down in the annals of Special Forces history—a battle fought on foot, under sustained fire from an enemy lodged in the mountains, and with minimal artillery and air support.”
SAD/SOG teams also conducted high risk special reconnaissance missions behind Iraqi lines to identify senior leadership targets. These missions led to the initial assassination attempts against Iraqi PresidentSaddam Hussein and his key generals. Although the initial air strike against Hussein was unsuccessful in killing the dictator, it was successful in effectively ending his ability to command and control his forces. Other strikes against key generals were successful and significantly degraded the command’s ability to react to and maneuver against the U.S.-led invasion force. SAD operations officers were also successful in convincing key Iraqi army officers to surrender their units once the fighting started and/or not to oppose the invasion force.
NATO member Turkey refused to allow its territory to be used by the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division for the invasion. As a result, the SAD/SOG, U.S. Army special forces joint teams, the Kurdish Peshmerga and the 173d Airborne Brigade were the entire northern force against the Iraqi army during the invasion. Their efforts kept the 13 divisions of the Iraqi Army in place to defend against the Kurds rather allowing them to contest the coalition force coming from the south. This combined U.S. special operations and Kurdish force defeated the Iraqi Army. Four members of the SAD/SOG team received CIA’s rare Intelligence Star for “extraordinary heroism”.
The mission that captured Saddam Hussein was called “Operation Red Dawn“. It was planned and carried out by JSOC’s Delta Force and SAD/SOG teams (together called Task Force 121). The operation eventually included around 600 soldiers from the 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division. Special operations troops probably numbered around 40. Much of the publicity and credit for the capture went to the 4th Infantry Division soldiers, but CIA and JSOC were the driving force. “Task Force 121 were actually the ones who pulled Saddam out of the hole” said Robert Andrews, former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict. “They can’t be denied a role anymore.”
CIA paramilitary units continued to team up with the JSOC in Iraq and in 2007 the combination created a lethal force many credit with having a major impact in the success of “the Surge“. They did this by killing or capturing many of the key al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq. In a CBS60 Minutes interview, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward described a new special operations capability that allowed for this success. This capability was developed by the joint teams of CIA and JSOC. Several senior U.S. officials stated that the “joint efforts of JSOC and CIA paramilitary units was the most significant contributor to the defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq”.
In May 2007, Marine Major Douglas A. Zembiec was serving in SAD Ground Branch in Iraq when he was killed by small arms fire while leading a raid.Reports from fellow paramilitary officers stated that the flash radio report sent was “five wounded and one martyred” Major Zembiec was killed while saving his soldiers, Iraqi soldiers. He was honored with an intelligence star for his valor in combat.
On October 26, 2008, SAD/SOG and JSOC conducted an operation in Syria targeting the “foreign fighter logistics network” bringing al-Qaeda operatives into Iraq (See 2008 Abu Kamal raid). A U.S. source told CBS News that “the leader of the foreign fighters, an al-Qaeda officer, was the target of Sunday’s cross-border raid.” He said the attack was successful, but did not say whether or not the al-Qaeda officer was killed.Fox News later reported that Abu Ghadiya, “al-Qa’ida’s senior coordinator operating in Syria”, was killed in the attack.The New York Times reported that during the raid U.S. forces killed several armed males who “posed a threat”.
In September 2014 with the rise of the Islamic State, the U.S. government began aggressive military operations against them in both Iraq and Syria. SAD Ground Branch was placed in charge of the ground war. This is a testament to SAD being the preeminent force for unconventional warfare and their long-standing relationship with the most effective fighting force in the region, the Kurdish Peshmerga.
SAD/SOG has been very active “on the ground” inside Pakistan targeting al-Qaeda operatives for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Predator strikes and along with USSOCOM elements they have been training Pakistani Special Service Group Commandos. Before leaving office, President George W. Bush authorized SAD’s successful killing of eight senior al-Qaeda operatives via targeted air strikes. Among those killed were the mastermind of a 2006 plot to detonate explosives aboard planes flying across the Atlantic Rashid Rauf and the man thought to have planned the Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing on September 20, 2008 that killed 53 people. The CIA Director authorized the continuation of these operations and on January 23, SAD/SOG performed killings of 20 individuals in northwestern Pakistan that were terrorists. Some experts assess that the CIA Director – at that time Leon Panetta – has been more aggressive in conducting paramilitary operations in Pakistan than his predecessor. A Pakistani security official stated that other strikes killed at least 10 insurgents, including five foreign nationals and possibly “a high-value target” such as a senior al-Qaeda or Taliban official. On February 14, the CIA drone killed 27 taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in a missile strike in south Waziristan, a militant stronghold near the Afghan border where al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri were believed to be hiding.
In a National Public Radio (NPR) report dated February 3, 2008, a senior official stated that al-Qaeda has been “decimated” by SAD/SOG’s air and ground operations. This senior U.S. counter-terrorism official goes on to say, “The enemy is really, really struggling. These attacks have produced the broadest, deepest and most rapid reduction in al-Qaida senior leadership that we’ve seen in several years.” President Obama’s CIA Director Leon Panetta stated that SAD/SOG’s efforts in Pakistan have been “the most effective weapon” against senior al-Qaeda leadership.
These covert attacks have increased significantly under President Obama, with as many at 50 al-Qaeda militants being killed in the month of May 2009 alone. In June 2009, sixty Taliban fighters were killed while at a funeral to bury fighters that had been killed in previous CIA attacks. On July 22, 2009, National Public Radio reported that U.S. officials believeSaad bin Laden, a son of Osama bin Laden, was killed by a CIA strike in Pakistan. Saad bin Laden spent years under house arrest in Iran before traveling last year to Pakistan, according to former National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell. It’s believed he was killed sometime in 2009. A senior U.S. counter-terrorism said U.S. intelligence agencies are “80 to 85 percent” certain that Saad bin Laden is dead.
On August 6, 2009, the CIA announced that Baitullah Mehsud was killed by a SAD/SOG drone strike in Pakistan.The New York Times said, “Although President Obama has distanced himself from many of the Bush administration’s counter-terrorism policies, he has embraced and even expanded the C.I.A.’s covert campaign in Pakistan using Predator and Reaper drones”. The biggest loss may be to “Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida”. For the past eight years, al-Qaeda had depended on Mehsud for protection after Mullah Mohammed Omar fled Afghanistan in late 2001. “Mehsud’s death means the tent sheltering Al Qaeda has collapsed,” an Afghan Taliban intelligence officer who had met Mehsud many times told Newsweek. “Without a doubt he was Al Qaeda’s No. 1 guy in Pakistan,” adds Mahmood Shah, a retired Pakistani Army brigadier and a former chief of the Federally Administered Tribal Area, or FATA, Mehsud’s base.
Airstrikes from CIA drones struck targets in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan on September 8, 2009. Reports stated that seven to ten militants were killed to include one top al-Qaida leaders. He was Mustafa al-Jaziri, an Algerian national described as an “important and effective” leader and senior military commander for al-Qaida. The success of these operations are believed to have caused senior Taliban leaders to significantly alter their operations and cancel key planning meetings.
The CIA is also increasing its campaign using Predator missile strikes on al-Qaeda in Pakistan. The number of strikes in 2009 exceeded the 2008 total, according to data compiled by the Long War Journal, which tracks strikes in Pakistan. In December 2009, the New York Times reported that President Obama ordered an expansion of the drone program with senior officials describing the program as “a resounding success, eliminating key terrorists and throwing their operations into disarray”. The article also cites a Pakistani official who stated that about 80 missile attacks in less than two years have killed “more than 400” enemy fighters, a number lower than most estimates but in the same range. His account of collateral damage was strikingly lower than many unofficial counts: “We believe the number of civilian casualties is just over 20, and those were people who were either at the side of major terrorists or were at facilities used by terrorists.”
On December 6, 2009, a senior al-Qaeda operative, Saleh al-Somali, was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan. He was responsible for their operations outside of the Afghanistan-Pakistan region and formed part of the senior leadership. Al-Somali was engaged in plotting terrorist acts around the world and “given his central role, this probably included plotting attacks against the United States and Europe”. On December 31, 2009, senior Taliban leader and strong Haqqani ally Haji Omar Khan, brother of Arif Khan, was killed in the strike along with the son of local tribal leader Karim Khan.
In January 2010, al-Qaeda in Pakistan announced that Lashkar al-Zil leader Abdullah Said al Libi was killed in a drone missile strike. Neither al-Qaeda nor the US has revealed the date of the attack that killed Libi. On January 14, 2010, subsequent to the suicide attack at Camp Chapman, the CIA located and killed the senior Taliban leader in Pakistan, Hakimullah Mehsud. Mehsud had claimed responsibility in a video he made with the suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi.
On February 5, 2010, the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and CIA’s SAD/SOG conducted a joint raid and apprehended Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Baradar was the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the beginning of the Afghan War more than eight years ago until that date. He ranked second to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder and was known to be a close associate of Osama bin Laden. Mullah Baradar was interrogated by CIA and ISI officers for several days before news of his capture was released. This capture sent the message that the Taliban leadership is not safe in Afghanistan or Pakistan. “The seizure of the Afghan Taliban’s top military leader in Pakistan represents a turning point in the U.S.-led war against the militants”, U.S. officials and analysts said. Per Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, several raids in Karachi in early February netted dozens of suspected Afghan militants. In other joint raids that occurred around the same time, Afghan officials said that the Taliban “shadow governorsP for two provinces in northern Afghanistan had also been detained. Mullah Abdul Salam, the Taliban’s leader in Kunduz, and Mullah Mir Mohammed of Baghlan were captured in Akora Khattack.
On February 20, Muhammad Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, was one of four people killed in the drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal region in North Waziristan, according to two Pakistani intelligence sources.
On May 31, 2010, the New York Times reported that Mustafa Abu al Yazid (AKA Saeed al Masri), a senior operational leader for Al Qaeda, was killed in an American missile strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
From July to December 2010, predator strikes killed 535 suspected militants in the FATA to include Sheikh Fateh Al Misri, Al-Qaeda’s new third in command on September 25. Al Misri was planning a major terrorist attack in Europe by recruiting British Muslims who would then go on a shooting rampage similar to what transpired in Mumbai in November 2008.
The operation in the Bilal military cantonment area in the city of Abbottabad resulted in the acquisition of extensive intelligence on the future attack plans of al-Qaeda. The body of bin Laden was flown to Afghanistan to be identified and then out to the USS Carl Vinson for a burial at sea. DNA from bin Laden’s body, compared with DNA samples on record from his dead sister, confirmed his identity.
The operation was a result of years of intelligence work that included the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the CIA, the DSS, and the Delta Force‘s, apprehension and interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammad (KSM), the discovery of the real name of the courier disclosed by KSM, the tracking, via signal intelligence, of the courier to the Abbottobad compound by paramilitary operatives and the establishment of a CIA safe house that provided critical advance intelligence for the operation.
The material discovered in the raid indicated that bin Laden was still in charge of his Al-Qaeda organization and was developing plans and issuing orders at the time of his death. There is considerable controversy over claims that elements of the Pakistani government, particularly the ISI, may have been concealing the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Bin Laden’s death has been labeled a “game changer” and a fatal blow to Al-Qaeda, by senior U.S. officials.
On March 9, 2007 alleged CIA Agent Robert Levinson was kidnapped from Iran’s Kish Island. On July 7, 2008, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist and author Seymour Hersh wrote an article in the New Yorker stating that the Bush Administration had signed a Presidential Finding authorizing the CIA to begin cross border paramilitary operations from Iraq and Afghanistan into Iran. These operations would be against Quds Force, the commando arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, public and private sector strategic targets, and “high-value targets” in the war on terror. Also enrolled to support CIA objectives were the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, known in the West as the M.E.K.,and the Baluchis insurgents. “The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” Any significant effort against Iran by the Obama Administration would likely come directly from SAD. and in July 2010, Director Panetta chose a former chief of SAD as the new NCS Director.
After the Arab Spring movements overthrew the rulers of Tunisia and Egypt, its neighbours to the west and east respectively, Libya had a major revolt beginning in February 2011. In response, the Obama administration sent in SAD paramilitary operatives to assess the situation and gather information on the opposition forces. Experts speculated that these teams could be determining the capability of these forces to defeat the Muammar Gaddafi regime and whether Al-Qaeda had a presence in these rebel elements.
U.S. officials had made it clear that no U.S. troops would be “on the ground”, making the use of covert paramilitary operatives the only alternative. During the early phases of the Libyan offensive of U.S. led air strikes, paramilitary operatives assisted in the recovery of a U.S. Air Force pilot who had crashed due to mechanical problems. There was speculation that President Obama issued a covert action finding in March 2011 that authorizes the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and support to the Libyan opposition.
CIA paramilitary teams have been deployed to Syria to report on the uprising, to access the rebel groups, leadership and to potentially train, equip and lead one of those rebel groups against the Bashar al-Assad regime. In early September 2013, President Obama told U.S. Senators that the CIA had trained the first 50-man insurgent element and that they had been inserted into Syria. The deployment of this unit and the supplying of weapons may be the first tangible measure of support since the U.S. stated they would begin providing assistance to the opposition.
In October 2013, SAD was tasked with overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. This program was considered too limited to have the desired outcome. However, with the rise of the Islamic State, SAD was given the overall command and control of the ground fight against them. This fight will cross the borders between Iraq and Syria.
The CIA has always had a Special Activities Division, which secretly carries out special operations mission. However, since September 11, 2001 the US government has relied much more on SAD/SOG because fighting terrorists does not usually involve fighting other armies. Rather, it involves secretly moving in and out of countries like Pakistan, Iran and Somaliawhere the American military is not legally allowed to operate.
If there are missions in these countries that are denied to U.S. military special operations forces, SAD/SOG units are the primary national special missions units to execute those operations.
In 2002, the George W. Bush Administration prepared a list of “terrorist leaders” the CIA is authorized to kill in a targeted killing, if capture is impractical and civilian casualties can be kept to an acceptable number. The list includes key al Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden (deceased) and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as other principal figures from al Qaeda and affiliated groups. This list is called the “high value target list”. The U.S. president is not legally required to approve each name added to the list, nor is the CIA required to obtain presidential approval for specific attacks, although the president is kept well informed about operations.
SAD/SOG teams have been dispatched to the country of Georgia, where dozens of al Qaeda fugitives from Afghanistan are believed to have taken refuge withChechen separatists and thousands of refugees in the Pankisi Gorge. Their efforts have already resulted in 15 Arab militants linked to al Qaeda being captured.
The SAD/SOG teams have also been active in the Philippines, where 1,200 U.S. military advisers helped to train local soldiers in “counter-terrorist operations” against Abu Sayyaf, a radical Islamist group suspected of ties with al Qaeda. Little is known about this U.S. covert action program, but some analysts believe that “the CIA’s paramilitary wing, the Special Activities Division (SAD), has been allowed to pursue terrorist suspects in the Philippines on the basis that its actions will never be acknowledged”.
On July 14, 2009, several newspapers reported that DCIA Leon Panetta was briefed on a CIA program that had not been briefed to the oversight committees in Congress. Panetta cancelled the initiative and reported its existence to Congress and the President. The program consisted of teams of SAD paramilitary officers organized to execute targeted killing operations against al Qaeda operatives around the world in any country. According to the Los Angeles Times, DCIA Panetta “has not ruled out reviving the program”. There is some question as to whether former Vice President Dick Cheney instructed the CIA not to inform Congress.Per senior intelligence officers, this program was an attempt to avoid the civilian casualties that can occur during predator drone strikes using Hellfire missiles.
According to many experts, the Obama administration has relied on the CIA and their paramilitary capabilities, even more than they have on U.S. military forces, to maintain the fight against terrorists in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region, as well as places like Yemen, Somalia and North Africa. Ronald Kessler states in his book The CIA at War: Inside the Secret War Against Terror, that although paramilitary operations are a strain on resources, they’re winning the war against terrorism.
SAD/SOG paramilitary officers executed the clandestine evacuation of U.S. citizens and diplomatic personnel in Somalia, Iraq (during the Persian Gulf War) andLiberia during periods of hostility, as well as the insertion of Paramilitary Operations Officers prior to the entry of U.S. military forces in every conflict since World War II. SAD officers have operated covertly since 1947 in places such as North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Libya, Iraq, El Salvador,Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Chile, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Fulton surface-to-air recovery system (STARS) is a system developed in the early 1950s by CIA paramilitary officers for retrieving persons on the ground from a MC-130E Combat Talon I aircraft. It uses a harness and a self-inflating balloon that carries an attached lift line. An MC-130E engages the line with its V-shaped yoke and the individual is reeled on board.Project COLDFEET was a very successful mission in 1962 in which two military officers parachuted into a remote abandoned Soviet site in the Arctic. The two were subsequently extracted by the Fulton sky hook. The team gathered evidence of advanced research on acoustical systems to detect under-ice US submarines and efforts to develop Arctic anti-submarine warfare techniques.
Sergeant Major (SgtMaj) Billy Waugh was a Special Forces soldier attached to CIA in the 1960s. During his time at MACV-SOG in Vietnam, he developed and conducted the first combat High Altitude-Low Opening (HALO) jump, “In October 1970, my team made a practice Combat Infiltration into the NVA owned War Zone D, in South Vietnam, for reassembly training, etc. This was the first one in a combat zone.” HALO is a method of delivering personnel, equipment, and supplies from a transport aircraft at a high altitude via free-fall parachute insertion. HALO andHAHO (High Altitude-High Opening) are also known as Military Free Fall (MFF). In the HALO technique, the parachutist opens his parachute at a low altitude after free-falling for a period of time to avoid detection by the enemy. Waugh also led the last combat special reconnaissance parachute insertion into enemy territory occupied by communist North Vietnamese Army (NVA) troops on June 22, 1971.
On October 25, 2003, paramilitary officers Christopher Mueller and William “Chief” Carlson were killed while conducting an operation to kill/capture high level al-Qa’ida leaders near Shkin, Afghanistan. Both these officers were honored with Stars on the CIA Memorial Wall at their Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. “The bravery of these two men cannot be overstated,” Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet told a gathering of several hundred Agency employees and family members. “Chris and Chief put the lives of others ahead of their own. That is heroism defined.” Mueller, a former US Navy SEAL and Carlson, a former Army Special Forces soldier, Delta Force operator, and member of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, died while on this covert operation. Both officers saved the lives of others, including Afghan soldiers, during the engagement with al-Qa’ida forces. In Oliver North’s book American Heroes in Special Operations, a chapter is devoted to their story.
Notable political action officers
Virginia Hall Goillot started as the only female paramilitary officer in the OSS. She shot herself in the leg while hunting in Turkey in 1932, which was then amputated below the knee. She parachuted into France to organize the resistance with her prosthesis strapped to her body. She was awarded theDistinguished Service Cross. She married an OSS officer named Paul Goillot and the two joined the CIA as paramilitary operations officers in SAD. Once aboard, Mrs. Goillot made her mark as a political action officer playing significant roles in the Guatemala and Guyana operations. These operations involved the covert removal of the governments of these two countries, as directed by the President of the United States.
E. Howard Hunt (October 9, 1918 – January 23, 2007) was an Ivy league educated Naval officer who joined the CIA in 1949 after serving with the OSS in World War II. Hunt was a political action officer in what came to be called their Special Activities Division. He became station chief in Mexico City in 1950, and supervised William F. Buckley, Jr., (Not to be confused with a famous SAD Paramilitary Officer of the same name) who worked for the CIA in Mexico during the period 1951–1952. Buckley, another SAD political action specialist, only served briefly in the CIA and went on to be considered the father of the modern American conservative movement. Buckley and Hunt remained lifelong friends. Hunt ran Operation PBSUCCESS, which overthrew the government in Guatemala in 1954, was heavily involved in theBay of Pigs Invasion operation, frequently mentioned in the JFK assassination, and was one of the operatives in the Watergate scandal.Hunt was also a well-known author with over 50 books to his credit. These books were published under several alias names and several were made into motion pictures.
David Atlee Phillips Perhaps the most famous propaganda officer ever to serve in CIA, Phillips began his career as a journalist and amateur actor in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He joined the Agency in the 1950s and was one of the chief architects of the operation to overthrow Communist president Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. He was later heavily engaged as a principal member of the Bay of Pigs Task Force at Langley, and in subsequent anti-Castro operations throughout the 1960s. He founded the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) after successfully contesting a libel suit against him.
The CIA Memorial Wall is located at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It honors CIA employees who died in the line of duty. As of August 6, 2012, there were 103 stars carved into the marble wall, each one representing an officer. A majority of these were paramilitary officers. A black book, called the “Book of Honor”, lies beneath the stars and is encased in an inch-thick plate of glass. Inside this book are stars, arranged by year of death, and the names of 77 employees who died in CIA service alongside them. The other names remain secret, even in death.
For the United States, Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says “Congress shall have power to … declare War”. However, that passage provides no specific format for what form legislation must have in order to be considered a “declaration of war” nor does the Constitution itself use this term. Many[who?] have postulated “Declaration(s) of War” must contain that phrase as or within the title. Others oppose that reasoning. In the courts, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Doe v. Bush, said: “[T]he text of the October Resolution itself spells out justifications for a war and frames itself as an ‘authorization’ of such a war.” in effect saying an authorization suffices for declaration and what some may view as a formal Congressional “Declaration of War” was not required by the Constitution.
This article will use the term “formal declaration of war” to mean Congressional legislation that uses the phrase “declaration of war” in the title. Elsewhere, this article will use the terms “authorized by Congress”, “funded by Congress” or “undeclared war” to describe other such conflicts.
The United States has formally declared war against foreign nations five separate times, each upon prior request by the President of the United States. Four of those five declarations came after hostilities had begun. James Madison reported that in the Federal Convention of 1787, the phrase “make war” was changed to “declare war” in order to leave to the Executive the power to repel sudden attacks but not to commence war without the explicit approval of Congress. Debate continues as to the legal extent of the President’s authority in this regard.
After Congress repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in January 1971 and President Richard Nixon continued to wage war in Vietnam, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution (Pub.L. 93–148) over the veto of Nixon in an attempt to rein in some of the president’s claimed powers. The War Powers Resolution proscribes the only power of the president to wage war which is recognized by Congress.
Declarations of war
The table below lists the five wars in which the United States has formally declared war against eleven foreign nations. The only country against which the United States has declared war more than once is Germany, against which the United States has declared war twice (though a case could be made for Hungary as asuccessor state to Austria-Hungary).
Force withdrawn after six months. However, the Joint Resolution was likely used to authorize the Pancho Villa Expedition. In the Senate, “when word reached the Senate that the invasion had gone forward before the use-of-force resolution had been approved, Republicans reacted angrily” saying it was a violation of the Constitution, but eventually after the action had already started, a resolution was passed after the action to “justify” it since Senators did not think it was a declaration of war.
On at least 125 occasions, the President has acted without prior express military authorization from Congress. These include instances in which the United States fought in the Philippine–American War from 1898–1903, in Nicaragua in 1927, as well as the NATO bombing campaign of Yugoslavia in 1999.
The United States’ longest war was fought between approximately 1840 and 1886 against the Apache Nation. During that entire 46-year period, there was never more than 90 days of peace.
The Indian Wars comprise at least 28 conflicts and engagements. These localized conflicts, with Native Americans, began with European colonists coming to North America, long before the establishment of the United States. For the purpose of this discussion, the Indian Wars are defined as conflicts with the United States of America. They begin as one front in the American Revolutionary War in 1775 and had concluded by 1918. The United States Army still maintains a campaign streamer for Pine Ridge 1890–1891 despite opposition from certain Native American groups.
The American Civil War was not an international conflict under the laws of war, because the Confederate States of America was not a government that had been granted full diplomatic recognition as a sovereign nation by other sovereign states. The CSA was recognized by the United States government as a belligerent power, a different status of recognition that authorized Confederate warships to visit non-U.S. ports. This recognition of the CSA’s status as a belligerent power did not impose any duty upon the United States to recognize the sovereignty of the Confederacy, and the United States never did so.
The War Powers Resolution
In 1973, following the withdrawal of most American troops from the Vietnam War, a debate emerged about the extent of presidential power in deploying troops without a declaration of war. A compromise in the debate was reached with the War Powers Resolution. This act clearly defined how many soldiers could be deployed by the President of the United States and for how long. It also required formal reports by the President to Congress regarding the status of such deployments, and limited the total amount of time that American forces could be deployed without a formal declaration of war.
Although the constitutionality of the act has never been tested, it is usually followed, most notably during the Grenada Conflict, the Panamanian Conflict, the Somalia Conflict, the Persian Gulf War, and the Iraq War[clarification needed]. The only exception was President Clinton’s use of U.S. troops in the 78-day NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. In all other cases, the President asserted the constitutional authority to commit troops without the necessity of Congressional approval, but in each case the President received Congressional authorization that satisfied the provisions of the War Powers Act.
On March 21, 2011, a number of lawmakers expressed concern that the decision of President Barack Obama to order the U.S. military to join in attacks of Libyan air defenses and government forces exceeded his constitutional authority because the decision to authorize the attack was made without Congressional permission.
Jump up^Whereas the Government of Germany has formally declared war against the government and the people of the United States of America… the state of war between the United States and the Government of Germany which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared. The War Resolution
SOG considered the most secretive special operations force in America
The Special Activities Division (SAD) is a division in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency‘s (CIA) National Clandestine Service (NCS) responsible for covert operations known as “special activities”. Within SAD there are two groups, one for tactical paramilitary operations and another for covert political action.
The “Political Action Group” within SAD is in charge of “covert activities” related to political influence, psychological, economic and cyber warfare A large CIA covert operation usually has components that involve many of these categories, as well as paramilitary operations.
Special Operations Group (SOG) is the department within SAD responsible for operations which include the gathering of intelligence information in hostile enemy countries and regions, and all high threat military or intelligence operations with which the U.S. government does not wish to be associated.
As such, members of the unit (called “Paramilitary Operations Officers” and “Specialized Skills Officers”) normally do not carry any objects, identification or clothing (e.g., military uniforms) that would associate them with the United States government (see article: Secret CIA Units Playing a Central Combat Role http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/CIA18.html).
If members are compromised or killed during a mission, the government of the United States may deny all knowledge (see Congressional Research Service report: Special Operations Forces (SOF) and CIA Paramilitary Operations: Issues for Congresshttp://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/intel/RS22017.pdf ).
The SOG is considered the most secretive special operations force in the United States.
The Pronk Pops Show 551, October 12, 2015, Story 1: President Obama Stalls Islamic State While He Runs Out The Clock On His Failed Presidency — Who is next? President Trump — Obama A Real Loser — Leading On Climate Change — Give Me A Break! — Videos
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MAJOR REDUCTIONS IN CARBON EMISSIONS ARE NOT WORTH THE MONEY DEBATE: PETER HUBER
MAJOR REDUCTIONS IN CARBON EMISSIONS ARE NOT WORTH THE MONEY DEBATE: PHILIP STOTT
Professor Fred Singer on Climate Change Pt 1
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Global Warming, Lysenkoism & Eugenics Prof Richard Lindzen
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While many advocates of aggressive policy responses to global warming say a consensus exists, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 25% of adults think most scientists agree on the topic. Twenty-three percent (23%) are not sure. …”
Steve Kroft: The last time we talked was this time last year, and the situation in Syria and Iraq had begun to worsen vis-Ã -vis ISIS. You had just unveiled a plan to provide air support for troops in Iraq, and also some air strikes in Syria, and the training and equipping of a moderate Syrian force. You said that this would degrade and eventually destroy ISIS.
President Barack Obama: Over time.
Steve Kroft: Over time. It’s been a year, and–
President Barack Obama: I didn’t say it was going to be done in a year.
Steve Kroft: No. But you said…
President Barack Obama: There’s a question in here somewhere.
Steve Kroft: Who’s going to get rid of them?
President Barack Obama: Over time, the community of nations will all get rid of them, and we will be leading getting rid of them. But we are not going to be able to get rid of them unless there is an environment inside of Syria and in portions of Iraq in which local populations, local Sunni populations, are working in a concerted way with us to get rid of them.
On the “moderate opposition” in Syria:
Steve Kroft: You have been talking about the moderate opposition in Syria. It seems very hard to identify. And you talked about the frustrations of trying to find some and train them. You got a half a billion dollars from Congress to train and equip 5,000, and at the end, according to the commander CENTCOM, you got 50 people, most of whom are dead or deserted. He said four or five left?
President Barack Obama: Steve, this is why I’ve been skeptical from the get go about the notion that we were going to effectively create this proxy army inside of Syria. My goal has been to try to test the proposition, can we be able to train and equip a moderate opposition that’s willing to fight ISIL? And what we’ve learned is that as long as Assad remains in power, it is very difficult to get those folks to focus their attention on ISIL.
Steve Kroft: If you were skeptical of the program to find and identify, train and equip moderate Syrians, why did you go through the program?
President Barack Obama: Well, because part of what we have to do here, Steve, is to try different things. Because we also have partners on the ground that are invested and interested in seeing some sort of resolution to this problem. And–
Steve Kroft: And they wanted you to do it.
President Barack Obama: Well, no. That’s not what I said. I think it is important for us to make sure that we explore all the various options that are available.
Steve Kroft: I know you don’t want to talk about this.
President Barack Obama: No, I’m happy to talk about it.
Steve Kroft: I want to talk about the– this program, because it would seem to show, I mean, if you expect 5,000 and you get five, it shows that somebody someplace along the line did not– made– you know, some sort of a serious miscalculation.
President Barack Obama: You know, the– the– Steve, let me just say this.
Steve Kroft: It’s an embarrassment.
President Barack Obama: Look, there’s no doubt that it did not work. And, one of the challenges that I’ve had throughout this heartbreaking situation inside of Syria is, is that– you’ll have people insist that, you know, all you have to do is send in a few– you know, truckloads full of arms and people are ready to fight. And then, when you start a train-and-equip program and it doesn’t work, then people say, “Well, why didn’t it work?” Or, “If it had just started three months earlier it would’ve worked.”
Steve Kroft: But you said yourself you never believed in this.
President Barack Obama: Well– but Steve, what I have also said is, is that surprisingly enough it turns out that in a situation that is as volatile and with as many players as there are inside of Syria, there aren’t any silver bullets. And this is precisely why I’ve been very clear that America’s priorities has to be number one, keeping the American people safe. Number two, we are prepared to work both diplomatically and where we can to support moderate opposition that can help convince the Russians and Iranians to put pressure on Assad for a transition. But that what we are not going to do is to try to reinsert ourselves in a military campaign inside of Syria. Let’s take the situation in Afghanistan, which I suspect you’ll ask about. But I wanted to use this as an example.
Steve Kroft: All right. I feel like I’m being filibustered, Mr. President.
President Barack Obama: No, no, no, no, no. Steve, I think if you want to roll back the tape, you’ve been giving me long questions and statements, and now I’m responding to ’em. So let’s– so– if you ask me big, open-ended questions, expect big, open-ended answers. Let’s take the example of Afghanistan. We’ve been there 13 years now close to 13 years. And it’s still hard in Afghanistan. Today, after all the investments we have there, and we still have thousands of troops there. So the notion that after a year in Syria, a country where the existing government hasn’t invited us in, but is actively keeping us out, that somehow we would be able to solve this quickly– is–
Steve Kroft: We didn’t say quickly.
President Barack Obama: –is– is– is an illusion. And– and–
Steve Kroft: Nobody’s expecting that, Mr. President.
President Barack Obama: Well, the– no, I understand, but what I’m– the simple point I’m making, Steve, is that the solution that we’re going to have inside of Syria is ultimately going to depend not on the United States putting in a bunch of troops there, resolving the underlying crisis is going to be something that requires ultimately the key players there to recognize that there has to be a transition to new government. And, in the absence of that, it’s not going to work.
Steve Kroft: One of the key players now is Russia.
President Barack Obama: Yeah.
Steve Kroft: A year ago when we did this interview, there was some saber-rattling between the United States and Russia on the Ukrainian border. Now it’s also going on in Syria. You said a year ago that the United States– America leads. We’re the indispensible nation. Mr. Putin seems to be challenging that leadership.
President Barack Obama: In what way? Let– let’s think about this– let– let–
Steve Kroft: Well, he’s moved troops into Syria, for one. He’s got people on the ground. Two, the Russians are conducting military operations in the Middle East for the first time since World War II–
President Barack Obama: So that’s–
Steve Kroft: –bombing the people– that we are supporting.
President Barack Obama: So that’s leading, Steve? Let me ask you this question. When I came into office, Ukraine was governed by a corrupt ruler who was a stooge of Mr. Putin. Syria was Russia’s only ally in the region. And today, rather than being able to count on their support and maintain the base they had in Syria, which they’ve had for a long time, Mr. Putin now is devoting his own troops, his own military, just to barely hold together by a thread his sole ally. And in Ukraine–
Steve Kroft: He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He’s challenging your leadership–
President Barack Obama: Well Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership. My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris. My definition of leadership is mobilizing the entire world community to make sure that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon. And with respect to the Middle East, we’ve got a 60-country coalition that isn’t suddenly lining up around Russia’s strategy. To the contrary, they are arguing that, in fact, that strategy will not work.
Steve Kroft: My point is– was not that he was leading, my point is that he was challenging your leadership. And he has very much involved himself in the situation. Can you imagine anything happening in Syria of any significance at all without the Russians now being involved in it and having a part of it?
President Barack Obama: But that was true before. Keep in mind that for the last five years, the Russians have provided arms, provided financing, as have the Iranians, as has Hezbollah.
Steve Kroft: But they haven’t been bombing and they haven’t had troops on the ground–
President Barack Obama: And the fact that they had to do this is not an indication of strength, it’s an indication that their strategy did not work.
Steve Kroft: You don’t think–
President Barack Obama: You don’t think that Mr. Putin would’ve preferred having Mr. Assad be able to solve this problem without him having to send a bunch of pilots and money that they don’t have?
Steve Kroft: Did you know he was going to do all this when you met with him in New York?
President Barack Obama: Well, we had seen– we had pretty good intelligence. We watch–
Steve Kroft: So you knew he was planning to do it.
President Barack Obama: We knew that he was planning to provide the military assistance that Assad was needing because they were nervous about a potential imminent collapse of the regime.
Steve Kroft: You say he’s doing this out of weakness. There is a perception in the Middle East among our adversaries, certainly and even among some of our allies that the United States is in retreat, that we pulled our troops out of Iraq and ISIS has moved in and taken over much of that territory. The situation in Afghanistan is very precarious and the Taliban is on the march again. And ISIS controls a large part of Syria.
President Barack Obama: I think it’s fair to say, Steve, that if–
Steve Kroft: It’s– they– let me just finish the thought. They say your–
President Barack Obama: You’re–
Steve Kroft: –they say you’re projecting a weakness, not a strength–
President Barack Obama: –you’re saying “they,” but you’re not citing too many folks. But here–
Steve Kroft: No, I’ll cite– I’ll cite if you want me, too.
President Barack Obama: –here– yes. Here–
Steve Kroft: I’d say the Saudis. I’d say the Israelis. I’d say a lot of our friends in the Middle East. I’d say everybody in the Republican party. Well, you want me to keep going?
President Barack Obama: Yeah. The– the– if you are– if you’re citing the Republican party, I think it’s fair to say that there is nothing I’ve done right over the last seven and a half years. And I think that’s right. It– and– I also think what is true is that these are the same folks who were making an argument for us to go into Iraq and who, in some cases, still have difficulty acknowledging that it was a mistake. And Steve, I guarantee you that there are factions inside of the Middle East, and I guess factions inside the Republican party who think that we should send endless numbers of troops into the Middle East, that the only measure of strength is us sending back several hundred thousand troops, that we are going to impose a peace, police the region, and– that the fact that we might have more deaths of U.S. troops, thousands of troops killed, thousands of troops injured, spend another trillion dollars, they would have no problem with that. There are people who would like to see us do that. And unless we do that, they’ll suggest we’re in retreat.
Steve Kroft: They’ll say you’re throwing in the towel–
President Barack Obama: No. Steve, we have an enormous presence in the Middle East. We have bases and we have aircraft carriers. And our pilots are flying through those skies. And we are currently supporting Iraq as it tries to continue to build up its forces. But the problem that I think a lot of these critics never answered is what’s in the interest of the United States of America and at what point do we say that, “Here are the things we can do well to protect America. But here are the things that we also have to do in order to make sure that America leads and America is strong and stays number one.” And if in fact the only measure is for us to send another 100,000 or 200,000 troops into Syria or back into Iraq, or perhaps into Libya, or perhaps into Yemen, and our goal somehow is that we are now going to be, not just the police, but the governors of this region. That would be a bad strategy Steve. And I think that if we make that mistake again, then shame on us.
Steve Kroft: Do you think the world’s a safer place?
President Barack Obama: America is a safer place. I think that there are places, obviously, like Syria that are not safer than when I came into office. But, in terms of us protecting ourselves against terrorism, in terms of us making sure that we are strengthening our alliances, in terms of our reputation around the world, absolutely we’re stronger.
On Friday, the Pentagon ended the program to train-and-equip Syrian rebels that the president told us did not work. In a moment, he talks about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton’s emails and Joe Biden’s possible run for president.
Steve Kroft: OK. Mr. President, there are a lot of serious problems with the world right now, but I want to ask you a few questions about politics.
President Barack Obama: Yeah, go ahead.
Steve Kroft: What do you think of Donald Trump?
President Barack Obama: Well, I think that he is a great publicity-seeker and at a time when the Republican party hasn’t really figured out what it’s for, as opposed to what it’s against. I think that he is tapped into something that exists in the Republican party that’s real. I think there is genuine anti-immigrant sentiment in the large portion of at least Republican primary voters. I don’t think it’s uniform. He knows how to get attention. He is, you know, the classic reality TV character and, at this early stage, it’s not surprising that he’s gotten a lot of attention.
Steve Kroft: You think he’s running out of steam? I mean, you think he’s going to disappear?
President Barack Obama: You know, I’ll leave it up to the pundits to make that determination. I don’t think he’ll end up being president of the United States.
Steve Kroft: Did you know about Hillary Clinton’s use of private email server–
President Barack Obama: No.
Steve Kroft: –while she was Secretary of State?
President Barack Obama: No.
Steve Kroft: Do you think it posed a national security problem?
President Barack Obama: I don’t think it posed a national security problem. I think that it was a mistake that she has acknowledged and– you know, as a general proposition, when we’re in these offices, we have to be more sensitive and stay as far away from the line as possible when it comes to how we handle information, how we handle our own personal data. And, you know, she made a mistake. She has acknowledged it. I do think that the way it’s been ginned-up is in part because of– in part– because of politics. And I think she’d be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly. But–
Steve Kroft: What was your reaction when you found out about it?
President Barack Obama: This is one of those issues that I think is legitimate, but the fact that for the last three months this is all that’s been spoken about is an indication that we’re in presidential political season.
Steve Kroft: Do you agree with what President Clinton has said and Secretary Clinton has said, that this is not– not that big a deal. Do you agree with that?
President Barack Obama: Well, I’m not going to comment on–
Steve Kroft: You think it’s not that big a deal–
President Barack Obama: What I think is that it is important for her to answer these questions to the satisfaction of the American public. And they can make their own judgment. I can tell you that this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.
Steve Kroft: This administration has prosecuted people for having classified material on their private computers.
President Barack Obama: Well, I– there’s no doubt that there had been breaches, and these are all a matter of degree. We don’t get an impression that here there was purposely efforts– on– in– to hide something or to squirrel away information. But again, I’m gonna leave it to–
Steve Kroft: If she had come to you.
President Barack Obama: I’m going to leave it to Hillary when she has an interview with you to address all these questions.
Steve Kroft: Right now, there’s nobody on either side of the aisle that is exactly running on your record. Do you want Joe Biden to get in the race and do it?
President Barack Obama: You know, I am going to let Joe make that decision. And I mean what I say. I think Joe will go down as one of the finest vice presidents in history, and one of the more consequential. I think he has done great work. I don’t think there’s any politician at a national level that has not thought about being the president. And if you’re sitting right next to the president in every meeting and, you know wrestling with these issues, I’m sure that for him he’s saying to himself, “I could do a really good job.”
Steve Kroft: I do want to talk a little bit about Congress. Are you going to miss John Boehner?
President Barack Obama: John Boehner and I disagreed on just about everything. But the one thing I’ll say about John Boehner is he did care about the institution. He recognized that nobody gets 100 percent in our democracy. I won’t say that he and I were ideal partners, but he and I could talk and we could get some things done. And so I am a little concerned that the reason he left was because there are a group of members of Congress who think having somebody who is willing to shut down the government or default on the U.S. debt is going to allow them to get their way 100 percent of the time.
Steve Kroft: Do you think you’re going to be able to get anything through Congress?
President Barack Obama: Well, given that– this Congress hasn’t been able to get much done at all over the last year and a half, two years, for that matter for the last four, it would be surprising if we were able to make huge strides on the things that are important. But I have a more modest goal, which is to make sure that Congress doesn’t do damage to the economy.
The president says that means avoiding another budget crisis and another round of threats to shut down the government, which could happen as early as December. Even with congressional Republicans in disarray, he’s hoping to reach a deal with Congress as he did two years ago, to lift some spending caps in defense and other areas while continuing to reduce the deficit.
President Barack Obama: Right now, our economy is much stronger relative to the rest of the world. China, Europe, emerging markets, they’re all having problems. And so, if we provide another shock to the system by shutting down the government, that could mean that the progress we have made starts going backwards instead of forwards. We have to make sure that we pass a transportation bill. It may not be everything that I want. We should be being much more aggressive in rebuilding America right now. Interest rates are low, construction workers need the work, and our economy would benefit from it. But if we can’t do a big multiyear plan, we have to at least do something that is robust enough– so that we are meeting the demands of a growing economy.
Steve Kroft: A few months back, at a fundraiser, you made a point of saying that the first lady was very pleased that you can’t run again.
President Barack Obama: Yeah, she is.
Steve Kroft: Do you feel the same way?
President Barack Obama: You know, it’s interesting. I– you go into your last year and I think it’s bittersweet. On the one hand, I am very proud of what we’ve accomplished and it makes me think, I’d love to do some more. But by the time I’m finished, I think it will be time for me to go. Because there’s a reason why we considered George Washington one of our greatest presidents. He set a precedent, saying that when you occupy this seat, it is an extraordinary privilege, but the way our democracy is designed, no one person is indispensable. And ultimately you are a citizen. And once you finish with your service, you go back to being a citizen. And I– and I think that– I think having a fresh set of legs in this seat, I think having a fresh perspective, new personnel and new ideas and a new conversation with the American people about issues that may be different a year from now than they were when I started eight years ago, I think that’s all good for our democracy. I think it’s healthy.
Steve Kroft: Do you think if you ran again, could run again, and did run again, you would be elected?
Story 1: Obama’s Betrayal of His Oath of Office — Traitorous Terrorist Treaty — Iranians Inspect Their Own Military Installations Building Nuclear Weapons –Obama Legacy Is A Sellout of The American People And Unconditional Surrender To Iran’s Demands — Not A Joke — Treason! — Not Trust, Not Verification — Obama Lied And Americans Will Die — Videos
The President… shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur….
ARTICLE II, SECTION 2, CLAUSE 2
“International inspections should be done by international inspectors. Period.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce
“Trusting Iran to inspect its own nuclear site and report to the U.N. in an open and transparent way is remarkably naive and incredibly reckless. This revelation only reinforces the deep-seated concerns the American people have about the agreement.”
~John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican senator
“President Obama boasts his deal includes ‘unprecedented verification.’ He claims it’s not built on trust. But the administration’s briefings on these side deals have been totally insufficient – and it still isn’t clear whether anyone at the White House has seen the final documents.”
~House Speaker John Boehner
Iran Secret Deal “Self Inspection”
Krauthammer: Iran Self-Inspecting Nuclear Facility Is ‘Scandalous, Farcical’
Megyn Kelly – Amb. Ron Dermer responds to Donald Trump’s Iran strategy
Side Deal Allows Iran To Conduct Its Own Nuclear Inspections
Iran Nuclear Side Deal – Iran Can Conduct Its Own Nuclear Inspections
IAEA: Iran has to allow inspection of country’s military sites
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The Iran Nuclear Deal
MM160 – Iran Side-Deal Exposed
CBN NewsWatch: August 20, 2015
CNBC: Inspections program for Iran nuclear activity ‘a whole lot of bunk’
White House ‘Confident’ IAEA Can Investigate Iran
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2015 – CNN World News – Obama On Iran Nuclear Deal – Full Speech
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Malzberg | Patrick J. Buchanan weighs in on the Iran Deal
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Malzberg | Dr. Michael Ledeen: “Obama is on Iran’s side”
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Federal Prosecutor: Obama’s Iran Nuke Deal Clearly Treason
In a interview with Frank Gaffney, Former Federal Prosecutor Andy McCarthy lays out why the Iran nuclear deal put forth by the Obama administration is clearly a act of treason against the United States.
General: Obama’s Iran Deal Is ‘A Treasonous Act Under The Constitution’
Major General Paul Vallely (Ret.) blasted Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran while being interviewed by Alan Colmes on Fox News. The General stated that Obama, Kerry and the State Department are ‘aiding and abetting an enemy of the United States’ and is ‘a treasonous act under the constitution’ in his opinion.
Secret Side Deal “Iran, IAEA Deal” ?
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McConnell Calls for Senate Passage of Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act
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Incredible! New George S Patton speech! Iran & modern warfare
AP Exclusive: UN to let Iran inspect alleged nuke work site
By GEORGE JAHN
Aug. 19, 2015
Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press.
The revelation on Wednesday newly riled Republican lawmakers in the U.S. who have been severely critical of a broader agreement to limit Iran’s future nuclear programs, signed by the Obama administration, Iran and five world powers in July. Those critics have complained that the wider deal is unwisely built on trust of the Iranians, while the administration has insisted it depends on reliable inspections.
A skeptical House Speaker John Boehner said, “President Obama boasts his deal includes ‘unprecedented verification.’ He claims it’s not built on trust. But the administration’s briefings on these side deals have been totally insufficient – and it still isn’t clear whether anyone at the White House has seen the final documents.”
Said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce: “International inspections should be done by international inspectors. Period.”
But House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi shrugged off the revelation, saying, “I truly believe in this agreement.”
The newly disclosed side agreement, for an investigation of the Parchin nuclear site by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, is linked to persistent allegations that Iran has worked on atomic weapons. That investigation is part of the overarching nuclear-limits deal.
Evidence of the inspections concession is sure to increase pressure from U.S. congressional opponents before a Senate vote of disapproval on the overall agreement in early September. If the resolution passes and President Barack Obama vetoes it, opponents would need a two-thirds majority to override it. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has suggested opponents will likely lose a veto fight, though that was before Wednesday’s disclosure.
John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican senator, said, “Trusting Iran to inspect its own nuclear site and report to the U.N. in an open and transparent way is remarkably naive and incredibly reckless. This revelation only reinforces the deep-seated concerns the American people have about the agreement.”
The Parchin agreement was worked out between the IAEA and Iran. The United States and the five other world powers were not party to it but were briefed by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger package.
On Wednesday, White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the Obama administration was “confident in the agency’s technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran’s former program. … The IAEA has separately developed the most robust inspection regime ever peacefully negotiated.”
All IAEA member countries must give the agency some insight into their nuclear programs. Some are required to do no more than give a yearly accounting of the nuclear material they possess. But nations— like Iran — suspected of possible proliferation are under greater scrutiny that can include stringent inspections.
The agreement in question diverges from normal procedures by allowing Tehran to employ its own experts and equipment in the search for evidence of activities it has consistently denied — trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Olli Heinonen, who was in charge of the Iran probe as deputy IAEA director general from 2005 to 2010, said he could think of no similar concession with any other country.
The White House has repeatedly denied claims of a secret side deal favorable to Tehran. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told Republican senators last week that he was obligated to keep the document confidential.
Iran has refused access to Parchin for years and has denied any interest in — or work on — nuclear weapons. Based on U.S., Israeli and other intelligence and its own research, the IAEA suspects that the Islamic Republic may have experimented with high-explosive detonators for nuclear arms.
The IAEA has cited evidence, based on satellite images, of possible attempts to sanitize the site since the alleged work stopped more than a decade ago.
The document seen by the AP is a draft that one official familiar with its contents said doesn’t differ substantially from the final version. He demanded anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the issue in public.
The document is labeled “separate arrangement II,” indicating there is another confidential agreement between Iran and the IAEA governing the agency’s probe of the nuclear weapons allegations.
Iran is to provide agency experts with photos and videos of locations the IAEA says are linked to the alleged weapons work, “taking into account military concerns.”
That wording suggests that — beyond being barred from physically visiting the site — the agency won’t get photo or video information from areas Iran says are off-limits because they have military significance.
While the document says the IAEA “will ensure the technical authenticity” of Iran’s inspection, it does not say how.
The draft is unsigned but the proposed signatory for Iran is listed as Ali Hoseini Tash, deputy secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for Strategic Affairs. That reflects the significance Tehran attaches to the agreement.
Iranian diplomats in Vienna were unavailable for comment, Wednesday while IAEA spokesman Serge Gas said the agency had no immediate comment.
The main focus of the July 14 deal between Iran and six world powers is curbing Iran’s present nuclear program that could be used to make weapons. But a subsidiary element obligates Tehran to cooperate with the IAEA in its probe of the past allegations.
The investigation has been essentially deadlocked for years, with Tehran asserting the allegations are based on false intelligence from the U.S., Israel and other adversaries. But Iran and the U.N. agency agreed last month to wrap up the investigation by December, when the IAEA plans to issue a final assessment.
That assessment is unlikely to be unequivocal. Still, it is expected to be approved by the IAEA’s board, which includes the United States and the other nations that negotiated the July 14 agreement. They do not want to upend their broader deal, and will see the December report as closing the books on the issue.
A report says the IAEA won’t have access to the Parchin nuclear site.
A satellite image of the Parchin facility in Iran in February 2013.PHOTO: DIGITALGLOBE/GETTY IMAGES
Aug. 19, 2015 7:20 p.m. ET
Three more Senators have declared against President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal in recent days, and don’t be surprised if more follow after Wednesday’s bombshell from the Associated Press. The news service reports that Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors at the secret Parchin nuclear site under its secret side agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
This is a new one in the history of arms control. Parchin is the military complex long suspected as the home of Iran’s nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile development. The IAEA has sought access to Parchin for more than a decade, and U.S. officials have said the deal requires Iran to come clean about Parchin by agreeing on an inspections protocol with the IAEA by the end of this year.
The Israel Project CEO Josh Block with an update on the Congressional whip count for the Iran vote, and whether Democrats might mount a filibuster. Photos: Getty Images
But that spin started to unravel three weeks ago with the discovery that the Parchin inspections were part of a secret side agreement between the IAEA and Iran—not between Iran and the six negotiating countries. Secretary of State John Kerry has said he hasn’t read the side deal, though his negotiating deputy Wendy Sherman told MSNBC that she “saw the pieces of paper” but couldn’t keep them. IAEA Director GeneralYukiya Amano has told Members of the U.S. Congress that he’s bound by secrecy and can’t show them the side deals.
That secrecy should be unacceptable to Congress—all the more so after the AP dispatch. The news service says it has seen a document labelled “separate arrangement II.” The document says Iran will provide the IAEA with photos and locations that the IAEA says are linked to Iran’s weapons work, “taking into account military concerns.”
In other words, the country that lied for years about its nuclear weapons program will now be trusted to come clean about those lies. And trusted to such a degree that it can limit its self-inspections so they don’t raise “military concerns” in Iran.
Keep in mind that the side deal already excludes a role for the U.S., and that the IAEA lacks any way to enforce its side deal since it has no way of imposing penalties for violations. Iran has also already ruled out any role for American or Canadian nationals on the inspection teams.
Why not cut out the IAEA middle man and simply let Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force, sign a personal affadavit?
The AP report hadn’t been contradicted by our deadline on Wednesday, and a White House spokesman told AP merely that the U.S. is “confident in the agency’s technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran’s former program.” That sounds like a confirmation.
The news raises further doubts about a nuclear pact that is already leaking credibility. Unfettered access to Parchin is crucial to understanding Iran’s past nuclear work, which is essential to understanding how close Iran has come to getting the bomb. Without that knowledge it’s impossible to know if Iran really is a year or more away from having the bomb, which is the time period that Mr. Kerry says is built into the accord and makes it so worth doing.
Earlier this year President Obama signed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which says Congress must receive all documents related to the deal, including any “entered into or made between Iran and any other parties.” That has to mean the IAEA.
By the way, the reference in the IAEA document to “separate arrangement II” suggests there may be more than one side deal. Congress should insist on seeing every such side deal or else pass a resolution of disapproval on the principle that it can’t possibly approve a deal whose complete terms it hasn’t even been allowed to inspect.
Meanwhile, bipartisan opposition continues to build in Congress. New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez on Tuesday became the second Senate Democrat to oppose the deal, following announcements from Republicans Jeff Flake (Arizona) and Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker. Mr. Flake in particular was inclined to support the pact and was lobbied hard by the President.
“For me, the Administration’s willingness to forgo a critical element of Iran’s weaponization—past and present—is inexplicable,” said Mr. Menendez in explaining his opposition. “Our willingness to accept this process on Parchin is only exacerbated by the inability to obtain anytime, anywhere inspections, which the Administration always held out as one of those essential elements we would insist on and could rely on in any deal.”
Public opposition is also growing. And it will increase as Americans learn that the deal’s inspections include taking Iran’s word about its previous weaponization work at its most crucial nuclear-weapons site.
Iran, in an unusual arrangement, will be allowed to use its own experts to inspect a site it allegedly used to develop nuclear arms under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press.
The revelation is sure to roil American and Israeli critics of the main Iran deal signed by the U.S., Iran and five world powers in July. Those critics have complained that the deal is built on trust of the Iranians, a claim the U.S. has denied.
It surely will. “This establishes the exact precedent that Iran always sought and repeatedly claimed: IAEA weapons inspectors will never get physical access into any military sites,” says sanctions expert Mark Dubowitz in an email. “That the Obama administration agreed to Iranian self-inspections tells you everything you need to know about how far it caved on the essential elements of a verifiable and enforceable nuclear agreement.”
The inspection regime and dispute resolution system was already riddled with loopholes that Iran will exploit. But with this there is not even the pretense that there is a viable inspection process. With self-inspection comes the open door for Iran to cheat with impunity. The AP report continues:
The Parchin deal is a separate, side agreement worked out between the IAEA and Iran. The United States and the five other world powers that signed the Iran nuclear deal were not party to this agreement but were briefed on it by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger package. Without divulging its contents, the Obama administration has described the document as nothing more than a routine technical arrangement between Iran and the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency on the particulars of inspecting the site.
Ironically, Menendez’s speech is more true in the wake of the AP report than it was when he delivered it:
For well over a decade, the world has been concerned about the secret weaponization efforts Iran conducted at the military base called Parchin. The goal that we have long sought, along with the international community, is to know what Iran accomplished at Parchin — not necessarily to get Iran to declare culpability — but to determine how far along they were in their nuclear weaponization program so that we know what signatures to look for in the future. . . .
With so much at stake, the IAEA — after waiting over ten years to inspect Parchin, speak to Iranian nuclear scientists, and review additional materials and documents — are now told they will not have direct access to Parchin. The list of scientists the P5+1 wanted the IAEA to interview were rejected outright by Iran, and they are now given three months to do all of their review and analysis before they must deliver a report in December of this year. How the inspections and soil and other samples are to be collected are outlined in two secret agreements that the U.S. Congress is not privy to. The answer as to why we cannot see those documents, is because they have a confidentiality agreement between the IAEA and Iran, which they say ‘is customary,’ but this issue is anything but customary.
“If Iran can violate its obligations for more than a decade, it can’t then be allowed to avail themselves of the same provisions and protections they violated in the first place. We have to ask: Why would our negotiators decide to negotiate access to other IAEA documents, but not these documents? Maybe the reason, as some members of Congress and public reports have raised, is because it will be the Iranians and not the IAEA performing the tests and providing the samples to be analyzed, which would be the equivalent of having an athlete accused of using performance enhancing drugs submit an unsupervised urine sample to the appropriate authority. Chain of custody doesn’t matter when the evidence given to you is prepared by the perpetrator.
Maybe this is why we did not get a look at the side deal. If Iran is going to inspect itself anyway it hardly matters if we know about PMD’s or how many days inspectors must wait.
Tellingly, according to Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein, the White House put out a weak-kneed statement saying it was “confident in the agency’s technical plans” and insisted if the IAEA was happy, it was happy. According to the Washington Free Beacon, Iran threatened an IAEA official if he revealed the nature of the side deals. No wonder.
It is hard to argue that the contents of the deal amount to anything approaching the stated aim of preventing Iran from going nuclear. Obama frankly wanted a document so badly he literally did not care what was in it, or at least what was in the critical side deal. The deal is an utter farce. Democrats who have not declared their intentions to date will be hard-pressed to justify supporting it.
UPDATE: Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, tells me, “This type of unorthodox agreement has never been done before by the IAEA and speaks to the great lengths our negotiators took to accommodate the Ayatollah despite repeated assurances from the administration that this deal is not based on trust.” House Speaker John Boehner put out a statement, which reads, “The Obama administration has a lot of explaining to do. Why haven’t these secret side agreements been provided to Congress and the American people for review? Why should Iran be trusted to carry out its own nuclear inspections at a military site it tried to hide from the world? How does this not set a precedent for future inspections at suspicious military sites in Iran?” He continued, “President Obama boasts his deal includes ‘unprecedented verification.’ He claims it’s not built on trust. But the administration’s briefings on these side deals have been totally insufficient – and it still isn’t clear whether anyone at the White House has seen the final documents. The American people and their representatives in Congress have serious questions about whether this nuclear agreement will keep our country safe, and it’s time for this administration to provide honest answers.”
The Treaty Clause has a number of striking features. It gives the Senate, in James Madison’s terms, a “partial agency” in the President’s foreign-relations power. The clause requires a supermajority (two-thirds) of the Senate for approval of a treaty, but it gives the House of Representatives, representing the “people,” no role in the process.
Midway through the Constitutional Convention, a working draft had assigned the treaty-making power to the Senate, but the Framers, apparently considering the traditional role of a nation-state’s executive in making treaties, changed direction and gave the power to the President, but with the proviso of the Senate’s “Advice and Consent.” In a formal sense, then, treaty-making became a mixture of executive and legislative power. Most people of the time recognized the actual conduct of diplomacy as an executive function, but under Article VI treaties were, like statutes, part of the “supreme Law of the Land.” Thus, as Alexander Hamilton explained in The Federalist No. 75, the two branches were appropriately combined:
The qualities elsewhere detailed as indispensable in the management of foreign relations point out the executive as the most fit in those transactions; while the vast importance of the trust and the operation of treaties as laws plead strongly for the participation of the whole or a portion of the legislative body in the office of making them.
Another reason for involving both President and Senate was that the Framers thought American interests might be undermined by treaties entered into without proper reflection. The Framers believed that treaties should be strictly honored, both as a matter of the law of nations and as a practical matter, because the United States could not afford to give the great powers any cause for war. But this meant that the nation should be doubly cautious in accepting treaty obligations. As James Wilson said, “Neither the President nor the Senate, solely, can complete a treaty; they are checks upon each other, and are so balanced as to produce security to the people.”
The fear of disadvantageous treaties also underlay the Framers’ insistence on approval by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. In particular, the Framers worried that one region or interest within the nation, constituting a bare majority, would make a treaty advantageous to it but prejudicial to other parts of the country and to the national interest. An episode just a year before the start of the Convention had highlighted the problem. The United States desired a trade treaty with Spain, and sought free access to the Mississippi River through Spanish-controlled New Orleans. Spain offered favorable trade terms, but only if the United States would give up its demands on the Mississippi. The Northern states, which would have benefited most from the trade treaty and cared little about New Orleans, had a majority, but not a supermajority, in the Continental Congress. Under the Articles of Confederation, treaties required assent of a supermajority (nine out of thirteen) of the states, and the South was able to block the treaty. It was undoubtedly that experience that impelled the Framers to carry over the supermajority principle from the Articles of Confederation.
At the Convention, several prominent Framers argued unsuccessfully to have the House of Representatives included. But most delegates thought that the House had substantial disadvantages when it came to treaty-making. For example, as a large body, the House would have difficulty keeping secrets or acting quickly. The small states, wary of being disadvantaged, also preferred to keep the treaty-making power in the Senate, where they had proportionally greater power.
The ultimate purpose, then, of the Treaty Clause was to ensure that treaties would not be adopted unless most of the country stood to gain. True, treaties would be more difficult to adopt than statutes, but the Framers realized that an unwise statute could simply be repealed, but an unwise treaty remained a binding international commitment, which would not be so easy to unwind.
Other questions, however, remained. First, are the provisions of the clause exclusive—that is, does it provide the only way that the United States may enter into international obligations?
While the clause does not say, in so many words, that it is exclusive, its very purpose—not to have any treaty disadvantage one part of the nation—suggests that no other route was possible, whether it be the President acting alone, or the popularly elected House having a role. On the other hand, while the Treaty Clause was, in the original understanding, the exclusive way to make treaties, the Framers also apparently recognized a class of less-important international agreements, not rising to the level of “treaties,” which could be approved in some other way. Article I, Section 10, in describing restrictions upon the states, speaks of “Treat[ies]” and “Agreement[s]…with a foreign Power” as two distinct categories. Some scholars believe this shows that not all international agreements are treaties, and that these other agreements would not need to go through the procedures of the Treaty Clause. Instead, the President, in the exercise of his executive power, could conclude such agreements on his own. Still, this exception for lesser agreements would have to be limited to “agreements” of minor importance, or else it would provide too great an avenue for evasion of the protections the Framers placed in the Treaty Clause.
A second question is how the President and Senate should interact in their joint exercise of the treaty power. Many Framers apparently thought that the President would oversee the actual conduct of diplomacy, but that the Senate would be involved from the outset as a sort of executive council advising the President. This was likely a reason that the Framers thought the smaller Senate was more suited than the House to play a key role in treaty-making. In the first effort at treaty-making under the Constitution, President George Washington attempted to operate in just this fashion. He went to the Senate in person to discuss a proposed treaty before he began negotiations. What is less clear, however, is whether the Constitution actually requires this process, or whether it is only what the Framers assumed would happen. The Senate, of course, is constitutionally authorized to offer “advice” to the President at any stage of the treaty-making process, but the President is not directed (in so many words) as to when advice must be solicited. As we shall see, this uncertainty has led, in modern practice, to a very different procedure than some Framers envisioned. It seems clear, however, that the Framers expected that the Senate’s “advice and consent” would be a close review and not a mere formality, as they thought of it as an important check upon presidential power.
A third difficult question is whether the Treaty Clause implies a Senate power or role in treaty termination. Scholarly opinion is divided, and few Framers appear to have discussed the question directly. One view sees the power to make a treaty as distinct from the power of termination, with the latter being more akin to a power of implementation. Since the Constitution does not directly address the termination power, this view would give it to the President as part of the President’s executive powers to conduct foreign affairs and to execute the laws. When the termination question first arose in 1793, Washington and his Cabinet, which included Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, embraced this view. All of them thought Washington could, on his own authority, terminate the treaty with France if necessary to keep the United States neutral.
A second view holds that, as a matter of the general eighteenth-century understanding of the legal process, the power to take an action (such as passing a statute or making a treaty) implies the power to undo the action. This view would require the consent of the President and a supermajority of the Senate to undo a treaty. There is, however, not much historical evidence that many Framers actually held this view of treaty termination, and it is inconsistent with the common interpretation of the Appointments Clause (under which Senate approval is required to appoint but not to remove executive officers).
The third view is that the Congress as a whole has the power to terminate treaties, based on an analogy between treaties and federal laws. When the United States first terminated a treaty in 1798 under John Adams, this procedure was adopted, but there was little discussion of the constitutional ramifications.
Finally, there is a question of the limits of the treaty power. A treaty presumably cannot alter the constitutional structure of government, and the Supreme Court has said that executive agreements—and so apparently treaties—are subject to the limits of the Bill of Rights just as ordinary laws are. Reid v. Covert (1957). InGeofroy v. Riggs (1890), the Supreme Court also declared that the treaty power extends only to topics that are “properly the subject of negotiation with a foreign country.” However, at least in the modern world, one would think that few topics are so local that they could not, under some circumstances, be reached as part of the foreign-affairs interests of the nation. Some have argued that treaties are limited by the federalism interests of the states. The Supreme Court rejected a version of that argument in State of Missouri v. Holland (1920), holding that the subject matter of treaties is not limited to the enumerated powers of Congress. The revival of interest in federalism limits on Congress in such areas as state sovereign immunity, see Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida (1996), and the Tenth Amendment, see Printz v. United States (1997), raises the question whether these limits also apply to the treaty power, but the Court has not yet taken up these matters.
Turning to modern practice, the Framers’ vision of treaty-making has in some ways prevailed and in some ways been altered. First, it is not true—and has not been true since George Washington’s administration—that the Senate serves as an executive council to advise the President in all stages of treaty-making. Rather, the usual modern course is that the President negotiates and signs treaties independently and then presents the proposed treaty to the Senate for its approval or disapproval. Washington himself found personal consultation with the Senate to be so awkward and unproductive that he abandoned it, and subsequent Presidents have followed his example.
Moreover, the Senate frequently approves treaties with conditions and has done so since the Washington administration. If the President makes clear to foreign nations that his signature on a treaty is only a preliminary commitment subject to serious Senate scrutiny, and if the Senate takes seriously its constitutional role of reviewing treaties (rather than merely deferring to the President), the check that the Framers sought to create remains in place. By going beyond a simple “up-or-down” vote, the Senate retains some of its power of “advice”: the Senate not only disapproves the treaty proposed by the President but suggests how the President might craft a better treaty. As a practical matter, there is often much consultation between the executive and members of the Senate before treaties are crafted and signed. Thus modern practice captures the essence of the Framers’ vision that the Senate would have some form of a participatory role in treaty-making.
A more substantial departure from the Framers’ vision may arise from the practice of “executive agreements.” According to the Restatement of Foreign Relations Law of the United States, the President may validly conclude executive agreements that (1) cover matters that are solely within his executive power, or (2) are made pursuant to a treaty, or (3) are made pursuant to a legitimate act of Congress. Examples of important executive agreements include the Potsdam and Yalta agreements of World War II, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which regulated international trade for decades, and the numerous status-of-forces agreements the United States has concluded with foreign governments.
Where the President acts pursuant to a prior treaty, there seems little tension with the Framers’ vision, as Senate approval has, in effect, been secured in advance. Somewhat more troublesome is the modern practice of so-called congressional–executive agreements, by which some international agreements have been made by the President and approved (either in advance or after the fact) by a simple majority of both houses of Congress, rather than two-thirds of the Senate. Many of these agreements deal particularly with trade-related matters, which Congress has clear constitutional authority to regulate. Congressional–executive agreements, at least with respect to trade matters, are now well established, and recent court challenges have been unsuccessful. Made in the USA Foundation v. United States (2001). On the other hand, arguments for “complete interchangeability”—that is, claims that anything that can be done by treaty can be done by congressional–executive agreement—seem counter to the Framers’ intent. The Framers carefully considered the supermajority rule for treaties and adopted it in response to specific threats to the Union; finding a complete alternative to the Treaty Clause would in effect eliminate the supermajority rule and make important international agreements easier to adopt than the Framers wished.
The third type of executive agreement is one adopted by the President without explicit approval of either the Senate or the Congress as a whole. The Supreme Court and modern practice embrace the idea that the President may under some circumstances make these so-called sole executive agreements. United States v. Belmont (1937); United States v. Pink (1942). But the scope of this independent presidential power remains a serious question. The Pink and Belmont cases involved agreements relating to the recognition of a foreign government, a power closely tied to the President’s textual power to receive ambassadors (Article II, Section 3). The courts have consistently permitted the President to settle foreign claims by sole executive agreement, but at the same time have emphasized that the Congress has acquiesced in the practice. Dames & Moore v. Regan (1981);American Insurance Ass’n v. Garamendi (2003). Beyond this, the modern limits of the President’s ability to act independently in making international agreements have not been explored. With respect to treaty termination, modern practice allows the President to terminate treaties on his own. In recent times, President James Earl Carter terminated the U.S.–Taiwan Mutual Defense Treaty in 1977, and President George W. Bush terminated the ABM Treaty with Russia in 2001. The Senate objected sharply to President Carter’s actions, but the Supreme Court rebuffed the Senate in Goldwater v. Carter (1979). President Bush’s action was criticized in some academic quarters but received general acquiescence. In light of the consensus early in Washington’s administration, it is probably fair to say that presidential termination does not obviously depart from the original understanding, inasmuch as the Framers were much more concerned about checks upon entering into treaties than they were about checks upon terminating them.
[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur…
One of three types of international accord
In the United States, the term “treaty” is used in a more restricted legal sense than in international law. U.S. law distinguishes what it calls treaties from congressional-executive agreements and sole-executive agreements. All three classes are considered treaties under international law; they are distinct only from the perspective of internal United States law. Distinctions among the three concern their method of ratification: by two-thirds of the Senate, by normal legislative process, or by the President alone, respectively. The Treaty Clause  empowers the President to make or enter into treaties with the “advice and consent” of two-thirds of the Senate. In contrast, normal legislation becomes law after approval by simple majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Throughout U.S. history, the President has also made international “agreements” through congressional-executive agreements (CEAs) that are ratified with only a majority from both houses of Congress, or sole-executive agreementsmade by the President alone. Though the Constitution does not expressly provide for any alternative to the Article II treaty procedure, Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution does distinguish between treaties (which states are forbidden to make) and agreements (which states may make with the consent of Congress). The Supreme Court of the United States has considered congressional-executive and sole-executive agreements to be valid, and they have been common throughout American history. Thomas Jefferson explained that the Article II treaty procedure is not necessary when there is no long-term commitment:
It is desirable, in many instances, to exchange mutual advantages by Legislative Acts rather than by treaty: because the former, though understood to be in consideration of each other, and therefore greatly respected, yet when they become too inconvenient, can be dropped at the will of either party: whereas stipulations by treaty are forever irrevocable but by joint consent….
A further distinction embodied in U.S. law is between self-executing treaties, which do not require additional legislative action, and non-self-executing treaties which do require the enactment of new laws. These various distinctions of procedure and terminology do not affect the binding status of accords under international law. Nevertheless, they do have major implications under U.S. domestic law. In Missouri v. Holland, the Supreme Court ruled that the power to make treaties under the U.S. Constitution is a power separate from the other enumerated powers of the federal government, and hence the federal government can use treaties to legislate in areas which would otherwise fall within the exclusive authority of the states. By contrast, a congressional-executive agreement can only cover matters which the Constitution explicitly places within the powers of Congress and the President. Likewise, a sole-executive agreement can only cover matters within the President’s authority or matters in which Congress has delegated authority to the President. For example, a treaty may prohibit states from imposing capital punishment on foreign nationals, but a congressional-executive agreement or sole-executive agreement cannot.
In general, arms control agreements are often ratified by the treaty mechanism. At the same time, trade agreements (such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and United States accession to the World Trade Organization) are generally voted on as a CEA, and such agreements typically include an explicit right to withdraw after giving sufficient written notice to the other parties. If an international commercial accord contains binding “treaty” commitments, then a two-thirds vote of the Senate may be required.
Between 1946 and 1999, the United States completed nearly 16,000 international agreements. Only 912 of those agreements were treaties, submitted to the Senate for approval as outlined in Article II of the United States Constitution. Since the Franklin Roosevelt presidency, only 6% of international accords have been completed as Article II treaties. Most of these executive agreements consist of congressional-executive agreements.
American law is that international accords become part of the body of U.S. federal law. Consequently, Congress can modify or repeal treaties by subsequent legislative action, even if this amounts to a violation of the treaty under international law. This was held, for instance, in the Head Money Cases. The most recent changes will be enforced by U.S. courts entirely independent of whether the international community still considers the old treaty obligations binding upon the U.S.
Additionally, an international accord that is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution is void under domestic U.S. law, the same as any other federal law in conflict with the Constitution. This principle was most clearly established in the case of Reid v. Covert. The Supreme Court could rule an Article II treaty provision to be unconstitutional and void under domestic law, although it has not yet done so.
In Goldwater v. Carter, Congress challenged the constitutionality of then-president Jimmy Carter‘s unilateral termination of a defense treaty. The case went before the Supreme Court and was never heard; a majority of six Justices ruled that the case should be dismissed without hearing an oral argument, holding that “The issue at hand … was essentially a political question and could not be reviewed by the court, as Congress had not issued a formal opposition.” In his opinion,Justice Brennan dissented, “The issue of decision making authority must be resolved as a matter of constitutional law, not political discretion; accordingly, it falls within the competence of the courts”. Presently, there is no official ruling on whether the President has the power to break a treaty without the approval of Congress, and the courts also declined to interfere when President George W. Bush unilaterally withdrew the United States from the ABM Treaty in 2002, six months after giving the required notice of intent.
Scope of presidential powers
Presidents have regarded the Article II treaty process as necessary where an international accord would bind a future president. For example, Theodore Rooseveltexplained:
The Constitution did not explicitly give me power to bring about the necessary agreement with Santo Domingo. But the Constitution did not forbid my doing what I did. I put the agreement into effect, and I continued its execution for two years before the Senate acted; and I would have continued it until the end of my term, if necessary, without any action by Congress. But it was far preferable that there should be action by Congress, so that we might be proceeding under a treaty which was the law of the land and not merely by a direction of the Chief Executive which would lapse when that particular executive left office. I therefore did my best to get the Senate to ratify what I had done.
A sole-executive agreement can only be negotiated and entered into through the president’s authority (1) in foreign policy, (2) as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, (3) from a prior act of Congress, or (4) from a prior treaty. Agreements beyond these competencies must have the approval of Congress (for congressional-executive agreements) or the Senate (for treaties).
In 1972, Congress passed legislation requiring the president to notify Congress of any executive agreements that are formed.
Although the nondelegation doctrine prevents Congress from delegating its legislative authority to the executive branch, Congress has allowed the executive to act as Congress’s “agent” in trade negotiations, such as by setting tariffs, and, in the case of Trade Promotion Authority, by solely authoring the implementing legislation for trade agreements. The constitutionality of this delegation was upheld by the Supreme Court in Field v. Clark (1892).