Gibbon offers an explanation for the fall of the Roman Empire, a task made difficult by a lack of comprehensive written sources, though he was not the only historian to attempt the task.
According to Gibbon, the Roman Empire succumbed to barbarian invasions in large part due to the gradual loss of civic virtue among its citizens. They had become weak, outsourcing their duty to defend their empire to barbarian mercenaries, who then became so numerous and ingrained that they were able to take over the Empire. Romans, he believed, were unwilling to live a tougher, military lifestyle. In addition, Gibbon argued that Christianity created a belief that a better life existed after death, which fostered an indifference to the present among Roman citizens, thus sapping their desire to sacrifice for a larger purpose. He also believed that Christianity’s comparative pacifism tended to hamper the traditional Roman martial spirit. Finally, like other Enlightenment thinkers and British citizens of the age steeped in institutional anti-Catholicism, Gibbon held in contempt the Middle Ages as a priest-ridden, superstitious Dark Age. It was not until his own era, the “Age of Reason,” with its emphasis on rational thought, it was believed, that human history could resume its progress.
Gibbon saw the Praetorian Guard as the primary catalyst of the empire’s initial decay and eventual collapse, a seed planted by Augustus when the empire was established. His writings cite repeated examples of the Praetorian Guard abusing their power with calamitous results, including numerous instances of imperial assassination and incessant demands for increased pay.
He compared the reigns of Diocletian (284–305) and Charles V (1519–1556), noting superficial similarities. Both were plagued by continual war and compelled to excessive taxation to fund wars, both chose to abdicate as Emperors at roughly the same age, and both chose to lead a quiet life upon their retirement. However, Gibbon argues that these similarities are only superficial and that the underlying context and character of the two rulers is markedly different.
Gibbon’s style is frequently distinguished by an ironically detached and somewhat dispassionate yet critical tone. He occasionally lapsed into moralization and aphorism:
[A]s long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of the most exalted characters.
The influence of the clergy, in an age of superstition, might be usefully employed to assert the rights of mankind; but so intimate is the connection between the throne and the altar, that the banner of the church has very seldom been seen on the side of the people (Chapter Three p. 52).
History…is, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortune of mankind (ibid. p. 69).
If we contrast the rapid progress of this mischievous discovery [of gunpowder] with the slow and laborious advances of reason, science, and the arts of peace, a philosopher, according to his temper, will laugh or weep at the folly of mankind (Chapter 65, p. 68).[Page numbers in which edition? clarification needed]
Citations and footnotesen humorous style, and have been called “Gibbon’s table talk.” They provide an entertaining moral commentary on both ancient Rome and 18th-century Great Britain. This technique enabled Gibbon to compare ancient Rome to his own contemporary world. Gibbon’s work advocates a rationalist and progressive view of history.
Gibbon’s citations provide in-depth detail regarding his use of sources for his work, which included documents dating back to ancient Rome. The detail within his asides and his care in noting the importance of each document is a precursor to modern-day historical footnoting methodology.
The work is notable for its erratic but exhaustively documented notes and research. John Bury, following him 113 years later with his own History of the Later Roman Empire, commended the depth and accuracy of Gibbon’s work. Unusually for 18th century historians, Gibbon was not content with second-hand accounts when the primary sources were accessible. “I have always endeavoured”, Gibbon wrote, “to draw from the fountain-head; that my curiosity, as well as a sense of duty, has always urged me to study the originals; and that, if they have sometimes eluded my search, I have carefully marked the secondary evidence, on whose faith a passage or a fact were reduced to depend.” The Decline and Fall is a literary monument and a massive step forward in historical method.
Numerous tracts were published criticizing his work. In response, Gibbon defended his work with the 1779 publication of, A Vindication … of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. His remarks on Christianity aroused particularly vigorous attacks, but in the mid-twentieth century, at least one author claimed that “church historians allow the substantial justness of [Gibbon’s] main positions.”
Number of Christian martyrs
Gibbon challenged Church history by estimating far smaller numbers of Christian martyrs than had been traditionally accepted. The Church’s version of its early history had rarely been questioned before. Gibbon, however, knew Church writings were secondary sources, and he shunned them in favor of primary sources.
Christianity as a contributor to the fall and to stability: chapters XV, XVI
Volume I was originally published in sections, as was common for large works at the time. The first two were well received and widely praised. The last quarto in Volume I, especially Chapters XV and XVI, was highly controversial, and Gibbon was attacked as a “paganist“. Voltaire was deemed to have influenced Gibbon’s claiming that Christianity was a contributor to the fall of the Roman Empire. As one pro-Christian commenter put it in 1840:
As Christianity advances, disasters befall the [Roman] empire—arts, science, literature, decay—barbarism and all its revolting concomitants are made to seem the consequences of its decisive triumph—and the unwary reader is conducted, with matchless dexterity, to the desired conclusion—the abominable Manicheism of Candide, and, in fact, of all the productions of Voltaire’s historic school—viz., “that instead of being a merciful, ameliorating, and benignant visitation, the religion of Christians would rather seem to be a scourge sent on man by the author of all evil.”
Gibbon thought that Christianity had hastened the Fall, but also ameliorated the results:
As the happiness of a future life is the great object of religion, we may hear without surprise or scandal that the introduction, or at least the abuse of Christianity, had some influence on the decline and fall of the Roman empire. The clergy successfully preached the doctrines of patience and pusillanimity; the active virtues of society were discouraged; and the last remains of military spirit were buried in the cloister: a large portion of public and private wealth was consecrated to the specious demands of charity and devotion; and the soldiers’ pay was lavished on the useless multitudes of both sexes who could only plead the merits of abstinence and chastity. Faith, zeal, curiosity, and more earthly passions of malice and ambition, kindled the flame of theological discord; the church, and even the state, were distracted by religious factions, whose conflicts were sometimes bloody and always implacable; the attention of the emperors was diverted from camps to synods; the Roman world was oppressed by a new species of tyranny; and the persecuted sects became the secret enemies of their country. Yet party-spirit, however pernicious or absurd, is a principle of union as well as of dissension. The bishops, from eighteen hundred pulpits, inculcated the duty of passive obedience to a lawful and orthodox sovereign; their frequent assemblies and perpetual correspondence maintained the communion of distant churches; and the benevolent temper of the Gospel was strengthened, though confirmed, by the spiritual alliance of the Catholics. The sacred indolence of the monks was devoutly embraced by a servile and effeminate age; but if superstition had not afforded a decent retreat, the same vices would have tempted the unworthy Romans to desert, from baser motives, the standard of the republic. Religious precepts are easily obeyed which indulge and sanctify the natural inclinations of their votaries; but the pure and genuine influence of Christianity may be traced in its beneficial, though imperfect, effects on the barbarian proselytes of the North. If the decline of the Roman empire was hastened by the conversion of Constantine, his victorious religion broke the violence of the fall, and mollified the ferocious temper of the conquerors (chap. 38).
Tolerant paganismast 200 years, and whose most eminent representative is Gibbon. Gibbon had written:
The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosophers as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.
With such deft strokes, Gibbon enters into a conspiracy with his readers: unlike the credulous masses, he and we are cosmopolitans who know the uses of religion as an instrument of social control. So doing, Gibbon skirts a serious problem: for three centuries prior to Constantine, the tolerant pagans who people the Decline and Fall were the authors of several major persecutions, in which Christians were the victims. …Gibbon covered this embarrassing hole in his argument with an elegant demur. Rather than deny the obvious, he adroitly masked the question by transforming his Roman magistrates into models of Enlightenment rulers — reluctant persecutors, too sophisticated to be themselves religious zealots.
Misinterpretation of Byzantium
Others such as John Julius Norwich, despite their admiration for his furthering of historical methodology, consider Gibbon’s hostile views on the Byzantine Empire flawed and blame him somewhat for the lack of interest shown in the subject throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. This view might well be admitted by Gibbon himself: “But it is not my intention to expatiate with the same minuteness on the whole series of the Byzantine history.” However the Russian historian George Ostrogorsky writes, “Gibbon and Lebeau were genuine historians — and Gibbon a very great one — and their works, in spite of factual inadequacy, rank high for their presentation of their material.”
Gibbon’s initial plan was to write a history “of the decline and fall of the city of Rome”, and only later expanded his scope to the whole Roman Empire.
Although he published other books, Gibbon devoted much of his life to this one work (1772–89). His autobiography Memoirs of My Life and Writings is devoted largely to his reflections on how the book virtually became his life. He compared the publication of each succeeding volume to a newborn child.
Gibbon continued to revise and change his work even after publication. The complexities of the problem are addressed in Womersley’s introduction and appendices to his complete edition.
David Womersley, ed., 3 volumes. hardback-(London: Allen Lane, 1994); paperback-(New York: Penguin Books, 2005;1994). Includes the original index, and the Vindication (1779), which Gibbon wrote in response to attacks on his caustic portrayal of Christianity. The 2005 print includes minor revisions and a new chronology. ISBN 0-7139-9124-0 (3360 p.); ISBN 0-14-043393-7 (v.1, 1232 p.); ISBN 0-14-043394-5 (v.2, 1024 pages); ISBN 0-14-043395-3 (v.3, 1360 pages)
David Womersley, ed., 1 volume (New York: Penguin Books, 2000). Includes all footnotes and seventeen of the original seventy-one chapters. ISBN 0-14-043764-9, 848 pages
Hans-Friedrich Mueller, ed., one volume abridgment (New York: Random House, 2003). Includes excerpts from all seventy-one chapters. It eliminates footnotes, geographic surveys, details of battle formations, long narratives of military campaigns, ethnographies and genealogies. Based on the Rev. H.H. [Dean] Milman edition of 1845 (see also Gutenberg etext edition). ISBN 0-375-75811-9, (trade paper, 1312 pages); ISBN 0-345-47884-3 (mass market paper, 1536 pages)
Many writers have used variations on the series title (including using “Rise and Fall” in place of “Decline and Fall”), especially when dealing with large nations or empires. Piers Brendon notes that Gibbon’s work, “became the essential guide for Britons anxious to plot their own imperial trajectory. They found the key to understanding the British Empire in the ruins of Rome.”
In 1995, an established journal of classical scholarship, Classics Ireland, published punk musician’s Iggy Pop‘s reflections on the applicability of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to the modern world in a short article, Caesar Lives, (Vol. 2, 1995) in which he noted “America is Rome. Of course, why shouldn’t it be? We are all Roman children, for better or worse… I learn much about the way our society really works, because the system-origins – military, religious, political, colonial, agricultural, financial – are all there to be scrutinized in their infancy. I have gained perspective.” 
Jump up^J.G.A. Pocock, “Between Machiavelli and Hume: Gibbon as Civic Humanist and Philosophical Historian,” Daedalus 105,3(1976), 153–169; and in Further reading: Pocock, EEG, 303–304; FDF, 304–306.
Jump up^J.G.A. Pocock, “Between Machiavelli and Hume: Gibbon as Civic Humanist and Philosophical Historian,” Daedulus 105,3(1976), 153–169; and in Further reading: Pocock, EEG, 303–304; FDF, 304–306.
Jump up^Saunders, Dero A., ed. (1952). Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. New York: Penguin. p. 23 (Introduction).
Jump up^Preface to Gibbon’s Volume the Fourth in David Womersley ed., Edward Gibbon – The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 2 (New York: Penguin Books, 1994), p. 520.
Jump up^In the early 20th century, biographer Sir Leslie Stephen [“Gibbon, Edward (1737–1794),” Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 7, (Oxford, 1921), p. 1134.] summarized The History‘s reputation as a work of unmatched erudition, a degree of professional esteem which remains as strong today as it was then:
The criticisms upon his book…are nearly unanimous. In accuracy, thoroughness, lucidity, and comprehensive grasp of a vast subject, the History is unsurpassable. It is the one English history which may be regarded as definitive. …Whatever its shortcomings, the book is artistically imposing as well as historically unimpeachable as a vast panorama of a great period.
Jump up^Gibbon, Edward (1781). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. 3. chapter 36, footnote 43. If I prosecute this History, I shall not be unmindful of the decline and fall of the city of Rome; an interesting object, to which my plan was originally confined.
Jump up^Patricia B. Craddock, Edward Gibbon, Luminous Historian. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1989), 249–266.
Jump up^Piers Brendon, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997 (2008) p. xv
Jump up^Link to notes on the poem here . Excerpt: “If you have any mind at all, Gibbon’s divine Decline and Fall, Seems pretty flimsy, No more than a whimsy… .”
Jump up^Asimov, Isaac (October 1954). “The Foundation of S. F. Success”. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. p. 69.
Stephenson studied at Boston University, first specializing in physics, then switching to geography after he found that it would allow him to spend more time on the university mainframe.He graduated in 1981 with a B.A. in geography and a minor in physics. Since 1984, Stephenson has lived mostly in the Pacific Northwest and currently resides in Seattle with his family.
Stephenson’s first novel, The Big U, published in 1984, was a satirical take on life at American Megaversity, a vast, bland and alienating research university beset by chaotic riots. His next novel, Zodiac (1988), was a thriller following the exploits of a radical environmentalist protagonist in his struggle against corporate polluters. Neither novel attracted much critical attention on first publication, but showcased concerns that Stephenson would further develop in his later work.
Stephenson’s next solo novel, published in 1995, was The Diamond Age: or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, which introduced many of today’s real world technological discoveries. Seen back then as futuristic, Stephenson’s novel has broad range universal self-learning nanotechnology, dynabooks, extensive modern technologies, robotics, cybernetics and cyber cities. Weapons implanted in characters’ skulls, near limitless replicators for everything from mattresses to foods, smartpaper, air and blood-sanitizing nanobots, set in a grim future world of limited resources populated by hard edged survivalists, an amalgamation hero is accidentally conceptualized by a few powerful and wealthy creatives, programmers and hackers.
Following this, Stephenson published a novel titled Anathem (2008), a very long and detailed work, perhaps best described as speculative fiction. It is set in an Earthlike world (perhaps in an alternative reality), deals with metaphysics, and refers heavily to Ancient Greek philosophy, while at the same time being a complex commentary on the insubstantiality of today’s society.
In May 2010, the Subutai Corporation, of which Stephenson was named chairman, announced the production of an experimental multimedia fiction project called The Mongoliad, which centered around a narrative written by Stephenson and other speculative fiction authors.
REAMDE, a novel, was released on September 20, 2011. The title is a play on the common filename README. This thriller, set in the present, centers around a group of MMORPGdevelopers caught in the middle of Chinese cyber-criminals, Islamic terrorists, and Russian mafia.
On August 7, 2012, Stephenson released a collection of essays and other previously published fiction entitled Some Remarks : Essays and Other Writing. This collection also includes a new essay and a short story created specifically for this volume.
In 2012 Stephenson launched a Kickstarter campaign for CLANG, a realistic sword fighting fantasy game. The concept of the game was to use motion control to provide an immersive experience. The campaign’s funding goal of $500,000 was reached by the target date of July 9, 2012 on Kickstarter, but funding options remained open and were still taking contributions to the project on their official site. The project ran out of money in September 2013. This, and the circumstances around it, has angered some backers. There has even been talk, among the backers, of a potential class action lawsuit. The project to develop the game ended in September 2014 without the game being completed. Stephenson took part of the responsibility for the project’s failure, stating, “I probably focused too much on historical accuracy and not enough on making it sufficiently fun to attract additional investment”.
In late 2013, Stephenson stated that he was working on a multi-volume work – historical novels that would “have a lot to do with scientific and technological themes and how those interact with the characters and civilisation during a particular span of history”. He expected the first two volumes to be released in mid-to-late 2014. However, at about the same time, he shifted his attention to a science fiction novel, Seveneves, which was completed about a year later and was published in May 2015.
In 2014, Stephenson was hired as Chief Futurist by the Florida-based company Magic Leap. Magic Leap claims to be developing a revolutionary form of augmented reality, not too different from technologies Stephenson previously has described in his science fiction books.
The science fiction approach doesn’t mean it’s always about the future;
it’s an awareness that this is different.
Quicksilver, Applied Minds (2003) debuted The Metaweb, an online wiki annotating the ideas and historical period explored in the novel. The project was influenced by the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, and its content included annotations from Stephenson himself.
“Innovation Starvation” (2011) lamented the lack of visionary large-scale projects in the world. One concept he cited as an example of such visionary concepts is the idea of a 20-kilometer “tall tower” extending to the edges of the atmosphere; Stephenson then followed this up with work in collaboration with Arizona State University on the engineering of such tall towers.
In his earlier novels Stephenson deals heavily in pop culture-laden metaphors and imagery and in quick, hip dialogue, as well as in extended narrative monologues. The tone of his books is generally more irreverent and less serious than that of previous cyberpunk novels, notably those of William Gibson.
Stephenson at the Starship Century Symposium at UCSD in 2013
Stephenson’s books tend to have elaborate, inventive plots drawing on numerous technological and sociological ideas at the same time. This distinguishes him from other mainstream science fiction authors who tend to focus on a few technological or social changes in isolation from others. The discursive nature of his writing, together with significant plot and character complexity and an abundance of detail suggests a baroque writing style, which Stephenson brought fully to bear in the three-volume Baroque Cycle. His book The Diamond Age follows a simpler plot but features “neo-Victorian” characters and employs Victorian-era literary conceits. In keeping with the baroque style, Stephenson’s books have become longer as he has gained recognition. For example, the paperback editions of Cryptonomicon are over eleven hundred pages long with the novel containing various digressions, including a lengthy erotic story about antique furniture and stockings.
Project Hieroglyph, founded in 2011, administered by Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination since 2012. Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, ed. Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer, which includes contributions by Stephenson, was published by William Morrow in September, 2014.
“In the Kingdom of Mao Bell“. Wired. 1994. “A billion Chinese are using new technology to create the fastest growing economy on the planet. But while the information wants to be free, do they?”
“Mother Earth Mother Board“. Wired. 1996. “In which the Hacker Tourist ventures forth across three continents, telling the story of the business and technology of undersea fiber-optic cables, as well as an account of the laying of the longest wire on Earth.”
Jump up^“Neal Stephenson – Biography”. ElectricInca.com. Retrieved August 7, 2010. He began his higher education as a physics major, then switched to geography when it appeared that this would enable him to scam more free time on his university’s mainframe computer.
Jump up^Landis, Geoffrey, and Denis, Vincent, “High Altitude Launch for a Practical SSTO,” Conference on Next Generation Space Transportation, Space Technology & Applications International Forum, Albuquerque NM, Feb. 2-6 2003; AIP Conference Proceedings Vol. 654, pp 290-295. (pdf on NASA site)
Jump up^Project Hieroglyph, The Tall Tower, Arizona State University Center for Science and the Imagination (retrieved 1 Sept. 2015)
Story 1: Part 2: The Decline and Fall Of The Democratic Party Under Liar In Chief Obama — Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump in 2016 Presidential Election — Two Party Tyranny — What Difference Does It Make? — Donor Class Wins No Matter Who Wins — Make America Great Again! –Videos
Ray: A public servant who has a track record of not telling the truth
Judge Napolitano What if the two party system is a sham? – Fox Business
Donald Trump on GOP competition, Benghazi hearing
Kurtz: Paul Ryan, insufficiently conservative?
Pro-Amnesty Rep. Gutiérrez Supports Paul Ryan For Speaker Of The House
Save Us From Paul Ryan
Ann Coulter, “¡Adios America!”
Ann Coulter argues that immigration is the greatest issue facing the United States today. She contends that America’s immigration policy is deeply flawed and that amnesty will lead to a greater influx of liberal voters, who according to the author, will hurt the economy as well as the country’s public and foreign policy.
Ann Coulter slaughters pro Immigration advocates
Rush Limbaugh: GOP donors installed Paul Ryan as House Speaker
Limbaugh: Donor/RINO Class Pushing Hard For Paul Ryan As Speaker Of The House
Limbaugh: Donor/RINO Class Pushing Hard For Paul Ryan As Speaker Of The House
Pro-Amnesty Paul Ryan … what the GOP’s big donors want (Limbaugh)
Rush Limbaugh (10/23/15): “Here’s the dream, from the Republican donor side. The Republican donor side is that Jeb Bush or, if not Jeb, somebody else acceptable to the Republican establishment, gets elected president, Paul Ryan is Speaker of the House, and the donor class thinks that if they can make that happen, that within 12 to 18 months their entire agenda will be implemented.”
Both Parties Fear the Tea Party (Limbaugh)
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”
Mark Krikorian Intro to Panelists – Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants
Robert Rector – Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants
The Center for Immigration Studies hosted a discussion at the National Press Club focusing on two reports on immigration and welfare. The Center’s first report focuses on welfare use by immigrant and native-born housholds, the second report separates welfare use by legal and illegal households. Two nationally recognized policy experts, along with the Center’s director of research and author of the report, discussed immigrant welfare use at the panel.
Q and A Welfare – Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants
Panel Clip: Jobs Americans Won’t Do?
Panel Clip: Do Immigrants Create More Jobs?
Steven Camarota – Welfare Use by Legal and Illegal Immigrants
Panel Clip: Welfare Restrictions on Immigrants?
Panel Clip: U.S. Family Immigration vs. Other Countries
Mark Krikorian Intro – 1965 Immigration Act 50 Years Later
Philip Martin – 1965 Immigration Act 50 Years Later
Jerry Kammer – 1965 Immigration Act 50 Years Later
Peggy Orchowski – 1965 Immigration Act 50 Years Later
Q and A – 1965 Immigration Act 50 Years Later
Panel Clip: Was JFK a Restrictionist?
Stop Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants – Expert Reveals the True Cost of Amnesty
Alan Keyes: Stop Illegal Immigration, No Amnesty!
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.
O’Malley: ‘Clinton Has Changed Her Position on Virtually Every Defining Issue’
BY DANIEL HALPER
“I think this race has changed in many, many ways just over the last week … the differences that I am going to be able to make now between two candidates who have been in Washington for about 40 years now – neither one of whom have gotten much done – and another candidate representing a new perspective and a new generation of leadership who’s actually gotten difficult things done,” O’Malley said.
Later O’Malley added, “A weathervane shifts its positions in the wind. Effective leaders do not. I am clear about my principles I know where I stand. I was against the Trans Pacific Partnership 8 months ago. Hillary Clinton has changed her position on virtually every defining issue in this race – except for one, and that’s to protect the big banks on Wall Street and go about with business as usual. I don’t think that’s what the people of our country are looking for. I have the independence, I have the backbone, to stand up for what our nation needs. That’s what people are going to see now that it’s down to a three person race.”
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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
Story 1: Leading From Behind and Strategic Patience — Obama’s Total Failed Foreign Policy Disaster — No Leadership, No Guts, No Strategy — Obama The Empty Suit — Putin Resets The Middle East — Trump Strategy For Syria, Islamic State and Islamic Republic of Iran — Videos
Russia hits ISIS from Caspian Sea
Four Russian cruise missiles launched from the Caspian Sea fell short of their Syrian targets and landed in a rural part of Iran, U.S. officials said Thursday.
The errant missiles were part of a volley of 26 long range cruise missiles that Russians fired from ships in the Caspian Sea a day earlier, according to officials who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss intelligence matters.
The Russians fired Kalibir cruise missiles, which had not yet been used in combat conditions. The flight path took the missiles over Iran and Iraq. One U.S. official said they had not been able to detect any casualties or damage from the strikes, suggesting they may have fallen harmlessly in a rural part of Iran.
The development comes amid growing concerns about Russian actions in the region. The Russians have launched airstrikes in Syria, saying they are attacking terrorists. Washington and its allies have accused Russia of trying to prop up the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned Thursday that Russia will soon experience consequences as it ramps up its military campaign in Syria. “In the coming days, the Russians will begin to suffer from casualties,” he said.
Syria crisis Russian missiles ‘fell on Iran’
Russia Launches Missile Strikes In Syria
Cruise missile attack from Caspian sea – Russian Navy fires on ISIS
Ralph Peters: The time for a no-fly zone in Syria has come and gone.
U.S. diverting aircrafts over Syria
Russia fires missiles from warships into Syria
Iran Hit by Russian Cruise Missiles Intended for Syria
Four Syria-Bound Russian Missiles Crashed in Iran, U.S. Officials Say
Jim Zirin-Will Obama’s Failed Foreign Policies Hurt the Democrats?-James M. Lindsay
Jim Lindsay focuses on the relationship between foreign policy and domestic political considerations at the Council on Foreign Relations. He considers the domestic political fall-out from Obama’s Iran deal and the failed policies in Syria, and shares with Jim Zirin that it is too early to tell whether these factors will affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Dick Cheney on Obama’s foreign policy failures, GOP race
News Wrap: Russian violation of Turkish air space ‘unacceptable,’ says NATO chief
Kerry, Carter at odds over Russia involvement in Syria?
MSNBC: Obama’s Syria policy ‘in tatters’ and his greatest foreign policy failing
Gen. Flynn: Obama causing collapse of foreign policy
Closer look at Russian fighter jets bombing ISIS (EXCLUSIVE)
John McCain condemns Russian airstrikes in Syria calls Obama Crazy – LoneWolf Sager
Donald Trump: ‘Let Russia fight ISIS’
Trump insists Russia will fight ISIS; ALSO says he will send back Syrian refugees Obama bringing in
Trump says US does not win wars anymore, calls for a change
Obama’s Admin “Foreign Policy Unraveveling” – Where’s The Accountability? – Donald Trump
Published on Oct 1, 2012
Obama’s Admin “Foreign Policy Unraveveling” – Where’s The Accountability? – Donald Trump
Is Obama’s foreign policy doctrine working?
Stephanopoulos to Obama: Are You Failing By Your Own Foreign Policy Standards?
Thomas Barnett: Rethinking America’s military strategy
High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq
Syrian forces begin ground offensive backed by Russia air and sea power
By Andrew Roth and Erin Cunningham
Russia’s Caspian Sea fleet on Wednesday launched a complex cruise missile strike against Syrian rebels from nearly 1,000 miles away, a potent exhibition of Moscow’s firepower as it backs a government offensive in Syria’s multi-faction civil war.
The bombardment was the first naval salvo of Russia’s week-old military intervention in Syria, where it has already launched more than 100 airstrikes against the Islamic State and factions of Islamist and U.S.-backed rebel forces opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.
The attack showcased Russia’s advanced military capabilities and closer coordination with the governments of Iran and Iraq, whose airspace the missiles traversed before striking targets in Syria held by the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, an affiliate of al-Qaeda.
Like Russia, Iran is a key backer of Assad. Iraq’s leadership has close ties with Iran but also depends on support from the United States and Western allies.
[Why Russia is in Syria]
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a nationally televised briefing that the ships launched 26 cruise missiles, destroying 11 targets and killing no civilians. He also said that Russian planes continued to carry out airstrikes Wednesday.
The naval strikes on Wednesday were the first known operational use of state-of-the-art SSN-30A Kalibr cruise missiles, which were still being tested by the Russian navy in August.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the strikes spoke to the professionalism of Russia’s revamped army.
“We know how difficult it is to carry out this kind of anti-terrorist operation,” Putin told Shoigu. “Of course, it is early to draw conclusions. But what has been done so far deserves a highly positive assessment.”
The strikes came as Syrian troops backed by Russian air power launched their first major ground offensive since Moscow began its intervention in the conflict Sept. 30.
News reports and video of fighting uploaded to the Internet on Wednesday showed that the Syrian army was moving from the city of Hama toward Idlib, a stronghold held by a coalition of mostly Islamist rebels.
While the Kremlin’s stated aim in the conflict is to fight the Islamic State in Syria, the United States and its allies say Russia is concentrating its firepower against other rebel groups to prevent Assad from being overrun. One video on Wednesday appeared to show the Free Syrian Army, a moderate force backed by the West, firing antitank missiles at government troops advancing with Russian air support.
Ground level: On the scene of controversial Russian airstrikes in Syria
View Photos The actions, quickly criticized by Washington, add an unpredictable element to a multilayered war.
“Russia is targeting civilians and the Free Syrian Army brigades that are supported by America. They are not targeting the Islamic State as they claimed,” said Raed Fares, a Syrian activist in Idlib. “Russia is here to keep Assad in power, so they will strike what Assad strikes.”
In televised remarks on Wednesday, Putin encouraged the Free Syrian Army to join an alliance with Assad’s troops against the Islamic State. At the same time, he belittled the influence of moderate rebels on the conflict.
“True, we don’t currently know where it is and who is leading it,” Putin said of the Free Syrian Army.
[These are the cruise missiles Russia just sent into Syria]
Russian news reports Wednesday said Syrian forces launched a heavy artillery bombardment and were moving toward Idlib, but they added that it was not yet clear how far the Syrian troops had advanced.
The news reports also said Syrian troops used advanced rocket-launch systems similar to the ones that Western officials say Moscow shipped to Syria last week.
In a video posted to YouTube from the town of Kafranboudah, in the western part of the Hama countryside, a Syrian rebel commander said government forces began shelling his unit’s position on the front line early Wednesday. Kafranboudah is about 16 miles east of Latakia province, a Syrian regime stronghold. More than a dozen rebel groups formed a coalition to oust government forces from Hama in August.
Regime soldiers on Wednesday stormed the town from three sides with Russian air support, the rebel commander said, and the fighting has extended nearly 20 miles southeast to the town of Maan. He did not say whether his fighters suffered any losses but said Syrian rebels destroyed at least four regime tanks with antitank missiles.
The West, which has launched more than 7,000 airstrikes against the Islamic State in the past year, has bristled at Moscow’s military buildup in Syria. Russia has deployed surface-to-air missiles, fighter jets and radar-jamming equipment that officials say is meant to interfere with Western forces.
On Tuesday, U.S. and Russian officials tentatively agreed to resume talks on how to coordinate in the skies over Syria. Turkey, a NATO member that shares a border with Syria, has already accused Russia of violating its airspace.
In Rome, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter did not respond directly when asked by reporters about the Russian military’s apparent support for the Syrian government’s ground offensive.
But the Pentagon chief for the first time ruled out any cooperation with Moscow in the fight against the Islamic State, saying that Russia’s strategy was clearly just to support Assad and his government.
“We believe Russia has the wrong strategy. They continue to hit targets that are not ISIL. This is a fundamental mistake,” Carter said, using one of the acronyms for the Islamic State.
In the past, the Obama administration has publicly held out hope — however faint — that Moscow might cooperate in the military campaign against the Islamic State.
In his most hard-line comments to date about Russia, Carter rejected the possibility of teaming up with the Russians in that regard. He said the Pentagon still wanted to talk with Moscow about finding ways to manage the crowded airspace above Syria and avoid any hostile or inadvertent encounters. “That’s it,” he said flatly.
There have been no reported close encounters or unsafe incidents involving U.S. and Russian warplanes so far in Syria, according to a senior U.S. defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss military operations.
Russian aircraft have “come closer” to U.S. drones on at least one occasion, the official said, but it was not a dangerous incident.
“Certainly they are in similar battle space, so they see each other and they are aware of each other,” the official said of Russian and U.S. warplanes.
Pentagon officials have said the Russian intervention in Syria has not forced the U.S. military or its coalition partners to alter the rate or location of their surveillance missions and airstrikes against the Islamic State.
The two sides have jousted in recent days over the conditions for holding another round of talks. Washington wants to limit the discussion to technical factors about aviation safety, while Moscow has said it wants a broader conversation about possibly coordinating military operations — something the Pentagon steadfastly opposes.
The senior U.S. defense official said the Pentagon drafted a document last week for the Russians that lays out “basic rules of flight conduct,” such as what language and radio frequencies pilots would use in a hostile or inadvertent encounter.
The Russians have not responded to any of the particulars, the official said.
Russia fires cruise missiles from warships into Syria
Russian warships in the Caspian Sea fired cruise missiles Wednesday as Syrian government troops launched a ground offensive in central Syria in the first major combined air-and-ground assault since Moscow began its military campaign in the country last week.
The missiles flew nearly 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) over Iran and Iraq and struck Raqqa and Aleppo provinces in the north and Idlib province in the northwest, Russian officials said. The Islamic State group has strongholds in Raqqa and Aleppo, while the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front has a strong presence in Idlib.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Russia was continuing to strike targets other than Islamic State militants, adding that he was concerned about the Syrian ground offensive backed by Moscow’s airpower.
The latest developments came a week after Russia began airstrikes in Syria, its longtime ally, on Sept. 30, and added a new dimension to the complex war that has torn apart the Mideast country since 2011.
Activists and rebels say the targets have included Western-backed fighters and other groups opposed to President Bashar Assad.
A Syrian official and activists said government troops pushed into areas in the central province of Hama and south of Idlib in the boldest multipronged attack on rebel-held areas, benefiting from the Russian air cover. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
Moscow has mainly targeted central and northwestern Syria, strategic regions that are the gateway to Assad’s strongholds in Damascus, and along the Mediterranean coast where Russia has a naval base.
The Russian airstrikes strikes appear to have emboldened Syrian troops to launch the ground push after a series of setbacks in northwestern Syria in recent months.
The Islamic State group is not present in the areas where the ground fighting is underway.
The offensive in central Syria and the ensuing clashes with militants, including the Nusra Front, was the first major ground fighting since the Russian campaign began.
Appearing on television with President Vladimir Putin, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said 26 missile strikes were conducted from four warships in the Caspian. Shoigu insisted the operation destroyed all the targets and did not launch any strikes on civilian areas.
The launches marked the combat debut of the Russian Kalibr long-range cruise missiles, equivalent to U.S. Tomahawk missiles.
“The fact that we launched precision weapons from the Caspian Sea to the distance of about 1,500 kilometers and hit all the designated targets shows good work by military industrial plants and good skills of personnel,” Putin said.
Andrei Kartapolov of the Russian General Staff told Russian news agencies the strikes were planned so that the cruise missiles would fly “over unpopulated areas.” Shoigu also said Russia has carried out 112 airstrikes on IS positions since Sept. 30.
Iranian state TV, citing Russian media, reported that the Russian missiles flew through Iran’s airspace and hit targets in Syria.
“The Russian military operation in support of the Syrian army continued at new higher technological level,” said Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, adding that the Syrian army began an offensive “with our fire support.”
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a government offensive began early Wednesday on four fronts in Idlib and neighboring Hama provinces in what the group’s director Rami Abdurrahman called “the most intense fighting in months.”
In Syria, the leader of a U.S.-backed rebel group Tajammu Alezzah confirmed the ground offensive in a text message to The Associated Press, saying Russian and Iranian soldiers were involved in the operation.
Russian officials deny sending any ground troops to the battlefield. Iran has been bolstering Assad by sending weapons and advisers, and helping arrange the deployment of Shiite fighters from Iraq and Hezbollah, as well as sending financial aid.
Last month, an intelligence sharing center was set up in Baghdad by Russia, Iraq, Iran and Syria to coordinate efforts to combat the Islamic State group.
Maj. Jamil al-Saleh said the offensive, accompanied by air cover and shelling, came from three fronts, including Latamneh, north of Hama province where his Tajammu Alezzah group is based, and Kfar Zeita to the north. The offensive targeted rural areas of Hama and Idlib that are almost totally controlled by rebel groups, he said.
Activist Ahmad al-Ahmad, who is in Idlib, said government troops “heavily” shelled central areas after rebels attacked an army post and destroyed a tank. He said the advance covered an area of over 16 kilometers (10 miles), and was a coordinated, multipronged attack, the boldest in the area in months. The rebels repulsed government troops, al-Ahmad said.
The Observatory, which has a network of activists in Syria, said the main launching point for government forces was the town of Morek on a highway linking Damascus and Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and its former commercial hub. Rebels have controlled areas on the highway since 2012.
The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, said rebels were able to destroy two tanks and an armored personnel carrier in northern Hama province near Idlib. Video on social media by rebel fighters showed government tanks burning, apparently after being hit by U.S.-made TOW missiles.
The Observatory said 37 Russian air raids hit on Wednesday alone.
Syrian state TV quoted an unidentified Syrian military official as saying Russian warplanes attacked IS positions in the towns of Al-Bab and Deir Hafer in Aleppo province.
Two low-flying helicopters were seen in Morek but escaped militant fire, the Observatory said. It was not immediately clear if the pilots were Russians or Syrians. Assad’s air force has Russian-made helicopters.
Although the Islamic State has no presence in the areas hit by airstrikes Wednesday, the Nusra Front is active in central and northern parts of the country — as are the Western-backed rebels. Russian officials have said the Nusra Front is among the groups it is targeting.
At a news conference in Rome, Carter said the U.S.-led coalition that also is conducting airstrikes in Syria has not agreed to cooperate with Russia in the fight against the Islamic State, and no collaboration is possible as long as Moscow continues to hit other targets.
He said the U.S. will conduct basic, technical talks with Russia about efforts to ensure that flights over Syria are conducted safely and, “That’s it.”
Washington is not prepared to cooperate with Russia’s strategy that is “tragically flawed,” he said.
“They continue to hit targets that are not ISIL,” Carter said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group. “We believe that is a fundamental mistake.”
Since September 2014, the coalition has been hitting Islamic State positions mostly in northern and eastern parts of Syria, as well as in Iraq. U.S. aircraft are still flying missions daily over Syria, the Pentagon said.
Russia’s entry into the crowded and sometimes uncoordinated air wars in Syria is making the U.S. increasingly nervous, reflecting concern at the Pentagon and in Europe about the risk of accidents or unintended conflict.
At least one U.S. military aircraft changed its route over Syria recently to avoid coming dangerously close to Russian warplanes, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. He could not provide details, including how many times this has happened.
In Turkey, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu renewed criticism of Russia, insisting the airstrikes were mainly targeting the moderate Syrian opposition and thus helping strengthen IS. He urged Moscow to respect Turkey’s airspace, saying the country would not “make any concessions” on its border security.
Russian warplanes violated Turkey’s borders twice over the weekend, drawing strong protests from Turkey’s NATO allies. Turkey scrambled F-16s in response and also summoned the Russian ambassador to lodge protests.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said it had proposed a meeting between Turkish and Russian military officials in Ankara on avoiding Russian infringements of its airspace.
A. Moscow has said they were Kalibr ship-launched cruise missiles, also known as 3M-14s or, in NATO parlance, SS-N-30s. They are a fairly recent addition to an established family of ship-launched missiles that are mostly intended for ship-to-ship or shorter-range missions. The new model, intended for land attacks, is reported to have a much longer range than its siblings, perhaps reaching 1,550 miles.
Q. What is a cruise missile?
A. Unlike a ballistic missile, which is fired on a fairly simple high-altitude arc like a cannonball, a cruise missile does most of its flying horizontally at low altitude, like an airplane or a drone. The missiles can trace a complex flight paths, and some, like the Kalibr, are believed to accelerate to supersonic speeds as they approach their targets, making them hard to detect and intercept. Depending on their guidance systems, cruise missiles can be highly accurate, compared with ballistic missiles. But they are single-use weapons and are relatively complicated and expensive to manufacture.
Q.How was the strike launched?
A. The Defense Ministry said the missiles were fired from four ships in the Caspian Sea and flew across Iran and northern Iraq to reach their targets. Russia has maintained a naval flotilla in the Caspian — which is landlocked from the rest of the world’s seas — for nearly 300 years. The flotilla currently has no aircraft carriers or other large capital ships, but it has frigates and Buyan-class missile corvettes, including two that were commissioned just last year, the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Veliky Ustyug. Those two ships reportedly fired cruise missiles at sea targets during a major naval exercise last month.
Q. Does the United States use similar weapons?
A. Yes, frequently. The best-known American cruise missile, the Tomahawk, has been used in both Persian Gulf wars and against targets in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Libya, Yemen and most recently Syria.
Pentagon: Some Russian cruise missiles crashed in Iran
By Thomas Gibbons-Neff
Several cruise missiles fired from Russian ships at targets in Syria Wednesday crashed in Iran, according to Pentagon officials.
Twenty-six cruise missiles, launched from the Caspian Sea, traveled more than 900 miles over Iran and Iraq before hitting targets throughout Syria, according to a statement by the Russian Defense Ministry.
However, according to a senior U.S. defense official who requested anonymity to discuss intelligence matters Thursday, a few of the missiles did not make it to their intended targets.
[Syrian forces begin ground offensive backed by Russia air and sea power]
Reports on Iranian TV indicated that an “unidentified flying object” had crashed and exploded in a village near near the Iranian city of Takab. A number of cows were killed in the ensuing blast.
While it is unclear what made the missiles crash, videos posted on social media showed them flying overhead at low altitude. While it is common for cruise missiles to fly low (to avoid radar detection), it can make traversing mountainous terrain perilous.
The Russian Defense Ministry in Wednesday’s statement however, said that the new Kalibr-NK cruise missiles all hit within nine feet of their intended targets. The strikes landed in Raqqa, Idlib and Aleppo provinces, and Russian officials said they destroyed Islamic State positions, including training camps and ammunition depots.
The Kalibr cruise missile is a relatively new addition to Russia’s arsenal, and according to IHS Jane’s analyst Jeremy Binnie, Wednesday’s launch was the first time the missile’s 900-plus-mile range had been made public.
[Russia declares partial victory in bombing campaign in Syria]
While cruise missiles are traditionally used at the beginning of bombing campaigns to hit multiple high-value targets simultaneously while avoiding radar detection and maintaining the element of surprise, Russia’s strikes did none of those things. Instead, Binnie believes, everything that was targeted by the Russian cruise missiles could have easily been hit by other Russian assets within Syria (more than 50 aircraft) or possibly by Russian ships in the Mediterranean Sea.
“I think if you look at what cruise missiles are traditionally used for . . . this isn’t one of those scenarios,” Binnie said. “Russia has been striking the [Islamic State] for more than a week, and the U.S. has been for more than a year.”
Binnie went on to say that the cruise missile strikes were probably a show of Russian military force and technology, noting that the ships that fired the missiles — mostly small missile corvettes — were intended to demonstrate that even the small ships in the Russian navy are stronger than they look.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the smaller ships that participated in the strikes are approximately 230 feet long and their primary weapon is the Kalibr cruise missile. The flagship of the strike group, the Dagestan, is 320 feet long and displaces 2,000 tons.
Story 1: Watermelon President Obama and Pope Francis — Green on The Outside and Red On The Inside — Neither Is An Authority On Science, Economics, Or Democides — Cosmic or Social Justice Is Using Coercion and Force To Steal — Leads To Democide and Genocide — Videos
I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
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Pope Francis has created political controversy, both inside and outside the Catholic Church, by blaming capitalism for many of the problems of the poor. We can no doubt expect more of the same during his visit to the United States.
Pope Francis is part of a larger trend of the rise of the political left among Catholic intellectuals. He is, in a sense, the culmination of that trend.
There has long been a political left among Catholics, as among other Americans. Often they were part of the pragmatic left, as in the many old Irish-run, big city political machines that dispensed benefits to the poor in exchange for their votes, as somewhat romantically depicted in the movie classic, “The Last Hurrah.”
But there has also been a more ideological left. Where the Communists had their official newspaper, “The Daily Worker,” there was also “The Catholic Worker” published by Dorothy Day.
A landmark in the evolution of the ideological left among Catholics was a publication in the 1980s, by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, titled “Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy.”
Although this publication was said to be based on Catholic teachings, one of its principal contributors, Archbishop Rembert Weakland, said: “I think we should be up front and say that really we took this from the Enlightenment era.”
The specifics of the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter reflect far more of the secular Enlightenment of the 18th century than of Catholic traditions. Archbishop Weakland admitted that such an Enlightenment figure as Thomas Paine “is now coming back through a strange channel.”
Strange indeed. Paine rejected the teachings of “any church that I know of,” including “the Roman church.” He said: “My own mind is my own church.” Nor was Paine unusual among the leading figures of the 18th century Enlightenment.
To base social or moral principles on the philosophy of the 18th century Enlightenment, and then call the result “Catholic teachings” suggests something like bait-and-switch advertising.
But, putting aside religious or philosophical questions, we have more than two centuries of historical evidence of what has actually happened as the ideas of people like those Enlightenment figures were put into practice in the real world — beginning with the French Revolution and its disastrous aftermath.
Both the authors of the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter in the 1980s, and Pope Francis today, blithely throw around the phrase “the poor,” and blame poverty on what other people are doing or not doing to or for “the poor.”
Any serious look at the history of human beings over the millennia shows that the species began in poverty. It is not poverty, but prosperity, that needs explaining. Poverty is automatic, but prosperity requires many things — none of which is equally distributed around the world or even within a given society.
Geographic settings are radically different, both among nations and within nations. So are demographic differences, with some nations and groups having a median age over 40 and others having a median age under 20. This means that some groups have several times as much adult work experience as others.
Cultures are also radically different in many ways.
As distinguished economic historian David S. Landes put it, “The world has never been a level playing field.” But which has a better track record of helping the less fortunate — fighting for a bigger slice of the economic pie, or producing a bigger pie?
In 1900, only 3 percent of American homes had electric lights but more than 99 percent had them before the end of the century. Infant mortality rates were 165 per thousand in 1900 and 7 per thousand by 1997. By 2001, most Americans living below the official poverty line had central air conditioning, a motor vehicle, cable television with multiple TV sets, and other amenities.
A scholar specializing in the study of Latin America said that the official poverty level in the United States is the upper middle class in Mexico. The much criticized market economy of the United States has done far more for the poor than the ideology of the left.
Pope Francis’ own native Argentina was once among the leading economies of the world, before it was ruined by the kind of ideological notions he is now promoting around the world.
Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak — if his policy prescriptions were not as implausible as his social diagnoses are shrill.
Supporters of Francis have bought newspaper and broadcast advertisements to disseminate some of his woolly sentiments that have the intellectual tone of fortune cookies. One example: “People occasionally forgive, but nature never does.” The Vatican’s majesty does not disguise the vacuity of this. Is Francis intimating that environmental damage is irreversible? He neglects what technology has accomplished regarding London’s air (see Page 1 of Dickens’s “Bleak House”) and other matters.
George F. Will writes a twice-weekly column on politics and domestic and foreign affairs. He began his column with The Post in 1974, and he received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1977. He is also a contributor to FOX News’ daytime and primetime programming.View Archive
And the Earth is becoming “an immense pile of filth”? Hyperbole is a predictable precursor of yet anotherU.N. Climate Change Conference — the 21st since 1995. Fortunately, rhetorical exhibitionism increases as its effectiveness diminishes. In his June ency