Story 1: Obama’s Non-Transparent Federal Communications Commission Chairman Wheeler Refuses To Testify Before Congress or Publish Online The Proposed Draft Internet Regulations Pertaining To Net Neutrality (332 Page Final Draft) Before Voting on Thursday, February 26, 2015 — Government Bureaucrats Messing With The Internet and Freedom of Speech — Time To Abolish The FCC — It Is All About Money and Power — Videos
Three Democrats Voted For Government Regulation, Taxation and Control of Internet
FCC’s Ajit Pai: Net Neutrality is a “Solution That Won’t Work to a Problem That Doesn’t Exist”
Internet Rejoices as FCC Imposes Strict Net Neutrality Rules
Sources: Wheeler Tweaks Net Neutrality Plan After Google Push
GOP Leader Slams FCC Ahead of Net Neutrality Vote
Sen. John Thune hammered the Federal Communications Commission ahead of a vote on net neutrality rules Thursday, which the South Dakota Republican termed a “partisan-line vote.”
“This will be the first time … where the Internet is going to be subject to the heavy-hand of regulation as opposed to the light touch that’s been utilized for so long up until this point,” Thune said. “And I hope that Feb. 26 doesn’t go down in history as the time when the Internet moved from something that was driven by free-market innovation to something that’s driven by bureaucratic decision making.”
The Truth About ‘Net Neutrality’ – FCC Rules Tomorrow. Please watch, & please circulate!
Net Neutrality will destroy the internet
The Truth About Net Neutrality
Limbaugh on “Net Neutrality”: Obama Exploits Ignorance of Young People to Seize Control of Internet
FCC Chairman Details His Net Neutrality Proposal
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan would apply to ISPs and wireless carriers. It will go to a full vote later this month.
FCC Chairman Signals New Net Neutrality Rules – IGN News
President Obama’s Statement on Keeping the Internet Open and Free
President Obama Makes Strong Pro Net Neutrality Statement…But Why?
Net Neutrality Explained. Simply and Accurately!
HOUSE CHAIR DEMANDS FCC NET NEUTRALITY GAG ORDER LIFTED
Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) demanded yesterday that the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler make public the details of the proposed net neutrality regulations that will regulate the Internet under the same rules as the old AT&T monopoly.
Chaffetz also asked the FCC Chair to appear and answer questions at the House Oversight hearing Wednesday, prior to the planned Agency vote on the draft rules now scheduled for Thursday.
The 332-page final draft FCC order was only delivered to the four other FCC commissioners three weeks ago. When Wheeler delivered the document, he took the unusual step of issuing a “gag order” to prevent its release before the FCC vote.
The FCC was forced to revisit “net neutrality” rules because the agency’s egregious 2010 effort at writing “Open Internet Rules” was thrown out in January 2014 by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Verizon v. FCC. Although the appeals court agreed the FCC had the authority to regulate broadband services, they rejected the FCC’s potentially biased micro-managing of the Internet.
Chairman Wheeler tried to ramrod President Obama’s net neutrality proposal through the FCC on May 15, 2014. It was understood at the time that Wheeler was trying to maximize FCC breadth for the new rules by basing the legal authority of his proposal on parts of both Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and the Telecommunications Act of 1996. But the day before the meeting, his fellow Democratic Commissioners, Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn, pushed back on the rush to regulate after being bombarded by consumers who wanted to preserve an open Internet.
In a blog post at the time, Commissioner Clyburn noted, “over 100,000 Americans have spoken” via email, calls and letters. Commissioner Rosenworcel added that she also wanted the FCC to delay consideration of the rules after the torrent of public response.
Breitbart reported on February 9 in “Republican FCC Member Warns Net Neutrality is Not Neutral” that Ajit Pai, as one of two Republican Commissioners on the FCC, tweeted, “I wish the public could see what’s inside.” Pai included a selfie of himself holding the huge document in front of a picture of Obama. The posture of the photo was clearly meant to depict the president as George Orwell’s “Big Brother.”
Pai later released a statement: “President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works,” he said. “The plan explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband… These new taxes will mean higher prices for consumers and more hidden fees that they have to pay.”
The Breitbart article generated over 4,600 comments and set off a firestorm on the Drudge Report as the public realized that the FCC process seemed fundamentally biased due to a lack of transparency and full disclosure prior to such an important regulatory vote. The public was also incensed that the free-for-all Internet was about to be subject to up to $16 billion a year in FCC user taxes and fees.
Congressman Chaffetz also sent Wheeler a letter questioning whether the FCC had been “independent, fair and transparent” in fashioning the rules to supposedly protect Internet content. “Although arguably one of the most sweeping new rules in the commission’s history, the process was conducted without using many of the tools at the chairman’s disposal to ensure transparency and public review,” Chaffetz added.
Representative Chaffetz included in the letter that there is a precedent for the FCC Chairman to make rules public before a vote. In 2007, Chairman Kevin Martin released to the public new media ownership rules, and the entire FCC testified in a House hearing prior to the final vote.
An elected official who supported the FCC postponement in 2007, Chaffetz notes, was Senator Barack Obama. “He specifically noted while a certain proposal ‘may pass the muster of a federal court, Congress and the public have the right to review any specific proposal and decide whether or not it constitutes sound policy. And the commission has the responsibility to defend any new proposal in public discourse and debate.”
With political fireworks going off yesterday, Republican FCC commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Ajit Pai late in the day asked Wheeler to postpone Thursday’s vote and release the draft Internet regulatory proposal for a 30 day public comment period.
Dear FCC: Rethink The Vague “General Conduct” Rule
BY CORYNNE MCSHERRY
For many months, EFF has been working with a broad coalition of advocates to persuade the Federal Communications Commission to adopt new Open Internet rules that would survive legal scrutiny and actually help protect the Open Internet. Our message has been clear from the beginning: the FCC has a role to play, but its role must be firmly bounded.
Two weeks ago, we learned that we had likely managed the first goal—the FCC is going to do the right thing and reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, giving it the ability to make new, meaningful Open Internet rules. But we are deeply concerned that the FCC’s new rules will include a provision that sounds like a recipe for overreach and confusion: the so-called “general conduct rule.”
According to the FCC’s own “Fact Sheet,” the proposed rule will allow the FCC to review (and presumably punish) non-neutral practices that may “harm” consumers or edge providers. Late last week, as the window for public comment was closing, EFF filed a letter with the FCC urging it to clarify and sharply limit the scope of any “general conduct” provision:
[T]he Commission should use its Title II authority to engage in light-touch regulation, taking great care to adhere to clear, targeted, and transparent rules. A “general conduct rule,” applied on a case-by- case basis with the only touchstone being whether a given practice “harms” consumers or edge providers, may lead to years of expensive litigation to determine the meaning of “harm” (for those who can afford to engage in it). What is worse, it could be abused by a future Commission to target legitimate practices that offer significant benefits to the public . . .
Accordingly, if the Commission intends to adopt a “general conduct rule” it should spell out, in advance, the contours and limits of that rule, and clarify that the rule shall be applied only in specific circumstances.
Unfortunately, if a recent report from Reuters is correct, the general conduct rule will be anything but clear. The FCC will evaluate “harm” based on consideration of seven factors: impact on competition; impact on innovation; impact on free expression; impact on broadband deployment and investments; whether the actions in question are specific to some applications and not others; whether they comply with industry best standards and practices; and whether they take place without the awareness of the end-user, the Internet subscriber.
There are several problems with this approach. First, it suggests that the FCC believes it has broad authority to pursue any number of practices—hardly the narrow, light-touch approach we need to protect the open Internet. Second, we worry that this rule will be extremely expensive in practice, because anyone wanting to bring a complaint will be hard-pressed to predict whether they will succeed. For example, how will the Commission determine “industry best standards and practices”? As a practical matter, it is likely that only companies that can afford years of litigation to answer these questions will be able to rely on the rule at all. Third, a multi-factor test gives the FCC an awful lot of discretion, potentially giving an unfair advantage to parties with insider influence.
We are days away from a final vote, and it appears that many of the proposed rules will make sense for the Internet. Based on what we know so far, however, the general conduct proposal may not. The FCC should rethink this one.
FCC Chair Refuses to Testify before Congress ahead of Net Neutrality Vote
by ANDREW JOHNSON February 25, 2015 10:19 AM
Two prominent House committee chairs are “deeply disappointed” in Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler for refusing to testify before Congress as “the future of the Internet is at stake.”
Wheeler’s refusal to go before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday comes on the eve of the FCC’s vote on new Internet regulations pertaining to net neutrality. The committee’s chairman, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), and Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.) criticized Wheeler and the administration for lacking transparency on the issue.
“So long as the chairman continues to insist on secrecy, we will continue calling for more transparency and accountability at the commission,” Chaffetz and Upton said in a statement. “Chairman Wheeler and the FCC are not above Congress.”
The vote on the new Internet regulations is scheduled for Thursday. The FCC’s two Republican commissioners have asked Wheeler to delay the vote to allow more time for review. The changes would allow the commission to regulate the Internet like a public utility, setting new standards that require the provision of equal access to all online content.
President Obama Urges FCC to Implement Stronger Net Neutrality Rules
President Obama today asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take up the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality, the principle that says Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all internet traffic equally.
The President has been a strong and consistent advocate of net neutrality since his first presidential campaign.
President Obama’s plan would reclassify consumer broadband services under what’s known as Title II of the Telecommunications Act. It would serve as a “basic acknowledgement of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone – not just one or two companies.”
The plan involves four commonsense steps that some service providers already observe:
No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player—not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business.
No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others — through a process often called “throttling”—based on the type of service or your ISP’s preferences.
Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs — the so-called “last mile” — is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. So, I am also asking the FCC to make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.
No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.
Ultimately, the FCC is an independent agency and the decision is theirs alone. But President Obama believes his plan is the best way to safeguard the incredible resource the Internet has become for all of us — so that an entrepreneur’s fledgling company has the same chance to succeed as established corporation’s, and so that access to a high school student’s blog isn’t unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money.
Nearly 4 million public comments were submitted to the FCC as part of the latest comment period, with overwhelming support for the principles the President is calling for.
Story 2: The Ukraine Ceasefire Is A Failure — Will NATO Be Forced To Intervene? — Videos
BBC News Ukraine crisis BBC meets last few Donetsk residents
Kerry says arming Ukrainian forces has not been ruled out
Conversation: Arming Ukraine with Lethal Weapons has Risks
Former U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz discusses Ukraine ceasefire
Ceasefire appears to be failing in Ukraine
Ceasefire appears to be failing in Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels now control key town
Shaky ceasefire in Ukraine
East Ukraine Opinion: Soldiers and residents in Artemivsk doubt ceasefire will last
Ukraine: Fighting continues despite truce
Fierce fighting is said to be continuing in the key Ukrainian town of Debaltseve, as the new ceasefire appears to be failing.
Rebels say they have taken most of the town, but the government says it is still in its control.
Gas Pipeline Blast Caught On Video, Hit By Shell In Eastern Ukraine
Ukraine and Natural Gas
Ukraine promised not to steal Russian gas from Europe
Russia halts plans for natural gas pipleine to Europe
Russia Expands Its Natural Gas Infrastructure (Agenda)
Caspian pipeline politics of Europe, Russia and China
Russia supplies more then 25 percent of Europe’s hydrocarbon needs. Ever since the natural gas cutoffs in 2006 and 2009, the European countries have been searched for ways to reduce their dependency on Russian oil and natural gas. In this context, the crisis in Ukraine has sparked a new drive for the search for alternative sources of energy. One project that is of particular interest, but underappreciated in the media, is the Trans-Caspian pipeline. If realized it would significantly change the energy map of Europe in the long term.
Fulcrium – Like it or not, Russian natural gas is here to stay – panel on European Energy Security
The LBS GES Energy Security panel addressed geo-political issues and challenges decision-makers face in the pursuit of European energy supply security in the wake of the Ukraine Crisis. Bottom line: The EU will remain dependent on Russian natural gas for decades to come irrespective of sanctions, source of supply diversification, and renewables agendas ! Likewise Moscow is dependent on the EU for 60% of Gazprom’s revenues. Like it or not, the EU and Russia are highly co-dependent as far as Russian natural gas is concerned.
Days after this debate took place, Russian President Vladimir Putin shelved the $40bn South Stream project designed to bypass Ukraine as the key transit state for Russian gas to Europe. And in a further twist, on 16 December 2014, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Bulgaria to enter into dialogue with Moscow to revive the South Stream project. Perhaps this is a signal of a softening EU stance in order to rebuild economic ties with Russia, more out of a necessity to safeguard Germany’s and Bulgaria’s interests. Other countries which stood to gain from South Stream, including Serbia and Hungary, also want to rescue the project. Russia supplies about 25 percent of EU gas needs; half of that flows via Ukrainian transit pipelines. The EU’s most powerful economy, Germany, is still highly dependent on Russian natural gas, importing 30% of it’s annual gas consumption from Russia.
Story 1: Breaking: Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) Seeks Emergency Court Stay Order To Restart Immoral, Illegal and Unconstitutional Program To Give 4-5 Illegal Aliens Work Permits — Time To Impeach The Tyrant — Videos
U.S. Justice Department seeks to block Texas immigration ruling – LoneWolf Sager
Fed Judge Blocks Pres Obama Immigration Plan – Andrew Napolitano – Sen Ted Cruz – The Kelly File
Immigration Showdown – Texas Judge Stalls Obama Executive Action – Special Report All Star Panel
Fed Judge Blocks Pres’ Deferred Deportations For Illegal Immigrants – Sheriff Joe Arpaio – Cavuto
Justice Department to seek stay in Texas immigration ruling
By Evan Perez
The Justice Department plans to ask a federal judge to allow the Obama administration to continue its plans to implement President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration while it appeals the judge’s ruling blocking the order.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday the department will ask for a stay of the ruling by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who ruled this week to temporarily stop the Homeland Security Department from proceeding with the President’s order.
The stay request will be filed by Monday, Earnest said. Justice Department officials plan to seek an expedited hearing of their appeal, hoping that it can be resolved in the next few months. A stay would allow the administration to continue to prepare to implement the order. DHS said it suspended all such preparation after Hanen’s ruling.
The stay request is widely considered a long shot, at least when it first goes to Hanen. If denied a stay, the Justice Department could then ask for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in New Orleans, which leans conservative, to intervene and put Hanen’s ruling on hold.
Obama issued the order late last year to shield as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Hanen ruled in a lawsuit brought by 26 states that the administration had failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act, which calls for the White House to afford a longer notification and comment period before taking action.
Hanen’s ruling for now accomplishes what Republicans in Congress have sought to do to block funding for DHS to implement the executive order. A standoff in the Senate with Democrats has threatened to cause a partial shutdown of DHS at month’s end because of the funding issue.
Depending on how long it takes to resolve the appeals court fight, the fate of executive order may not be decided until President Obama’s term in office is drawing to a close.
Obama to seek emergency order restarting immigration programs
By Mike Lillis
Officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) plan to seek what is known as an emergency stay that would essentially undo a Texas-based federal judge’s injunction from earlier this week. If the stay is granted, the government could restart a pair of executive programs that will shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said DOJ will file for the stay by “Monday at the latest.”
The emergency stay had been sought by immigrant rights advocates, who want to get the programs up and running as soon as possible while the appeals process plays out.
“We — as immigrants and as Americans — have waited for nearly a quarter century for these much-needed improvements to our broken immigration system,” Marielena Hincapié, head of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), said Friday in a statement. “We should not allow a flawed legal decision to delay these changes any longer.”
Making good on earlier vows, DOJ will also file a separate appeal seeking to restart the executive programs.
“We will seek that appeal because we believe when you evaluate the legal merits of the arguments, that there is a solid legal foundation for the president to take the steps he announced last year to help reform our immigration system,” Earnest said.
At issue are two new initiatives launched unilaterally by Obama on Nov. 20.
The first expands eligibility for the president’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which halts deportations and allows work permits for certain undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. The second, known as DAPA, would extend similar benefits to the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents.
Combined, the programs could affect as many as 5 million immigrants living in the country illegally.
Many states, however, were quick to object. And Texas — joined by 25 other states — filed a lawsuit contending the programs marked an abuse of executive authority that would cripple their budgets with exorbitant new costs.
In a decision announced near midnight on Monday, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen agreed, arguing that the administration failed to comply with a federal law governing the adoption of new federal rules.
Hanen has not yet ruled on the merits of the states’ complaints, but said they have a significant enough case that both the DAPA and expanded DACA programs should be put on hold until the legal challenges are resolved.
The effects of the decision were immediate, as administration officials quickly announced that they would not begin accepting applications for either program until the court decisions are final.
Before the ruling, the Homeland Security Department was poised to begin accepting applications for the expanded-DACA program this week, and the for the DAPA program in May. Both have been suspended indefinitely.
Hanen’s injunction does not affect the original DACA program, which remains up and running.
BREAKING: Obama to Defy Federal Court – Seeks Emergency Order to Re-Start Amnesty Executive Order
By Reagan Wilson
As we reported earlier this week, a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction that would prevent President Obama’s “Executive Amnesty” program, which would essentially grant immigration amnesty to as many as five million illegal aliens currently living in the United States.
Now, we are getting reports that the President is seeking an emergency order (on Friday afternoon of course) that would allow the programs to continue effective immediately.
The Obama administration will seek an emergency court order to move forward with President Obama’s executive action on immigration.
Officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) plan to seek what is known as an emergency stay that would essentially undo a Texas-based federal judge’s injunction from earlier this week. If the stay is granted, the government could restart a pair of executive programs that will shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said DOJ will file for the stay by “Monday at the latest.”
The emergency stay had been sought by immigrant rights advocates, who want to get the programs up and running as soon as possible while the appeals process plays out.
“We — as immigrants and as Americans — have waited for nearly a quarter century for these much-needed improvements to our broken immigration system,” Marielena Hincapié, head of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), said Friday in a statement. “We should not allow a flawed legal decision to delay these changes any longer.”
Story 1: The American People’s Grievance: Barack Obama Is An Islamic Terrorist Denier — Evil or Stupid? — Stupid Is As Stupid Does — Yes, Both –Videos
“Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam. That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the “Islamic State.” And they propagate the notion that America — and the West, generally — is at war with Islam. That’s how they recruit. That’s how they try to radicalize young people. We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists. (Applause.) And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
~President Barack Obama, February 18, 2015
Forrest Gump (1/10) Best Movie Quote – Life is Like a Box of Chocolates (1994)
Obama schools Right Wing It is not Islamic Terrorism!
Afterburner w/Bill Whittle — Showtime: Evil or Stupid?
Bernard Haykel: How Islamic is the Islamic State?
“To say that IS is outside of the interpretive parameters of Islam is factually incorecct. […] There is no question that these people are drawign inspiration from Islamic texts. And they know these texts better than most Muslims”, Professor Bernard Haykel of Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies responds to an open rejection letter of the IS movement signed by 126 Sunni scholars.
Talking to War and Peace Talk, Professor Haykel also shared insights on the strand of Islamic tradition IS draws on and the reasons why these Sunni critics have been hesistant to condemn IS members as heretics.
The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on November 14, 2014.
The Folly of Bombing the Islamic State
“Bin Laden was very proud that he had only spent 500.000 dollars on the 9/11 attacks. The US in response to those attacks has probably spent 3 trillion dollars. So as a return on investment, Bin Laden has done really well”.
Professor Bernard Haykel of Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies elaborates on the current US-led airstrike-campaign against the Islamic State. He explores how that will be framed by the jihadist Sunni movements Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, and argues that these strikes will confirm their narrative of a conspiracy between the West, the Jews and the Shia Muslims. He stresses that “IS is not a Western problem, it is a Middle Eastern problem”. He also argues very strongly against foreign intervention, saying that: “Every time the West has intervened in the Middle East for the last 200 years it has led to a much worse situation both for the people of the region and for the West.”
The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on November 14, 2014.
Prof Haykel on the Islamic State and Al Qaeda
Is a Fractured Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt’s Future?
Genieve Abdo and Bernard Haykel – “Understanding the Complexities of Sunni — Shi’a Relations”
Who are the Muslim Brotherhood? – Truthloader
U.S. Policy and Islamism after the Arab Spring – Shimon Shamir – Clip from “Reflections on Islamism”
The History of the Muslim Brotherhood in 3 minutes
Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Overview
The American Muslim Brotherhood President – Barack Hussein Obama
The Great Deception New World Order & Muslim Brotherhood
An Alternative for U.S. Policy – Shimon Shamir – Clip from “Reflections on Islamism”
Islamism and Intervention against ISIS — Shimon Shamir – Clip from “Reflections on Islamism”
Reflections on Islamism: From the Muslim Brotherhood to the Islamic State
Obama Behind Muslim Brotherhood Caliphate Conspiracy
Former Muslim Brotherhood member: “Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim Terrorist”
Barack Obama is a Member of the Muslim Brotherhood
Treason Exposed! Obama Used Benghazi Attack to Cover Up Arms Shipments to Muslim Brotherhood
Why doesn’t Obama say “Islamic” terrorism?
While Obama Appeases Islamic Terrorists, Egyptian President Condemns Them! • Kelly File • 1/9/15 •
President Obama Islam Speech Summit Extremism (Full Speech) – We aren’t at war with Islam
Forrest Gump (1/9) Movie CLIP – Peas and Carrots (1994) HD
Remarks by the President in Closing of the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism
South Court Auditorium
4:20 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat.
Well, thank you, Lisa, for the introduction. Lisa is an example of the countless dedicated public servants across our government, a number of who are here today, who are working tirelessly every single day on behalf of the security and safety of the American people. So we very much appreciate her. And thanks to all of you for your attendance and participation in this important summit.
For more than 238 years, the United States of America has not just endured, but we have thrived and surmounted challenges that might have broken a lesser nation. After a terrible civil war, we repaired our union. We weathered a Great Depression, became the world’s most dynamic economy. We fought fascism, liberated Europe. We faced down communism — and won. American communities have been destroyed by earthquakes and tornadoes and fires and floods — and each time we rebuild.
The bombing that killed 168 people could not break Oklahoma City. On 9/11, terrorists tried to bring us to our knees; today a new tower soars above New York City, and America continues to lead throughout the world. After Americans were killed at Fort Hood and the Boston Marathon, it didn’t divide us; we came together as one American family.
In the face of horrific acts of violence — at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, or at a Jewish community center outside Kansas City — we reaffirmed our commitment to pluralism and to freedom, repulsed by the notion that anyone should ever be targeted because of who they are, or what they look like, or how they worship.
Most recently, with the brutal murders in Chapel Hill of three young Muslim Americans, many Muslim Americans are worried and afraid. And I want to be as clear as I can be: As Americans, all faiths and backgrounds, we stand with you in your grief and we offer our love and we offer our support.
My point is this: As Americans, we are strong and we are resilient. And when tragedy strikes, when we take a hit, we pull together, and we draw on what’s best in our character — our optimism, our commitment to each other, our commitment to our values, our respect for one another. We stand up, and we rebuild, and we recover, and we emerge stronger than before. That’s who we are. (Applause.)
And I say all this because we face genuine challenges to our security today, just as we have throughout our history. Challenges to our security are not new. They didn’t happen yesterday or a week ago or a year ago. We’ve always faced challenges. One of those challenges is the terrorist threat from groups like al Qaeda and ISIL. But this isn’t our challenge alone. It’s a challenge for the world. ISIL is terrorizing the people of Syria and Iraq, beheads and burns human beings in unfathomable acts of cruelty. We’ve seen deadly attacks in Ottawa and Sydney and, Paris, and now Copenhagen.
So, in the face of this challenge, we have marshalled the full force of the United States government, and we’re working with allies and partners to dismantle terrorist organizations and protect the American people. Given the complexities of the challenge and the nature of the enemy — which is not a traditional army — this work takes time, and will require vigilance and resilience and perspective. But I’m confident that, just as we have for more than two centuries, we will ultimately prevail.
And part of what gives me that confidence is the overwhelming response of the world community to the savagery of these terrorists — not just revulsion, but a concrete commitment to work together to vanquish these organizations.
At the United Nations in September, I called on the international community to come together and eradicate this scourge of violent extremism. And I want to thank all of you — from across America and around the world — for answering this call. Tomorrow at the State Department, governments and civil society groups from more than 60 countries will focus on the steps that we can take as governments. And I’ll also speak about how our nations have to remain relentless in our fight — our counterterrorism efforts — against groups that are plotting against our counties.
But we are here today because of a very specific challenge — and that’s countering violent extremism, something that is not just a matter of military affairs. By “violent extremism,” we don’t just mean the terrorists who are killing innocent people. We also mean the ideologies, the infrastructure of extremists –the propagandists, the recruiters, the funders who radicalize and recruit or incite people to violence. We all know there is no one profile of a violent extremist or terrorist, so there’s no way to predict who will become radicalized. Around the world, and here in the United States, inexcusable acts of violence have been committed against people of different faiths, by people of different faiths — which is, of course, a betrayal of all our faiths. It’s not unique to one group, or to one geography, or one period of time.
But we are here at this summit because of the urgent threat from groups like al Qaeda and ISIL. And this week we are focused on prevention — preventing these groups from radicalizing, recruiting or inspiring others to violence in the first place. I’ve called upon governments to come to the United Nations this fall with concrete steps that we can take together. And today, what I want to do is suggest several areas where I believe we can concentrate our efforts.
First, we have to confront squarely and honestly the twisted ideologies that these terrorist groups use to incite people to violence. Leading up to this summit, there’s been a fair amount of debate in the press and among pundits about the words we use to describe and frame this challenge. So I want to be very clear about how I see it.
Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam. That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the “Islamic State.” And they propagate the notion that America — and the West, generally — is at war with Islam. That’s how they recruit. That’s how they try to radicalize young people. We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists. (Applause.) And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam. (Applause.)
Now, just as those of us outside Muslim communities need to reject the terrorist narrative that the West and Islam are in conflict, or modern life and Islam are in conflict, I also believe that Muslim communities have a responsibility as well. Al Qaeda and ISIL do draw, selectively, from the Islamic texts. They do depend upon the misperception around the world that they speak in some fashion for people of the Muslim faith, that Islam is somehow inherently violent, that there is some sort of clash of civilizations.
Of course, the terrorists do not speak for over a billion Muslims who reject their hateful ideology. They no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God represents Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism. No religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism. (Applause.)
And to their credit, there are respected Muslim clerics and scholars not just here in the United States but around the world who push back on this twisted interpretation of their faith. They want to make very clear what Islam stands for. And we’re joined by some of these leaders today. These religious leaders and scholars preach that Islam calls for peace and for justice, and tolerance toward others; that terrorism is prohibited; that the Koran says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind. Those are the voices that represent over a billion people around the world.
But if we are going to effectively isolate terrorists, if we’re going to address the challenge of their efforts to recruit our young people, if we’re going to lift up the voices of tolerance and pluralism within the Muslim community, then we’ve got to acknowledge that their job is made harder by a broader narrative that does exist in many Muslim communities around the world that suggests the West is at odds with Islam in some fashion.
The reality — which, again, many Muslim leaders have spoken to — is that there’s a strain of thought that doesn’t embrace ISIL’s tactics, doesn’t embrace violence, but does buy into the notion that the Muslim world has suffered historical grievances — sometimes that’s accurate — does buy into the belief that so many of the ills in the Middle East flow from a history of colonialism or conspiracy; does buy into the idea that Islam is incompatible with modernity or tolerance, or that it’s been polluted by Western values.
So those beliefs exist. In some communities around the world they are widespread. And so it makes individuals — especially young people who already may be disaffected or alienated — more ripe for radicalization. And so we’ve got to be able to talk honestly about those issues. We’ve got to be much more clear about how we’re rejecting certain ideas.
So just as leaders like myself reject the notion that terrorists like ISIL genuinely represent Islam, Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam, that there’s an inherent clash in civilizations. Everybody has to speak up very clearly that no matter what the grievance, violence against innocents doesn’t defend Islam or Muslims, it damages Islam and Muslims. (Applause.)
And when all of us, together, are doing our part to reject the narratives of violent extremists, when all of us are doing our part to be very clear about the fact that there are certain universal precepts and values that need to be respected in this interconnected world, that’s the beginnings of a partnership.
As we go forward, we need to find new ways to amplify the voices of peace and tolerance and inclusion — and we especially need to do it online. We also need to lift up the voices of those who know the hypocrisy of groups like ISIL firsthand, including former extremists. Their words speak to us today. And I know in some of the discussions these voices have been raised: “I witnessed horrible crimes committed by ISIS.” “It’s not a revolution or jihad…it’s a slaughter…I was shocked by what I did.” “This isn’t what we came for, to kill other Muslims.” “I’m 28 — is this the only future I’m able to imagine?” That’s the voice of so many who were temporarily radicalized and then saw the truth. And they’ve warned other young people not to make the same mistakes as they did. “Do not run after illusions.” “Do not be deceived.” “Do not give up your life for nothing.” We need to lift up those voices.
And in all this work, the greatest resource are communities themselves, especially like those young people who are here today. We are joined by talented young men and women who are pioneering new innovations, and new social media tools, and new ways to reach young people. We’re joined by leaders from the private sector, including high-tech companies, who want to support your efforts. And I want to challenge all of us to build new partnerships that unleash the talents and creativity of young people — young Muslims — not just to expose the lies of extremists but to empower youth to service, and to lift up people’s lives here in America and around the world. And that can be a calling for your generation.
So that’s the first challenge — we’ve got to discredit these ideologies. We have to tackle them head on. And we can’t shy away from these discussions. And too often, folks are, understandably, sensitive about addressing some of these root issues, but we have to talk about them, honestly and clearly. (Applause.) And the reason I believe we have to do so is because I’m so confident that when the truth is out we’ll be successful. Now, a second challenge is we do have to address the grievances that terrorists exploit, including economic grievances. Poverty alone does not cause a person to become a terrorist, any more than poverty alone causes somebody to become a criminal. There are millions of people — billions of people — in the world who live in abject poverty and are focused on what they can do to build up their own lives, and never embrace violent ideologies.
Conversely, there are terrorists who’ve come from extraordinarily wealthy backgrounds, like Osama bin Laden. What’s true, though, is that when millions of people — especially youth — are impoverished and have no hope for the future, when corruption inflicts daily humiliations on people, when there are no outlets by which people can express their concerns, resentments fester. The risk of instability and extremism grow. Where young people have no education, they are more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and radical ideas, because it’s not tested against anything else, they’ve got nothing to weigh. And we’ve seen this across the Middle East and North Africa.
And terrorist groups are all too happy to step into a void. They offer salaries to their foot soldiers so they can support their families. Sometimes they offer social services — schools, health clinics — to do what local governments cannot or will not do. They try to justify their violence in the name of fighting the injustice of corruption that steals from the people — even while those terrorist groups end up committing even worse abuses, like kidnapping and human trafficking.
So if we’re going to prevent people from being susceptible to the false promises of extremism, then the international community has to offer something better. And the United States intends to do its part. We will keep promoting development and growth that is broadly shared, so more people can provide for their families. We’ll keep leading a global effort against corruption, because the culture of the bribe has to be replaced by good governance that doesn’t favor certain groups over others.
Countries have to truly invest in the education and skills and job training that our extraordinary young people need. And by the way, that’s boys and girls, and men and women, because countries will not be truly successful if half their populations — if their girls and their women are denied opportunity. (Applause.) And America will continue to forge new partnerships in entrepreneurship and innovation, and science and technology, so young people from Morocco to Malaysia can start new businesses and create more prosperity.
Just as we address economic grievances, we need to face a third challenge — and that’s addressing the political grievances that are exploited by terrorists. When governments oppress their people, deny human rights, stifle dissent, or marginalize ethnic and religious groups, or favor certain religious groups over others, it sows the seeds of extremism and violence. It makes those communities more vulnerable to recruitment. Terrorist groups claim that change can only come through violence. And if peaceful change is impossible, that plays into extremist propaganda.
So the essential ingredient to real and lasting stability and progress is not less democracy; it’s more democracy. (Applause.) It’s institutions that uphold the rule of law and apply justice equally. It’s security forces and police that respect human rights and treat people with dignity. It’s free speech and strong civil societies where people can organize and assemble and advocate for peaceful change. It’s freedom of religion where all people can practice their faith without fear and intimidation. (Applause.) All of this is part of countering violent extremism.
Fourth, we have to recognize that our best partners in all these efforts, the best people to help protect individuals from falling victim to extremist ideologies are their own communities, their own family members. We have to be honest with ourselves. Terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIL deliberately target their propaganda in the hopes of reaching and brainwashing young Muslims, especially those who may be disillusioned or wrestling with their identity. That’s the truth. The high-quality videos, the online magazines, the use of social media, terrorist Twitter accounts — it’s all designed to target today’s young people online, in cyberspace.
And by the way, the older people here, as wise and respected as you may be, your stuff is often boring — (laughter) — compared to what they’re doing. (Applause.) You’re not connected. And as a consequence, you are not connecting.
So these terrorists are a threat, first and foremost, to the communities that they target, which means communities have to take the lead in protecting themselves. And that is true here in America, as it’s true anywhere else. When someone starts getting radicalized, family and friends are often the first to see that something has changed in their personality. Teachers may notice a student becoming withdrawn or struggling with his or her identity, and if they intervene at that moment and offer support, that may make a difference.
Faith leaders may notice that someone is beginning to espouse violent interpretations of religion, and that’s a moment for possible intervention that allows them to think about their actions and reflect on the meaning of their faith in a way that’s more consistent with peace and justice. Families and friends, coworkers, neighbors, faith leaders — they want to reach out; they want to help save their loved ones and friends, and prevent them from taking a wrong turn.
But communities don’t always know the signs to look for, or have the tools to intervene, or know what works best. And that’s where government can play a role — if government is serving as a trusted partner. And that’s where we also need to be honest. I know some Muslim Americans have concerns about working with government, particularly law enforcement. And their reluctance is rooted in the objection to certain practices where Muslim Americans feel they’ve been unfairly targeted.
So, in our work, we have to make sure that abuses stop, are not repeated, that we do not stigmatize entire communities. Nobody should be profiled or put under a cloud of suspicion simply because of their faith. (Applause.) Engagement with communities can’t be a cover for surveillance. We can’t “securitize” our relationship with Muslim Americans — (applause) — dealing with them solely through the prism of law enforcement. Because when we do, that only reinforces suspicions, makes it harder for us to build the trust that we need to work together.
As part of this summit, we’re announcing that we’re going to increase our outreach to communities, including Muslim Americans. We’re going to step up our efforts to engage with partners and raise awareness so more communities understand how to protect their loved ones from becoming radicalized. We’ve got to devote more resources to these efforts. (Applause.)
And as government does more, communities are going to have to step up as well. We need to build on the pilot programs that have been discussed at this summit already — in Los Angeles, in Minneapolis, in Boston. These are partnerships that bring people together in a spirit of mutual respect and create more dialogue and more trust and more cooperation. If we’re going to solve these issues, then the people who are most targeted and potentially most affected — Muslim Americans — have to have a seat at the table where they can help shape and strengthen these partnerships so that we’re all working together to help communities stay safe and strong and resilient. (Applause.)
And finally, we need to do what extremists and terrorists hope we will not do, and that is stay true to the values that define us as free and diverse societies. If extremists are peddling the notion that Western countries are hostile to Muslims, then we need to show that we welcome people of all faiths.
Here in America, Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding. (Applause.) Generations of Muslim immigrants came here and went to work as farmers and merchants and factory workers, helped to lay railroads and build up America. The first Islamic center in New York City was founded in the 1890s. America’s first mosque — this was an interesting fact — was in North Dakota. (Laughter.)
Muslim Americans protect our communities as police officers and firefighters and first responders, and protect our nation by serving in uniform, and in our intelligence communities, and in homeland security. And in cemeteries across our country, including at Arlington, Muslim American heroes rest in peace having given their lives in defense of all of us. (Applause.)
And of course that’s the story extremists and terrorists don’t want the world to know — Muslims succeeding and thriving in America. Because when that truth is known, it exposes their propaganda as the lie that it is. It’s also a story that every American must never forget, because it reminds us all that hatred and bigotry and prejudice have no place in our country. It’s not just counterproductive; it doesn’t just aid terrorists; it’s wrong. It’s contrary to who we are.
I’m thinking of a little girl named Sabrina who last month sent me a Valentine’s Day card in the shape of a heart. It was the first Valentine I got. (Laughter.) I got it from Sabrina before Malia and Sasha and Michelle gave me one. (Laughter.) So she’s 11 years old. She’s in the 5th grade. She’s a young Muslim American. And she said in her Valentine, “I enjoy being an American.” And when she grows up, she wants to be an engineer — or a basketball player. (Laughter.) Which are good choices. (Laughter.) But she wrote, “I am worried about people hating Muslims…If some Muslims do bad things, that doesn’t mean all of them do.” And she asked, “Please tell everyone that we are good people and we’re just like everyone else.” (Applause.) Now, those are the words — and the wisdom — of a little girl growing up here in America, just like my daughters are growing up here in America. “We’re just like everybody else.” And everybody needs to remember that during the course of this debate.
As we move forward with these challenges, we all have responsibilities, we all have hard work ahead of us on this issue. We can’t paper over problems, and we’re not going to solve this if we’re always just trying to be politically correct. But we do have to remember that 11-year-old girl. That’s our hope. That’s our future. That’s how we discredit violent ideologies, by making sure her voice is lifted up; making sure she’s nurtured; making sure that she’s supported — and then, recognizing there are little girls and boys like that all around the world, and us helping to address economic and political grievances that can be exploited by extremists, and empowering local communities, and us staying true to our values as a diverse and tolerant society even when we’re threatened — especially when we’re threatened.
There will be a military component to this. There are savage cruelties going on out there that have to be stopped. ISIL is killing Muslims at a rate that is many multiples the rate that they’re killing non-Muslims. Everybody has a stake in stopping them, and there will be an element of us just stopping them in their tracks with force. But to eliminate the soil out of which they grew, to make sure that we are giving a brighter future to everyone and a lasting sense of security, then we’re going to have to make it clear to all of our children — including that little girl in 5th grade — that you have a place. You have a place here in America. You have a place in those countries where you live. You have a future.
Ultimately, those are the antidotes to violent extremism. And that’s work that we’re going to have to do together. It will take time. This is a generational challenge. But after 238 years, it should be obvious — America has overcome much bigger challenges, and we’ll overcome the ones that we face today. We will stay united and committed to the ideals that have shaped us for more than two centuries, including the opportunity and justice and dignity of every single human being.
Story 2: Memo To Obama Administration: Read Graeme Wood’s Atlantic Monthly Article: What ISIS Really Wants? — Videos
Journalist Graeme Wood on the Islamic State: VICE Meets
Islamic State militants ‘burn to death 45 in Iraq
Islamic State: The New Terror
The Battle for Iraq: Shia Militias vs. the Islamic State
The Islamic State (Full Length)
The Islamic State, a hardline Sunni jihadist group that formerly had ties to al Qaeda, has conquered large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group has announced its intention to reestablish the caliphate and has declared its leader, the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the caliph.
The lightning advances the Islamic State made across Syria and Iraq in June shocked the world. But it’s not just the group’s military victories that have garnered attention — it’s also the pace with which its members have begun to carve out a viable state.
Flush with cash and US weapons seized during its advances in Iraq, the Islamic State’s expansion shows no sign of slowing down. In the first week of August alone, Islamic State fighters have taken over new areas in northern Iraq, encroaching on Kurdish territory and sending Christians and other minorities fleeing as reports of massacres emerged.
VICE News reporter Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings.
Embedded with Al-Qaeda in Syria: ISIS and al-Nusra
Three years ago, an uprising against the Assad regime turned into what looked like a straightforward civil war between Syrian government forces and rebels. However, over time, what had started as a largely secular opposition movement began to take on more of a radical Islamist tone, with two al Qaeda offshoots — the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra — becoming the dominant forces on the ground across the rebel-held North.
One VICE filmmaker managed to secure unprecedented access to both al-Qaeda factions battling Syria’s government forces, despite the risk of journalists being kidnapped. This is a remarkable portrait of the foreign volunteers and local Syrians willing to fight and die to establish a new caliphate on Europe’s doorstep.
Ghosts of Aleppo (Full Length)
A City Left in Ruins: The Battle for Aleppo
Should ISIS Be Burning Captives? (David Wood)
Who Are The Salafis and Wahhabies Yusuf Estes Islam
Bernard Haykel: How Islamic is the Islamic State?
Prof Haykel on the Islamic State and Al Qaeda
IS is a symptom of a deep feeling amongst Sunni Arabs of being disenfranchised. […] It is the same sentiment that led to the emergence of Al-Qaeda.”
Professor Bernard Haykel of Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies elaborates on the root causes for the rise of the Islamic State, as a movement responding to the systemic disenfranchisement of Sunnis in the region.
Professor Haykel also explains why IS surpassed Al Qaeda in popularity and why the Arabian Peninsula has so vigorously supported U.S.- led airstrikes against IS.
Talking to War and Peace Talk, Professor Haykel responded to questions such as:
Why do people from the West join the Islamic State?
Why do the recruits burn their passports?
Should Western governments withdraw citizenship from jihadis?
What should be done about returning jihadis?
Can they be de-radicalized?
The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on November 14, 2014.
The Folly of Bombing the Islamic State
Killing Al-Baghdadi: the end of the Caliphate or part of the narrative?
SIS Tilting the Chess Board: The Dawn of a New Middle East Balance of Power – H. van Lynden lecture
The Henriette van Lynden lecture ‘ISIS Tilting the Chess Board: The Dawn of a New Middle East Balance of Power’, organised by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was held on Friday, 14 November 2014 in de Rode Hoed, Amsterdam.
The rise of ISIS as a failure of governance & the need for a broader response than CT-policy, by Ms. Mina al-Oraibi [0:6:36]
Links of ISIS ideology to Saudi Arabia’s wahabism and policy options by Prof. Bernard Haykel [0:19:52]
Iran’s interests and vision in the fight against ISIS by Dr. Ali Vaez [0:35:44]
Panel discussion moderated by Ernesto Braam [0:50:20]
Audience Q&A [1:05:25]
Ms. Mina al-Oraibi
Born in Iraq, she is the deputy editor-in-chief of prominent Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. She is an expert on transitions in the Arab region and American military doctrine. She regularly speaks with heads of state in the Middle East.
Prof. Bernard Haykel
Professor of Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University, specialised in Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf region. In addition, he is an Islam expert who focuses on Salafi movements and the roots of ISIS ideology. Particularly noteworthy is his contribution to the leading bestseller ‘Global Salafism’.
Dr. Ali Vaez
As an expert on Iran at the International Crisis Group in Washington D.C., he is a sought-after speaker on Iran’s influence in the region. He regularly appears on BBC and CNN, and publishes in Foreign Policy and the International Herald Tribune, among others.
Genieve Abdo and Bernard Haykel – “Understanding the Complexities of Sunni — Shi’a Relations”
Rising Sunni-Shiite violence threatens security in Iraq
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 1
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 2
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 3
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 4
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 5
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 6
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 7
Christiane Amanpour interviews Princeton Professor Bernard Haykel on Yemen
Bernard Haykel: Saudi Arabia’s Royal Family and the State
Bernard Haykel: Saudi Arabia’s Relationship with the U.S.
What ISIS Really Wants
By Graeme Wood
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.
Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.
We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. The Islamic State supporters I spoke with still refer to Osama bin Laden as “Sheikh Osama,” a title of honor. But jihadism has evolved since al-Qaeda’s heyday, from about 1998 to 2003, and many jihadists disdain the group’s priorities and current leadership.
Bin Laden viewed his terrorism as a prologue to a caliphate he did not expect to see in his lifetime. His organization was flexible, operating as a geographically diffuse network of autonomous cells. The Islamic State, by contrast, requires territory to remain legitimate, and a top-down structure to rule it. (Its bureaucracy is divided into civil and military arms, and its territory into provinces.)
We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. Peter Bergen, who produced the first interview with bin Laden in 1997, titled his first book Holy War, Inc. in part to acknowledge bin Laden as a creature of the modern secular world. Bin Laden corporatized terror and franchised it out. He requested specific political concessions, such as the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia. His foot soldiers navigated the modern world confidently. On Mohammad Atta’s last full day of life, he shopped at Walmart and ate dinner at Pizza Hut.
Nearly all the Islamic State’s decisions adhere to what it calls, on its billboards, license plates, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology.”
There is a temptation to rehearse this observation—that jihadists are modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise—and make it fit the Islamic State. In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.
The most-articulate spokesmen for that position are the Islamic State’s officials and supporters themselves. They refer derisively to “moderns.” In conversation, they insist that they will not—cannot—waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers. They often speak in codes and allusions that sound odd or old-fashioned to non-Muslims, but refer to specific traditions and texts of early Islam.
To take one example: In September, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the Islamic State’s chief spokesman, called on Muslims in Western countries such as France and Canada to find an infidel and “smash his head with a rock,” poison him, run him over with a car, or “destroy his crops.” To Western ears, the biblical-sounding punishments—the stoning and crop destruction—juxtaposed strangely with his more modern-sounding call to vehicular homicide. (As if to show that he could terrorize by imagery alone, Adnani also referred to Secretary of State John Kerry as an “uncircumcised geezer.”)
But Adnani was not merely talking trash. His speech was laced with theological and legal discussion, and his exhortation to attack crops directly echoed orders from Muhammad to leave well water and crops alone—unless the armies of Islam were in a defensive position, in which case Muslims in the lands of kuffar, or infidels, should be unmerciful, and poison away.
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.
Control of territory is an essential precondition for the Islamic State’s authority in the eyes of its supporters. This map, adapted from the work of the Institute for the Study of War, shows the territory under the caliphate’s control as of January 15, along with areas it has attacked. Where it holds power, the state collects taxes, regulates prices, operates courts, and administers services ranging from health care and education to telecommunications.
In November, the Islamic State released an infomercial-like video tracing its origins to bin Laden. It acknowledged Abu Musa’b al Zarqawi, the brutal head of al‑Qaeda in Iraq from roughly 2003 until his killing in 2006, as a more immediate progenitor, followed sequentially by two other guerrilla leaders before Baghdadi, the caliph. Notably unmentioned: bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al Zawahiri, the owlish Egyptian eye surgeon who currently heads al‑Qaeda. Zawahiri has not pledged allegiance to Baghdadi, and he is increasingly hated by his fellow jihadists. His isolation is not helped by his lack of charisma; in videos he comes across as squinty and annoyed. But the split between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State has been long in the making, and begins to explain, at least in part, the outsize bloodlust of the latter.
Zawahiri’s companion in isolation is a Jordanian cleric named Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, 55, who has a fair claim to being al-Qaeda’s intellectual architect and the most important jihadist unknown to the average American newspaper reader. On most matters of doctrine, Maqdisi and the Islamic State agree. Both are closely identified with the jihadist wing of a branch of Sunnism called Salafism, after the Arabic al salaf al salih, the “pious forefathers.” These forefathers are the Prophet himself and his earliest adherents, whom Salafis honor and emulate as the models for all behavior, including warfare, couture, family life, even dentistry.
The Islamic State awaits the army of “Rome,” whose defeat at Dabiq, Syria, will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse.
Maqdisi taught Zarqawi, who went to war in Iraq with the older man’s advice in mind. In time, though, Zarqawi surpassed his mentor in fanaticism, and eventually earned his rebuke. At issue was Zarqawi’s penchant for bloody spectacle—and, as a matter of doctrine, his hatred of other Muslims, to the point of excommunicating and killing them. In Islam, the practice of takfir, or excommunication, is theologically perilous. “If a man says to his brother, ‘You are an infidel,’ ” the Prophet said, “then one of them is right.” If the accuser is wrong, he himself has committed apostasy by making a false accusation. The punishment for apostasy is death. And yet Zarqawi heedlessly expanded the range of behavior that could make Muslims infidels.
Maqdisi wrote to his former pupil that he needed to exercise caution and “not issue sweeping proclamations of takfir” or “proclaim people to be apostates because of their sins.” The distinction between apostate and sinner may appear subtle, but it is a key point of contention between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Denying the holiness of the Koran or the prophecies of Muhammad is straightforward apostasy. But Zarqawi and the state he spawned take the position that many other acts can remove a Muslim from Islam. These include, in certain cases, selling alcohol or drugs, wearing Western clothes or shaving one’s beard, voting in an election—even for a Muslim candidate—and being lax about calling other people apostates. Being a Shiite, as most Iraqi Arabs are, meets the standard as well, because the Islamic State regards Shiism as innovation, and to innovate on the Koran is to deny its initial perfection. (The Islamic State claims that common Shiite practices, such as worship at the graves of imams and public self-flagellation, have no basis in the Koran or in the example of the Prophet.) That means roughly 200 million Shia are marked for death. So too are the heads of state of every Muslim country, who have elevated man-made law above Sharia by running for office or enforcing laws not made by God.
Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims. Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.
Musa Cerantonio, an Australian preacher reported to be one of the Islamic State’s most influential recruiters, believes it is foretold that the caliphate will sack Istanbul before it is beaten back by an army led by the anti-Messiah, whose eventual death— when just a few thousand jihadists remain—will usher in the apocalypse. (Paul Jeffers/Fairfax Media)
Centuries have passed since the wars of religion ceased in Europe, and since men stopped dying in large numbers because of arcane theological disputes. Hence, perhaps, the incredulity and denial with which Westerners have greeted news of the theology and practices of the Islamic State. Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest.
Their skepticism is comprehensible. In the past, Westerners who accused Muslims of blindly following ancient scriptures came to deserved grief from academics—notably the late Edward Said—who pointed out that calling Muslims “ancient” was usually just another way to denigrate them. Look instead, these scholars urged, to the conditions in which these ideologies arose—the bad governance, the shifting social mores, the humiliation of living in lands valued only for their oil.
Without acknowledgment of these factors, no explanation of the rise of the Islamic State could be complete. But focusing on them to the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.
Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”
Every academic I asked about the Islamic State’s ideology sent me to Haykel. Of partial Lebanese descent, Haykel grew up in Lebanon and the United States, and when he talks through his Mephistophelian goatee, there is a hint of an unplaceable foreign accent.
According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”
All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”
Our failure to appreciate the essential differences between ISIS and al-Qaeda has led to dangerous decisions.
The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam. The tax on Christians finds clear endorsement in the Surah Al-Tawba, the Koran’s ninth chapter, which instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” The Prophet, whom all Muslims consider exemplary, imposed these rules and owned slaves.
Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. “What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these texts,” Haykel said. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness that Muslims don’t normally have.”
Before the rise of the Islamic State, no group in the past few centuries had attempted more-radical fidelity to the Prophetic model than the Wahhabis of 18th‑century Arabia. They conquered most of what is now Saudi Arabia, and their strict practices survive in a diluted version of Sharia there. Haykel sees an important distinction between the groups, though: “The Wahhabis were not wanton in their violence.” They were surrounded by Muslims, and they conquered lands that were already Islamic; this stayed their hand. “ISIS, by contrast, is really reliving the early period.” Early Muslims were surrounded by non-Muslims, and the Islamic State, because of its takfiri tendencies, considers itself to be in the same situation.
If al-Qaeda wanted to revive slavery, it never said so. And why would it? Silence on slavery probably reflected strategic thinking, with public sympathies in mind: when the Islamic State began enslaving people, even some of its supporters balked. Nonetheless, the caliphate has continued to embrace slavery and crucifixion without apology. “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,” Adnani, the spokesman, promised in one of his periodic valentines to the West. “If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.”
In October, Dabiq, the magazine of the Islamic State, published “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour,” an article that took up the question of whether Yazidis (the members of an ancient Kurdish sect that borrows elements of Islam, and had come under attack from Islamic State forces in northern Iraq) are lapsed Muslims, and therefore marked for death, or merely pagans and therefore fair game for enslavement. A study group of Islamic State scholars had convened, on government orders, to resolve this issue. If they are pagans, the article’s anonymous author wrote,
Yazidi women and children [are to be] divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations [in northern Iraq] … Enslaving the families of the kuffar [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Koran and the narrations of the Prophet … and thereby apostatizing from Islam.
Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are thought to have immigrated to the Islamic State. Recruits hail from France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Australia, Indonesia, the United States, and many other places. Many have come to fight, and many intend to die.
Peter R. Neumann, a professor at King’s College London, told me that online voices have been essential to spreading propaganda and ensuring that newcomers know what to believe. Online recruitment has also widened the demographics of the jihadist community, by allowing conservative Muslim women—physically isolated in their homes—to reach out to recruiters, radicalize, and arrange passage to Syria. Through its appeals to both genders, the Islamic State hopes to build a complete society.
In November, I traveled to Australia to meet Musa Cerantonio, a 30-year-old man whom Neumann and other researchers had identified as one of the two most important “new spiritual authorities” guiding foreigners to join the Islamic State. For three years he was a televangelist on Iqraa TV in Cairo, but he left after the station objected to his frequent calls to establish a caliphate. Now he preaches on Facebook and Twitter.
Cerantonio—a big, friendly man with a bookish demeanor—told me he blanches at beheading videos. He hates seeing the violence, even though supporters of the Islamic State are required to endorse it. (He speaks out, controversially among jihadists, against suicide bombing, on the grounds that God forbids suicide; he differs from the Islamic State on a few other points as well.) He has the kind of unkempt facial hair one sees on certain overgrown fans of The Lord of the Rings, and his obsession with Islamic apocalypticism felt familiar. He seemed to be living out a drama that looks, from an outsider’s perspective, like a medieval fantasy novel, only with real blood.
Last June, Cerantonio and his wife tried to emigrate—he wouldn’t say to where (“It’s illegal to go to Syria,” he said cagily)—but they were caught en route, in the Philippines, and he was deported back to Australia for overstaying his visa. Australia has criminalized attempts to join or travel to the Islamic State, and has confiscated Cerantonio’s passport. He is stuck in Melbourne, where he is well known to the local constabulary. If Cerantonio were caught facilitating the movement of individuals to the Islamic State, he would be imprisoned. So far, though, he is free—a technically unaffiliated ideologue who nonetheless speaks with what other jihadists have taken to be a reliable voice on matters of the Islamic State’s doctrine.
We met for lunch in Footscray, a dense, multicultural Melbourne suburb that’s home to Lonely Planet, the travel-guide publisher. Cerantonio grew up there in a half-Irish, half-Calabrian family. On a typical street one can find African restaurants, Vietnamese shops, and young Arabs walking around in the Salafi uniform of scraggly beard, long shirt, and trousers ending halfway down the calves.
Cerantonio explained the joy he felt when Baghdadi was declared the caliph on June 29—and the sudden, magnetic attraction that Mesopotamia began to exert on him and his friends. “I was in a hotel [in the Philippines], and I saw the declaration on television,” he told me. “And I was just amazed, and I’m like, Why am I stuck here in this bloody room?”
The last caliphate was the Ottoman empire, which reached its peak in the 16th century and then experienced a long decline, until the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, euthanized it in 1924. But Cerantonio, like many supporters of the Islamic State, doesn’t acknowledge that caliphate as legitimate, because it didn’t fully enforce Islamic law, which requires stonings and slavery and amputations, and because its caliphs were not descended from the tribe of the Prophet, the Quraysh.
Baghdadi spoke at length of the importance of the caliphate in his Mosul sermon. He said that to revive the institution of the caliphate—which had not functioned except in name for about 1,000 years—was a communal obligation. He and his loyalists had “hastened to declare the caliphate and place an imam” at its head, he said. “This is a duty upon the Muslims—a duty that has been lost for centuries … The Muslims sin by losing it, and they must always seek to establish it.” Like bin Laden before him, Baghdadi spoke floridly, with frequent scriptural allusion and command of classical rhetoric. Unlike bin Laden, and unlike those false caliphs of the Ottoman empire, he is Qurayshi.
The caliphate, Cerantonio told me, is not just a political entity but also a vehicle for salvation. Islamic State propaganda regularly reports the pledges of baya’a (allegiance) rolling in from jihadist groups across the Muslim world. Cerantonio quoted a Prophetic saying, that to die without pledging allegiance is to die jahil (ignorant) and therefore die a “death of disbelief.” Consider how Muslims (or, for that matter, Christians) imagine God deals with the souls of people who die without learning about the one true religion. They are neither obviously saved nor definitively condemned. Similarly, Cerantonio said, the Muslim who acknowledges one omnipotent god and prays, but who dies without pledging himself to a valid caliph and incurring the obligations of that oath, has failed to live a fully Islamic life. I pointed out that this means the vast majority of Muslims in history, and all who passed away between 1924 and 2014, died a death of disbelief. Cerantonio nodded gravely. “I would go so far as to say that Islam has been reestablished” by the caliphate.
I asked him about his own baya’a, and he quickly corrected me: “I didn’t say that I’d pledged allegiance.” Under Australian law, he reminded me, giving baya’a to the Islamic State was illegal. “But I agree that [Baghdadi] fulfills the requirements,” he continued. “I’m just going to wink at you, and you take that to mean whatever you want.”
To be the caliph, one must meet conditions outlined in Sunni law—being a Muslim adult man of Quraysh descent; exhibiting moral probity and physical and mental integrity; and having ’amr, or authority. This last criterion, Cerantonio said, is the hardest to fulfill, and requires that the caliph have territory in which he can enforce Islamic law. Baghdadi’s Islamic State achieved that long before June 29, Cerantonio said, and as soon as it did, a Western convert within the group’s ranks—Cerantonio described him as “something of a leader”—began murmuring about the religious obligation to declare a caliphate. He and others spoke quietly to those in power and told them that further delay would be sinful.
Social-media posts from the Islamic State suggest that executions happen more or less continually.
Cerantonio said a faction arose that was prepared to make war on Baghdadi’s group if it delayed any further. They prepared a letter to various powerful members of ISIS, airing their displeasure at the failure to appoint a caliph, but were pacified by Adnani, the spokesman, who let them in on a secret—that a caliphate had already been declared, long before the public announcement. They had their legitimate caliph, and at that point there was only one option. “If he’s legitimate,” Cerantonio said, “you must give him the baya’a.”
After Baghdadi’s July sermon, a stream of jihadists began flowing daily into Syria with renewed motivation. Jürgen Todenhöfer, a German author and former politician who visited the Islamic State in December, reported the arrival of 100 fighters at one Turkish-border recruitment station in just two days. His report, among others, suggests a still-steady inflow of foreigners, ready to give up everything at home for a shot at paradise in the worst place on Earth.
Bernard Haykel, the foremost secular authority on the Islamic State’s ideology, believes the group is trying to re-create the earliest days of Islam and is faithfully reproducing its norms of war. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness” about the group’s dedication to the text of the Koran, he says. (Peter Murphy)
In London, a week before my meal with Cerantonio, I met with three ex-members of a banned Islamist group called Al Muhajiroun (The Emigrants): Anjem Choudary, Abu Baraa, and Abdul Muhid. They all expressed desire to emigrate to the Islamic State, as many of their colleagues already had, but the authorities had confiscated their passports. Like Cerantonio, they regarded the caliphate as the only righteous government on Earth, though none would confess having pledged allegiance. Their principal goal in meeting me was to explain what the Islamic State stands for, and how its policies reflect God’s law.
Choudary, 48, is the group’s former leader. He frequently appears on cable news, as one of the few people producers can book who will defend the Islamic State vociferously, until his mike is cut. He has a reputation in the United Kingdom as a loathsome blowhard, but he and his disciples sincerely believe in the Islamic State and, on matters of doctrine, speak in its voice. Choudary and the others feature prominently in the Twitter feeds of Islamic State residents, and Abu Baraa maintains a YouTube channel to answer questions about Sharia.
Since September, authorities have been investigating the three men on suspicion of supporting terrorism. Because of this investigation, they had to meet me separately: communication among them would have violated the terms of their bail. But speaking with them felt like speaking with the same person wearing different masks. Choudary met me in a candy shop in the East London suburb of Ilford. He was dressed smartly, in a crisp blue tunic reaching nearly to his ankles, and sipped a Red Bull while we talked.
Before the caliphate, “maybe 85 percent of the Sharia was absent from our lives,” Choudary told me. “These laws are in abeyance until we have khilafa”—a caliphate—“and now we have one.” Without a caliphate, for example, individual vigilantes are not obliged to amputate the hands of thieves they catch in the act. But create a caliphate, and this law, along with a huge body of other jurisprudence, suddenly awakens. In theory, all Muslims are obliged to immigrate to the territory where the caliph is applying these laws. One of Choudary’s prize students, a convert from Hinduism named Abu Rumaysah, evaded police to bring his family of five from London to Syria in November. On the day I met Choudary, Abu Rumaysah tweeted out a picture of himself with a Kalashnikov in one arm and his newborn son in the other. Hashtag: #GenerationKhilafah.
The caliph is required to implement Sharia. Any deviation will compel those who have pledged allegiance to inform the caliph in private of his error and, in extreme cases, to excommunicate and replace him if he persists. (“I have been plagued with this great matter, plagued with this responsibility, and it is a heavy responsibility,” Baghdadi said in his sermon.) In return, the caliph commands obedience—and those who persist in supporting non-Muslim governments, after being duly warned and educated about their sin, are considered apostates.
Choudary said Sharia has been misunderstood because of its incomplete application by regimes such as Saudi Arabia, which does behead murderers and cut off thieves’ hands. “The problem,” he explained, “is that when places like Saudi Arabia just implement the penal code, and don’t provide the social and economic justice of the Sharia—the whole package—they simply engender hatred toward the Sharia.” That whole package, he said, would include free housing, food, and clothing for all, though of course anyone who wished to enrich himself with work could do so.
Abdul Muhid, 32, continued along these lines. He was dressed in mujahideen chic when I met him at a local restaurant: scruffy beard, Afghan cap, and a wallet outside of his clothes, attached with what looked like a shoulder holster. When we sat down, he was eager to discuss welfare. The Islamic State may have medieval-style punishments for moral crimes (lashes for boozing or fornication, stoning for adultery), but its social-welfare program is, at least in some aspects, progressive to a degree that would please an MSNBC pundit. Health care, he said, is free. (“Isn’t it free in Britain, too?,” I asked. “Not really,” he said. “Some procedures aren’t covered, such as vision.”) This provision of social welfare was not, he said, a policy choice of the Islamic State, but a policy obligation inherent in God’s law.
Anjem Choudary, London’s most notorious defender of the Islamic State, says crucifixion and beheading are sacred requirements. (Tal Cohen/Reuters)
III. The Apocalypse
All Muslims acknowledge that God is the only one who knows the future. But they also agree that he has offered us a peek at it, in the Koran and in narrations of the Prophet. The Islamic State differs from nearly every other current jihadist movement in believing that it is written into God’s script as a central character. It is in this casting that the Islamic State is most boldly distinctive from its predecessors, and clearest in the religious nature of its mission.
In broad strokes, al-Qaeda acts like an underground political movement, with worldly goals in sight at all times—the expulsion of non-Muslims from the Arabian peninsula, the abolishment of the state of Israel, the end of support for dictatorships in Muslim lands. The Islamic State has its share of worldly concerns (including, in the places it controls, collecting garbage and keeping the water running), but the End of Days is a leitmotif of its propaganda. Bin Laden rarely mentioned the apocalypse, and when he did, he seemed to presume that he would be long dead when the glorious moment of divine comeuppance finally arrived. “Bin Laden and Zawahiri are from elite Sunni families who look down on this kind of speculation and think it’s something the masses engage in,” says Will McCants of the Brookings Institution, who is writing a book about the Islamic State’s apocalyptic thought.
During the last years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Islamic State’s immediate founding fathers, by contrast, saw signs of the end times everywhere. They were anticipating, within a year, the arrival of the Mahdi—a messianic figure destined to lead the Muslims to victory before the end of the world. McCants says a prominent Islamist in Iraq approached bin Laden in 2008 to warn him that the group was being led by millenarians who were “talking all the time about the Mahdi and making strategic decisions” based on when they thought the Mahdi was going to arrive. “Al-Qaeda had to write to [these leaders] to say ‘Cut it out.’ ”
For certain true believers—the kind who long for epic good-versus-evil battles—visions of apocalyptic bloodbaths fulfill a deep psychological need. Of the Islamic State supporters I met, Musa Cerantonio, the Australian, expressed the deepest interest in the apocalypse and how the remaining days of the Islamic State—and the world—might look. Parts of that prediction are original to him, and do not yet have the status of doctrine. But other parts are based on mainstream Sunni sources and appear all over the Islamic State’s propaganda. These include the belief that there will be only 12 legitimate caliphs, and Baghdadi is the eighth; that the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.
The Islamic State has attached great importance to the Syrian city of Dabiq, near Aleppo. It named its propaganda magazine after the town, and celebrated madly when (at great cost) it conquered Dabiq’s strategically unimportant plains. It is here, the Prophet reportedly said, that the armies of Rome will set up their camp. The armies of Islam will meet them, and Dabiq will be Rome’s Waterloo or its Antietam.
“Dabiq is basically all farmland,” one Islamic State supporter recently tweeted. “You could imagine large battles taking place there.” The Islamic State’s propagandists drool with anticipation of this event, and constantly imply that it will come soon. The state’s magazine quotes Zarqawi as saying, “The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify … until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.” A recent propaganda video shows clips from Hollywood war movies set in medieval times—perhaps because many of the prophecies specify that the armies will be on horseback or carrying ancient weapons.
Now that it has taken Dabiq, the Islamic State awaits the arrival of an enemy army there, whose defeat will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse. Western media frequently miss references to Dabiq in the Islamic State’s videos, and focus instead on lurid scenes of beheading. “Here we are, burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive,” said a masked executioner in a November video, showing the severed head of Peter (Abdul Rahman) Kassig, the aid worker who’d been held captive for more than a year. During fighting in Iraq in December, after mujahideen (perhaps inaccurately) reported having seen American soldiers in battle, Islamic State Twitter accounts erupted in spasms of pleasure, like overenthusiastic hosts or hostesses upon the arrival of the first guests at a party.
The Prophetic narration that foretells the Dabiq battle refers to the enemy as Rome. Who “Rome” is, now that the pope has no army, remains a matter of debate. But Cerantonio makes a case that Rome meant the Eastern Roman empire, which had its capital in what is now Istanbul. We should think of Rome as the Republic of Turkey—the same republic that ended the last self-identified caliphate, 90 years ago. Other Islamic State sources suggest that Rome might mean any infidel army, and the Americans will do nicely.
After mujahideen reported having seen American soldiers in battle, Islamic State Twitter accounts erupted in spasms of pleasure, like overenthusiastic hosts upon the arrival of the first guests at a party.
After its battle in Dabiq, Cerantonio said, the caliphate will expand and sack Istanbul. Some believe it will then cover the entire Earth, but Cerantonio suggested its tide may never reach beyond the Bosporus. An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come from the Khorasan region of eastern Iran and kill a vast number of the caliphate’s fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus—the second-most-revered prophet in Islam—will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory.
“Only God knows” whether the Islamic State’s armies are the ones foretold, Cerantonio said. But he is hopeful. “The Prophet said that one sign of the imminent arrival of the End of Days is that people will for a long while stop talking about the End of Days,” he said. “If you go to the mosques now, you’ll find the preachers are silent about this subject.” On this theory, even setbacks dealt to the Islamic State mean nothing, since God has preordained the near-destruction of his people anyway. The Islamic State has its best and worst days ahead of it.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was declared caliph by his followers last summer. The establishment of a caliphate awakened large sections of Koranic law that had lain dormant, and required those Muslims who recognized the caliphate to immigrate. (Associated Press)
IV. The Fight
The ideological purity of the Islamic State has one compensating virtue: it allows us to predict some of the group’s actions. Osama bin Laden was seldom predictable. He ended his first television interview cryptically. CNN’s Peter Arnett asked him, “What are your future plans?” Bin Laden replied, “You’ll see them and hear about them in the media, God willing.” By contrast, the Islamic State boasts openly about its plans—not all of them, but enough so that by listening carefully, we can deduce how it intends to govern and expand.
In London, Choudary and his students provided detailed descriptions of how the Islamic State must conduct its foreign policy, now that it is a caliphate. It has already taken up what Islamic law refers to as “offensive jihad,” the forcible expansion into countries that are ruled by non-Muslims. “Hitherto, we were just defending ourselves,” Choudary said; without a caliphate, offensive jihad is an inapplicable concept. But the waging of war to expand the caliphate is an essential duty of the caliph.
Choudary took pains to present the laws of war under which the Islamic State operates as policies of mercy rather than of brutality. He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.
Choudary’s colleague Abu Baraa explained that Islamic law permits only temporary peace treaties, lasting no longer than a decade. Similarly, accepting any border is anathema, as stated by the Prophet and echoed in the Islamic State’s propaganda videos. If the caliph consents to a longer-term peace or permanent border, he will be in error. Temporary peace treaties are renewable, but may not be applied to all enemies at once: the caliph must wage jihad at least once a year. He may not rest, or he will fall into a state of sin.
One comparison to the Islamic State is the Khmer Rouge, which killed about a third of the population of Cambodia. But the Khmer Rouge occupied Cambodia’s seat at the United Nations. “This is not permitted,” Abu Baraa said. “To send an ambassador to the UN is to recognize an authority other than God’s.” This form of diplomacy is shirk, or polytheism, he argued, and would be immediate cause to hereticize and replace Baghdadi. Even to hasten the arrival of a caliphate by democratic means—for example by voting for political candidates who favor a caliphate—is shirk.
It’s hard to overstate how hamstrung the Islamic State will be by its radicalism. The modern international system, born of the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, relies on each state’s willingness to recognize borders, however grudgingly. For the Islamic State, that recognition is ideological suicide. Other Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, have succumbed to the blandishments of democracy and the potential for an invitation to the community of nations, complete with a UN seat. Negotiation and accommodation have worked, at times, for the Taliban as well. (Under Taliban rule, Afghanistan exchanged ambassadors with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates, an act that invalidated the Taliban’s authority in the Islamic State’s eyes.) To the Islamic State these are not options, but acts of apostasy.
The United States and its allies have reacted to the Islamic State belatedly and in an apparent daze. The group’s ambitions and rough strategic blueprints were evident in its pronouncements and in social-media chatter as far back as 2011, when it was just one of many terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq and hadn’t yet committed mass atrocities. Adnani, the spokesman, told followers then that the group’s ambition was to “restore the Islamic caliphate,” and he evoked the apocalypse, saying, “There are but a few days left.” Baghdadi had already styled himself “commander of the faithful,” a title ordinarily reserved for caliphs, in 2011. In April 2013, Adnani declared the movement “ready to redraw the world upon the Prophetic methodology of the caliphate.” In August 2013, he said, “Our goal is to establish an Islamic state that doesn’t recognize borders, on the Prophetic methodology.” By then, the group had taken Raqqa, a Syrian provincial capital of perhaps 500,000 people, and was drawing in substantial numbers of foreign fighters who’d heard its message.
If we had identified the Islamic State’s intentions early, and realized that the vacuum in Syria and Iraq would give it ample space to carry them out, we might, at a minimum, have pushed Iraq to harden its border with Syria and preemptively make deals with its Sunnis. That would at least have avoided the electrifying propaganda effect created by the declaration of a caliphate just after the conquest of Iraq’s third-largest city. Yet, just over a year ago, Obama told The New Yorker that he considered ISIS to be al-Qaeda’s weaker partner. “If a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” the president said.
Our failure to appreciate the split between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and the essential differences between the two, has led to dangerous decisions. Last fall, to take one example, the U.S. government consented to a desperate plan to save Peter Kassig’s life. The plan facilitated—indeed, required—the interaction of some of the founding figures of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and could hardly have looked more hastily improvised.
Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it appears the best of bad military options.
It entailed the enlistment of Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, the Zarqawi mentor and al-Qaeda grandee, to approach Turki al-Binali, the Islamic State’s chief ideologue and a former student of Maqdisi’s, even though the two men had fallen out due to Maqdisi’s criticism of the Islamic State. Maqdisi had already called for the state to extend mercy to Alan Henning, the British cabbie who had entered Syria to deliver aid to children. In December, The Guardian reported that the U.S. government, through an intermediary, had asked Maqdisi to intercede with the Islamic State on Kassig’s behalf.
Maqdisi was living freely in Jordan, but had been banned from communicating with terrorists abroad, and was being monitored closely. After Jordan granted the United States permission to reintroduce Maqdisi to Binali, Maqdisi bought a phone with American money and was allowed to correspond merrily with his former student for a few days, before the Jordanian government stopped the chats and used them as a pretext to jail Maqdisi. Kassig’s severed head appeared in the Dabiq video a few days later.
Maqdisi gets mocked roundly on Twitter by the Islamic State’s fans, and al‑Qaeda is held in great contempt for refusing to acknowledge the caliphate. Cole Bunzel, a scholar who studies Islamic State ideology, read Maqdisi’s opinion on Henning’s status and thought it would hasten his and other captives’ death. “If I were held captive by the Islamic State and Maqdisi said I shouldn’t be killed,” he told me, “I’d kiss my ass goodbye.”
Kassig’s death was a tragedy, but the plan’s success would have been a bigger one. A reconciliation between Maqdisi and Binali would have begun to heal the main rift between the world’s two largest jihadist organizations. It’s possible that the government wanted only to draw out Binali for intelligence purposes or assassination. (Multiple attempts to elicit comment from the FBI were unsuccessful.) Regardless, the decision to play matchmaker for America’s two main terrorist antagonists reveals astonishingly poor judgment.
Chastened by our earlier indifference, we are now meeting the Islamic State via Kurdish and Iraqi proxy on the battlefield, and with regular air assaults. Those strategies haven’t dislodged the Islamic State from any of its major territorial possessions, although they’ve kept it from directly assaulting Baghdad and Erbil and slaughtering Shia and Kurds there.
Some observers have called for escalation, including several predictable voices from the interventionist right (Max Boot, Frederick Kagan), who have urged the deployment of tens of thousands of American soldiers. These calls should not be dismissed too quickly: an avowedly genocidal organization is on its potential victims’ front lawn, and it is committing daily atrocities in the territory it already controls.
One way to un-cast the Islamic State’s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding. Former pledges could of course continue to attack the West and behead their enemies, as freelancers. But the propaganda value of the caliphate would disappear, and with it the supposed religious duty to immigrate and serve it. If the United States were to invade, the Islamic State’s obsession with battle at Dabiq suggests that it might send vast resources there, as if in a conventional battle. If the state musters at Dabiq in full force, only to be routed, it might never recover.
Abu Baraa, who maintains a YouTube channel about Islamic law, says the caliph, Baghdadi, cannot negotiate or recognize borders, and must continually make war, or he will remove himself from Islam.
And yet the risks of escalation are enormous. The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide: irrespective of whether they have given baya’a to the caliph, they all believe that the United States wants to embark on a modern-day Crusade and kill Muslims. Yet another invasion and occupation would confirm that suspicion, and bolster recruitment. Add the incompetence of our previous efforts as occupiers, and we have reason for reluctance. The rise of ISIS, after all, happened only because our previous occupation created space for Zarqawi and his followers. Who knows the consequences of another botched job?
Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options. Neither the Kurds nor the Shia will ever subdue and control the whole Sunni heartland of Syria and Iraq—they are hated there, and have no appetite for such an adventure anyway. But they can keep the Islamic State from fulfilling its duty to expand. And with every month that it fails to expand, it resembles less the conquering state of the Prophet Muhammad than yet another Middle Eastern government failing to bring prosperity to its people.
The humanitarian cost of the Islamic State’s existence is high. But its threat to the United States is smaller than its all too frequent conflation with al-Qaeda would suggest. Al-Qaeda’s core is rare among jihadist groups for its focus on the “far enemy” (the West); most jihadist groups’ main concerns lie closer to home. That’s especially true of the Islamic State, precisely because of its ideology. It sees enemies everywhere around it, and while its leadership wishes ill on the United States, the application of Sharia in the caliphate and the expansion to contiguous lands are paramount. Baghdadi has said as much directly: in November he told his Saudi agents to “deal with the rafida [Shia] first … then al-Sulul [Sunni supporters of the Saudi monarchy] … before the crusaders and their bases.”
Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee, with apparent delight in each.
The foreign fighters (and their wives and children) have been traveling to the caliphate on one-way tickets: they want to live under true Sharia, and many want martyrdom. Doctrine, recall, requires believers to reside in the caliphate if it is at all possible for them to do so. One of the Islamic State’s less bloody videos shows a group of jihadists burning their French, British, and Australian passports. This would be an eccentric act for someone intending to return to blow himself up in line at the Louvre or to hold another chocolate shop hostage in Sydney.
A few “lone wolf” supporters of the Islamic State have attacked Western targets, and more attacks will come. But most of the attackers have been frustrated amateurs, unable to immigrate to the caliphate because of confiscated passports or other problems. Even if the Islamic State cheers these attacks—and it does in its propaganda—it hasn’t yet planned and financed one. (The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January was principally an al‑Qaeda operation.) During his visit to Mosul in December, Jürgen Todenhöfer interviewed a portly German jihadist and asked whether any of his comrades had returned to Europe to carry out attacks. The jihadist seemed to regard returnees not as soldiers but as dropouts. “The fact is that the returnees from the Islamic State should repent from their return,” he said. “I hope they review their religion.”
Properly contained, the Islamic State is likely to be its own undoing. No country is its ally, and its ideology ensures that this will remain the case. The land it controls, while expansive, is mostly uninhabited and poor. As it stagnates or slowly shrinks, its claim that it is the engine of God’s will and the agent of apocalypse will weaken, and fewer believers will arrive. And as more reports of misery within it leak out, radical Islamist movements elsewhere will be discredited: No one has tried harder to implement strict Sharia by violence. This is what it looks like.
Even so, the death of the Islamic State is unlikely to be quick, and things could still go badly wrong: if the Islamic State obtained the allegiance of al‑Qaeda—increasing, in one swoop, the unity of its base—it could wax into a worse foe than we’ve yet seen. The rift between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda has, if anything, grown in the past few months; the December issue of Dabiq featured a long account of an al‑Qaeda defector who described his old group as corrupt and ineffectual, and Zawahiri as a distant and unfit leader. But we should watch carefully for a rapprochement.
Without a catastrophe such as this, however, or perhaps the threat of the Islamic State’s storming Erbil, a vast ground invasion would certainly make the situation worse.
It would be facile, even exculpatory, to call the problem of the Islamic State “a problem with Islam.” The religion allows many interpretations, and Islamic State supporters are morally on the hook for the one they choose. And yet simply denouncing the Islamic State as un-Islamic can be counterproductive, especially if those who hear the message have read the holy texts and seen the endorsement of many of the caliphate’s practices written plainly within them.
Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now, and that crucifixion is wrong at this historical juncture. Many say precisely this. But they cannot condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Koran and the example of the Prophet. “The only principled ground that the Islamic State’s opponents could take is to say that certain core texts and traditional teachings of Islam are no longer valid,” Bernard Haykel says. That really would be an act of apostasy.
The Islamic State’s ideology exerts powerful sway over a certain subset of the population. Life’s hypocrisies and inconsistencies vanish in its face. Musa Cerantonio and the Salafis I met in London are unstumpable: no question I posed left them stuttering. They lectured me garrulously and, if one accepts their premises, convincingly. To call them un-Islamic appears, to me, to invite them into an argument that they would win. If they had been froth-spewing maniacs, I might be able to predict that their movement would burn out as the psychopaths detonated themselves or became drone-splats, one by one. But these men spoke with an academic precision that put me in mind of a good graduate seminar. I even enjoyed their company, and that frightened me as much as anything else.
Non-muslims cannot tell Muslims how to practice their religion properly. But Muslims have long since begun this debate within their own ranks. “You have to have standards,” Anjem Choudary told me. “Somebody could claim to be a Muslim, but if he believes in homosexuality or drinking alcohol, then he is not a Muslim. There is no such thing as a nonpracticing vegetarian.”
There is, however, another strand of Islam that offers a hard-line alternative to the Islamic State—just as uncompromising, but with opposite conclusions. This strand has proved appealing to many Muslims cursed or blessed with a psychological longing to see every jot and tittle of the holy texts implemented as they were in the earliest days of Islam. Islamic State supporters know how to react to Muslims who ignore parts of the Koran: with takfir and ridicule. But they also know that some other Muslims read the Koran as assiduously as they do, and pose a real ideological threat.
Baghdadi is Salafi. The term Salafi has been villainized, in part because authentic villains have ridden into battle waving the Salafi banner. But most Salafis are not jihadists, and most adhere to sects that reject the Islamic State. They are, as Haykel notes, committed to expanding Dar al-Islam, the land of Islam, even, perhaps, with the implementation of monstrous practices such as slavery and amputation—but at some future point. Their first priority is personal purification and religious observance, and they believe anything that thwarts those goals—such as causing war or unrest that would disrupt lives and prayer and scholarship—is forbidden.
They live among us. Last fall, I visited the Philadelphia mosque of Breton Pocius, 28, a Salafi imam who goes by the name Abdullah. His mosque is on the border between the crime-ridden Northern Liberties neighborhood and a gentrifying area that one might call Dar al-Hipster; his beard allows him to pass in the latter zone almost unnoticed.
A theological alternative to the Islamic State exists—just as uncompromising, but with opposite conclusions.
Pocius converted 15 years ago after a Polish Catholic upbringing in Chicago. Like Cerantonio, he talks like an old soul, exhibiting deep familiarity with ancient texts, and a commitment to them motivated by curiosity and scholarship, and by a conviction that they are the only way to escape hellfire. When I met him at a local coffee shop, he carried a work of Koranic scholarship in Arabic and a book for teaching himself Japanese. He was preparing a sermon on the obligations of fatherhood for the 150 or so worshipers in his Friday congregation.
Pocius said his main goal is to encourage a halal life for worshipers in his mosque. But the rise of the Islamic State has forced him to consider political questions that are usually very far from the minds of Salafis. “Most of what they’ll say about how to pray and how to dress is exactly what I’ll say in my masjid [mosque]. But when they get to questions about social upheaval, they sound like Che Guevara.”
When Baghdadi showed up, Pocius adopted the slogan “Not my khalifa.” “The times of the Prophet were a time of great bloodshed,” he told me, “and he knew that the worst possible condition for all people was chaos, especially within the umma [Muslim community].” Accordingly, Pocius said, the correct attitude for Salafis is not to sow discord by factionalizing and declaring fellow Muslims apostates.
Instead, Pocius—like a majority of Salafis—believes that Muslims should remove themselves from politics. These quietist Salafis, as they are known, agree with the Islamic State that God’s law is the only law, and they eschew practices like voting and the creation of political parties. But they interpret the Koran’s hatred of discord and chaos as requiring them to fall into line with just about any leader, including some manifestly sinful ones. “The Prophet said: as long as the ruler does not enter into clear kufr [disbelief], give him general obedience,” Pocius told me, and the classic “books of creed” all warn against causing social upheaval. Quietist Salafis are strictly forbidden from dividing Muslims from one another—for example, by mass excommunication. Living without baya’a, Pocius said, does indeed make one ignorant, or benighted. But baya’a need not mean direct allegiance to a caliph, and certainly not to Abu Bakr al‑Baghdadi. It can mean, more broadly, allegiance to a religious social contract and commitment to a society of Muslims, whether ruled by a caliph or not.
Quietist Salafis believe that Muslims should direct their energies toward perfecting their personal life, including prayer, ritual, and hygiene. Much in the same way ultra-Orthodox Jews debate whether it’s kosher to tear off squares of toilet paper on the Sabbath (does that count as “rending cloth”?), they spend an inordinate amount of time ensuring that their trousers are not too long, that their beards are trimmed in some areas and shaggy in others. Through this fastidious observance, they believe, God will favor them with strength and numbers, and perhaps a caliphate will arise. At that moment, Muslims will take vengeance and, yes, achieve glorious victory at Dabiq. But Pocius cites a slew of modern Salafi theologians who argue that a caliphate cannot come into being in a righteous way except through the unmistakable will of God.
The Islamic State, of course, would agree, and say that God has anointed Baghdadi. Pocius’s retort amounts to a call to humility. He cites Abdullah Ibn Abbas, one of the Prophet’s companions, who sat down with dissenters and asked them how they had the gall, as a minority, to tell the majority that it was wrong. Dissent itself, to the point of bloodshed or splitting the umma, was forbidden. Even the manner of the establishment of Baghdadi’s caliphate runs contrary to expectation, he said. “The khilafa is something that Allah is going to establish,” he told me, “and it will involve a consensus of scholars from Mecca and Medina. That is not what happened. ISIS came out of nowhere.”
The Islamic State loathes this talk, and its fanboys tweet derisively about quietist Salafis. They mock them as “Salafis of menstruation,” for their obscure judgments about when women are and aren’t clean, and other low-priority aspects of life. “What we need now is fatwa about how it’s haram [forbidden] to ride a bike on Jupiter,” one tweeted drily. “That’s what scholars should focus on. More pressing than state of Ummah.” Anjem Choudary, for his part, says that no sin merits more vigorous opposition than the usurpation of God’s law, and that extremism in defense of monotheism is no vice.
Pocius doesn’t court any kind of official support from the United States, as a counterweight to jihadism. Indeed, official support would tend to discredit him, and in any case he is bitter toward America for treating him, in his words, as “less than a citizen.” (He alleges that the government paid spies to infiltrate his mosque and harassed his mother at work with questions about his being a potential terrorist.)
Still, his quietist Salafism offers an Islamic antidote to Baghdadi-style jihadism. The people who arrive at the faith spoiling for a fight cannot all be stopped from jihadism, but those whose main motivation is to find an ultraconservative, uncompromising version of Islam have an alternative here. It is not moderate Islam; most Muslims would consider it extreme. It is, however, a form of Islam that the literal-minded would not instantly find hypocritical, or blasphemously purged of its inconveniences. Hypocrisy is not a sin that ideologically minded young men tolerate well.
Western officials would probably do best to refrain from weighing in on matters of Islamic theological debate altogether. Barack Obama himself drifted into takfiri waters when he claimed that the Islamic State was “not Islamic”—the irony being that he, as the non-Muslim son of a Muslim, may himself be classified as an apostate, and yet is now practicing takfir against Muslims. Non-Muslims’ practicing takfir elicits chuckles from jihadists (“Like a pig covered in feces giving hygiene advice to others,” one tweeted).
I suspect that most Muslims appreciated Obama’s sentiment: the president was standing with them against both Baghdadi and non-Muslim chauvinists trying to implicate them in crimes. But most Muslims aren’t susceptible to joining jihad. The ones who are susceptible will only have had their suspicions confirmed: the United States lies about religion to serve its purposes.
Within the narrow bounds of its theology, the Islamic State hums with energy, even creativity. Outside those bounds, it could hardly be more arid and silent: a vision of life as obedience, order, and destiny. Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death and eternal torture to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee or treacly pastry, with apparent delight in each, yet to me it seemed that to embrace their views would be to see all the flavors of this world grow insipid compared with the vivid grotesqueries of the hereafter.
I could enjoy their company, as a guilty intellectual exercise, up to a point. In reviewing Mein Kampf in March 1940, George Orwell confessed that he had “never been able to dislike Hitler”; something about the man projected an underdog quality, even when his goals were cowardly or loathsome. “If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon.” The Islamic State’s partisans have much the same allure. They believe that they are personally involved in struggles beyond their own lives, and that merely to be swept up in the drama, on the side of righteousness, is a privilege and a pleasure—especially when it is also a burden.
Fascism, Orwell continued, is
psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life … Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.
Nor, in the case of the Islamic State, its religious or intellectual appeal. That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model. Ideological tools may convince some potential converts that the group’s message is false, and military tools can limit its horrors. But for an organization as impervious to persuasion as the Islamic State, few measures short of these will matter, and the war may be a long one, even if it doesn’t last until the end of time.
Story 1: Senator Cruz Hails Victory of 26 States in Federal District Court with Judge Andrew S. Hanen’s Stopping Obama From Issuing of Work Permit Cards (Employment Authorization Document) for 4-5 Million Illegal Aliens in U.S. — Videos
US judge temporarily halts Obama’s immigration orders
A judge in Texas has temporarily halted a plan by US President Barack Obama to give a reprieve from deportation to millions of undocumented people.
The ruling by US District Judge Andrew Hanen gives a coalition of 26 states time to pursue a lawsuit aiming to permanently stop the orders.
Some parts of the policy would have started to take effect on Wednesday.
US Attorney General Eric Holder said he is seeking to overturn the Texas ruling and the courts will ultimately decide.
The coalition of states, led by Texas and made up of mostly conservative states in the South and Midwest, say the order would increase costs for law enforcement, health care and education.
On Tuesday the White House defended the legality of its policy, announced by President Obama in November after immigration-reform efforts had failed repeatedly in Congress.
President Obama’s unilateral move angered Republicans who are working to stop the executive action.
The House has approved a bill that would remove funding for the policies from the Department of Homeland Security’s budget. The measure has failed to pass the Senate and President Obama is expected to veto the bill.
Republicans hailed Mr Hanen’s injunction.
“The Texas court decision reached last night is a major turning point in the fight to stop Obama’s lawless amnesty,” said Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican.
The White House has said Obama’s executive order is not out of legal bounds and that the US Supreme Court and Congress have said federal officials can set priorities in enforcing immigration laws.
Twelve states as well as Washington DC and the US Conference of Mayors have come out in support of President Obama’s action, saying it would stimulate the economy.
The first of President Obama’s orders – to expand a programme that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the US illegally as children – was set to start on Wednesday.
The other major part of President Obama’s order, which extends deportation protections to parents of US citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years, was not expected to begin until 19 May.
Judge Nap: ‘Rare Ruling Against Obama Could Delay Amnesty Forever
Judge Andrew Napolitano said today that a new federal court ruling could actually delay President Obama’s immigration amnesty “forever.”
On FBN’s “Varney & Co.,” the judge explained the meaning behind the new ruling that temporarily blocks the implementation of Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
The ruling came late Monday after 26 states asked the court to delay the implementation until after the conclusion of a lawsuit challenging the legality of Obama’s orders.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen granted the preliminary injunction Monday after hearing arguments in Brownsville, Texas, last month. He wrote in a memorandum accompanying his order that the lawsuit should go forward and that without a preliminary injunction the states will “suffer irreparable harm in this case.”
“The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle,” he wrote, adding that he agreed with the plaintiffs’ argument that legalizing the presence of millions of people is a “virtually irreversible” action.
The first of Obama’s orders — to expand a program that protects young immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — was set to start taking effect Wednesday. The other major part of Obama’s order, which extends deportation protections to parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been in the country for some years, was not expected to begin until May 19.
Napolitano called Hanen’s ruling “rare,” saying one federal judge usually does not decide to stop the president from doing something. He said it’s more common for a federal judge to let an appeals court decide.
“You could count on one hand the number of times a single federal judge has done this to a President of the United States since World War II and you would not use all your fingers,” he said.
The case now moves to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that covers New Orleans and Houston.
Napolitano said the amnesty program is on hold “probably forever” unless the appeals court decides to overturn Hanen’s injunction.
He said it will probably take longer than two years – Obama’s remaining time in office – for the overall case to wind its way through the courts.
“The judge said the feds will probably lose and there is probably irreparable harm to the states, therefore I am going to stop this from happening and I’m going to stop it right now,” he explained.
Texas Judge’s Immigration Rebuke May Be Hard To Challenge
President Barack Obama’s administration faces a difficult and possibly lengthy legal battle to overturn a Texas court ruling that blocked his landmark immigration overhaul, since the judge based his decision on an obscure and unsettled area of administrative law, lawyers said. In his ruling on Monday that upended plans to shield millions of people from deportation, U S District Judge Andrew Hanen avoided diving into sweeping constitutional questions or tackling presidential powers head-on. Instead, he faulted Obama for not giving public notice of his plans. The failure to do so, Hanen wrote, was a violation of the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act, which requires notice in a publication called the Federal Register as well as an opportunity for people to submit views in writing. The ruling, however narrow, marked an initial victory for 26 states that brought the case alleging Obama had exceeded his powers with executive orders that would let up to 4. 7 million illegal immigrants stay without threat of deportation.
It’s a very procedural point – that he did this too quickly, said Michael Kagan, a law professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Hanen’s ruling left in disarray U S policy toward the roughly 11 million people in the country illegally. Obama said on Tuesday he disagreed with the ruling and expected his administration to prevail in the courts. The U S Justice Department was preparing an appeal of Hanen’s temporary injunction to the 5th U S Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Obama said. The court could consider an emergency request to block Hanen’s ruling, potentially within days, although most of the 23 judges on the court were appointed by Republican presidents. There was no consensus among lawyers with expertise in administrative law and immigration law on whether Hanen would be reversed on appeal. But they said the judge was wise to focus on an area of administrative law where legal precedent is sometimes fuzzy. In the near term, the narrow approach allowed Hanen to issue a temporary injunction barring federal agencies from putting Obama’s plans into place. An appointee of President George W. Bush, Hanen had previously criticized U S immigration enforcement as too lax.
BRAKE ON PRESIDENTIAL ACTIONHanen’s ruling turned on the Administrative Procedure Act’s requirement that a proposed rule or regulation appear in the Federal Register so people have a chance to comment. The Federal Register is a daily journal of U S government proceedings. The notice and comment requirement acts as a brake on all presidents, slowing their plans by months or years. The requirement, though, does not apply to interpretative rules or legislative rules, an exception that Justice Department lawyers said applied to Obama’s announcement in November.
For Hanen, the pivotal question became whether the new rules, such as granting work permits to potentially millions of illegal immigrants, was binding on federal agents or merely general guidance. He ruled that they were binding, and that Obama should have allowed for notice and comment. Lawyers with expertise in administrative law said there was little guidance from the U S Supreme Court on what qualifies as a rule that needs to be published, leaving disagreement among lower courts and a grey area for Hanen to work in. The case law as to what qualifies as a legislative rule is remarkably unclear, said Anne Joseph O’Connell, a University of California Berkeley law professor.
LENGTHY PROCESS LOOMSO’Connell said it was hard to predict how the appeals court would rule in the end, although she thought it was likely the court would lift Hanen’s temporary injunction and allow the Obama administration to begin putting its program in place. The subject is not strictly partisan, she said, because sometimes a liberal interest group might favor a strict requirement for notice and comment. An appeal before the 5th Circuit could take months, as lawyers file written briefs.
Immigration Delays Likely as DOJ Weighs Legal Options
Federal judge temporarily blocks Obama’s immigration executive action
Obama weighs in on Texas judge’s immigration ruling
Federal judge temporarily blocks Obama’s immigration executive action
No Clear End in Sight to Avoid Shutdown of Department of Homeland Security
Obama’s New Jobs Program: Work Permits for Illegal Aliens
Ted Cruz: White House ‘Counterfeiting Immigration Documents’
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, believes that the Obama administration is “counterfeiting immigration documents” under the president’s immigration plan.
Speaking to Fox News following a federal judge’s decision to temporarily halt President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, the potential Republican presidential contender said the commander in chief is ignoring federal law.
“One of the things it points out is the president has claimed, rather absurdly, that the basis of his authority is ‘prosecutorial discretion.’ That he’s simply choosing not to prosecute 4.5 million people here illegally,” Cruz told Fox News. “But what the district court concluded, quite rightly, is they’re doing far more than that. The administration is printing work authorizations. It is affirmatively acting in contravention of federal law. Basically, what its doing is counterfeiting immigration documents, because the work authorizations its printing are directly contrary to the text of federal law. It is dangerous when the president ignores federal law.”
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision late Monday puts on hold Obama’s orders that could spare from deportation as many as 5 million people who are in the U.S. illegally.
In a memorandum accompanying his order, Hanen said the lawsuit should go forward and that the states would “suffer irreparable harm in this case” without a preliminary injunction.
“The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle,” he wrote, adding that he agreed that legalizing the presence of millions of people is a “virtually irreversible” action.
Talking to reporters in the Oval Office, Obama said he disagreed with the ruling by Hanen that the administration had exceeded its authority. But he said that, for now, he must abide by it.
“We’re not going to disregard this federal court ruling,” Obama said, but he added that administration officials would continue to prepare to roll out the program. “I think the law is on our side and history is on our side,” he said.
Cruz called it a “major victory for the rule of law.”
“It’s interesting, (Obama) said the law is on his side. There’s at least one person who calls himself a legal scholar who disagrees, and his name is Barack Obama,” Cruz said. “Twenty-two times President Obama has admitted he doesn’t have the authority to issue unilateral amnesty. Twenty-two times he says the constitution doesn’t allow it. He said, ‘This is not a monarchy.’ That’s his quote. And then after the last election, he said never mind and issued it anyway.”
Obama’s directives would make more than 4 million immigrants in the United States illegally eligible for three-year deportation stays and work permits. Mostly those are people who have been in the country for more than five years and have children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. Applications for the first phase were to begin Wednesday, when as many as 300,000 immigrants brought illegally to the country as children could begin applying for an expansion of Obama’s 2012 program aimed at the younger immigrants known as Dreamers.
Hanen’s ruling late Monday night, in a case brought by 26 states led by Texas, said that Obama and his Homeland Security Department lacked the authority to take the actions they did.
“No statute gives the DHS the discretion it is trying to exercise here,” wrote Hanen, and he issued a stay blocking the actions from taking effect. His order was not a big surprise from a Republican-appointed judge who has showed a hard line on border issues.
The Obama administration could seek a stay of his order in addition to appealing to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that the Justice Department was deciding its next move.
He said, “I’ve always expected that this is a matter that will ultimately be decided by a higher court — if not the Supreme Court then a federal court of appeals.”
Federal Judge Blocks Implementation of Obama’s Executive Amnesty, For Now
By Patrick Brennan
A federal judge for the Southern District of Texas granted an injunction tonight blocking the implementation of President Obama’s sweeping executive action on immigration from November, which offered a form of temporary legal status and work authorization to millions of illegel immigrants. The judge, Andrew Hanen, is considering a case brought by the attorney generals of 26 states, which alleges that the executive action is improper and unconstitutional, and will harm the states by forcing them to pay for some benefits granted to newly legal immigrants, such as drivers’ licenses, and for higher law-enforcement costs.
The federal government is expected to immediately ask for a stay of the injunction. That would allow the feds to resume the process of preparing to grant quasi-legal status to millions of illegal immigrants — applications for one category of the president amnesty were to open this week. For now, that can’t happen; the decision from a higher court will probably take a few weeks.
Whatever the final decision is, this ruling should a bit of ammunition for Republicans who are currently trying to force some Democrats into agreeing to a government-funding bill in Congress that blocks the implementation of the order, which many Democrats once opposed.
Such an injunction isn’t granted unless the judge feels the plaintiffs have “a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.” Hanen’s ruling offers analysis of whether the states have standing to sue (on a number of grounds, he says they do), and whether they have a good chance at success.
The basic argument from the states that Hanen favors isn’t one about constitutional improprieties (he doesn’t get to that question, which the states have raised); it’s that the Department of Homeland Security has effectively created a whole new program and procedure without following any of the legally necessary steps. The Obama administration’s use of deferred action amounts to new rulemaking, Hanen suggests, because there’s so little evidence that the system, based on DACA, involves case-by-case discretion, as the feds claim it does.
Josh Blackman, a professor at the South Texas College of Law who’s written about the executive-amnesty issue for NR, has analysis of the full ruling here.
The ruling is certainly exciting for those who were troubled by the president’s actions, but a few reasons why not to get too excited:
The Fifth Circuit, the federal-court region that includes Texas, could stay the injunction relatively soon, though, allowing the granting of legal status to go forward. (Although the program could, in theory, eventually still be struck down.)
Hanen is not necessarily anything but a mainstream judge, but he is a Bush appointee who, the Times notes, has a record of hawkish immigration opinions. That has no bearing on the logic of his decision, but it might suggest other judges won’t necessarily agree with Hanen’s reasoning.
Whether states even have the right to challenge the president’s action isn’t entirely clear, partly because immigration enforcement is almost exclusively a federal domain. Attorney Ian Smith laid out the states’ case for standing on NROhere. Congressional Republicans have said they’d like to challenge the president’s order in court, too; their case for standing is considered more far-fetched. On the upside, the judge’s decision in Texas grants standing to the states on multiple grounds where they argue they have it, though not all of them.
Relatedly, courts are just pretty deferential when it comes to fights between the other two branches. Hanen’s ruling notes this repeatedly, maintaining that in order for the courts to halt the executive branch, it has to be actively, affirmatively doing something unauthorized, rather than just overstepping its bounds or abdicating its powers.
An Obama-appointed federal judge ruled in December that Sheriff Joe Arpaio didn’t have standing to sue over the president’s actions — a different case, for sure, but not entirely separate, since the 26 states involved in this case are alleging that legalized immigrants pose a law-enforcement threat, as Arpaio argued, too. The other case that has gone against Obama on this issue, a Pennsylvania federal judge’s ruling that the amnesty is unconstitutional, has been considered flimsy and overreaching; Blackman notes that Hanen’s decision is much better reasoned.
The lawsuit just challenges the executive action announced in November, which offers “deferred action” status, a form of theoretically temporary legal residency and work authorization, to illegal immigrants with specific ties to the U.S. — the parents of citizens, etc. The categories in all add up to 4 to 5 million eligible illegal aliens.
That comes on top of the close to a million illegal immigrants eligible for deferred action under the president’s 2012 executive action, which allowed illegal immigrants who’d come here at a young age and met a few other criteria to stay. The Texas court decision examines that program, known as DACA, in detail, but it isn’t at issue in the case. A number of outlets refer to this injunction as halting “DACA expansions,” which is true, but a bit of a misnomer: The “DACA expansions” are deferred action for adults and childhood arrivals who were older or otherwise ineligible for the DACA program the president started in 2012. They’re not really the same thing, and DACA itself — the status it gave to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and the application process they can still begin now if they haven’t gotten status — is unaffected.
This differs slightly from the political strategy Republicans have put forth in Congress: The bill the House passed earlier this year to fund the Department of Homeland Security would halt the DACA program, block the implementation of the president’s November action, and undo some of his other executive immigration policies, too.
Federal judge halts Obama amnesty; White House to appeal
By Stephen Dinan
A federal judge late Monday halted President Obama’s deportation amnesty, ruling he overstepped his powers in trying to grant legal status and “benefits and privileges” to millions of illegal immigrants, in a stunning decision that chides the president and throws the White House’s plans into disarray just a day before applications were to be accepted.
The White House said it will appeal Judge Andrew S. Hanen’s decision, but it’s unclear whether the case could reach the circuit court in New Orleans or even the Supreme Court before Wednesday, which is when the Homeland Security Department had planned to begin accepting the first applications under the new amnesty.
“The DHS was not given any ‘discretion by law’ to give 4.3 million removable aliens what the DHS itself labels as ‘legal presence,’ ” Judge Hanen wrote in issuing an injunction. “In fact, the law mandates that these illegally-present individuals be removed. The DHS has adopted a new rule that substantially changes both the status and employability of millions. These changes go beyond mere enforcement or even non-enforcement of this nation’s immigration scheme.”
In the immediate sense, the ruling will become a major part of the debate over homeland security funding that has roiled Capitol Hill, with Republicans insisting Mr. Obama’s actions were unconstitutional and should be halted through Congress’s spending power, and Democrats backing their president by filibustering to block funding for the Homeland Security Department altogether.
The ruling doesn’t mean those illegal immigrants are going to be deported immediately — indeed, Judge Hanen said they are likely not to be deported at all under Mr. Obama, who had set “priorities” putting them in little danger of ever being kicked out of the country, even without the formal amnesty.
The judge said Mr. Obama does have the right to set those priorities, but said it is likely a step too far for him to have set up a proactive program to grant them other benefits.
“The DHS may continue to prosecute or not prosecute these illegally-present individuals, as current laws dictate. This has been the status quo for at least the last five years and there is little-to-no basis to conclude that harm will fall upon the defendants if it is temporarily prohibited from carrying out the … program.”
One immigrant-rights group called his decision “judicial vigilantism,” while another called it a “minor legal bump” and said it’s “merely a matter of time” before they win legal status.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest was dismissive of the judge’s ruling, saying it contradicted Mr. Obama’s own lawyers, who told him he was “well within his legal authority.”
“Top law enforcement officials, along with state and local leaders across the country, have emphasized that these policies will also benefit the economy and help keep communities safe. The district court’s decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect and the Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal that decision,” Mr. Earnest said early Tuesday.
Judge Hanen’s exhaustive opinion, which ran to 123 pages, eviscerated the administration’s legal arguments. Where Mr. Obama claimed he was only issuing “guidance” and using his powers of prosecutorial discretion to make decisions on a case-by-case basis, the judge ruled that wording was “disingenuous” and ignored the substance of what the president was trying to do.
He also said Mr. Obama hurt his own case by saying he’d acted to “change the law,” implying a much more substantive legal program than his administration was arguing in court.
The president’s new plan, known as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, announced in November, was designed to cover more than 4 million illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, granting them a three-year stay of deportation, Social Security numbers and work permits to compete legally for jobs. The November order also expanded a 2012 program for so-called Dreamers, or illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
The initial Dreamer program is still in place, and covers more than 600,000 illegal immigrants, but Judge Hanen halted its expansion, as well as the new program for parents.
About 95 percent of those who applied for the 2012 Dreamer program were approved, while nobody who didn’t meet the strict criteria was — both factors that Judge Hanen said suggested this wasn’t “discretion,” but rather a new substantive legal policy that should have gone through the usual rule-making process.
“While [the program] does not provide legal permanent residency, it certainly provides a legal benefit in the form of legal presence (plus all that it entails) — a benefit not otherwise available in immigration laws,” the judge wrote. “In this case, actions speak louder than words.”
Still, almost none of those who would have been approved for the amnesty are in danger of deportation, thanks to Mr. Obama’s other, less-noticed policies that order immigration agents only to go after illegal immigrants with serious criminal records. That likely means only a couple million of the nearly 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. are likely to be in any danger of deportation.
Immigrant-rights advocates had expected the ruling and had been working ahead of time to discredit Judge Hanen, saying he had a “bias” against them, based on a December 2013 ruling.
In that ruling, Judge Hanen had spotted the surge of illegal immigrant children crossing the border earlier on, and had been critical of how Homeland Security officials had handled it, accusing them of being complicit in human trafficking because they would deliver the children to their illegal immigrant parents in the U.S. without trying to deport either party.
Last summer’s spike in illegal immigrant children from Central America bore out Judge Hanen’s concerns, with the administration belatedly admitting that the ease of getting across the border and being connected with family here in the U.S. was helping spur the surge.
Obama’s Amnesty Hits a Legal Roadblock If a Texas judge’s temporary stay against it is upheld, it could be headed to the Supreme Court.
ByAndrew C. McCarthy
ate Monday, a federal district judge in Texasissued a temporary injunction that bars the Obama administration from proceeding with the president’s unilateral decree of effective amnesty for millions of illegal aliens.
To be clear, the order issued by Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. court for the southern district of Texas in Brownsville is a temporary stay. It is not a ruling on the merits of the lawsuit brought by 26 states that claim they will suffer profound financial and other damage from the president’s lawless executive action — an action that Obama himself many times conceded would be lawless before he finally took it late last year.
Today, the Justice Department will seek an emergency order from the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to block Judge Hanen’s injunction. There is a good chance the Justice Department will succeed, at least temporarily. If the Fifth Circuit blocks the injunction, that, too, would not be a ruling on the merits of the case. It would just mean a return to the status quo that allows Obama to proceed with the implementation of his amnesty decree.
I imagine we will know by late this afternoon whether the Fifth Circuit will set aside the district court’s injunction.
Judge Hanen’s order would temporarily prevent the Obama administration from implementing the executive action — in particular, the issuance of positive legal benefits, like work permits, for illegal aliens despite the lack of statutory authorization. The stay would also allow Judge Hanen a chance to issue a final ruling on the merits of the case. Again, he has not at this point conclusively ruled that Obama’s executive amnesty violates the Constitution or other federal law.
To justify issuing the stay, however, he had to decide that the states that brought the lawsuit had demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits. That is, in Hanen’s judgment, they have shown that they probably (1) have standing to sue, (2) will show that Obama violated the law, and (3) will suffer concrete harm from the violation (particularly economic harm).
The big question in the case is standing: Is the case properly brought by the states? If the Fifth Circuit, on an emergency appeal of the stay by the Justice Department, decides there is a likelihood that the states do not have standing, then it will vacate Judge Hanen’s stay. The appellate court could find a probability that standing is lacking because, for example, federal jurisprudence holds that immigration is mainly a federal responsibility, or because the harm the states say they will suffer from the executive amnesty is too speculative. (Again, note that we are talking about “likelihood” and “probability” here because these are preliminary, predictive determinations. The case has not been fully presented and ruled upon at this point.)
If the Fifth Circuit were to vacate the stay, that, again, would not be a ruling on the merits of the case. It would simply revert matters to where they stood before Judge Hanen’s order on Monday, meaning the administration could move ahead with its plans while we await a final ruling on the merits from Judge Hanen.
If, on the Justice Department’s emergency appeal, the Fifth Circuit were to decline to disturb Judge Hanen’s stay, there are at least three possibilities: (1) the Justice Department could appeal Judge Hanen’s stay to the Supreme Court; (2) the administration could accept the decision and hold off implementation of the executive order while waiting for Judge Hanen to issue a final ruling (which, all signs indicate, will go against the president); or (3) the president could do what he often does with statutes and court decisions that interfere with his agenda: simply ignore the judicial stay and begin implementing his amnesty decree.
I would bet on (1), an appeal to the Supreme Court. I do believe that Obama is inclined to (3), the lawless route, if all else fails. Obviously, however, the president would rather win in court if he can. That necessitates moving ahead with the judicial process while there are still rounds to play. The administration has a decent chance of getting the stay vacated in either the Fifth Circuit or the Supreme Court. Even if that fails, and Judge Hanen, as expected, renders a final decision against the president, the administration has a decent shot at getting such a ruling reversed by the Fifth Circuit or the Supreme Court. I expect the president to play this out. It may take many months, at least, and during that time there is a reasonable chance that some tribunal will lift the stay and allow him to begin implementing the amnesty pending a final appellate ruling on the merits.
This underscores what I have beenarguing for sometime. The courts are a very unlikely avenue for checking presidential lawlessness. The proper constitutional way to check the president’s executive order is for Congress to deny the funding needed to implement it. That is what Republicans in the House have done, by fully funding the lawful activities of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) but denying the funding for the unlawful executive amnesty. Democrats are blocking that legislation in the Senate, in the hope that, as the budget deadline approaches, the pro-Obama press (with regrettable help from George Will and Senator John McCain, among others) will convince the country that it is somehow the Republicans who are “shutting down” DHS.
On that score, I will briefly repeat what I’ve contended before:
The fact that politicians hang a sign that says “Homeland Security” on a dysfunctional bureaucratic sprawl does not mean that denying funds to that bureaucracy would harm actual homeland security in any material way.
We have a DHS only because of typical Beltway overreaction to a crisis — the need to be seen as “doing something” in response to public anger over the government’s misfeasance prior to the 9/11 attacks.
Homeland security in the United States is more than adequately provided for by the hundreds of billions of dollars that continue to be spent each year — and that Congress has already approved for this year — on the Justice Department, the FBI, the 17-agency intelligence community, the armed forces, and state and local police forces.
We did not have a DHS before 2003, and if it disappeared tomorrow, no one would miss it.
The agencies in DHS that actually contribute to protection of the homeland could easily be absorbed by other government departments (where they were housed before DHS’s creation).
Under Obama, the immigration law-enforcement components of DHS are not enforcing the immigration laws. Why should taxpayers expend billions of dollars on agencies that do not fulfill, and under this president have no intention of fulfilling, the mission that is the rationale for the funding?
In any event, as we await the next round in the courts, the speedy and certain way to stop a lawless president is to deny him the money he needs to carry out his designs.
Story 2: Obama’s and Clinton’s Failed Foreign Policy in Libya of Strategic Patience Leads To 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians Beheaded By Islamic Jihadist Terrorists — Islamic State — Videos
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ISIS Video Shows Beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians – Video
RAW VIDEO) SHOWS ISIS beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians
n a new propaganda video released Sunday by ISIS, the group claims to have beheaded over a dozen members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority on a Libyan beach.
The video shows an apparent mass execution with jihadists in black standing behind each of the victims, who are all are dressed in orange jumpsuits with their hands cuffed behind them.
The five-minute video, released by the terror group’s propaganda wing al-Hayat Media, includes a masked English-speaking jihadi who says, “The sea you have hidden Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah, we will mix it with your blood.”
The Egyptian government has yet to confirm the killings.
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ISIS BEHEADS 21 CHRISTIANS, PROMISES TO ‘CONQUER ROME, BY ALLAH’S PERMISSION’
The Islamic State terror group released a video on Sunday showing the Islamic jihadis beheading 21 Egyptian Christians who were previously kidnapped in Libya.
The Egyptian Copts, who were dressed in prisoner-like orange jump suits, were lined up along a beach and abruptly beheaded in the graphic five-minute video.
The Islamic State’s Al Hayat Media, the group that has published the previous beheading videos in the Middle East, produced the Libya video titled, “A Message Signed With Blood To The Nation Of The Cross.”
“All praise is due to Allah the strong and mighty,” said an ISIS jihadist dressed in military fatigues in American-accented English. “And may blessings and peace be upon the ones sent by the sword as a mercy to all the worlds,” he added.
The masked ISIS member continues:
Oh people, recently you have seen us on the hills of Al-Sham and Dabiq’s plain, chopping off the heads that have been carrying the cross for a long time, and today, we are on the south of Rome, on the land of Islam, Libya, sending another message.
All crusaders: safety for you will be only wishes especially if you are fighting us all together. Therefore we will fight you all together. The sea you have hidden Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood.
After the ISIS leader finishes speaking, his fellow terrorists then commence the beheading of the 21 Egyptian Christians. “And we will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission, the promise of our Prophet, peace be upon him,” The militant leader says after his comrades slaughter the Christian hostages.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi immediately brought in his national defense council after being notified about the brutal murder of the twenty-one Egyptians. “It is with deep sorrow that President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi mourns the Egyptian victims of an abhorrent act of terrorism in Libya and offers his deepest condolences to the Egyptian people for their grave loss,” said a statement from the Egyptian president’s office.
Libya has largely fallen into a state of civil war and complete lawlessness following the U.S.-led effort that ultimately deposed its late autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Islamist militias, some of which have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, have been fighting fierce battles against the forces of secular, anti-Islamist Libyan General Khalifa Haftar.
Today, the United States is stronger and better positioned to seize the opportunities of a still new century and safeguard our interests against the risks of an insecure world. The President’s new National Security Strategyprovides a vision and strategy for advancing the nation’s interests, universal values, and a rules-based international order through strong and sustainable American leadership. The strategy sets out the principles andpriorities that describe how America will lead the world toward greater peace and a new prosperity.
We will lead with purpose, guided by our enduring national interests and values and committed to advancing a balanced portfolio of priorities worthy of a great power.
We will lead with strength, harnessing a resurgent economy, increased energy security, an unrivaled military, and the talent and diversity of the American people.
We will lead by example, upholding our values at home and our obligations abroad.
We will lead with capable partners, mobilizing collective action and building partner capacity to address global challenges.
We will lead with all instruments of U.S. power, leveraging our strategic advantages in diplomacy, development, defense, intelligence, science and technology, and more.
We will lead with a long-term perspective, influencing the trajectory of major shifts in the security landscape today in order to secure our national interests in the future.
We will advance the security of the United States, its citizens, and U.S. allies and partners by:
Maintaining a national defense that is the best trained, equipped, and led force in the world while honoring our promises to service members, veterans, and their families.
Working with Congress to end the draconian cuts imposed by sequestration that threaten the effectiveness of our military and other instruments of power.
Reinforcing our homeland security to keep the American people safe from terrorist attacks and natural hazards while strengthening our national resilience.
Transitioning to a sustainable global security posture that combines our decisive capabilities with local partners and keeps pressure on al-Qa’ida, ISIL, and their affiliates.
Striving for a world without nuclear weapons and ensuring nuclear materials do not fall into the hands of irresponsible states and violent non-state actors.
Developing a global capacity to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to biological threats like Ebola through the Global Health Security Agenda.
Confronting the urgent crisis of climate change, including through national emissions reductions, international diplomacy, and our commitment to the Green Climate Fund.
We will advance a strong, innovative, and growing U.S. economy in an open international economic system that promotes opportunity and prosperity by:
Strengthening American energy security and increasing global access to reliable and affordable energy to bolster economic growth and development worldwide.
Opening markets for U.S. goods, services, and investment and leveling the playing field for American workers and businesses to boost our economic competitiveness.
Advancing a trade agenda – including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – that creates good American jobs and shared prosperity.
Leading efforts to reduce extreme poverty, food insecurity, and preventable deaths with initiatives such as Feed the Future and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
Proving new sustainable development models like the President’s Power Africa Initiative.
We will advance respect for universal values at home and around the world by:
Holding ourselves to the highest possible standard by living our values at home even as we do what is necessary to keep our people safe and our allies secure.
Promoting and defending democracy, human rights, and equality while supporting countries such as Tunisia and Burma that are transitioning from authoritarianism.
Empowering future leaders of government, business, and civil society around the world, including through the President’s young leaders initiatives.
Leading the way in confronting the corruption by promoting adherence to standards of accountable and transparent governance.
Leading the international community to prevent and respond to human rights abuses and mass atrocities as well as gender-based violence and discrimination against LGBT persons.
We will advance an international order that promotes peace, security, and opportunity through stronger cooperation to meet global challenges by:
Working with partners to reinforce and update the rules of the road, norms, and institutions that are foundational to peace, prosperity, and human dignity in the 21st century.
Strengthening and growing our global alliances and partnerships, forging diverse coalitions, and leading at the United Nations and other multilateral organizations.
Rebalancing to Asia and the Pacific through increased diplomacy, stronger alliances and partnerships, expanded trade and investment, and a diverse security posture.
Strengthening our enduring commitment to a free and peaceful Europe by countering aggression and modernizing the NATO alliance to meet emerging threats.
Pursuing a stable Middle East and North Africa by countering terrorism, preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and reducing the underlying sources of conflict.
Building upon the success of the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit by investing in Africa’s economic, agricultural, health, governance, and security capacity.
Promoting a prosperous, secure, and democratic Western Hemisphere by expanding integration and leveraging a new opening to Cuba to expand our engagement.
Story 2: President Obama’s Announces New Strategy To Destroy Islamic State — Three Year Limit and No Enduring Ground Troops — Strategy Will Not Work — Have Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates Destroy The Islamic State With Their Own Military Forces — U.S. Sell These Nations The Arms — Stay Out Of Islamic Religious Sectarian Civil Wars Between The Sunni and Shia Sects of Islam — Videos
Letter: Obama Asks Congress for Authorization of Military Action Against ISIS
President Barack Obama sent a message to Congress today with respect to a draft proposal for a war resolution against Islamic State, asking for “limited” use of American force against the militant group operating in Syria and Iraq. Here is the letter:
TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES: The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses a threat to the people and stability of Iraq, Syria, and the broader Middle East, and to U.S. national security. It threatens American personnel and facilities located in the region and is responsible for the deaths of U.S. citizens James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller. If left unchecked, ISIL will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland. I have directed a comprehensive and sustained strategy to degrade and defeat ISIL. As part of this strategy, U.S. military forces are conducting a systematic campaign of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.Although existing statutes provide me with the authority I need to take these actions, I have repeatedly expressed my commitment to working with the Congress to pass a bipartisan authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIL. Consistent with this commitment, I am submitting a draft AUMF that would authorize the continued use of military force to degrade and defeat ISIL.
My Administration’s draft AUMF would not authorize long-term, large-scale ground combat operations like those our Nation conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Local forces, rather than U.S. military forces, should be deployed to conduct such operations.The authorization I propose would provide the flexibility to conduct ground combat operations in other, more limited circumstances, such as rescue operations involving U.S. or coalition personnel or the use of special operations forces to take military action against ISIL leadership. It would also authorize the use of U.S. forces in situations where ground combat operations are not expected or intended, such as intelligence collection and sharing, missions to enable kinetic strikes, or the provision of operational planning and other forms of advice and assistance to partner forces.
Although my proposed AUMF does not address the 2001 AUMF, I remain committed to working with the Congress and the American people to refine, and ultimately repeal, the 2001 AUMF. Enacting an AUMF that is specific to the threat posed by ISIL could serve as a model for how we can work together to tailor the authorities granted by the 2001 AUMF.
I can think of no better way for the Congress to join me in supporting our Nation’s security than by enacting this legislation, which would show the world we are united in our resolve to counter the threat posed by ISIL.
Authorization Of Force Vs ISIS – Pres Obama Sends AUMF Draft To Congress – Special Report All Star
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FULL SPEECH: Obama Delivers Statement on U.S. Military Force Against ISIS
Obama ISIS fight request sent to Congress Not About ‘Another Ground War’ Obama on war powers AUMF request: Islamic State is going to lose, Obama Says ISIS War Powers Request Not About ‘Another Ground War’. President Obama Asking Congress to Troops on the Ground to Fight ISIS
(MSNBC) President Barack Obama said Wednesday that his request for congressional approval to use military force against ISIS is “not the authorization of another ground war like Afghanistan or Iraq.”
The president spoke after sending Congress a request that would limit American military engagement to three years and would prohibit “enduring offensive ground forces.”
Obama, speaking from the White House, said that the war powers authorization “does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria. It is not the authorization of another ground war like Afghanistan or Iraq.”
“I am convinced that the United States should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war in the Middle East,” he said.
Still, the request quickly drew skepticism from both parties. House Speaker John Boehner questioned whether Obama’s plan will get the job done, and a leading Democrat in the Senate expressed concern about “a loophole that could lead to another major war.”
The United States has been pounding ISIS from the air since last summer. Obama said in his request that he wanted to work with Congress and show the world a united front.
video footage caught on tape cellphone camera surveillance raw dash cam air live on tv share comment like most popular President Obama Delivers Statement on U.S. Military Force Against ISIS (FULL)
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he Islamic State, a hardline Sunni jihadist group that formerly had ties to al Qaeda, has conquered large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group has announced its intention to reestablish the caliphate and has declared its leader, the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the caliph.
The lightning advances the Islamic State made across Syria and Iraq in June shocked the world. But it’s not just the group’s military victories that have garnered attention — it’s also the pace with which its members have begun to carve out a viable state.
Flush with cash and US weapons seized during its advances in Iraq, the Islamic State’s expansion shows no sign of slowing down. In the first week of August alone, Islamic State fighters have taken over new areas in northern Iraq, encroaching on Kurdish territory and sending Christians and other minorities fleeing as reports of massacres emerged.
VICE News reporter Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings.
WHAT’S DRIVING THE ISLAMIC STATE? GLENN BECK HELPS UNDERSTAND
Glenn Beck broke down the history of the Middle East on his television program Thursday, focusing on a nearly 100-year-old agreement that he says is integral to understanding the motivations of the Islamic State: the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
If you do not understand the Sykes-Picot Agreement, Beck said, you cannot fully understand the Islamic State, or why the Israelis and the Palestinians will never reach a two-state solution.
Though many go back to 1948 and the creation of the modern state of Israel when examining the history of Middle Eastern conflicts, Beck said you actually have to go back to 1916 and World War I.
T.E. Lawrence and World War I
The Rise of Islam and Racism – Documentary | ISIS ISIL ISLAMIC STATE
Obama asks Congress to authorize U.S. war on Islamic State
U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday sent Congress his long-awaited formal request to authorize military force against Islamic State, meeting swift resistance from Republicans as well as his fellow Democrats wary of another war in the Middle East.
Republicans, who control Congress and say Obama’s foreign policy is too passive, want stronger measures against the militants than outlined in the plan, which bars any large-scale invasion by U.S. ground troops and covers the next three years.
Obama acknowledged that the military campaign is difficult and will remain so. “But our coalition is on the offensive. ISIL is on the defensive, and ISIL is going to lose,” he said in a televised statement from the White House.
With many of Obama’s fellow Democrats insisting the plan is too broad because it includes no blanket ban on ground troops, it could be difficult for the authorization to pass, even though six months have passed since the campaign began.
Obama consulted with Republicans and Democrats in writing the resolution, and said he would continue to do so. He said the time frame was intended to let Congress revisit the issue when the next president takes office in 2017.
The proposal says Islamic State “has committed despicable acts of violence and mass execution.” Its militants have killed thousands of civilians while seizing territory in Iraq andSyria in an attempt to establish a hub of jihadism in the heart of the Arab world.
They have also generated international outrage by beheading western aid workers and journalists and burning to death a Jordanian pilot.
Obama sent his request to Congress a day after his administration confirmed the death of Kayla Mueller, a 26-year-old aid worker who was the last known American hostage held by the group.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives must approve Obama’s plan. Lawmakers said they would begin hearings quickly as Republicans made clear they thought the plan fell short.
The Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, told reporters he was sure the plan would change as it moved though Congress. “I’m not sure the strategy that has been outlined will accomplish the mission the president says he wants to accomplish,” he added.
Obama has defended his authority to lead an international coalition against Islamic State since Aug. 8 when U.S. fighter jets began attacks in Iraq. The formal request eased criticism of Obama’s failure to seek the backing of Congress, where some accused him of breaching his constitutional authority.
SEEKING A UNITED FRONT
With Republicans in control of Congress after routing Obama’s Democrats in November elections, the president also wants lawmakers to share responsibility for the campaign against Islamic State and present a united front.
The plan does not authorize “long-term, large-scale ground combat operations” such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama said those operations would be left to local forces, but lawmakers worried they would not step up. “What is the role, really, that regional partners are playing in this battle against ISIL?” asked Democratic Senator Tim Kaine.
The draft allows for certain ground combat operations including hostage rescues and the use of special forces. It permits the use of U.S. forces for intelligence collection, targeting operations for drone strikes and planning and giving other assistance to local forces.
Many Democrats, especially liberals in the House, said Obama’s proposal was too broad. They want any authorization to place stricter limits on the use of ground troops and expressed concerns Obama set no geographic limits on the campaign.
“The language … is very broad, very ambiguous,” said Democratic Representative Adam Schiff. “None of us really know what ‘enduring offensive combat operations’ means.”
It was the first formal request for authority to conduct a military operation of Obama’s six years in office. If passed, it would be Congress’ first war authorization since then-President George W. Bush’s 2002 authority to wage the Iraq War.
Obama’s objection as a U.S. senator to that authority helped fuel his successful 2008 campaign for the White House.
Obama’s text includes a repeal of the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force. But it leaves in place an open-ended authorization, passed days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, for a campaign against al Qaeda and affiliates.
Rights groups and many lawmakers said they want the new AUMF to set an end date for the 2001 authorization, which the White House has invoked to carry out drone and missile strikes against suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen and Somalia.
Obama said he remained committed to working with Congress to “refine, and ultimately repeal” it.
Obama Asks Congress to Authorize Three-Year ISIS Fight
By PETER BAKER
President Obama on Wednesday formally asked Congress to authorize a three-year military campaign against the terrorist group the Islamic State that would avoid a large-scale invasion and occupation but in addition to air power could include limited ground operations by American forces to hunt down enemy leaders or rescue American personnel.
A proposal sent by the White House to Capitol Hill on Wednesday would formally give the president the power to continue the airstrikes he has been conducting since last fall against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, as well as “associated persons or forces.” The measure would set limits that were never imposed during the wars of the last decade in Afghanistan and Iraq by expiring in three years and withholding permission for “enduring offensive ground combat operations.”
“I do not believe America’s interests are served by endless war or by remaining on a perpetual war footing,” Mr. Obama said in a televised statement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Wednesday afternoon. He added that the three-year time frame was not a timetable announcing how long the mission would last. “What it is saying is that Congress should revisit the issue at the beginning of the next president’s term.”
But in a letter to Congress accompanying the proposal and in his televised comments, Mr. Obama, who has said there would be no boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria, envisioned limited ground combat operations “such as rescue operations” or the use of “Special Operations forces to take military action against ISIL leadership.”
He also said the legislation would allow the use of ground forces for intelligence gathering, target spotting and planning assistance to ground troops of allies like Iraq.
“If we had actionable intelligence about ISIL leaders and our partners didn’t have the capacity to get there, I would be prepared to order our special forces to take action because I will not allow these terrorist to have a safe haven,” Mr. Obama said in his statement.
In the letter to Congress, Mr. Obama justified the authorization on the premise that the Islamic State could at some point endanger the United States. “If left unchecked, ISIL will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States homeland,” he wrote.
While he repeated his contention that “existing statutes provide me with the authority I need,” he said he wanted to work with Congress to obtain bipartisan support. “I can think of no better way for the Congress to join me in supporting our nation’s security than by enacting this legislation, which would show the world we are united in our resolve to counter the threat posed by ISIL.”
The president’s proposal was sent to Congress shortly after confirmation of the death of Kayla Mueller, 26, an American held by the Islamic State. The draft legislation specifically mentioned her and three other Americans who were held hostage and then killed by the Islamic State — James Foley,Steven J. Sotloff and Peter Kassig — in clauses justifying the need for military action.
If approved, the proposal would be the first time Congress has authorized a president’s use of force since lawmakers voted in 2002 to permit President George W. Bush to invade Iraq. Mr. Obama pulled troops out of Iraq in 2011 but has sent a limited number back as part of his campaign against the Islamic State. His proposed legislation would repeal the 2002 authorization but leave in place separate legislation passed in 2001 allowing force against Al Qaeda and its affiliates.
Mr. Obama, who plans to make a statement at the White House at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday to discuss the matter, repeated in his letter his desire to work with Congress to “refine and ultimately repeal” the 2001 measure and distinguished his limited mission from the wars waged by his predecessor.
“My administration’s draft A.U.M.F.,” or Authorization for Use of Military Force, “would not authorize long-term, large-scale ground combat operations like those our nation conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he wrote. “Local forces, rather than U.S. military forces, should be deployed to conduct such operations.”
Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he welcomed Mr. Obama’s decision to seek the involvement of Congress in the military campaign. “It also will be important that the president exert leadership, lay out a clear strategy for confronting the threat posed by ISIS, and do the hard work of making the case to the American people why this fight is necessary and one we must win,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Corker said hearings would be scheduled to consider the matter and repeated his support for passage of a force measure. “Voting to authorize the use of military force is one of the most important actions Congress can take,” he said, “and while there will be differences, it is my hope that we will fulfill our constitutional responsibility, and in a bipartisan way, pass an authorization that allows us to confront this serious threat.”
Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said Congress should not limit options. “If we’re going to authorize the use of military force, the president should have all the tools necessary to win the fight that we’re in,” he said at a news conference. “I’m not sure that’s a strategy that’s been outlined to accomplish the mission the president says he wants to accomplish.”
Representative Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama, said Mr. Obama needed to make clear to the American public that he was genuinely committed to victory. “If the president wants to engage in a halfhearted P.R. effort, to go through the motions to give the appearance that we’re fighting when we’re not doing what is necessary to win, then we should not engage,” he said.
On the other hand, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said he worried that the president’s proposal set no geographic limits to the military campaign and that the definition of associated forces was too elastic. Moreover, he argued that unless it repealed the 2001 measure authorizing force against Al Qaeda and its affiliates or set a timetable for its expiration, the three-year limit on Mr. Obama’s measure was effectively meaningless because the next president could continue the war by claiming the authority of the earlier legislation.
“Additionally,” Mr. Schiff said, “a new authorization should place more specific limits on the use of ground troops to ensure we do not authorize another major ground war without the president coming to Congress to make the case for one.”
Chris Anders, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, echoed those concerns. “If Congress grants any new authority for the use of military force, the authority must be significantly more limited than the authority the administration has proposed,” he said.
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, the majority leader in the upper chamber, offered a cautious, noncommittal response to the president’s request and said the Republican conference would meet later Wednesday for a discussion to be led by Mr. Corker and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
“Individual senators and committees of jurisdiction will review it carefully and they’ll listen closely to the advice of military commanders as they consider the best strategy for defeating ISIL,” Mr. McConnell said.
Story 1: Department of Labor Revised Job Numbers in November of 414,000 and December of 329,000 Plus 257,000 in January — Wages Increase 12 Cents Per Hour — Solid Jobs Report — U-3 Unemployment Rate Increased From 5.6% to 5.7% and 9 Million Unemployed — 1 Million Additional Americans Looking For Jobs — Spread The Message of Liberty — Videos
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Please Spread The Message of Liberty
“Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.”
Years of unending news stories on U.S. government programs ofsurveillance,rendition and torture have apparently chilled the speech of even top business executives in the United States.
Yesterday, Jim Clifton, the Chairman and CEO of Gallup, an iconic U.S. company dating back to 1935, told CNBC that he was worried he might “suddenly disappear” and not make it home that evening if he disputed the accuracy of what the U.S. government is reporting as unemployed Americans.
The CNBC interview came one day after Clifton had penned a gutsy opinion piece on Gallup’s web site, defiantly calling the government’s 5.6 percent unemployment figure “The Big Lie” in the article’s headline. His appearance on CNBC was apparently to walk back the “lie” part of the title and reframe the jobs data as just hopelessly deceptive.
Clifton stated the following on CNBC:
“I think that the number that comes out of BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] and the Department of Labor is very, very accurate. I need to make that very, very clear so that I don’t suddenly disappear. I need to make it home tonight.”
After getting that out of the way, Clifton went on to eviscerate the legitimacy of the cheerful spin given to the unemployment data, telling CNBC viewers that the percent of full time jobs in this country as a percent of the adult population “is the worst it’s been in 30 years.”
Series Id: LNS11000000
Series title: (Seas) Civilian Labor Force Level
Labor force status: Civilian labor force
Type of data: Number in thousands
Age: 16 years and over
Civilian Labor Participation Rate
Series Id: LNS11300000
Series title: (Seas) Labor Force Participation Rate
Labor force status: Civilian labor force participation rate
Type of data: Percent or rate
Age: 16 years and over
Series Id: LNS12000000
Series title: (Seas) Employment Level
Labor force status: Employed
Type of data: Number in thousands
Age: 16 years and over
1 : Data affected by changes in population controls.
Employment Population Ratio
Series Id: LNS12300000
Series title: (Seas) Employment-Population Ratio
Labor force status: Employment-population ratio
Type of data: Percent or rate
Age: 16 years and over
Series Id: LNS13000000
Series title: (Seas) Unemployment Level
Labor force status: Unemployed
Type of data: Number in thousands
Age: 16 years and over
Teenage 16-19 Years Unemployment Rate
Series Id: LNS14000012
Series title: (Seas) Unemployment Rate - 16-19 yrs.
Labor force status: Unemployment rate
Type of data: Percent or rate
Age: 16 to 19 years
U-6 Unemployment Rate
Series Id: LNS13327709
Series title: (seas) Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of all civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers
Labor force status: Aggregated totals unemployed
Type of data: Percent or rate
Age: 16 years and over
Percent/rates: Unemployed and mrg attached and pt for econ reas as percent of labor force plus marg attached
Employment Situation Summary
Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until USDL-15-0158
8:30 a.m. (EST) Friday, February 6, 2015
Household data: (202) 691-6378 • email@example.com • www.bls.gov/cps
Establishment data: (202) 691-6555 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.bls.gov/ces
Media contact: (202) 691-5902 • PressOffice@bls.gov
THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- JANUARY 2015
NOTE: This news release was reissued on February 6, 2015, to correct data
in table C for the employed (Dec.-Jan. change, after removing the population
control effect). No other data were affected.
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 257,000 in January, and the unemployment rate
was little changed at 5.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
Job gains occurred in retail trade, construction, health care, financial activities,
| Changes to The Employment Situation Data |
|Establishment survey data have been revised as a result of the annual |
|benchmarking process and the updating of seasonal adjustment factors. Also, |
|household survey data for January 2015 reflect updated population estimates.|
|See the notes at the end of this news release for more information about |
|these changes. |
Household Survey Data
The unemployment rate, at 5.7 percent, changed little in January and has shown no net
change since October. The number of unemployed persons, at 9.0 million, was little
changed in January. (See table A-1. See the note at the end of this news release and
tables B and C for information about annual population adjustments to the household
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers (18.8 percent)
increased in January. The jobless rates for adult men (5.3 percent), adult women
(5.1 percent), whites (4.9 percent), blacks (10.3 percent), Asians (4.0 percent),
and Hispanics (6.7 percent) showed little or no change. (See tables A-1, A-2,
In January, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more)
was essentially unchanged at 2.8 million. These individuals accounted for 31.5 percent
of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed is down
by 828,000. (See table A-12.)
After accounting for the annual adjustments to the population controls, the civilian
labor force rose by 703,000 in January. The labor force participation rate rose by
0.2 percentage point to 62.9 percent, following a decline of equal magnitude in the
prior month. Total employment, as measured by the household survey, increased by
435,000 in January, and the employment-population ratio was little changed at
59.3 percent. (See table A-1. For additional information about the effects of the
population adjustments, see table C.)
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons(sometimes referred to
as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged in January at 6.8 million.
These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part
time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a
full-time job. (See table A-8.)
In January, 2.2 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by
358,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals
were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a
job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they
had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)
Among the marginally attached, there were 682,000 discouraged workers in January, down
by 155,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged
workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are
available for them. The remaining 1.6 million persons marginally attached to the labor
force in January had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or
family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)
Establishment Survey Data
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 257,000 in January. Job gains occurred in
retail trade, construction, health care, financial activities, and manufacturing.
After incorporating revisions for November and December (which include the impact of
the annual benchmark process), monthly job gains averaged 336,000 over the past
3 months. (See table B-1 and summary table B. See the note at the end of this news
release and table A for information about the annual benchmark process.)
Employment in retail trade rose by 46,000 in January. Three industries accounted
for half of the jobs added--sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (+9,000);
motor vehicle and parts dealers (+8,000); and nonstore retailers (+6,000).
Construction continued to add jobs in January (+39,000). Employment increased in
both residential and nonresidential building (+13,000 and +7,000, respectively).
Employment continued to trend up in specialty trade contactors (+13,000). Over the
prior 12 months, construction had added an average of 28,000 jobs per month.
In January, health care employment increased by 38,000. Job gains occurred in
offices of physicians (+13,000), hospitals (+10,000), and nursing and residential
care facilities (+7,000). Health care added an average of 26,000 jobs per month
Employment in financial activities rose by 26,000 in January, with insurance
carriers and related activities (+14,000) and securities, commodity contracts,
and investments (+5,000) contributing to the gain. Financial activities has added
159,000 jobs over the past 12 months.
Manufacturing employment increased by 22,000 over the month, including job gains
in motor vehicles and parts (+7,000) and wood products (+4,000). Over the past
12 months, manufacturing has added 228,000 jobs.
Professional and technical services added 33,000 jobs in January, including
increases in computer systems design (+8,000) and architectural and engineering
In January, employment in food services and drinking places continued to trend
up (+35,000). In 2014, the industry added an average of 33,000 jobs per month.
Employment in other major industries, including mining and logging, wholesale
trade, transportation and warehousing, information, and government, showed little
change over the month.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged
at 34.6 hours in January. The manufacturing workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 41.0
hours, and factory overtime edged down by 0.1 hour to 3.5 hours. The average
workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls
edged down by 0.1 hour to 33.8 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)
In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls
increased by 12 cents to $24.75, following a decrease of 5 cents in December. Over
the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.2 percent. In January, average
hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased
by 7 cents to $20.80. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised from +353,000
to +423,000, and the change for December was revised from +252,000 to +329,000. With
these revisions, employment gains in November and December were 147,000 higher than
previously reported. Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from
businesses since the last published estimates and the monthly recalculation of
seasonal factors. The annual benchmark process also contributed to these revisions.
The Employment Situation for February is scheduled to be released on Friday,
March 6, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).
Revisions to Establishment Survey Data
In accordance with annual practice, the establishment survey data released today have
been benchmarked to reflect comprehensive counts of payroll jobs for March 2014. These
counts are derived principally from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW),
which enumerates jobs covered by the unemployment insurance tax system. The benchmark
process results in revisions to not seasonally adjusted data from April 2013 forward.
Seasonally adjusted data from January 2010 forward are subject to revision. In addition,
data for some series prior to 2010, both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted, incorporate
The total nonfarm employment level for March 2014 was revised upward by 91,000 (+67,000
on a not seasonally adjusted basis, or less than 0.05 percent). The average benchmark
revision over the past 10 years was plus or minus 0.3 percent. Table A presents revised
total nonfarm employment data on a seasonally adjusted basis for January through
An article that discusses the benchmark and post-benchmark revisions and other technical
issues can be accessed through the BLS website at www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cesbmart.pdf.
Information on the data released today also may be obtained by calling (202) 691-6555.
Table A. Revisions in total nonfarm employment, January-December 2014, seasonally adjusted
(Numbers in thousands)
| Level | Over-the-month change
Year and month | As | | | As | |
|previously | As | Difference |previously| As | Difference
|published | revised | |published | revised |
| | | | | |
2014 | | | | | |
| | | | | |
January............| 137,539 | 137,642 | 103 | 144 | 166 | 22
February...........| 137,761 | 137,830 | 69 | 222 | 188 | -34
March..............| 137,964 | 138,055 | 91 | 203 | 225 | 22
April..............| 138,268 | 138,385 | 117 | 304 | 330 | 26
May................| 138,497 | 138,621 | 124 | 229 | 236 | 7
June...............| 138,764 | 138,907 | 143 | 267 | 286 | 19
July...............| 139,007 | 139,156 | 149 | 243 | 249 | 6
August.............| 139,210 | 139,369 | 159 | 203 | 213 | 10
September..........| 139,481 | 139,619 | 138 | 271 | 250 | -21
October............| 139,742 | 139,840 | 98 | 261 | 221 | -40
November...........| 140,095 | 140,263 | 168 | 353 | 423 | 70
December (p).......| 140,347 | 140,592 | 245 | 252 | 329 | 77
p = preliminary
Adjustments to Population Estimates for the Household Survey
Effective with data for January 2015, updated population estimates have been used in the
household survey. Population estimates for the household survey are developed by the
U.S. Census Bureau. Each year, the Census Bureau updates the estimates to reflect new
information and assumptions about the growth of the population since the previous
decennial census. The change in population reflected in the new estimates results
from adjustments for net international migration, updated vital statistics and other
information, and some methodological changes in the estimation process.
In accordance with usual practice, BLS will not revise the official household survey
estimates for December 2014 and earlier months. To show the impact of the population
adjustments, however, differences in selected December 2014 labor force series based on
the old and new population estimates are shown in table B.
The adjustments increased the estimated size of the civilian noninstitutional population
in December by 528,000, the civilian labor force by 348,000, employment by 324,000, and
unemployment by 24,000. The number of persons not in the labor force was increased by
179,000. The total unemployment rate, employment-population ratio, and labor force
participation rate were unaffected.
Data users are cautioned that these annual population adjustments can affect the
comparability of household data series over time. Table C shows the effect of the
introduction of new population estimates on the comparison of selected labor force
measures between December 2014 and January 2015. Additional information on the
population adjustments and their effect on national labor force estimates is
available at www.bls.gov/cps/cps15adj.pdf.
Table B. Effect of the updated population controls on December 2014 estimates by sex,
race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, not seasonally adjusted
(Numbers in thousands)
| | | | | | |
| | | | | Black | |
| | | | | or | | Hispanic
Category |Total | Men | Women| White | African| Asian | or Latino
| | | | |American| | ethnicity
| | | | | | |
| | | | | | |
Civilian noninstitutional | | | | | | |
population.................| 528 | 173 | 354 | 139 | 114 | 243 | 243
Civilian labor force......| 348 | 131 | 218 | 101 | 81 | 144 | 141
Participation rate......| .0 | .0 | .0 | .0 | .0 | -.1 | .0
Employed.................| 324 | 120 | 204 | 94 | 72 | 138 | 133
Employment-population | | | | |
ratio..................| .0 | .0 | .0 | .0 | .0 | -.1 | .0
Unemployed...............| 24 | 10 | 14 | 7 | 9 | 7 | 7
Unemployment rate.......| .0 | .0 | .0 | .0 | .0 | .0 | .0
Not in labor force........| 179 | 42 | 137 | 38 | 33 | 99 | 102
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Estimates for the above race
groups (white, black or African American, and Asian) do not sum to totals because data
are not presented for all races. Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or
Latino may be of any race.
Table C. December 2014-January 2015 changes in selected labor force measures,
with adjustments for population control effects
(Numbers in thousands)
| | |
| | | Dec.-Jan.
| Dec.-Jan. | 2015 | change,
| change, | population | after re-
Category | as | control | moving the
| published | effect | population
| | | control
| | | effect (1)
| | |
Civilian noninstitutional population.| 696 | 528 | 168
Civilian labor force...............| 1,051 | 348 | 703
Participation rate...............| .2 | .0 | .2
Employed..........................| 759 | 324 | 435(c)
Employment-population ratio......| .1 | .0 | .1
Unemployed........................| 291 | 24 | 267
Unemployment rate................| .1 | .0 | .1
Not in labor force.................| -354 | 179 | -533
c = corrected.
1 This Dec.-Jan. change is calculated by subtracting the population
control effect from the over-the-month change in the published seasonally
NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
| Changes to The Employment Situation News Release |
|Effective with this release, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics introduced|
|several changes to The Employment Situation news release tables. |
|Household survey table A-2 introduced seasonally adjusted series on the |
|labor force characteristics of Asians. These series appear in addition to |
|the not seasonally adjusted data for Asians displayed in the table. Also, |
|in summary table A, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Asians |
|replaced the not seasonally adjusted series that was previously displayed |
|for the group. |
|Household survey table A-3 introduced seasonally adjusted series on the |
|labor force characteristics of Hispanic men age 20 and over, Hispanic women|
|age 20 and over, and Hispanic teenagers age 16 to 19. The not seasonally |
|adjusted series for these groups continue to be displayed in the table. |
|The establishment survey introduced two data series: (1) total nonfarm |
|employment, 3-month average change and (2) total private employment, |
|3-month average change. These new series have been added to establishment |
|survey summary table B. Additionally, in the employment section of summary |
|table B, the list of industries has been expanded to include utilities |
|(also published in table B-1). Also, hours and earnings of production and |
|nonsupervisory employees were removed from summary table B, although these |
|series continue to be published in establishment survey tables B-7 and B-8.|
Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs
Duration of unemployment
Less than 5 weeks
5 to 14 weeks
15 to 26 weeks
27 weeks and over
Employed persons at work part time
Part time for economic reasons
Slack work or business conditions
Could only find part-time work
Part time for noneconomic reasons
Persons not in the labor force (not seasonally adjusted)
Marginally attached to the labor force
- December – January changes in household data are not shown due to the introduction of updated population controls.
NOTE: Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Detail for the seasonally adjusted data shown in this table will not necessarily add to totals because of the independent seasonal adjustment of the various series. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.
Employment Situation Summary Table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted
Summary table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted
Footnotes (1) Includes other industries, not shown separately. (2) Data relate to production employees in mining and logging and manufacturing, construction employees in construction, and nonsupervisory employees in the service-providing industries. (3) The indexes of aggregate weekly hours are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate hours by the corresponding annual average aggregate hours. (4) The indexes of aggregate weekly payrolls are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate weekly payrolls by the corresponding annual average aggregate weekly payrolls. (5) Figures are the percent of industries with employment increasing plus one-half of the industries with unchanged employment, where 50 percent indicates an equal balance between industries with increasing and decreasing employment. (p) Preliminary
NOTE: Data have been revised to reflect March 2014 benchmark levels and updated seasonal adjustment factors.
U.S. employers added a vigorous 257,000 jobs in January, and wages jumped by the most in six years — evidence that the job market is accelerating closer to full health.
The surprisingly robust report the government issued Friday also showed that hiring was far stronger in November and December than it had previously estimated. Employers added 414,000 jobs in November — the most in 17 years. Job growth in December was revised sharply up to 329,000 from 252,000.
Average hourly wages soared 12 cents in January to $24.75, the sharpest gain since 2008. Over the past 12 months, hourly pay, which has long been stagnant, has now risen 2.2 percent. That is ahead of inflation, which rose just 0.7 percent in 2014.
The unemployment rate last month rose to 5.7 percent from 5.6 percent. But that occurred for a good reason: More than 1 million Americans — the most since January 2000 — began looking for jobs, though not all of them found work, and their numbers swelled the number of people counted as unemployed. An influx of job hunters suggests that Americans have grown more confident about their prospects.
“For the average American, it’s certainly good news — 2015 is going to be the year of the American consumer,” said Russell Price, senior economist at the financial services firm Ameriprise. “With job growth being strong, we’re going to see a pickup in wages and salaries.”
Investors immediately responded to the better-than-expected jobs figures by selling ultra-safe U.S. Treasurys, sending yields up. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.88 percent from 1.81 percent shortly before the jobs report was released.
Stock market index futures also edged higher in pre-market trading. Futures that track the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the Dow Jones industrial average each rose about 0.4 percent.
A sharp drop in gas prices has held down inflation and boosted Americans’ spending power. Strong hiring also tends to lift pay as employers compete for fewer workers. A big question is whether last month’s jump in wages can be sustained.
Job gains have now averaged 336,000 for the past three months, the best three-month pace in 17 years. Just a year ago, the three-month average was only 197,000.
“The labor market was about the last thing to recover from the Great Recession, and in the last six months it has picked up steam,” said Bill Hampel, chief economist at the Credit Union National Association. “The benefits for the middle class are now solidifying.”
The stepped-up hiring in January occurred across nearly all industries. Construction firms added 39,000 jobs and manufacturers 22,000. Retail jobs jumped by nearly 46,000. Hotels and restaurants added 37,100, health care 38,000.
The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring wages and other job market data as it considers when to begin raising the short-term interest rate it controls from a record low near zero. The Fed has kept rates at record lows for more than six years to help stimulate growth. Most economists think the central bank will start boosting rates as early as June.
Steady economic growth has encouraged companies to keep hiring. The economy expanded at a 4.8 percent annual rate during spring and summer, the fastest six-month pace in a decade, before slowing to a still-decent 2.6 percent pace in the final three months of 2014.
There are now 3.2 million more Americans earning paychecks than there were 12 months ago. That tends to boost consumer spending, which drives about 70 percent of economic growth.
More hiring, along with sharply lower gasoline prices, has boosted Americans’ confidence and spending power. Consumer confidence jumped in January to its highest level in a decade, according to a survey by the University of Michigan. And Americans increased their spending during the final three months of last year at the fastest pace in nearly nine years.
A more confident, free-spending consumer could lend a spark that’s been missing for most of the 5½bd}-year-old economic recovery. Americans have been largely holding the line on spending and trying to shrink their debt loads. Signs that they are poised to spend more have boosted optimism that the economy will expand more than 3 percent this year for the first time in a decade.
One sector that has benefited from consumers’ increased willingness to spend has been the auto industry. Auto sales jumped 14 percent in January from the previous year, according to Autodata Corp. Last month was the best January for sales in nine years.
NET U.S. JOB GAINS SINCE THE RECESSION HAVE GONE TO FOREIGN-BORN WORKERS
In the months and years since the recession began in December 2007, foreign-born workers have experienced a net increase in employment, while native-born Americans have experienced a net loss.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released updated employment data Friday.
The new BLS figures reveal that since the start of the recession in 2007 — which is said to have ended in June 2009 — the number of foreign workers employed in the United States rose by 1.7 million.
In December 2007 the number of foreign-born workers was 22,810,000 by January 2009 the number has increased to 24,553,000.
Meanwhile the number of American-born workers employed decreased by 1.5 million, from 123,524,000 to 121,999,000.
While the foreign-born and American-born population experienced different statistical employment fates, both categories of adults experienced net growth.
The numbers come as Congress continues to debate a Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill that would defund President Obama’s executive amnesty, which has opened the door for millions of illegal immigrants to legally work in the United States.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Immigration Subcommittee Chairman, has been one of the most vocal opponents of the president’s actions and the administration’s immigration policies, which he argues harms American workers.
Friday, his office highlighted the employment discrepancies between native- and foreign- born employment.
“There are two jobs narratives: the one from the Administration, and the one lived and experienced by American workers. Fewer American workers are employed today than when the recession began. The President’s policies have profited the corporate immigration lobby and no-borders contingent, but have been only deleterious for wage-earners,” Session’s spokesman Stephen Miller emailed Breitbart News.
Miller highlighted that in addition to the annual flow of over 1.7 million permanent legal immigrants and nonimmigrant workers, as the Center for Immigration Studies recently exposed, since 2009 the administration has also provided another 5.5 million immigrants with employment authorization documents (EAD).
“What we are seeing in the BLS stats is the human fallout from the President’s actions,” Miller continued. “Figures such as these should be leading the nightly news. One of the first questions posited ought to be: will Minority Leader [Harry] Reid’s (D-NV) caucus continue to shield the issuance of 5 million more EADs for those illegally here?”
In 1977, Congress amended The Federal Reserve Act, stating the monetary policy objectives of the Federal Reserve as:
“The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Open Market Committee shall maintain long run growth of the monetary and credit aggregates commensurate with the economy’s long run potential to increase production, so as to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates.”
This is often called the “dual mandate” and guides the Fed’s decision-making in conducting monetary policy. On January 25, 2012, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) released the principles regarding its longer-run goals and monetary policy strategy.
The statement notes that:
“The FOMC is firmly committed to fulfilling its statutory mandate from the Congress of promoting maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates. The Committee seeks to explain its monetary policy decisions to the public as clearly as possible. Such clarity facilitates well-informed decision making by households and businesses, reduces economic and financial uncertainty, increases the effectiveness of monetary policy, and enhances transparency and accountability, which are essential in a democratic society.
Inflation, employment, and long-term interest rates fluctuate over time in response to economic and financial disturbances. Moreover, monetary policy actions tend to influence economic activity and prices with a lag. Therefore, the Committee’s policy decisions reflect its longer-run goals, its medium-term outlook, and its assessments of the balance of risks, including risks to the financial system that could impede the attainment of the Committee’s goals.
The inflation rate over the longer run is primarily determined by monetary policy, and hence the Committee has the ability to specify a longer-run goal for inflation. The Committee judges that inflation at the rate of 2 percent, as measured by the annual change in the price index for personal consumption expenditures, is most consistent over the longer run with the Federal Reserve’s statutory mandate. Communicating this inflation goal clearly to the public helps keep longer-term inflation expectations firmly anchored, thereby fostering price stability and moderate long-term interest rates and enhancing the Committee’s ability to promote maximum employment in the face of significant economic disturbances.
The maximum level of employment is largely determined by nonmonetary factors that affect the structure and dynamics of the labor market. These factors may change over time and may not be directly measurable. Consequently, it would not be appropriate to specify a fixed goal for employment; rather, the Committee’s policy decisions must be informed by assessments of the maximum level of employment, recognizing that such assessments are necessarily uncertain and subject to revision. The Committee considers a wide range of indicators in making these assessments. Information about Committee participants’ estimates of the longer-run normal rates of output growth and unemployment is published four times per year in the FOMC’s Summary of Economic Projections. For example, in the most recent projections, FOMC participants’ estimates of the longer-run normal rate of unemployment had a central tendency of 5.2 percent to 6.0 percent, roughly unchanged from last January but substantially higher than the corresponding interval several years earlier.”
Effective communications of the Committee’s objectives and economic forecasts increases the transparency, accountability, and effectiveness of policy decisions. To this end, the FOMC publishes the participants’ projections for the key economic variables and their estimates of the longer-run normal rates of output growth and unemployment four times a year in the Summary of Economic Projections. The projections are made by all FOMC participants, irrespective of whether they are voting members or not. The projections are prepared ahead of the FOMC meetings and do not necessarily reflect the discussions at the meetings that inform the FOMC’s decisions.
These charts plot the current rates of inflation and unemployment, as well as the FOMC participants’ most recent projections over the next three years and in the longer run. The dots show the median forecasts for the next three years and the dashed lines give the upper and lower ranges of the central tendency of the long-run projections.
This chart plots the federal funds rate and the rate after adjusting for the annual change in the price index for personal consumption expenditures excluding food and energy prices. Read more…
Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
During the financial crisis and in the period since the fed funds rate neared the zero lower bound, the FOMC has employed unconventional tools to improve the functioning of financial markets and to provide additional policy accommodation.
Federal Reserve Balance Sheet
During the financial crisis and in the period since the fed funds rate neared the zero lower bound, the FOMC has employed unconventional tools to improve the functioning of financial markets and to provide additional policy accommodation. As seen in the chart above, the use of these tools has increased the size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet and altered its composition. At the same, the increase in assets has been accompanied by an increase in liabilities of a similar magnitude, driven primarily by an increase in the reserve balances of depository institutions held at the Federal Reserve.
Federal Funds Rate Projections
In addition to its interest rate and balance sheet policies, the FOMC has enhanced its communications and increased transparency regarding its outlook, objectives and policy strategy. The dots represent individual policymakers’ projections of the appropriate federal funds rate target at the end of each of the next several years and in the longer run. It should be noted that these projections reflect the views of all the participants, irrespective of whether they are a voting member or not.
Federal Funds Rate Projections
In addition to its interest rate and balance sheet policies, the FOMC has enhanced its communications and increased transparency regarding its outlook, objectives and policy strategy. Forward guidance regarding the likely future path of policy is one such communications tool. In its March 2009 statement, the FOMC stated that it anticipates rates to remain at low levels for an extended period. At its August 2011meeting, the Committee elaborated further by stating that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low rates “at least through mid-2013.” In the January 2012 statement, in response to changes in current and expected economic conditions, the Committee altered its forward guidance regarding the period of exceptionally low rates to “at least through late-2014.” To further enhance its communications, the FOMC also published the participants’ projections for the federal funds rate in January 2012. In this chart, the dots represent individual policymakers’ projections of the appropriate federal funds rate target at the end of each of the next several years and in the longer run. It should be noted that these projections reflect the views of all the participants, irrespective of whether they are a voting member or not. Moreover, the projections are made in advance of the FOMC meetings and do not reflect how the participants’ views are enhanced from the discussions at the meetings. The statements released after each FOMC meeting reflect the policy decision of the voting members of the FOMC and their consensus view regarding the likely path of the federal funds rate in the future.
Story 1: Hillary Clinton Lied About Libya By Providing A False Narrative of Impending Genocide and A False Pretext For U.S. Intervention And For Shipping Arms To Rebels In Libya and Syria Including Al-Qaede Terrorists — Americans Died In Benghazi — While Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Barack Obama Lied — Secret Leaked Libya Tapes To Be Reviewed By House Select Committee on Benghazi! — Videos
What the secret tapes on Libya say about Hillary
Benghazi committee to review secret tapes on Clinton’s role in Libya war
WHAT THE secret tapes on Libya say about Hillary
CNN: Hillary Clinton ‘Libya conflict completely unacceptable’
Hillary Clinton on Gaddafi: We came, we saw, he died
Hillary Clinton defends “We Came, We Saw, he Died” – FoxNews 111023
Pinkerton: Hillary Clinton, Obama Have Fingerprints All Over Libya – Happening Now
Secretary Clinton Speaks on Libya
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #1 – Pentagon’s plans for Saif Gadhafi
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #2 – Pentagon source telling Gadhafi regime about mistrust of State Dep.
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #3 – Gadhafi Advisor describing conversation with U.S. Int. Off.
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #4 – Dennis Kucinich
The intelligence community gathered no specific evidence of an Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D, OH) speaking with Saif al-Islam Gadhafi regarding the grounds for NATO intervention in Libya.
impending genocide in Libya in spring 2011, undercutting then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s primary argument for using the U.S. military to remove Moammar Gadhafi from power, which cast his country into chaos.
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #5 – Dennis Kucinich and Saif al-Islam Gadhafi – NATO
Secret Leaked Libya Tapes #7 – Dennis Kucinich and Saif al-Islam Gadhafi – Terrorists
Roméo Dallaire: Intervention in Libya
Watch excerpts about intervention in Libya from our interview yesterday with retired Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, force commander of the UN Assistance Mission to Rwanda in 1993-1994 and author of “Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda.”
CNN: None Of Our Sources Corroborate Obama Admin’s False Libya Story
BENGHAZI HILLARY CLINTON AND OBAMA LET 4 AMERICANS DIE
[FLASHBACK] On CNN Susan Rice blames the internet video for Benghazi
The Truth About Muammar Gaddafi ( The ELITE Exposed )
House Benghazi committee to review secret Hillary tapes on Libya
By Jeffrey Scott Shapiro and Kelly Riddell
The chairman of a special House committee created to investigate the 2012 Benghazi tragedy on Monday instructed his staff to review secretly recorded tapes and intelligence reports that detail Hillary Rodham Clinton’s role in advocating and executing the war in Libya, opening the door for a possible expansion of his probe.
Rep. Trey Gowdy’s decision to seek a review of the materials, first highlighted in a series of Washington Times stories last week, carries consequences for the 2016 election in which Mrs. Clinton is expected to seek the presidency. It could also move the committee to examine the strained relationship between the State Department and Pentagon, which sharply disagreed over the 2011 war in Libya and the response to the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi a year later.
The Times reported last week that U.S. intelligence did not support Mrs. Clinton’s story of an impending genocide in Libya that she used to sell the war against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. The newspaper also unveiled secretly recorded tapes from Libya that showed that the Pentagon and Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich so distrusted her stewardship of the war that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime.
The tapes included candid conversations and allegations that Mrs. Clinton took the U.S. to war on false pretenses and was not listening to the advice of military commanders or career intelligence officers.
“Chairman Gowdy and the committee are aware of the details reported by The Washington Times, and we are reviewing them as part of the committee’s inquiry into Benghazi,” Benghazi Committee spokesman Jamal Ware announced Monday.
The emergence of the tapes and a new line of inquiry immediately had repercussions, especially on the political front where the 2016 president race has heated up.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a 2016 GOP hopeful who has been intensely critical of Mrs. Clinton’s handling of the 2011 Libya intervention, said the stories demonstrate she is not the right person to lead the country or the nation’s military.
“Hillary’s judgment has to be questioned – her eagerness for war in Libya should preclude her from being considered the next Commander in Chief,” said Sen. Paul, who opposed the Libyan intervention at the onset.
“We want someone in that office with wisdom and better judgment… We created chaos in Libya – as a result many arms have gone to Syria which are now aiding jihadi terrorists. I couldn’t fathom how Hillary Clinton could become Commander and Chief after this,” he added.
Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman have declined any comment about the tapes.
The Times reported that on one of the tapes, a Pentagon liaison told a Gadhafi aide that Army Gen. Charles Jacoby, a top aide to Adm. Mullen, “does not trust the reports that are coming out of the State Department and CIA, but there’s nothing he can do about it,” the Pentagon liaison said, offering a candid assessment of tensions within the Obama administration.
“I can tell you that the President is not getting accurate information so at some point someone has to get accurate information to him… I think about a way through former Secretary Gates or maybe to Admiral Mullen to get him information.”
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, said the Pentagon’s actions were “highly unusual,” but said that it would make sense for the Pentagon to want to make sure their Commander in Chief was getting accurate information.
“I think it’s unusual to have the military say wait a minute, that’s not true,” Mr. Poe said in a telephone interview with the Times. “You have a false report from the Secretary of State, and then the military holding a completely different view of what’s taking place.
“They wanted [the president] to have facts – facts as opposed to what Secretary Clinton was hoping the facts would be; that Moammar Gadhafi was killing innocent women and children. That was was a false narrative. So, it would make sense that they would want to get that information straight to the president and not go through the Secretary of State,” he added
In reaction to the Times final installment of the series on Monday, which revealed secret Libyan intelligence reports that linked NATO supported rebels to al-Qaeda, Rep. Louie Gohmert said the news was not a complete surprise.
“During the Obama-Clinton hunger to enter a bombing war in Libya, some of us knew the rebels included al-Qaeda but we did not know the full extent of their involvement,” he said. “So we pleaded for U.S. restraint. With bombing in their heart and radical Islamists whispering in their ears, the Obama-Clinton team would not even entertain offers of a ceasefire and peaceful transition of power. While acting under U.N. approval to prevent atrocities, it appears the Obama-Clinton bombing barrages caused atrocities that sent a country into chaos which is continuing today.”
The Times series about the Libyan intervention was also picked up across the Atlantic.
Britain’s Daily Mail described the story as “stunning” declaring that, “[Sec.] Clinton will face tough questions about her march to war against Moammar Gadhafi if she runs for president.”
Mr. Poe said that he believes the series will prompt new questions, especially with the current state of military and political affairs in Libya.
“As far as I’m concerned Benghazi is not going away,” Mr. Poe said. “That the U.S. would give in and arm rebels and criminals to overthrow Col. Gadhafi, and then mislead the world on that is shameful. We now have chaos in Libya… it’s the U.S.’ undoing of a country. Gadhafi was no saint, but what we have now are gangsters and jihadists running the country. We have chaos because the US intervened in a deceitful way.
Exclusive: Secret tapes undermine Hillary Clinton on Libyan war
Joint Chiefs, key lawmaker held own talks with Moammar Gadhafi regime
By Jeffrey Scott Shapiro and Kelly Riddell -
Top Pentagon officials and a senior Democrat in Congress so distrusted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2011 march to war in Libya that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime in an effort to halt the escalating crisis, according to secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli.
The tapes, reviewed by The Washington Times and authenticated by the participants, chronicle U.S. officials’ unfiltered conversations with Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s son and a top Libyan leader, including criticisms that Mrs. Clinton had developed tunnel vision and led the U.S. into an unnecessary war without adequately weighing the intelligence community’s concerns.
“You should see these internal State Department reports that are produced in the State Department that go out to the Congress. They’re just full of stupid, stupid facts,” an American intermediary specifically dispatched by the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Gadhafi regime in July 2011, saying the State Department was controlling what intelligence would be reported to U.S. officials.
At the time, the Gadhafi regime was fighting a civil war that grew out of the Arab Spring, battling Islamist-backed rebels who wanted to dethrone the longtime dictator. Mrs. Clinton argued that Gadhafi might engage in genocide and create a humanitarian crisis and ultimately persuaded President Obama,NATO allies and the United Nations to authorize military intervention.
Gadhafi’s son and heir apparent, Seif Gadhafi, told American officials in the secret conversations that he was worried Mrs. Clinton was using false pretenses to justify unseating his father and insisted that the regime had no intention of harming a mass of civilians. He compared Mrs. Clinton’s campaign for war to that of the George W. Bush administration’s now debunked weapons of mass destruction accusations, which were used to lobby Congress to invade Iraq, the tapes show.
“It was like the WMDs in Iraq. It was based on a false report,” Gadhafi said in a May 2011 phone call to Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat serving at the time. “Libyan airplanes bombing demonstrators, Libyan airplanes bombing districts in Tripoli, Libyan army killed thousands, etc., etc., and now the whole world found there is no single evidence that such things happened in Libya.”
Seif Gadhafi also warned that many of the U.S.-supported armed rebels were “not freedom fighters” but rather jihadists whom he described as “gangsters and terrorists.”
“And now you have NATO supporting them with ships, with airplanes, helicopters, arms, training, communication,” he said in one recorded conversation with U.S. officials. “We ask the American government send a fact-finding mission to Libya. I want you to see everything with your own eyes.”
The surreptitiously taped conversations reveal an extraordinary departure from traditional policy, in which the U.S. government speaks to foreign governments with one voice coordinated by the State Department.
Instead, the tapes show that the Pentagon’s senior uniformed leadership and a congressman from Mrs. Clinton’s own party conveyed sentiments to the Libyan regime that undercut or conflicted with the secretary of state’s own message at the time.
“If this story is true, it would be highly unusual for the Pentagon to conduct a separate set of diplomatic negotiations, given the way we operated when I was secretary of state,” James A. Baker III, who served under President George H.W. Bush, told The Times. “In our administration, the president made sure that we all sang from the same hymnal.”
Mr. Kucinich, who challenged Mrs. Clinton and Barack Obama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, acknowledged that he undertook his own conversations with the Gadhafi regime. He said he feared Mrs. Clinton was using emotion to sell a war against Libya that wasn’t warranted, and he wanted to get all the information he could to share with his congressional colleagues.
“I had facts that indicated America was headed once again into an intervention that was going to be disastrous,” Mr. Kucinich told The Times. “What was being said at the State Department — if you look at the charge at the time — it wasn’t so much about what happened as it was about what would happen. So there was a distortion of events that were occurring in Libya to justify an intervention which was essentially wrong and illegal.”
Mr. Kucinich wrote a letter to Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton in August explaining his communications in a last-ditch effort to stop the war.
“I have been contacted by an intermediary in Libya who has indicated that President Muammar Gadhafi is willing to negotiate an end to the conflict under conditions which would seem to favor Administration policy,” Mr. Kucinich wrote on Aug. 24.
“U.S. policy during the revolution supported regime change through peaceful means, in line with UNSCR 1973 policy and NATO mission goals,” the State Department said. “We consistently emphasized at the time that Moammar Gadhafi had to step down and leave Libya as an essential component of the transition.”
‘President is not getting accurate information’
Both inside and outside the Obama administration, Mrs. Clinton was among the most vocal early proponents of using U.S. military force to unseat Gadhafi. Joining her in making the case were French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and her successor as secretary of state, John F. Kerry.
Mrs. Clinton’s main argument was that Gadhafi was about to engage in a genocide against civilians in Benghazi, where the rebels held their center of power. But defense intelligence officials could not corroborate those concerns and in fact assessed that Gadhafi was unlikely to risk world outrage by inflicting mass casualties, officials told The Times. As a result, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, strongly opposed Mrs. Clinton’s recommendation to use force.
If Mrs. Clinton runs for president next year, her style of leadership as it relates to foreign policy will be viewed through the one war that she personally championed as secretary of state. Among the key questions every candidate faces is how they will assess U.S. intelligence and solicit the advice of the military leadership.
Numerous U.S. officials interviewed by The Times confirmed that Mrs. Clinton, and not Mr. Obama, led the charge to use NATO military force to unseat Gadhafi as Libya’s leader and that she repeatedly dismissed the warnings offered by career military and intelligence officials.
In the recovered recordings, a U.S. intelligence liaison working for the Pentagon told a Gadhafi aide that Mr. Obama privately informed members of Congress that Libya “is all Secretary Clinton’s matter” and that the nation’s highest-ranking generals were concerned that the president was being misinformed.
The Pentagon liaison indicated on the tapes that Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., a top aide to Adm. Mullen, “does not trust the reports that are coming out of the State Department and CIA, but there’s nothing he can do about it.”
In one conversation to the Libyans, the American intelligence asset said, “I can tell you that the president is not getting accurate information, so at some point someone has to get accurate information to him. I think about a way through former Secretary Gates or maybe to Adm. Mullen to get him information”
The recordings are consistent with what many high-ranking intelligence, military and academic sources told The Times:
Mrs. Clinton was headstrong to enter the Libyan crisis, ignoring the Pentagon’s warnings that no U.S. interests were at stake and regional stability could be threatened. Instead, she relied heavily on the assurances of the Libyan rebels and her own memory of Rwanda, where U.S. inaction may have led to the genocide of at least 500,000 people.
“Neither the intervention decision nor the regime change decision was an intelligence-heavy decision,” said one senior intelligence official directly involved with the administration’s decision-making, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “People weren’t on the edge of their seats, intelligence wasn’t driving the decision one way or another.”
Instead of relying on the Defense Department or the intelligence community for analysis, officials told The Times, the White House trusted Mrs. Clinton’s charge, which was then supported by Ambassador to the United Nations Susan E. Rice and National Security Council member Samantha Power, as reason enough for war.
“Susan Rice was involved in the Rwanda crisis in 1994, Samantha Power wrote very moving books about what happened in Rwanda, and Hillary Clinton was also in the background of that crisis as well,” said Allen Lynch, a professor of international relations at the University of Virginia. “I think they have all carried this with them as a kind of guilt complex.”
Humanitarian crisis was not imminent
In 2003, Gadhafi agreed to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction and denounce terrorism to re-establish relations with the West. He later made reparations to the families of those who died in the bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
News media frequently described the apparent transformation as Libya “coming in from the cold.”
Still, he ruled Libya with an iron grip, and by February 2011 civil war raged throughout the country. Loyalist forces mobilized tanks and troops toward Benghazi, creating a panicked mass exodus of civilians toward Egypt.
Mrs. Clinton met with Libyan rebel spokesman Mahmoud Jibril in the Paris Westin hotel in mid-March so she could vet the rebel cause to unseat Gadhafi. Forty-five minutes after speaking with Mr. Jibril, Mrs. Clinton was convinced that a military intervention was needed.
“I talked extensively about the dreams of a democratic civil state where all Libyans are equal a political participatory system with no exclusions of any Libyans, even the followers of Gadhafi who did not commit crimes against the Libyan people, and how the international community should protect civilians from a possible genocide like the one [that] took place in Rwanda,” Mr. Jibril told The Times. “I felt by the end of the meeting, I passed the test. Benghazi was saved.”
So on March 17, 2011, the U.S. supported U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 for military intervention in Libya to help protect its people from Gadhafi’s forthcoming march on Benghazi, where he threatened he would “show no mercy” to resisters.
“In this particular country — Libya — at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale,” Mr. Obama declared in an address to the nation on March 28. “We had a unique ability to stop that violence: An international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves.”
Yet Human Rights Watch did not see the humanitarian crisis as imminent.
“At that point, we did not see the imminence of massacres that would rise to genocidelike levels,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division for Human Rights Watch. “Gadhafi’s forces killed hundreds of overwhelmingly unarmed protesters. There were threats of Libyan forces approaching Benghazi, but we didn’t feel that rose to the level of imminent genocidelike atrocities.”
Instead, she said, the U.S. government was trying to be at the forefront of the Arab Spring, when many dictator-led countries were turning to democracy.
“I think the dynamic for the U.S. government was: Things are changing fast, Tunisia has fallen, Egypt has fallen, and we’d better be on the front of this, supporting a new government and not being seen as supporting the old government,” Ms. Whitson said.
On the day the U.N. resolution was passed, Mrs. Clinton ordered a general within the Pentagon to refuse to take a call with Gadhafi’s son Seif and other high-level members within the regime, to help negotiate a resolution, the secret recordings reveal.
A day later, on March 18, Gadhafi called for a cease-fire, another action the administration dismissed.
Soon, a call was set up between the former U.S. ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, and Gadhafi confidant Mohammed Ismael during which Mr. Ismael confirmed that the regime’s highest-ranking generals were under orders not to fire upon protesters.
“I told him we were not targeting civilians and Seif told him that,” Mr. Ismael told The Times in an telephone interview this month, recounting the fateful conversation.
While Mrs. Clinton urged the Pentagon to cease its communications with the Gadhafi regime, the intelligence asset working with the Joint Chiefs remained in contact for months afterward.
“Everything I am getting from the State Department is that they do not care about being part of this. Secretary Clinton does not want to negotiate at all,” the Pentagon intelligence asset told Seif Gadhafi and his adviser on the recordings.
Communication was so torn between the Libyan regime and the State Department that they had no point of contact within the department to even communicate whether they were willing to accept the U.N.’s mandates, former Libyan officials said.
Mrs. Clinton eventually named Mr. Cretz as the official U.S. point of contact for the Gadhafi regime. Mr. Cretz, the former ambassador to Libya, was removed from the country in 2010 amid Libyan anger over derogatory comments he made regarding Gadhafi released by Wikileaks. As a result, Mr. Cretz was not trusted or liked by the family.
Shutting the Gadhafis out of the conversation allowed Mrs. Clinton to pursue a solitary point of view, said a senior Pentagon official directly involved with the intervention.
“The decision to invade [Libya] had already been made, so everything coming out of the State Department at that time was to reinforce that decision,” the official explained, speaking only on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.
As a result, the Pentagon went its own way and established communications with Seif Gadhafi through one of his friends, a U.S. businessman, who acted as an intermediary. The goal was to identify a clear path and strategy forward in Libya — something that wasn’t articulated by the White House or State Department at the time, officials said.
“Our big thing was: ‘What’s a good way out of this, what’s a bridge to post-Gadhafi conflict once the military stops and the civilians take over, what’s it going to look like?’” said a senior military official involved in the planning, who requested anonymity. “We had a hard time coming up with that because once again nobody knew what the lay of the clans and stuff was going to be.
“The impression we got from both the businessman and from Seif was that the situation is bad, but this [NATO intervention] is even worse,” the official said, confirming the sentiments expressed on the audio recordings. “All of these things don’t have to happen this way, and it will be better for Libya in the long run both economically and politically if they didn’t.”
The Pentagon wasn’t alone in questioning the intervention.
The week the U.N. resolution authorizing military force was passed, Sen. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat, expressed his own concerns.
“We have a military operation that’s been put to play, but we do not have a clear diplomatic policy or clear statement of foreign policy. We know we don’t like the Gadhafi regime, but we do not have a picture of who the opposition movement really is. We got a vote from the Security Council but we had five key abstentions in that vote.”
Five of the 15 countries on the U.N. Security Council abstained from voting on the decision in Libya because they had concerns that the NATO intervention would make things worse. Mrs. Clinton worked to avoid having them exercise their veto by personally calling representatives from Security Council member states.
Germany and Brazil published statements on March 18, 2011, explaining their reasons for abstention.
“We weighed the risks of a military operation as a whole, not just for Libya but, of course, also with respect to the consequences for the entire region and that is why we abstained,” Germany said.
Brazil wrote, “We are not convinced that the use of force as contemplated in the present resolution will lead to the realization of our most important objective — the immediate end of violence and the protection of civilians.
We are also concerned that such measures may have the unintended effect of exacerbating tensions on the ground and causing more harm than good to the very same civilians we are committed to protecting.”
Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., told The Times that history has proved those concerns correct.
“The U.N. Security Council resolution on Libya was meant to create a no-fly zone to prevent bombing of civilians,” said Mr. Kislyak. “NATO countries that participated in this intervention were supposed to patrol the area. However, in a short amount of time the NATO flights — initially meant to stop violence on the ground — went far beyond the scope of the Security Council-mandated task and created even more violence in Libya.”
On March 19, the U.S. military, supported by France and Britain, fired off more than 110 Tomahawk missiles, hitting about 20 Libyan air and missile defense targets. Within weeks, a NATO airstrike killed one of Gaddafi’s sons and three grandsons at their the family’s Tripoli compound, sparking debate about whether the colonel and his family were legitimate targets under the U.N. resolution.
Mr. Gates, the defense secretary, said the compound was targeted because it included command-and-control facilities.
Even after the conflict began, U.S. military leaders kept looking for a way out and a way to avoid the power vacuum that would be left in the region if Gadhafi fell.
As the intelligence asset working with the Joint Chiefs kept his contacts going, one U.S. general made an attempt to negotiate directly with his Libyan military counterparts, according to interviews conducted by The Times with officials directly familiar with the overture.
Army Gen. Carter Ham, the head of the U.S. African Command, sought to set up a 72-hour truce with the regime, according to an intermediary called in to help.
Retired Navy Rear Adm. Charles Kubic, who was acting as a business consultant in Libya at the time, said he was approached by senior Libyan military leaders to propose the truce. He took the plan to Lt. Col. Brian Linvill, the U.S. AFRICOM point of contact for Libya. Col. Linvill passed the proposal to Gen. Ham, who agreed to participate.
“The Libyans would stop all combat operations and withdraw all military forces to the outskirts of the cities and assume a defensive posture. Then to insure the credibility with the international community, the Libyans would accept recipients from the African Union to make sure the truce was honored,” Mr. Kubic said, describing the offers.
“[Gadhafi] came back and said he was willing to step down and permit a transition government, but he had two conditions,” Mr. Kubic said. “First was to insure there was a military force left over after he left Libya capable to go after al Qaeda. Secondly, he wanted to have the sanctions against him and his family and those loyal to him lifted and free passage. At that point in time, everybody thought that was reasonable.”
Gen. Ham was ordered to stand down two days after the negotiation began, Mr. Kubic said. The orders were given at the behest of the State Department, according to those familiar with the plan in the Pentagon. Gen. Ham declined to comment when questioned by The Times.
“If their goal was to get Gadhafi out of power, then why not give a 72-hour truce a try?” Mr. Kubic asked. “It wasn’t enough to get him out of power; they wanted him dead.”
Libyan officials were willing to negotiate a departure from power but felt the continued NATO bombings were forcing the regime into combat to defend itself, the recordings indicated.
“If they put us in a corner, we have no choice but to fight until the end,” Mr. Ismael said on one of the recordings. “What more can they do? Bomb us with a nuclear bomb? They have done everything.”
Under immense foreign firepower, the Gadhafi regime’s grip on Libya began to slip in early April and the rebels’ resolve was strengthened. Gadhafi pleaded with the U.S. to stop the NATO airstrikes.
Regime change real agenda
Indeed, the U.S. position in Libya had changed. First, it was presented to the public as way to stop an impending humanitarian crisis but evolved into expelling the Gadhafis.
CIA Director Leon E. Panetta says in his book “Worthy Fights” that the goal of the Libyan conflict was for regime change. Mr. Panetta wrote that at the end of his first week as secretary of defense in July 2011, he visited Iraq and Afghanistan “for both substance and symbolism.”
“In Afghanistan I misstated our position on how fast we’d be bringing troops home, and I said what everyone in Washington knew, but we couldn’t officially acknowledge: That our goal in Libya was regime change.”
But that wasn’t the official war cry.
Instead: “It was ‘We’re worried a humanitarian crisis might occur,’” said a senior military official, reflecting on the conflict. “Once you’ve got everybody nodding up and down on that, watch out because you can justify almost anything under the auspices of working to prevent a humanitarian crisis. Gadhafihad enough craziness about him, the rest of the world nodded on.”
But they might not be so quick to approve again, officials say.
“It may be impossible to get the same kind of resolution in similar circumstances, and we already saw that in Syria where the Russians were very suspicious when Western powers went to the U.N.,” said Richard Northern, who served as the British ambassador to Libya during part of the conflict. “Anything the Western powers did in the Middle East is now viewed by the Russians with suspicion, and it will probably reduce the level of authority they’re willing to give in connection to humanitarian crises.”
Mr. Kucinich, who took several steps to end the war in Libya, said he is sickened about what transpired.
He sponsored a June 3 resolution in the House of Representatives to end the Libyan war, but Republican support for the bill was diluted after Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, proposed a softer alternative resolution demanding that the president justify his case for war within 14 days.
“There was a distortion of events that were occurring in Libya to justify an intervention which was essentially wrong and illegal because [the administration] gained the support of the U.N. Security Council through misrepresentation,” said Mr. Kucinich. “The die was cast there for the overthrow of the Gadhafi government. The die was cast. They weren’t looking for any information.
“What’s interesting about all this is, if you listen to Seif Gaddafi’s account, even as they were being bombed they still trusted America, which really says a lot,” said Mr. Kucinich. “It says a lot about how people who are being bombed through the covert involvement or backdoor involvement of the U.S. will still trust the U.S. It’s heart-breaking, really. It really breaks your heart when you see trust that is so cynically manipulated.”
In August, Gadhafi’s compound in Tripoli was overrun, signaling the end of his 42-year reign and forcing him into hiding. Two months later, Gadhafi, 69, was killed in his hometown of Sirte. His son Seif was captured by the Zintan tribe and remains in solitary confinement in a Zintan prison cell.
Since Gadhafi was removed from power, Libya has been in a constant state of chaos, with factional infighting and no uniting leader. On Tuesday, an attack on a luxury hotel in Tripoli killed nine people, including one American. A group calling itself the Islamic State-Tripoli Province took responsibility for the attack, indicating a growing presence of anti-American terrorist groups within the country.
The intelligence community gathered no specific evidence of an impending genocide in Libya in spring 2011, undercutting Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s primary argument for using the U.S. military to remove Col. Moammar Gadhafi from power, an event that has left his country in chaos, according to officials with direct knowledge of the dispute.
Defense officials, speaking in detail for the first time about their assessments of the Libyan civil war four years ago, told The Washington Times that Mrs. Clinton’s strong advocacy for intervention against the Libyan regime rested more on speculative arguments of what might happen to civilians than on facts reported from the ground.
The Defense Intelligence Agency ran the Libya intelligence operation.
“It was an intelligence-light decision,” said one senior U.S. intelligence official directly familiar with the Libyan matter, who spoke to The Washington Times only on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
The official’s sentiments were echoed by nearly a dozen other key players inside the intelligence and military communities who described to The Times a frustrating period during which the concerns of senior military leaders, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, were repeatedly cast aside.
Speculative arguments often trumped reporting from the ground, the officials added.
The intelligence community wasn’t the only one concerned that Mrs. Clinton was selling the war on exaggerated pretenses.
In secretly tape-recorded conversations, an emissary sent by the Pentagon and Democratic Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich openly discussed with Gadhafi regime officials in 2011 concerns that there was a false narrative being used to sell the war, The Washington Times reported Thursday.
In one pointed conversation, the officials suggested Mrs. Clinton was engaging in the same misleading tactics as the George W. Bush administration when it went to war with Iraq in 2003 claiming the country had large stocks weapons of mass destruction, a claim that proved to be inaccurate.
“It was like the WMDs in Iraq. It was based on a false report,” Seif Gadhafi, the son of the Libyan leader, said in a May 2011 phone call with Mr. Kucinich. “Libyan airplanes bombing demonstrators, Libyan airplanes bombing districts in Tripoli, Libyan army killed thousands, etc., etc., and now the whole world found there is no single evidence that such things happened in Libya.”
The gap between Mrs. Clinton’s rhetoric warning of a Rwanda-like slaughter of civilians in Libya and the facts gathered by career intelligence staff is taking on significance as the former secretary of state prepares another bid for the White House and her national security credentials are re-examined.
Predictions of genocide
When the Arab Spring fervor touched off a civil war in Libya in early 2011, U.S. officials were caught off guard. The CIA had little information about the rebels leading the fight, the Libyans who set up an interim government or Gadhafi’s own intentions in repressing the rebellion, officials said.
In fact, intelligence agencies didn’t even have a good estimate of how many civilians were living in Benghazi, which was expected to be the conflict’s flashpoint, officials told The Times.
The DIA was put into the lead role for assessing the situation, and a separate working group within the Pentagon’s joint chiefs quickly gathered valuable insights from an American asset who was in direct contact with the Gadhafi regime, including the leader’s son Seif and Mohammad Ismael, Seif Gadhafi’s chief of staff.
Soon, however, the information being gathered by the intelligence community was at loggerheads with claims of the main supporters for war with Libya, which included French President Nicolas Sarkozy; Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican; Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat; and three powerful women close to President Obama: Mrs. Clinton; Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and adviser Samantha Powers.
Mrs. Clinton ultimately became the most powerful advocate for using U.S. military force to dethrone Gadhafi, both in her closed-door meetings with Mr. Obama, who ultimately made the decision, and in public with allies and the news media
Her argument was best summed up in comments she made in March 2011, when she warned that Gadhafi was on the cusp of a genocide against civilians in Benghazi on par with those in Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990s when her husband, Bill, was president.
“Imagine we were sitting here and Benghazi had been overrun, a city of 700,000 people, and tens of thousands of people had been slaughtered, hundreds of thousands had fled either with nowhere to go, or overwhelming Egypt while it’s in its own difficult transition,” Mrs. Clinton told ABC News on March 27 after the U.S. signed off on a U.N. resolution granting military intervention.
If “we were sitting here, the cries would be, ‘Why did the United States not do anything?’” she predicted.
Few objective indicators
The intelligence community had few facts to back up Mrs. Clinton’s audacious predictions, officials told The Times.
In fact, the Pentagon’s judgment was that Gadhafi was unlikely to risk world outrage by inflicting large civilian casualties as he cracked down on the rebels based in Benghazi, the officials said.
The specific intelligence was that Gadhafi had sent a relatively small — by Western standards — cadre of about 2,000 troops armed with 12 tanks to target armed rebels in Benghazi. Ground intelligence indicated that the Gadhafi forces were defeating the rebels, killing about 400 and wounding many more.
In comparison, 10,000 people have been killed at the hands of Boko Haram in Nigeria in the past year alone. Estimates of the number of people killed in Rwanda, mostly Tutsi civilians, range from 500,000 to 1 million over a 100-day period. The Bosnia war lasted, at varying levels of intensity, for three years and claimed at least 100,000 lives, with some estimates reaching 200,000.
Some accounts said the Libyan forces were attacking unarmed protesters, but no genocide was reported, the officials said. There was strong evidence that most civilians fled Benghazi ahead of the expected battle, officials said.
Furthermore, defense officials had direct information from their intelligence asset in contact with the regime that Gadhafi gave specific orders not to attack civilians and to narrowly focus the war on the armed rebels, according to the asset, who survived the war.
All spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity but confirmed Col. Gadhafi’s order.
Defense officials said the Gadhafi forces were serious about routing the uprising and that some collateral damage to civilians remained possible, though they were unable to give the White House specifics. No intelligence suggested that a genocide was imminent, the officials said.
“Gadhafi was serious, but I wouldn’t classify it as Rwanda,” said an unidentified defense official close to the intelligence available at the time.
Mrs. Clinton is keeping mum these days about Libya as she mulls a run for president, in part because the subsequent assault on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi by an Islamist militia and her reaction to the incident have come under harsh criticism.
Along with other administration officials, Mrs. Clinton falsely blamed that attack, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, on an anti-Islam video. She also famously asked, “What difference does it make” whether the attack was planned terrorism or a spontaneous protest as she had claimed.
Her official representative declined to comment for this report.
The State Department confirmed that its primary goal in 2011 was regime change, meaning ousting Gadhafi from power. But it deferred comment to Mrs. Clinton about the specifics on intelligence and her own public statements.
Mr. Kerry, who succeeded Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state, backed the Libya intervention with similar language. He told The New York Times that “the memory of Rwanda, alongside Iraq in ‘91, made it clear that the United States needed to act but needed international support.”
With the benefit of hindsight, diplomatic analysts frown on such comparisons to Rwanda and say the rhetoric in 2011 was simply overstated.
“We are prone to think in terms of analogies, and the analogy in Rwanda was one that administration officials like Hillary Clinton and others used, and I think it was an inappropriate analogy because you cannot say Libya was Rwanda,” said Paul Miller, who served as an adviser on security matters for Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush.
“[Libya] was a war between an autocratic government and a bunch of tribes, and amidst that kind of war there will be a humanitarian crisis, there will be innocent people killed. But that is very different than a straight genocide against a group,” Mr. Miller said.
The notion that a genocide was imminent was rooted in Gadhafi’s Feb. 22, 2011, speech in which he pledged to “sanitize Libya an inch at a time” and “clear them of these rats.”
Civilian deaths vs. genocide
Supporters of the intervention argued that Gadhafi’s use of the words “rats” and “cleans” resembled the genocidal language used by Hutu leaders and militias in Rwanda in 1994. Rwandan radio was calling on Hutus to “cut down the tall trees” and “crush the cockroaches.”
A month later, Gadhafi delivered another speech in which he made it clear that only those standing against him with arms would face reprisal.
“If you read [Gadhafi’s comments] closely, they were clearly directed only at the rebels who were going to stand and fight,” said Alan Kuperman, a public policy professor at the University of Texas who composed an exhaustive study on the Libyan civil war.
“If you threw down your weapons, you were considered harmless. If you ran away, you were considered harmless. And if you were just a civilian, you were considered harmless,” Mr. Kuperman said. “Rebels were going to be targeted, and those were the ‘rats’ he was talking about.”
Human rights groups offered a similar assessment. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, both of which were tracking the crisis before the U.S. intervention, said there was no way to determine that spring whether Benghazi would develop into a Rwanda-type crisis.
“We can’t definitively predict whether the State Department’s claims of an impending crisis on the scale of the Rwanda genocide would have come to pass,” Robyn Shepherd, a spokeswoman at Amnesty International, said in an email statement. “What we can confirm is that Libyan forces were committing serious violations of international humanitarian law.”
Amnesty recorded acts in which Gadhafi’s regime “deliberately killed and injured scores of unarmed protesters” and “launched indiscriminate attacks and attacks targeting civilians in their efforts to regain control of Misrata and territory in the east.”
But academics argued that such acts were not unusual coming from a dictator trying to defend his throne in the midst of a civil war.
“I never came across any evidence that indicated intention or actions consistent with an imminent bloodbath,” said Mr. Kuperman. “I found nothing in terms of reports on troop movements, nothing in terms of threats from his regime or actions anywhere else.”
Mrs. Clinton’s defenders could argue that Americans will never know whether a genocide would have occurred because the U.S. did the right thing and intervened before it could happen. They also are certain to note that the final decision rested not with Mrs. Clinton but with Mr. Obama.
Paul: ‘Hillary’s War’
What is not in dispute is that the intelligence community’s assessment and the military leadership’s concerns were not given full credence, and that almost certainly will provide fodder to Mrs. Clinton’s critics to attack her leadership style.
“I think there was a rush headlong toward war in Libya and [the State Department and the administration] weren’t listening to anyone saying anything otherwise, including the Defense Department and intelligence communities, who were saying, ‘Hold on a minute. This may not be a good idea,’” said Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican and a presidential contender himself.
“Hillary’s judgment has to be questioned. Her eagerness for war in Libya should preclude her from being considered the next commander in chief,” he said.
Mr. Paul, who has a libertarian flair, has begun calling Libya “Hillary’s War.” What remains to be seen in the months ahead is whether Mrs. Clinton embraces the moniker as she begins her campaign.
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FLASHBACK : Obama rejects Netanyahu snubs meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister (Sept 11, 2012)
The Obama administration is angry with Israel. Here’s the administration’s house organ, the New York Times, this morning:
The Obama administration, after days of mounting tension, signaled on Wednesday how angry it is with Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted Republican leaders’ invitation to address Congress on Iran without consulting the White House.
The outrage the episode has incited within President Obama’s inner circle became clear in unusually sharp criticism by a senior administration official who said that the Israeli ambassador, Ron Dermer, who helped orchestrate the invitation, had repeatedly placed Mr. Netanyahu’s political fortunes above the relationship between Israel and the United States.
The official who made the comments to The New York Times would not be named…
Of course, the official who last summer called Prime Minister Netanyahu a “coward” and a “chickens–t” would not be named either. But there is no reason to think those unnamed angry officials do not speak for an angry president.
The Obama White House usually prides itself on not getting angry. Its self-image is that it’s cool, calm, and collected. And it doesn’t get angry at, for example, the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Obama White House understands and appreciates the complexities of the Islamic Republic’s politics and history. It is only with respect to the Jewish state that the Obama White House is impatient, peremptory, and angry.
Why has Obama been lashing out? Because he had a dream. He was to be the American president who would preside at, and take credit for, the founding of a Palestinian state. Obama would be to Palestine what Harry Truman was to Israel. Now it’s clear that’s not going to happen during his presidency. Obama’s frustrated that it’s not going to happen. So he lashes out.
But Obama is still pursuing another dream: to be the American president who goes to Tehran, who achieves with Iran what Richard Nixon achieved with China. And he thinks Israel, and Israel’s friends in the United States, stand in the way of achieving that dream. So he has another reason to be angry.
Of course, it’s not Israel but reality that stands in the way of Obama’s dreams. His Cairo speech, and the policies that followed from it, have crashed on the shoals of reality. Obama said in Cairo in June 2009, that he hoped that his administration would end the “cycle of suspicion and discord” between the United States and much of the Muslim world:
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings. …
There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.”
But the truth is that Obama’s policies haven’t ameliorated the crisis in Islam or lessened the discord between Islam and the West. They have worsened the discord and exacerbated the crisis. Obama’s policies of retreat have strengthened radical Islam, and undermined those in the Muslim world who do believe in “justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
It is Obama’s failures that explain his anger—his failures, and his hopes that a breakthrough with Iran could erase the memories of failure and appear to vindicate his foreign policy. Israel stands in the way, he thinks, of this breakthrough. Prime Minister Netanyahu stands in the way. And so Obama lashes out.
It’s of course unseemly. But it’s also dangerous. Neville Chamberlain and the British establishment were far angrier with Winston Churchill, and much harsher in their attempts to discredit him, in the late 1930s when the dreams of appeasement were failing, than earlier, when hope for the success of appeasement was alive. When you think your policies are going to be vindicated, you ignore or dismiss critics. It’s when you suspect and fear imminent failure that you lash out.
So we have an angry president, increasingly desperate for vindication of his failed foreign policy, accelerating both his appeasement of Iran and his attacks on Israel. The good news is that the Republican party and the conservative movement—and most of the American people—stand with Israel and against President Obama. Of major parts of the American Jewish community, on the other hand, one can say no such thing.
For months, the issue of imposing sanctions on Iran split many Democrats from the president, as they feared his posture was emboldening the government in Tehran to further develop itsnuclear program. But Mr. Netanyahu’s planned speech, a provocation of the president that many Democrats found distasteful and undiplomatic, has helped shift the political dynamic.
“For the prime minister to accept made it extremely political, knowing how the invitation played out,” said Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia and a frequent critic of the White House. Mr. Manchin was one of 10 Democrats who signed a letter agreeing not to vote on a sanctions bill until after the March 24 deadline to have a framework of an agreement in place with the Iranians.
Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, found the invitation to Benjamin Netanyahu off-putting.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
Speaker John A. Boehner’s decision to invite Mr. Netanyahu, and the prime minister’s decision to accept without consulting the Obama administration, Mr. Manchin added, struck some Democrats, like him, as off-putting.
“It didn’t show a lot of class,” Mr. Manchin said. “If it had been George W. Bush or Reagan or Clinton or whoever, protocol is protocol.”
The invitation proved to be opportune for Mr. Obama, who had been making steady progress in persuading Democrats to delay a vote on sanctions to give him some diplomatic breathing room.
The president had been “changing minds,” said Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut.
“I don’t think the invitation has been helpful to the debate in Congress,” Mr. Murphy added, saying he believed Mr. Netanyahu’s speech would only further politicize an issue that should be above partisanship. “My worry all along has been that Republicans are going to oppose this deal simply because it’s President Obama’s deal, and the invitation to Netanyahu confirms that there are some Republicans who simply put politics ahead of what’s best for the country.”
Other Democrats were also quickly lining up behind the president. A group of House Democrats will formally ask Mr. Boehner to delay his invitation to the prime minister until after the March deadline passes. Three Democratic representatives were circulating a letter to the speaker among their colleagues on Wednesday. It was already picking up additional signatures.
The letter accuses the speaker of harming American foreign policy and undermining Mr. Obama. “As members of Congress who support Israel, it appears that you are using a foreign leader as a political tool against the president,” said the letter, which was signed by Representatives Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Steve Cohen of Tennessee and Maxine Waters of California. “When the Israeli prime minister visits us outside the specter of partisan politics,” the letter continued, “we will be delighted and honored to greet him or her on the floor of the House.”
Getting lawmakers to go on the record criticizing the prime minister will be complicated, however, because many Democrats fear antagonizing Mr. Netanyahu, the powerful pro-Israeli interests aligned with him, and Jewish voters in their districts.
Timeline on Iran’s Nuclear Program
Whether Iran is racing toward nuclear weapon capabilities is one of the most contentious foreign-policy issues challenging the West.
“There’s a lot of people who agree with this letter,” Mr. Ellison said. “Some will put their name on it. Some won’t. But the bottom line is, I haven’t run into anyone on our side who thinks this is a good idea.”
The issue is delicate. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee and an ardent defender of sanctions against Iran, insisted Wednesday that Mr. Netanyahu’s speech was not a factor in his decision not to press for an immediate vote.
“It had absolutely no effect,” he said.
Mr. Menendez made the surprising announcement on Tuesday that he and a group of nine other Democrats had written to the president to inform him that they would not vote for a sanctions bill before the March 24 deadline. It was a striking step back for a senator who last week likened the administration’s statements on the negotiations to “talking points that come straight out of Tehran.”
Democrats said they saw two political issues in play. Domestically, Mr. Boehner and Republicans want to press their point that Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is weak. And in Israel, which holds its elections March 17, Mr. Netanyahu has political incentive to present himself as a man of steely resolve.
The perception that Republicans and Mr. Netanyahu are approaching the debate over sanctions in an overtly political way has helped those who are opposed to further sanctions make their case, Democrats said.
“It’s been building for days,” said Greg Rosenbaum, the chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council, speaking about efforts to persuade Democrats to offer the president more flexibility. “But it really let loose this week.”
Typically, policy on Israel has been one area where both political parties agree. And some observers said they feared the Netanyahu-Boehner episode was eroding that.
“When that sense of mutual values and interest starts to be driven apart by partisan politics,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, an Israeli advocacy group, “it works to the long-term harm of the state of Israel.”