Story 1: Turkey Votes To Change From Parliamentary to Presidential System of Government — Videos —
Where’s Turkey headed after its referendum? – Inside Story
Turkey Referendum: Erdogan’s new grip on power
Dispute over Turkey’s referendum results continues
Is Turkey Becoming a Dictatorship?: Erdogan Claims Victory in Vote to Give President Sweeping Powers
Turkey’s Choice: Nation deciding on changing political system
The Truth about Turkeys failed Coup (CIA designed Civil War)
Lionel on the Alex Jones Show: Syria False Flags, North Korea Lies, French Elections & Media Lies
The Idiot’s Guide to Turkey, Erdogan and the Phony Coup
Turkish Referendum Erdogan Wins ! | The Millennial Revolt
Published on Apr 16, 2017
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory in a referendum granting him sweeping new powers, hailing the result as an “historic decision”. The leader called on the international community to respect the result and discouraged his critics from “belittling” the outcome, saying they “shouldn’t try, it will be in vain”. The state-run Anadolu news agency claimed that 51 per cent per cent of voters had sided with the “Yes” campaign, ushering in the most radical change to the country’s political system in modern time.
But the main opposition the Republican People’s Party (CHP) said they would demand a recount of up to 40 per cent of the vote, saying that “illegal acts” occurred during the vote and that there were up to 2.5m “problematic ballots”. The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) also claimed they had information that voter fraud was implicated in up to four per cent of the ballots. Both parties said they would appeal the results. CLICK LINKS FOR SOURCES
Story 2: Coalition Against Islamic State in Syria — What is Next: Wrath of Euphrates: The Battle for Raqqa: Isolate and Assault — Take No Prisoners — Videos
US eyes assault on ISIS stronghold
CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh talks to Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend near Mosul, Iraq, where coalition forces hope to make a push toward Raqqa, ISIS’ center of control in Syria.
U.S.-Led Coalition Has ‘Made Adjustments’ In Syria To Account For ‘Tensions’
Wrath of Euphrates Op: US troops spotted near Raqqa frontline (EXCLUSIVE)
400 US troops deployed outside ISIS capital Raqqa
Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS
Raqqa Battle Phase 3 outcome
Beginning of a new phase to free Raqqa
Battle for Raqqa. First phase of Wrath of Euphrates Initiative ends successfully.
Published on Nov 12, 2016
12 Nov 2016 Syria. Raqqa.
SDF, YPG, YPJ and International Brigade fighters had began to advance from Siluk and Eyn İsa southwards from two directions on November 5.
The Siluk branch has cleared an area of 30 kms and the Ayn İsa branch has cleared an area of 15 kms from ISIS gangs. Yesterday, the two branches united along the Beliz creek.
After the liberation of Xınıse and the unification of the two branches of fighters, the first phase of the initiative ended successfully.
Civilians flee Raqqa as Syrian forces advance
More U.S. Troops heading to Raqqa, Syria to fight ISIS
18 Allied Fighters Killed In US Led Syria Strike
100s killed following US-led airstrike in Syria
Assad: No one invited US to Manbij, all foreign troops in Syria without permission are ‘invaders’
U.S. military says misdirected airstrike in northern Syria killed 18 allied fighters
Syria: Kurdish fighters make gains against IS behind enemy lines
Ross Kemp The Fight Against Isis
Turkey and Russia join forces against Islamic State
US Joins Ground Forces with Kurds, Syrian, & Russian Fighters Against ISIS in Syria
Targeting the High Value Terrorists
On The Road To Raqqa – Heavy Clashes Between Kurdish Forces And ISIS During The Battle Of Raqqa
US soldiers help Iraqi troops secure Mosul
Satellite Imagery: The Cutting of Mosul’s Bridges
Satellite Imagery: The Islamic State’s Mosul Defenses
Satellite Images: The Islamic State’s Scorched Earth Tactics
Why Did the Iraq War Start? The Untold Story – Seymour Hersh – Reasons, Justification (2005)
The Breathtaking Incoherence of American Foreign Policy as to North Korea and Syria
‘Defeating ISIS No.1 US goal’: Tillerson at coalition summit coinciding with London attack
Trump Gives Generals More Freedom on ISIS Fight
Pentagon brass take lead on decisions that were made by White House under Obama; ‘I authorize my military,’ Trump says
U.S. Army trainers watch as an Iraqi recruit fires at a military base in Iraq. PHOTO: JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES
Dion Nissenbaum in Washington and
Maria Abi-Habib in Beirut
Updated April 14, 2017 10:29 p.m. ET
U.S. military commanders are stepping up their fight against Islamist extremism as President Donald Trump’s administration urges them to make more battlefield decisions on their own.
As the White House works on a broad strategy, America’s top military commanders are implementing the vision articulated by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: Decimate Islamic State’s Middle East strongholds and ensure that the militants don’t establish new beachheads in places such as Afghanistan.
“There’s nothing formal, but it is beginning to take shape,” a senior U.S. defense official said Friday. “There is a sense among these commanders that they are able to do a bit more—and so they are.”
While military commanders complained about White House micromanagement under former President Barack Obama, they are now being told they have more freedom to make decisions without consulting Mr. Trump. Military commanders around the world are being encouraged to stretch the limits of their existing authorities when needed, but to think seriously about the consequences of their decisions.
The more muscular military approach is expanding as the Trump administration debates a comprehensive new strategy to defeat Islamic State. Mr. Mattis has sketched out such a global plan, but the administration has yet to agree on it. While the political debate continues, the military is being encouraged to take more aggressive steps against Islamic extremists around the world.
The firmer military stance has fueled growing concerns among State Department officials working on Middle East policy that the Trump administration is giving short shrift to the diplomatic tools the Obama administration favored. Removing the carrot from the traditional carrot-and-stick approach, some State Department officials warn, could hamper the pursuit of long-term strategies needed to prevent volatile conflicts from reigniting once the shooting stops.
Gen. Nicholson said Friday it was too early to say how many militants had been killed in the previous day’s bombing. The Afghan Defense Ministry retracted an earlier statement that the strike had killed 36 militants, saying it was unable to provide precise figures yet.
A military official for the coalition who viewed footage of the bombing said it was difficult to make out details of its effects beyond a “mushroom cloud” of smoke rising into the sky. He added that a second MOAB was available for use in the country, but no decision had been made on whether it should be deployed.
Islamic State’s Amaq news agency posted a statement on Friday saying none of its fighters were killed or wounded in the strike, which took place in Nangarhar province, along the country’s mountainous border with Pakistan.
Gen. Nicholson indicated that he—not the White House—decided to drop the bomb. “The ammunition we used last night is designed to destroy caves and tunnels. This was the right weapon against the right target,” he told reporters Friday. “I am fortunate that my chain of command allows me the latitude to make assessments on the ground.”
A senior administration official said Mr. Trump didn’t know about the weapon’s use until it had been dropped.
Mr. Mattis “is telling them, ‘It’s not the same as it was, you don’t have to ask us before you drop a MOAB,’” the senior defense official said. “Technically there’s no piece of paper that says you have to ask the president to drop a MOAB. But last year this time, the way [things were] meant, ‘I’m going to drop a MOAB, better let the White House know.’”
Indeed, on Thursday Mr. Trump himself emphasized the free rein he gives the Pentagon. “I authorize my military,” Mr. Trump said. “We have given them total authorization.”
On Friday, the U.S. military said it has sent dozens of soldiers to Somalia, where Mr. Trump recently gave the head of the U.S. Africa Command more leeway to carry out counterterrorism operations against al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate in the area.
The more aggressive military approach comes as the long slog against Islamic State is bearing fruit. The group is on the back foot in its Iraqi stronghold, Mosul, and is facing a hard battle to defend its de facto Syrian capital, Raqqa.
The U.S. has sent more forces into Iraq and Syria, stepped up support for Saudi Arabia’s fight against Houthi militants in Yemen, and dispatched an aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula amid growing evidence that North Korea is preparing for a new nuclear test.
Loren DeJonge Schulman, who served as senior adviser to Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, said a more assertive military campaign is destined to fail unless it is part of a broader strategy against Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.
“It’s crazy that the Trump administration thinks that ‘taking the gloves off’ is either a winning strategy against ISIL or a useful narrative for the White House or the military,” said Ms. Schulman, now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
Derek Chollet, a former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in the Obama administration, said giving the Pentagon more freedom is one of the most significant things Mr. Trump has done.
“It’s not clear to me that he’s making any tough decisions,” said Mr. Chollet, now executive vice president at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “All that he’s essentially done is ceded decision authority down to protect himself from making tough calls.”
The flip side of the Trump administration’s emphasis on a more-free-wheeling military approach to Islamic State is an apparent reduction of the use of soft-power tools—economic development, diplomacy and democracy-building—favored by the Obama White House.
Some State Department officials describe being cut out from the White House’s counterterrorism strategy in the Mideast, with efforts to nurture democratic governments and push for more secular education systems carrying less weight in the White House’s evolving approach.
“State is being systematically sidelined,” said a State Department official who has worked on counterterrorism issues in Washington and abroad.
The official said the White House strategy of prioritizing military might over diplomacy makes it hard to persuade Mideast allies to relax their grip on power. Many of Washington’s closest Arab allies are autocratic regimes guilty of human-rights abuses that critics say fuel terrorism.
“The problem there is that in many of the places where you need carrots, those carrots are often seen as threats to local governments,” the official said, referring to democracy and society-building programs the State Department funds across the Mideast.
Egypt offers a prime example of the Trump administration’s leanings. When Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, a military strongman, visited the White House earlier this month, Mr. Trump gave him a warm welcome. Mr. Obama had refused to meet him because of his regime’s alleged human-rights abuses.
U.S. officials in the Mideast say a counterterror approach that focuses solely on military might without programs to fight the causes that feed extremism could backfire, leading groups like Islamic State to go underground and wait for future opportunities to re-emerge. They are particularly concerned about Raqqa, where a U.S.-led military coalition is closing in around the city but post-liberation stabilization plans aren’t finalized as State Department officials wait for White House guidance.
—Jessica Donati and Habib Khan Totakhil in Kabul and Carol E. Lee in Washington contributed to this article.
After the start of the Battle of Mosul (2016–17) in Iraq, many of the 20,000 ISIL fighters estimated to be living in the city fled to Raqqa, boosting the ISIL forces that were already present in their de facto capital city.
The SDF officially announced the start of the operation on 6 November in the village of Ayn Issa. The intention was to proceed in two phases, first seizing areas around Raqqa and isolating the city, advancing from three fronts, then taking control of the city itself. The SDF general command called for the international coalition against ISIL to support the operation. In response, Ash Carter welcomed the announcement and emphasized the importance of capturing Raqqa and defeating ISIL, while cautioning that “there is hard work ahead”.
Phase One: Isolating Raqqa from its northern hinterland
Tal Saman, ISIL headquarters in the northern Raqqa countryside, after being captured by the SDF.
On 6 November, the SDF captured six small villages, including the villages of Wahid, Umm Safa, Wasita, Haran, al-Adriyah and Jurah south and southeast of Ayn Issa. The Islamic State detonated four car bombs on the first day of the offensive.
On 8 November, the SDF reported that they had taken control of 11 villages near Ain Issa. The SDF also claimed that ISIL used several car bombs against their forces. By 11 November, the SDF had captured over a dozen villages and the strategically significant town of Al-Hisbah, which had served as a local headquarters and command center for ISIL. On the next day, the SDF continued to advance against ISIL in the area around Tal Saman and Khnez, bringing the number of captured farms and villages to 26.
As of 14 November, the SDF reported the completion of the initial phase of the operations, stating that 500 km2has been captured: 34 villages, 31 hamlets and seven strategic hills, along with 167 Islamic State casualties.The SDF had also begun to besiege Tal Saman, the largest village and ISIL headquarters north of Raqqa, while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Salok in the eastern countryside of Raqqa Governorate in order to force the SDF to split its forces and open a new front. On the next day, the SDF advanced into Tal Saman, resulting in a fierce battle with its ISIL defenders. At the same time, the SDF also captured 10 more villages and farms. By 19 November, the SDF had fully captured Tal Saman and had driven ISIL completely from the surrounding countryside. With this, the first phase of the offensive was considered completed.On 20 November 2016, 200 fighters completed training, joined the SDF, and were sent to participate in the offensive.
The second phase of the offensive aimed to enforce a full blockade of the city of Raqqa. On 21 November, the SDF captured two more villages, while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Tal Saman. Over the next days, the SDF attempted to further advance, such as at al-Qalita, but was unable to break through ISIL’s defense line south of Tal Saman. On 24 November, a US serviceman died from wounds he suffered after stepping on an improvised explosive device near the town of Ayn Issa, to the north of Raqqa.
On 25 November, ISIL received reinforcements from Iraq, among them explosive experts and defected Iraqi Army personnel. On the next day, ISIL launched a counter-attack, retaking parts of Qaltah village and a nearby water pump station, while the SDF managed to advance in the village’s vicinity. Boubaker Al-Hakim, an ISIL commander who was linked to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, was reported to have been killed in an American airstrike in Raqqa on 26 November. Iraqi military however later stated in April 2017 that he might still be alive.
On 27 November, the SDF announced the offensive’s second phase was due to start, though this was then delayed. At least five SDF fighters were killed in renewed clashes north of Raqqa on 29 November. Meanwhile, ISIL suffered from the defection of two senior commanders, who fled from Raqqa to join Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Idlib. On 4 December, a coalition drone strike in Raqqa killed two ISIL leaders who had helped facilitate the November 2015 Paris attacks and another who was involved in a foiled suicide attack in Belgium in 2015. Three days later, co-Chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Salih Muslim said that the first phase to surround Raqqa was almost over, while a new Arab brigade consisting of more than 1,000 men and women from the al-Raqqa area had joined the SDF as part of the second phase which was slated to be launched on 10 December. More than 1,500 Arab fighters who were trained and equipped by the anti-ISIL coalition joined the SDF for the second phase on its launch day.
Phase Two: Isolating Raqqa from its western countryside
SDF fighters advance northwest of Raqqa after the start of the offensive’s second phase.
The SDF launched the second phase on 10 December, with the aim of capturing the northwestern and western countrysides of al-Raqqa and ultimately reaching and securing the Tabqa Dam. The same day, it was announced that Arab SDF groups, consisting of the Elite Forces, Jabhat Thuwar al-Raqqa and the newly formed Deir Ezzor Military Council would be taking part. During the first day, the SDF began to advance south of the Tishrin Dam and captured al-Kiradi village. The United States announced that it would send 200 more troops to assist the SDF. The next day, the SDF captured seven more villages from ISIL. On 12 December, the SDF captured four villages as well as many hamlets south of Tishrin Dam. The SDF captured five villages during the next two days. On 15 December, the SDF captured three villages, taking the total number of villages captured by them in the second phase to 20.
Over the next four days, the SDF captured 20 more villages, while finally reaching Lake Assad‘s shore, thereby cutting off and besieging 54 ISIL-held villages to the west. In response to these territorial losses, ISIL began to carry out more suicide attacks against both the SDF as well as civilian targets within SDF-controlled areas in an attempt to hinder the offensive. On 19 December, ISIL launched a counter-attack to regain four villages in the northwestern countryside, but the attack was repelled after a few hours. The following night, ISIL forces retreated largely unopposed from the besieged 54 villages, leaving them to be captured by the SDF. The SDF declared that they had captured 97 villages overall during the second phase, and had begun to advance against Qal’at Ja’bar.
On 21 December, the SDF seized five villages near Qal’at Ja’bar, including Jabar, which served as the main weaponry storage and supply centre for ISIL in the northwestern countryside. The coalition then began to move toward Suwaydiya Saghirah and Suwaydiya Kabir, the last villages before Tabqa Dam. Even though an ISIL counter-attack managed to retake Jabar village soon after, the SDF attacked again on 23 December, and once again took control of it, while also capturing another village. This prompted ISIL to launch yet another counter-attack later that day, which was accompanied by several suicide car bombs. As a result, heavy clashes took place between them and SDF fighters in several villages along the frontline that lasted until the early morning of 24 December. The ISIL forces were eventually forced to withdraw after the SDF first shelled and then stormed their positions, whereupon the latter took control of most of Jabar as well as two more villages, though some ISIL holdouts persisted in Jabar.
ISIL was pushed out of the neighboring, strategic village of Eastern Jabar on the next day, bringing SDF within 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) of Tabqa Dam, and by 26 December, the SDF had finally fully secured the main Jabar village, with the last ISIL defenders being expelled after heavy fighting. An ISIL counterattack on the village later that day failed, with a US airstrike killing Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti as he commanded the assault. Al-Kuwaiti, also known as Abdulmuhsin al-Zaghelan al-Tarish, was a high-ranking ISIL commander leading the defense of the whole Raqqa region against the SDF. Meanwhile, the Amaq News Agency declared that Iman Na’im Tandil (nom de guerre: Abu ‘Umar Al-Hindi), one of the few Indian ISIL fighters active in Syria, had also been killed during the fighting near Jabar. The Islamic State’s official media wing later also officially paid tribute to Iman.
Battle for Jabar’s surroundings
A YPGBMP, loaded on a truck, being transported to the frontline near Mahmudli on 4 January.
On 27 December, ISIL launched an attack on the village of Secol in the northern countryside, reportedly breaching the local SDF defences. On the next day, the SDF reportedly captured Hadaj village after two days of heavy fighting, while another ISIL counter-attack against Jabar was repelled. Mahmud al-Isawi, a senior ISIL facilitator who was a manager of instructions and finances for the group’s leaders as well as a provider of propaganda and intelligence support, was killed on 31 December in a US-led coalition airstrike on Raqqa. After three days of heavy fighting, the SDF captured all or most of Mahmudli, the largest town of the Al-Jarniyah Subdistrict, on 1 January 2017. ISIL counterattacked later in an attempt to regain the town. The SDF leadership said that in the clashes since the launch of the second phase they had captured 110 villages, killed 277 ISIL fighters, and captured 13.
Also on January 1, the SDF resumed its offensive on the northern front, reportedly advancing 6 km south of Tell Saman against ISIL positions. The SDF reportedly captured nine more villages in this area, within the next three days. Meanwhile, with the SDF edging closer to Raqqa, ISIL further restricted Internet access and increased surveillance over Internet users in Raqqa. There were harsh punishments for accessing anti-ISIL websites, with a new special unit within the ISIL’s security office searching for offenders. Several online activists in Raqqa were captured and tortured or executed. Another two villages and hamlets were captured by the SDF on 5 January.
SDF fighters examine Qal’at Ja’bar. ISIL had built tunnels and weapons depots into the medieval castle.
The SDF captured Qal’at Ja’bar (Ja’bar Castle) from ISIL on 6 January. The same day, ISIL was reported to have moved its 150 prisoners from Tabqa city due to the offensive. The SDF later captured eight villages and five hamlets at the Ayn Issa front. On 7 January, the SDF captured five villages including the strategic Suwaydiya Gharbi and Suwaydiya Saghirah, reaching the outskirts of Tabqa Dam. ISIL reportedly recaptured Suwaydiya Saghirah by the next day after a counterattack, while a local leader of the group was killed in clashes. Meanwhile, ISIL was reported to have withdrawn 150 of its fighters towards Raqqa city.
On 8 January 2017, US special forces raided the village of Al-Kubar, between Ar-Raqqah and Deir ez-Zor, killing at least 25 ISIL militants in the two-hour operation. It was believed that the goal of the US may have been to rescue hostages from an ISIL secret prison in the village. After the raid, ISIL forces cut off access to the village.
On 9 January, the SDF captured another village, along with three hamlets.
On 10 January, ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack at the Jabar frontline and reportedly recaptured several sites; with pro-Free Syrian Army sources claiming Qal’at Ja’bar and the village of Jabar were among these. ISIL consequently released photos of dead SDF fighters, while claiming that over 70 of them had been killed in the counter-attack. However, the SDF was reported to still be in control of Jabar village and Qalat Jabar a few days later.
An ISIL attack on Jib Shair village, trying to resist SDF advances from the north, was repelled on the next day, after which the SDF advanced and captured six hamlets around it. The SDF later announced that their forces advancing from the Ayn Issa front and on the Qadiriya front linked up in Kurmanju village after capturing several villages over the past few days, besieging a large pocket of about 45 villages and 20 hamlets. All of them were captured by the next day, resulting in the alliance gaining about 460 square kilometres (180 sq mi) of land. Another village was captured by the SDF on 13 January. On 15 January, the SDF progressed to Suwaydiya Kabir village, while ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack against Mahmudli and a nearby village, resulting in clashes within these settlements. The attack was repelled after several hours of fighting. The SDF captured three villages during the day, while Suwaydiya Saghirah was also reported to be under its control again. On 17 January 2017, 28 Arab tribes from Raqqa announced their support for the offensive and encouraged locals to join the SDF.
The SDF attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on the next day, leading to heavy clashes in the village. Meanwhile, it was announced that about 2,500 local fighters had joined the offensive since it began. On 19 January, ISIL launched a counter-attack against Suwaydiya Saghirah, supported by mortars and heavy machine guns, killing or wounding several YPG fighters. Despite this, the SDF made further progress on the next day, capturing a village and advancing against many other ISIL-held villages. The SDF again attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on 20 January, reaching the outskirts of the village, and captured it on 22 January after heavy clashes, with the support of U.S. special forces.
Tabqa Dam raid and further SDF advances in the north
In late January 2017, it was reported that a number of ISIL militants were hiding inside the structure of the Tabqa Dam, including senior militant leaders who used to be “very important prisoners” wanted by the US and several other countries, in order to deter a possible US-led coalition strike on them.
On 23 January, the SDF began to advance on the Tabqa Dam, spurring ISIL to open its turbines to raise the Euphrates River’s water levels. This was seen as an attempt to hinder the progress of the Kurdish-led forces and a scare tactic, and caused the water level of the Euphrates to rise to its highest level in 20 years, leading to record flooding downstream. Coinciding with this, pro-SDF sources reported that US special forces and SDF units had launched a raid against Al-Thawrah across the river. By 24 January, SDF forces had managed to capture parts of the town, and SDF forces on the dam began working towards the Tabqa Dam’s control rooms, at the southern part of the dam, in an attempt to stop the massive outflow of water released by ISIL. However, the entrance to the dam’s control rooms was too well defended, and with the continued threat of disastrous flooding downstream, SDF and the US forces withdrew from both the Tabqa Dam and the town of Al-Thawrah, after which ISIL closed the dam’s turbines again.
Over the next three days, ISIL repeatedly launched fierce counter-attacks against SDF positions in the western and northern countryside. ISIL managed to retake ground in the area around the dam, but the attack was later repelled.
Preparation for the third phase
An SDF IAG Guardian armoured personnel carrier in February 2017, one of several APCs that were supplied by the United States to the SDF.
On 31 January 2017, the SDF received a number of armoured personnel carriers supplied by the US. The SDF spokesman stated that preparations for a new phase of the operation were continuing and the operation would begin in “a few days”. Meanwhile, the leader of the SDF-aligned Syria’s Tomorrow Movement and its paramilitary wing, Ahmad Jarba, announced that 3,000 Arab fighters under his command were training with US special forces to be deployed in the battle for Raqqa against ISIL.
On the night of 2–3 February, intense CJTF–OIR airstrikes targeted several bridges in or near Raqqa city, destroying them as well as the local water pipelines, leaving the city without drinking water. Meanwhile, the SDF advanced against the village of Qaltah in the northern countryside, which the coalition had already unsuccessfully attacked in November. ISIL maintenance crews managed to fix the pipelines during 3 February, restoring Raqqa’s water supply. On 3 February, 251 Arab fighters in Hasaka completed their training and joined the SDF.
Phase Three: Isolating Raqqa from its eastern countryside
On 4 February, the SDF announced the offensive’s third phase, aiming at capturing Raqqa’s eastern countryside, and to separate Raqqa city from ISIL forces in Deir ez-Zor, though operations in the west and north would continue simultaneously. The SDF captured a village and three hamlets to the northeast of Raqqa later that day, with clashes being reported at al-Qaltah and Bir Said, while 750 Arabs completed training and joined the SDF. On the next day, the Kurdish-led forces captured another two villages along with a hamlet and two farms, and besieged Bir Said, while especially intense airstrikes hit several ISIL targets in Al-Thawrah. Bir Said, along with another village, was eventually captured by the SDF on 6 February. In addition to these villages, the SDF also captured another five villages on two fronts. The SDF made further progress, capturing three more villages on 7 February. In early February 2017, US-led coalition airstrikes destroyed much of the Deir ez-Zor-Raqqa highway, reducing it to a single-file gravel road in some spots, with the SDF patrolling other areas with minefields, in order to prevent ISIL from reinforcing Raqqa city. By this point, almost all of the five bridges leading to Raqqa had been destroyed either by the US-led coalition or by ISIL, with the only exceptions being the Tabqa Dam and the Baath Dam, both west of Raqqa city.
As these advances continued, ISIL responded by launching several unsuccessful counter-attacks against Suwaydiya Kabir and other strategic territories captured by the SDF. On 8 and 9 February, the SDF advanced at the northern and northeastern frontline, capturing several villages and besieging Mizella, a major strategic ISIL stronghold in the northern countryside. The advance put them within 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) of Raqqa. The SDF captured Mizella the next day. The two fronts of the alliance converged on 11 February as it also captured two villages and wheat silos to the north of Raqqa during the day; the next day, the SDF attempted to cross the Balikh River northeast of Raqqa, leading to heavy fighting with local ISIL defenders. On 12 February, a large-scale counter-attack by ISIL reportedly succeeded in retaking Suwaydiya Kabir and four other nearby villages. However, pro-YPG sources denied these reports. Another counterattack was carried out by ISIL to the northeast of Raqqa where the SDF had advanced to, leading to heavy clashes between both sides. Clashes continued over the next few days. On 16 February, 165 more SDF fighters completed training and joined the offensive.
On 17 February 2017, the SDF announced the launch of the second stage of the third phase, aimed at capturing the eastern countryside of Raqqa near Deir ez-Zor, with the Deir Ezzor Military Council leading the operation. On the same day the SDF captured two villages from ISIL to the north of Deir ez-Zor and came within 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) of the northeast of Raqqa, while the Russian Air Force conducted airstrikes on ISIL forces in Raqqa city for the second time since its entry into the war. The next day, the SDF captured another village to the southwest of the Makman front (north of Deir ez-Zor) as well as another near Raqqa. On 18 February, the SDF stormed a prison a few kilometres northeast of Raqqa, freeing some of the inmates. They later captured three villages in Deir ez-Zor’s northern countryside. On the next day, the SDF captured five villages to the east of Raqqa. On 20 February, they captured four villages on the Makmen front, including the strategic village of Sebah al-Xêr as well as a base station of Syriatel, thus cutting off the road between Makman and Raqqa and besieging three ISIL-held villages. Furthermore, the SDF took control of a significant bridge over the Balikh River on the western front.
On 21 February, the SDF captured two villages on the Makman front and another one near Raqqa. ISIL later again assaulted Suwaydiya Kabir, attacking it from three fronts, leading to heavy fighting around it. The SDF continued advancing in the eastern countryside of Raqqa on 22 February, capturing three villages, and merging the two fronts at Makman and Bir Hebe. A YPJ commander declared that the SDF had cut the road to Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. The SDF stated that it had entered Deir ez-Zor Governorate for the first time in the offensive. On the next day, they captured six villages and sixteen hamlets.
Opening of a new front
On 24 February, the SDF captured four villages in the Makman front and another three in a fourth front to the northeast of Deir ez-Zor. They captured the strategic Abu Khashab village later that day. On 25 February, they captured another three villages on the fourth front.
On 26 February, a US airstrike near Tabqa Dam destroyed a former government facility which was being used as a headquarters by ISIL. The airstrike’s vicinity to the dam’s structure led to fears that the dam could potentially be destabilized or destroyed during the fighting. Later that day, it was reported that the SDF had captured the village of Al-Kubar, on the northern bank of the Euphrates in the Deir ez-Zor countryside, further tightening the siege on Raqqa. On 28 February, it was reported that the US-led coalition had completely destroyed the Tabqa Airbase in an airstrike.
On 27 February, the plan that the Pentagon submitted to US President Trump to significantly speed up the fight against ISIL included a significant increase in US participation in the Raqqa campaign, with the possibility of the US increasing its ground presence on the Raqqa front to 4,000–5,000 troops.
Advance to the Raqqa-Deir Ezzor highway
YPG/SDF fighters on the bank of the Euphrates east of Raqqa.
The offensive resumed on 5 March, with the SDF capturing at least seven villages and 15 hamlets to the northeast of the Euphrates River, east of Raqqa. The offensive had previously been paused due to bad weather, according to the SDF. The area captured by SDF forces on that day was about 19 square kilometers, and about 32 ISIL militants were killed in the clashes. After further advances on 6 March, the SDF cut the highway between Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, which was the last road out of the city, and reached the Euphrates River. The SDF captured six villages, the Al-Kubar Military Base (a former nuclear facility), and the Zalabiye Bridge, during the day. On 8 March, the SDF took control of the strategic West Menxer hill in the eastern countryside, while elements of the US 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit were deployed to northern Syria, bringing with them an artillery battery of M777 howitzers to support the attack on Raqqa. Meanwhile, about 150 ISIL militants from Hama and Deir-ez Zor managed to reinforce Raqqa, by crossing the Euphrates, despite the partial siege that had been imposed by the SDF on the city.
On 9 March, SDF captured the strategic East Menxer hill and captured three villages on two different fronts. Two villages, including Kubar, were captured on the front to the far east of Raqqa, and one near Raqqa. 244 Arab fighters from the Raqqa countryside also joined the SDF during the day, for the protection of the people in the region. On the next day, SDF forces advancing from the Abu Khashab front captured three villages, including two near Kubar. On 12 March, the SDF captured Khas Ujayl village, to the southeast of Raqqa, on the Abu Khashab front, while ISIL continued to launch repeated counterattacks in the area, in an attempt to check the SDF advances. Meanwhile, 230 ISIL fighters entered Raqqa to reinforce the city.
On 14 March, the SDF captured the Khass Hibal village, as well as the Al-Kulayb grain silos, along the Raqqa-Deir Ezzor highway. An SDF spokeswoman stated that Raqqa had been isolated. The advance of the SDF put them in control of the land region used by ISIL to connect to their territories in the east, stretching from al-Kubar to the northern bank of the Euphrates and measuring 30 kilometres (19 mi). The SDF captured the Hamad Asaf silos and the Al Kulayb village the next day. Hamad Assaf was also reportedly captured. On 17 March, a YPG commander stated that the SDF planned to storm Raqqa city in April 2017, and that the YPG would be participating in the attack, despite the fierce opposition from the Turkish government. However, Pentagon Spokesman Jeff Davis denied that any decision regarding when and how an assault on Raqqa city will be carried out. Meanwhile, clashes continued to take place around Khas Ujayl.
The town of al-Karama, after the SDF had captured it from ISIL.
Heavy clashes took place in the town of al-Karama, to the east of Raqqa, on 19 March. On the next day, SDF captured al-Karama, along with Jarqa village as well as a train station and water pumping station nearby. On 21 March, it was reported again that the SDF had captured Hamad Assaf in the eastern countryside from the Abu Khashab front. Another village was captured on 22 March from the Abu Khashab front. Meanwhile, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RIBSS) stated that coalition airstrikes hit a school being used as a shelter for displaced people in a village to the west of Raqqa on 20 March. SOHR stated that 33 civilians were killed in the airstrikes while RIBSS stated that it was unknown what happened to 50 families who were there. The SDF continued advancing in the eastern Raqqa countryside on 23 March, capturing two more villages on the Abu Khashab front, allowing them to capture a small ISIL pocket.On 24 March, the SDF took control of two more villages in the eastern countryside of Raqqa.
Battle for al-Tabqa countryside and other advances
On 22 March, the SDF began an assault to capture the Tabqa Dam, al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, and its airbase. Five hundred SDF fighters and five hundred US Special Forces from CJTF–OIR were airlifted by helicopters of the United States military, across the Euphrates River and Lake Assad, and were dropped on the Shurfa Peninsula to the west of Al-Thawrah. The attack was supported by artillery support from United States Marines, as well as air support. SDF and US forces also landed on the Jazirat al-‘Ayd Island (or Peninsula) to the west of Tabqa Dam, capturing it as well. Four villages southwest of Tabqa were captured in the attack, including Abu Hurayrah, al-Mushayirafah, al-Krain, and al-Jameen. The SDF advanced towards the town of Al-Thawrah, where fliers were dropped, asking residents to stay indoors and avoid clashing against ISIL for now. These fliers were also dropped on Raqqa city. An anti-ISIL coalition spokesman announced that the advance had cut off the highway linking the Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, and Raqqa Governorates. He added that around 75-80% of the attacking force consisted of Arab fighters, with the rest being Kurds. The SDF stated that the advance was also meant to block any advance on Raqqa by the Syrian Arab Army from the west.
On the same day, SDF and US forces stormed the Tabqa Dam, triggering “intense” clashes with ISIL forces. US officials stated that it may take several weeks to capture Tabqa Dam, Al-Thawrah city, and the surrounding countryside from ISIL. Airstrikes by the coalition on Tabqa city were reported to have killed about 25 civilians. On 23 March, some early reports circulated that the SDF had captured Tabqa Dam from ISIL, after clashing with ISIL forces for a few hours. However, these reports were unconfirmed by other sources, with neither the SDF or CENTCOM confirming the capture of Tabqa Dam, and Rudaw reported that the SDF was still preparing to capture it. SDF spokesman Talal Silo stated during the day that they were still advancing on the dam and the city and expected to attack the dam soon. Later on the same day, it was reported that ISIL was redeploying a large number of fighters from the Deir ez-Zor Province to Al-Thawrah and Raqqa city, in order to reinforce those fronts. ISIL’s Amaq News Agency later denied later that the SDF had captured the dam.
Refugees from al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, who have fled from the fighting between the SDF and ISIL.
On 24 March, SDF spokeswoman Jihan Sheikh Ahmed announced that they had reached the Tabqa Dam, and were fighting ISIL at its entrance. The assault on the dam was spearheaded by SDF fighters who were backed by United States Special Operation Forces. According to early reports, the SDF and its allies had taken its outer perimeter, with the battle ongoing for its middle. On the same day, it was also reported that the SDF had captured 8 villages to the southwest of Al-Thawrah. On 25 March, pro-Kurdish news agency Kurdistan24 reported that the SDF had announced the capture of the Tabqa Dam. On the same day, the SDF advanced on Al-Tabqa Airbase, setting off clashes in the vicinity.Amaq meanwhile claimed SDF had withdrawn from the dam.
On 26 March, the SDF captured 2 villages to the east of Al-Thawrah. It was also reported that ISIL was shelling the surroundings of Tabqa Dam with heavy weaponry.On the same day, ISIL claimed that Tabqa Dam was on the verge of collapse and that all the floodgates were closed. The dam was reported to have become inoperable, which ISIL claimed was due to Coalition bombing and artillery strikes, though the SOHR stated that the actual reasons were unknown, adding that ISIL still held its main building and turbines.SDF however denied that it had been hit, while RIBSS (Raqqa is Silently Being Slaughtered) stated that ISIL was informing fleeing civilians that the dam was safe. Additionally, the US-led Coalition stated that the Tabqa Dam was structurally sound, and that the dam had not been targeted by any airstrikes. They also stated that the SDF controlled an emergency spillway at the northern part of the dam, which could be used in the event of an emergency. On the same day, SDF spokesman Talal Silo announced that SDF had stormed the Tabqa military airport, and had taken sixty to seventy percent of it. They later announced that they had completely captured the Al-Tabqa Airbase, following a 24-hour battle.ISIL forces stationed at Al-Tabqa Airbase were reported to have withdrawn northward, to Al-Thawrah city. Additionally, SDF forces captured 2 villages near the airbase during the advance.
Late on 26 March, it was reported that the SDF had taken full control of Tabqa Dam, and that repairs on the dam by Coalition engineers had begun. A day later however SDF announced they were temporarily pausing their offensive for the dam. Later in the day, a spokeswoman of the SDF announced that engineers who had been permitted to check the dam and its operations did not find it was damaged or malfunctioning. SDF also captured 2 villages to the west of Raqqa on the same day. It resumed the offensive against ISIL at the Tabqa Dam on 28 March. Syrian engineers worked on the dam during a pause in the fighting to open spillways and ease the pressure on the dam. Its southern reaches were reported to be under ISIL control. ISIL claimed that the maintenance team was killed in airstrikes by the anti-ISIL coalition while the SOHR stated that it had learned that the engineer administering the dam had been killed in airstrikes along with a technician. It also stated that the group had sent 900 fighters from Raqqa to fight against the SDF advance.
On 29 March, the SDF cut the road between Al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city and Raqqa. The SDF stated that ISIL had shelled the Tabqa Dam during the day, causing repair work to be temporarily paused. On 31 March, SDF forces attacked the town of Al-Safsafah, to the east of Al-Thawrah, in an attempt to besiege the city. On the same day, the Ajeel tribe of al-Raqqa announced its support for the SDF’s Raqqa campaign and sent 150 fighters. On 1 April 2017, 200 Arab youths completed training and joined the SDF, also for the Raqqa campaign. The SDF announced during the day that over 220 new recruits had joined the offensive. Meanwhile, leaflets were dropped on the city calling on ISIL to surrender. Clashes continued in the countryside of Tabqa on next day as both sides attempted to advance.
The SDF and some activists stated on 2 April that it had repelled a major ISIL counterattack to the northeast of Tabqa city, near the Tabqa Dam and near the Tabqa airbase. They also continued to advance in villages to the east of Tabqa city. On the same day, it was reported that SDF had completely besieged Al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, with Kurdish activists stating that 2 SDF units linked up to the east of the city. SOHR, however, stated that they were still trying to besiege the city. SDF fighters continued battling for Safsafah and Ibad, on the next day, to fully encircle Tabqa. On 3 April, it was reported that ISIL was possibly in the process of moving its capital from Raqqa city to Mayadin, in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate. This followed months of gradual relocation of resources and senior ISIL leaders from Raqqa to Mayadin. SDF entered and besieged Safsafah on 5 April, thus also besieging Tabqa city while claiming that it had also taken control of a major part of Safsafah. The village was captured by the next day, resulting in SDF completely encircling Tabqa city.
The SDF captured Ibad village, to the east of Safsafah, on 9 April, further expanding their control in eastern countryside of Tabqa, while more than 25 ISIL fighters were killed in the clashes. ISIL also launched unsuccessful counterattacks on Safsafah, while also attacking Al-Tabqa Airbase. The SDF captured another village near Tabqa on the next day.
On 11 April, the US-led Coalition reported that the SDF had captured 60% of Tabqa Dam, and that they were “very close” to liberating the dam. On 13 April, the United States military stated that CJTF-OIR had bombed a SDF fighting position near Tabqa as it was misidentified as belonging to ISIL. It added that the airstrikes resulted in deaths of 18 SDF fighters.
Phase Four: Offensive directly north of and around Raqqa city; Assault on Tabqa city
On 13 April, the SDF announced the launch of the fourth phase of the campaign. The new phase will involve capturing the entire area directly north of Raqqa city, including the Jalab valley, as well as completing the siege of Raqqa city. The advancements may involve capturing the southern countryside of Raqqa as well, since the SDF stated that they plan to fully isolate the city before launching an attack on it. A plan to attack Raqqa city itself was also scheduled to for April 2017, but it was postponed due to the Battle of Tabqa. SDF was reported to have captured a village in the northern countryside of Raqqa on the same day.
SOHR stated early on 15 April that the SDF had advanced to the edge of Tabqa, and was within hundreds of meters of the city. Later, SDF captured the village of Ayad al-Saghir village near Tabqa and stormed the city itself, capturing the Alexandria suburb and bringing about 15% of the city under their control. They also cleared the Mushayrifah village near Tabqa, killing 27 ISIL fighters.
On 17 April, the SDF captured 3 villages in the northern countryside of Raqqa along with four hamlets.
Civil administration of captured territory
Samer Kharkhi, one of the Raqqa Civil Council’s leading members.
On 14 November, the SDF’s civilian sister institution, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), started working on the establishment of a civilian administration to run the city of Raqqa after the expulsion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. SDC co-chair Îlham Ehmed said “such an administration could provide a good example for democratic change in Raqqa, especially that the city has been for years a de facto capital for the ISIS terrorist group. This accomplishment would be a major change in the overall situation in Syria, and would help the country move towards stability, democratic change. Raqqa will be an example for the whole country.”
On 8 December, Col. John Dorrian, the Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman, stated that “a governance structure representative of the local population” similar to that in Manbij is planned for Raqqa. On 10 December, Cihan ShekhEhmed, the spokesman of the SDF-led operation, said that Raqqa would be run by a local elected civilian council after it was liberated. On 27 March 2017, Salih Muslim Muhammad, co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), said that as soon as the SDF had captured the city, “the people of Raqqa are the ones who [will] take the decision on everything”. If they wanted to do so, Muslim said, they could choose to join the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria. On the same day, the Raqqa Civil Council announced that it had taken over the administration of the eastern countryside.
A YPJ sniper during the offensive on 13 November 2016
A boat carrying SDF fighters cross Lake Assad on 9 April 2017
Toyota Hilux and other vehicles of the YPG and YPJ near Tabqa, 9 April 2017
Jump up^Most Leftist Western volunteers fight as part of the YPG, though some have also formed an independent unit, the Antifascist International Tabur, or joined the International Freedom Battalion. The latter is a larger unit, mostly composed of Kurdish and Turkish communists.
Jump up^1,500 volunteers from villages captured by the SDF during phase one; 1,000 volunteers from villages captured during phase two, 750 volunteers from villages captured during phase three, 200 more joined in April
Jump up^According to SOHR, 8 SDF casualties were Western volunteers; among these were 4 Americans (one of which fought for the MFS), 1 British, 1 Canadian, and 1 German.ARA News, on the other side, reported that only 5 Western volunteers had been killed.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with a delegate during the afternoon ministerial plenary for the Global Coalition working to Defeat ISIS at the State Department in Washington, March 22, 2017.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presided over a meeting of the 68-member Global Coalition to defeat ISIS and emphasized that the Coalition is unified, remains committed to the military defeat of ISIS, and noted the significant progress that has been made.
On March 22, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presided over a meeting of the 68-member Global Coalition to defeat ISIS and emphasized that the Coalition is unified, remains committed to the military defeat of ISIS, and noted the significant progress that has been made.
On the battlefield, 23 coalition partners have over 9,000 troops in Iraq and Syria in support of the effort to defeat ISIS. The Coalition has made significant progress in denying ISIS safe haven and building the military capacity of those directly engaged in fighting ISIS.
Coalition operations have liberated 62 percent of the terrain ISIS once controlled in Iraq and 30 percent in Syria, including key cities in both countries. The number of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria is down by more than half since its peak in 2014.
Coalition aircraft have conducted more than 19,000 strikes on ISIS targets, removing tens of thousands of ISIS fighters from the battlefield and killing over 180 senior to mid-level ISIS leaders, including nearly all of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies, his so-called ministers of war, information, finance, oil and gas, and his chief of external operations.
The Coalition has supported its Iraqi partners to achieve significant progress in the fight to retake Mosul. Iraqi Security Forces officially liberated eastern Mosul on January 24, 2017, and now are making significant territorial gains in the western portion of the city.
To date, Coalition efforts have trained nearly 90,000 Iraqi Security Force members, including Iraqi Army soldiers, Counterterrorism Services soldiers, Kurdish Peshmerga, federal police and border security soldiers, and tribal volunteers.
With the support of the Coalition, Syrian partners have liberated over 14,000 square kilometers of terrain in Syria, including more than 7,400 square kilometers of territory since isolation operations around Raqqa began on November 5.
Coalition forces are now pressuring ISIS in Raqqa, its external operations headquarters, from where ISIS is plotting against Coalition member interests around the globe.
“Hard-fought victories in Iraq and Syria have swung the momentum in our coalition’s favor,” said Secretary Tillerson, “but we must increase the intensity of our efforts to solidify our gains in the next phase of the counter-ISIS fight. Degradation of ISIS is not the end goal, we must defeat ISIS.”
The race for Raqqa: Major battle to liberate the ISIS stronghold looms after victory nears in Mosul and Palmyra… but who will lead the offensive?
Syrian soldiers, Turkish troops and US-backed Kurdish troops eyeing up Raqqa
Islamic State terrorists were driven out of Mosul and Palmyra in another victory
With liberation of the two cities drawing nearer, Raqqa will become top priority
The fall of the terror group’s de facto capital would be seen as ISIS’ biggest loss
By Gareth Davies For Mailonline
PUBLISHED: 06:48 EDT, 3 March 2017 | UPDATED: 07:05 EDT, 3 March 2017
A major battle to liberate the Islamic State group’s stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria is looming after victories on the battlefields of Mosul and Palmyra.
The Pentagon has drawn up a secret plan which is likely to lean on local allies with stepped-up American support, but questions still remain as to who exactly will lead the operation to kick ISIS out of its de facto capital.
Syrian government forces, Turkish troops and their Syrian militia allies, and US-backed Kurdish forces all have their eye on Raqqa.
Each vehemently rejects letting the others capture the city and would likely react in anger should the United States support the others, and it is not clear that any has the resources to take the city on its own.
The fall of Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s de facto capital and largest remaining stronghold, would be the biggest defeat for the militants in Syria since they captured the northern city on the banks of the Euphrates River in January 2014.
An Iraqi Army officer (right) uses his mobile phone to film a rocket launched towards Islamic State militants during a battle with Islamic State militants in Mosul,Iraq
Iraqi family displaced due to fighting between the Iraqi army and ISIS, waiting at a temporary shelter to be sent to a refugee camp in Hamam Ali town, southern Mosul
Iraqi soldiers fire a rocket toward Islamic State militants on the outskirt of the Makhmour south of Mosul, Iraq
Smoke billows as Iraqi forces hold a position on a street in Mosul on March 1, 2017, during an offensive by security forces to retake the western parts of the city from Islamic State
Since October, US-backed coalition forces have been advancing on Mosul in an attempt to re-capture it from the terror group’s control.
Civilians have been evacuated and ISIS have been driven out of the city one village and area at a time.
This morning, an Iraqi military commander says forces have taken control of another neighborhood in western Mosul.
Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, spokesman of the Joint Military Operations Command said despite bad weather, Iraqi special operations forces have completely retaken the Wadi Hajjar area from militants.
However, commanders on the ground say that clearing operations are still continuing.
Wadi Hajjar lies just northwest of the city’s international airport.
Iraqi forces, including special operations forces and federal police units, launched an attack on the western part of Mosul nearly two weeks ago to dislodge the extremists.
Since the offensive began, more than 28,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN.
Across the border in Syria, army units were clearing land mines and explosives left behind by ISIS in the historic town of Palmyra on Friday, a day after government troops and allied militiamen recaptured it from the extremists.
The military expects the process to be long and difficult due to the large number of mines planted by the terror group.
Syrian troops fully recaptured Palmyra on Thursday after a push that saw the militants’ defenses crumble and ISIS fighters flee in the face of artillery fire and intense Russia-backed airstrikes.
The Tetrapylon and Roman Amphitheatre in the ancient city of Palmyra is blown up in conflict
Fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State, now called the Islamic State group, marching in Raqqa, Syria, where attention will now turn
Now, all eyes turn to Raqqa.
Faysal Itani, an analyst at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, said: ‘Raqqa is more of an abstract goal: everyone wants it in principle, but no one is willing to commit the resources and bear the risks necessary.’
Turkey rules out a US compromise in Syria
Turkey is ruling out compromise with the United States over the involvement of Kurdish militia fighters in an assault in Syria, an obstacle for Washington’s plan to deploy its strongest allies on the ground in a decisive showdown with Islamic State.
Donald Trump has made defeating ISIS one of the key goals of his presidency, and his new administration received a draft Pentagon plan on Monday to accelerate the campaign.
Raqqa in Syria, one of Islamic State’s two de facto capitals along with Mosul in Iraq, is expected to be the scene of the final battle to crush the jihadists’ self-proclaimed Caliphate sometime this year, after a US-backed Iraqi government assault on Mosul already under way since October.
But putting together a united ground force to take Raqqa has so far proven a confounding task in Syria, where the United States, Turkey, Russia, Iran and Arab states have all backed local forces in a multi-sided civil war since 2011. All the foreign powers oppose Islamic State, but their Syrian proxies have mainly fought against one another.
Turkey, with the second largest army in NATO, is adamant that Washington should switch support for the planned Raqqa offensive from the Kurdish YPG militia to Syrian rebels Turkey has trained and led against Islamic State for the past year.
President Donald Trump has vowed to ‘obliterate’ the group.
‘We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet,’ he told Congress on Tuesday.
The top US commander in the campaign against IS, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, has said he believes Raqqa and Mosul will be taken within six months.
So far, the offensive on Mosul has been underway four months, with only half the city captured from the militants in ferocious street-to-street urban combat.
And that is using a relatively intensively trained and united military, backed by heavy U.S. firepower and commandos on the ground – a contrast to the comparatively undisciplined and fragmented forces the US has to choose from as allies in Syria.
Raqqa is a smaller city than Mosul, but the militants are believed to have dug in with powerful fortifications there.
In Syria, US-backed predominantly Kurdish fighters known as the Syria Democratic Forces, or SDF, remain Trump’s best bet.
Aided by US-led coalition airstrikes and some 500 US special forces troops deployed in an advisory role, the force has been marching toward Raqqa since November.
Closing in on the city from different directions, it is now stationed some eight kilometers (five miles) north of the city.
The US military recently provided a small number of armored vehicles to the US-backed force to give better protection from small arms fire and roadside bombs as they get closer to Raqqa.
Further aid to the rag-tag group, however, raises sensitive questions over how to deal with Turkey, a NATO ally with much at stake in Syria.
Turkey considers the main Kurdish militia in Syria – known as the YPG, and an affiliate of the US-backed SDF – a terrorist organization, and has vowed to work with Syrian opposition fighters known as the Free Syrian Army to liberate Raqqa.
In a dramatic reversal of years of the Obama administration’s calls for the ouster of President Bashar Assad, Trump has hinted he might be willing to work with Assad’s army and Russia, whose year-and-a-half military intervention has propped up Assad’s government.
Assad’s forces are preoccupied with other battles, however, and would likely need significant US military involvement to take on Raqqa.
On Wednesday, the Syrian military recaptured the central town of Palmyra, a city located in the desert south of Raqqa that has gone back and forth between control of the military and the extremists several times.
The government forces have also clashed with the Turkish-backed Syrian fighters, who block their path to Raqqa.
Iraqi security forces inspect a recently discovered tunnel that had been used by Islamic State militants as a training camp, in western Mosul, Iraq on Wednesday, March 1. 2017
Syrians are sharply divided over who should enter Raqqa.
Many opposition supporters consider the SDF, which maintains a tacit non-aggression pact with Assad’s forces, to be a hostile group.
There are also fears of tensions if Raqqa, home to a nearly 200,000 mainly Arab population, is taken by the SDF, a coalition of Kurdish, Arab and Christian fighters.
‘Let us be frank that any force that will liberate Raqqa, other than the Free Syrian Army, is going to be a new occupation force with different flags and banners,’ said Mohammed Khodor of Sound and Picture Organization, which tracks atrocities by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was even more blunt, warning that if the SDF enters Raqqa, it will hurt relations between Ankara and Washington.
Since the Mosul offensive began, more than 28,000 people like these have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN
‘We have said that a terror organization cannot be used against another terror organization,’ the Turkish leader told the state-run Anadolu news agency.
The Kurds reject that notion and insist that only forces fighting under the SDF banner will liberate Raqqa.
‘Turkey is an occupation force and has no legitimate right to enter Raqqa,’ said SDF spokeswoman Cihan Sheikh Ehmed.
In a text message exchange from northern Syria, she said the SDF has the experience in fighting IS to finish the operation.
Battlefield victories by the SDF against the Islamic State group have brought growing Western support.
Asked if adding more US troops or better arming Syria’s Kurds were options, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he will ‘accommodate any request’ from his field commanders.
In Mosul, the US-led coalition is playing a greater role than ever before in the fight against IS and coalition forces have moved closer to front-line fighting.
U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian says the increased support is an effort to ‘accelerate the campaign’ against the Islamic State group, noting that launching simultaneous operations in both Mosul and Raqqa ‘puts further strain on the enemy’s command and control.’
‘It is a complicating factor when you don’t have a partner government to work with,’ conceded Dorrian, adding that whoever the coalition partners with in the fight for Raqqa is ‘a subject of ongoing discussions.’
Wladimir van Wilgenburg, a Middle East analyst at the Jamestown Foundation who closely follows Kurdish affairs, says the US-led coalition wants to have a quick end to IS in Raqqa, from which external operations against the West are planned.
That means it would prefer to work with the Kurdish-led SDF forces ‘since they are able to mobilize manpower unlike the Turks,’ he said.
An ISIS flag flies in the city of Palmyra – but not for long as victory nears in the city
Allied forces stand on the rubble of the Tetrapylon and Roman Amphitheatre in Palmyra
An Iraqi soldier inspects a recently-discovered train tunnel, adorned with an Islamic State group flag
In any case, the battle for Raqqa is sure to be a long and deadly one. It took the SDF nearly 10 weeks to capture the northern Syrian town of Manbij from IS last year.
It took Turkish forces and allied groups more than three months to retake the town of al-Bab, a costly battle that killed dozens of Turkish soldiers and many civilians.
Raqqa is much larger than either Manbij or al-Bab.
Some Syrian opposition activists say the extremists dug a trench around it to make it difficult for attackers to storm it.
‘It would be difficult for any troops,’ said Itani of the Atlantic Council.
‘Witness the slow and ugly progress in Mosul as well. Raqqa would be tough,’ he said.
The Trump foreign policy team has been all over the map on what to do next in Syria — topple the regime, intensify aid to rebels, respond to any new attacks on innocent civilians. But when pressed, there is one idea everyone on the team seems to agree on: “The defeat of ISIS,” as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson put it.
Well, let me add to their confusion by asking just one question: Why?
Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State in Syria? Of course, ISIS is detestable and needs to be eradicated. But is it really in our interest to be focusing solely on defeating ISIS in Syria right now?
Let’s go through the logic: There are actually two ISIS manifestations.
One is “virtual ISIS.” It is satanic, cruel and amorphous; it disseminates its ideology through the internet. It has adherents across Europe and the Muslim world. In my opinion, that ISIS is the primary threat to us, because it has found ways to deftly pump out Sunni jihadist ideology that inspires and gives permission to those Muslims on the fringes of society who feel humiliated — from London to Paris to Cairo — to recover their dignity via headline-grabbing murders of innocents.
The other incarnation is “territorial ISIS.” It still controls pockets in western Iraq and larger sectors of Syria. Its goal is to defeat Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria — plus its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies — and to defeat the pro-Iranian Shiite regime in Iraq, replacing both with a caliphate.
Challenge No. 1: Not only will virtual ISIS, which has nodes all over the world, not go away even if territorial ISIS is defeated, I believe virtual ISIS will become yet more virulent to disguise the fact that it has lost the territorial caliphate to its archenemies: Shiite Iran, Hezbollah, pro-Shiite militias in Iraq, the pro-Shiite Assad regime in Damascus and Russia, not to mention America.
Challenge No. 2: America’s goal in Syria is to create enough pressure on Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah so they will negotiate a power-sharing accord with moderate Sunni Muslims that would also ease Assad out of power. One way to do that would be for NATO to create a no-fly safe zone around Idlib Province, where many of the anti-Assad rebels have gathered and where Assad recently dropped his poison gas on civilians. But Congress and the U.S. public are clearly wary of that.
So what else could we do? We could dramatically increase our military aid to anti-Assad rebels, giving them sufficient anti-tank and antiaircraft missiles to threaten Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian helicopters and fighter jets and make them bleed, maybe enough to want to open negotiations. Fine with me.
What else? We could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad. After all, they’re the ones overextended in Syria, not us. Make them fight a two-front war — the moderate rebels on one side and ISIS on the other. If we defeat territorial ISIS in Syria now, we will only reduce the pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah and enable them to devote all their resources to crushing the last moderate rebels in Idlib, not sharing power with them.
I don’t get it. President Trump is offering to defeat ISIS in Syria for free — and then pivot to strengthening the moderate anti-Assad rebels. Why? When was the last time Trump did anything for free? When was the last real estate deal Trump did where he volunteered to clean up a toxic waste dump — for free — before he negotiated with the owner on the price of the golf course next door?
This is a time for Trump to be Trump — utterly cynical and unpredictable. ISIS right now is the biggest threat to Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and pro-Shiite Iranian militias — because ISIS is a Sunni terrorist group that plays as dirty as Iran and Russia.
Trump should want to defeat ISIS in Iraq. But in Syria? Not for free, not now. In Syria, Trump should let ISIS be Assad’s, Iran’s, Hezbollah’s and Russia’s headache — the same way we encouraged the mujahedeen fighters to bleed Russia in Afghanistan.
Yes, in the long run we want to crush ISIS everywhere, but the only way to crush ISIS and keep it crushed on the ground is if we have moderate Sunnis in Syria and Iraq able and willing to replace it. And those will only emerge if there are real power-sharing deals in Syria and Iraq — and that will only happen if Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah feel pressured to share power.
And while I am at it, where is Trump’s Twitter feed when we need it? He should be tweeting every day this message: “Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have become the protectors of a Syrian regime that uses poison gas on babies! Babies! Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Assad — poison gas enablers. Sad.”
Do not let them off the hook! We need to make them own what they’ve become — enablers of a Syria that uses poison gas on children. Believe it or not, they won’t like being labeled that way. Trump needs to use his global Twitter feed strategically. Barack Obama never played this card. Trump needs to slam it down every day. It creates leverage.
Syria is not a knitting circle. Everyone there plays dirty, deviously and without mercy. Where’s that Trump when we need him?
Iraqi Kurdistan first gained autonomous status in a 1970 agreement with the Iraqi government, and its status was re-confirmed as an autonomous entity within the federal Iraqi republic in 2005. There is a province by the name Kurdistan in Iran; it is not self-ruled. Kurds fighting in the Syrian Civil War were able to take control of large sections of northern Syria as government forces, loyal to Bashar al-Assad, withdrew to fight elsewhere. Having established their own government, they called for autonomy in a federal Syria after the war.
The Kingdom of Corduene, which emerged from the declining Seleucid Empire, was located to the south and south-east of Lake Van between Persia and Mesopotamia and ruled northern Mesopotamia and southeastern Anatolia from 189 BC to AD 384 as vassals of the vying Parthian and Roman Empire. At its zenith, the Roman Empire ruled large Kurdish-inhabited areas, particularly the western and northern Kurdish areas in the Middle East. Corduene became a vassal state of the Roman Republic in 66 BC and remained allied with the Romans until AD 384. After 66 BC, it passed another 5 times between Rome and Persia. Corduene was situated to the east of Tigranocerta, that is, to the east and south of present-day Diyarbakır in south-eastern Turkey.
Some historians have correlated a connection between Corduene with the modern names of Kurds and Kurdistan;T. A. Sinclair dismissed this identification as false, while a common association is asserted in the Columbia Encyclopedia.
Some of the ancient districts of Kurdistan and their corresponding modern names:
19th-century map showing the location of the Kingdom of Corduene in 60 B.C
One of the earliest records of the phrase land of the Kurds is found in an Assyrian Christian document of late antiquity, describing the stories of Assyrian saints of the Middle East, such as Abdisho. When the SasanianMarzban asked Mar Abdisho about his place of origin, he replied that according to his parents, they were originally from Hazza, a village in Assyria. However they were later driven out of Hazza by pagans, and settled in Tamanon, which according to Abdisho was in the land of the Kurds. Tamanon lies just north of the modern Iraq-Turkey border, while Hazza is 12 km southwest of modern Erbil. In another passage in the same document, the region of the Khabur River is also identified as land of the Kurds. According to Al-Muqaddasi and Yaqut al-Hamawi, Tamanon was located on the south-western or southern slopes of Mount Judi and south of Cizre.
Map by Mahmud al-Kashgari (1074), showing Arḍ al-Akrād Arabic for land of Kurds located between Arḍ al-Šām (Syria), and Arḍ al-ʿIrāqayn (Iraq Arabi and Iraq Ajami).
Kurdistan in the Middle Ages was a collection of semi-independent and independent states called emirates. It was nominally under indirect political or religious influence of Khalifs or Shahs. A comprehensive history of these states and their relationship with their neighbors is given in the text of Sharafnama, written by Prince Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi in 1597. The emirates included Baban, Soran, Badinan and Garmiyan in the south; Bakran, Bohtan (or Botan) and Badlis in the north, and Mukriyan and Ardalan in the east.
In the 16th century, after prolonged wars, Kurdish-inhabited areas were split between the Safavid and Ottoman empires. A major division of Kurdistan occurred in the aftermath of the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514, and was formalized in the 1639 Treaty of Zuhab. From then until the aftermath of World War I, Kurdish areas (including most of Mesopotamia, eastern Anatolia, and traditionally Kurdish northeastern Syria) were generally under Ottoman rule, apart from the century-long, intermittent Iranian occupation in the early modern to modern period, and the later reconquest and vast expansion by the Iranian military leader Nader Shah in the first half of the 18th century. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Allies contrived to split Kurdistan (as detailed in the ultimately unratified Treaty of Sèvres) among several countries, including Kurdistan, Armenia and others. However, the reconquest of these areas by the forces of Kemal Atatürk (and other pressing issues) caused the Allies to accept the renegotiated Treaty of Lausanne and the borders of the modern Republic of Turkey, leaving the Kurds without a self-ruled region. Other Kurdish areas were assigned to the new British and French mandated states of Iraq and Syria.
At the end of the First Gulf War, the Allies established a safe haven in northern Iraq. Amid the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from three northern provinces, Iraqi Kurdistan emerged in 1992 as an autonomous entity inside Iraq with its own local government and parliament.
A 2010 US report, written before the instability in Syria and Iraq that exists as of 2014, attested that “Kurdistan may exist by 2030”. The weakening of the Iraqi state following the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has also presented an opportunity for independence for Iraqi Kurdistan, augmented by Turkey’s move towards acceptance of such a state although it opposes moves toward Kurdish autonomy in Turkey and Syria.
The incorporation into Turkey of the Kurdish-inhabited regions of eastern Anatolia was opposed by many Kurds, and has resulted in a long-running separatist conflict in which thousands of lives have been lost. The region saw several major Kurdish rebellions, including the Koçgiri rebellion of 1920 under the Ottomans, then successive insurrection under the Turkish state – including the 1924 Sheikh Said rebellion, the Republic of Ararat in 1927, and the 1937 Dersim rebellion. All were forcefully put down by the authorities. The region was declared a closed military area from which foreigners were banned between 1925 and 1965.
In an attempt to deny their existence, the Turkish government categorized Kurds as “Mountain Turks” until 1991. The words “Kurds”, “Kurdistan”, or “Kurdish” were officially banned by the Turkish government. Following the military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life. Many people who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested and imprisoned. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, political parties that represented Kurdish interests were banned.
In 1983, the Kurdish provinces were placed under martial law in response to the activities of the militant separatist organization, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). A guerrilla war took place through the 1980s and 1990s in which much of the countryside was evacuated, thousands of Kurdish-populated villages were destroyed, and numerous extrajudicial summary executions were carried out by both sides. Many villages were reportedly set on fire or destroyed. Food embargoes were placed on Kurdish populated villages and towns. More than 20,000 Kurds were killed in the violence and hundreds of thousands more were forced to leave their homes.
Turkey has historically feared that a Kurdish state in Northern Iraq would encourage and support Kurdish separatists in the adjacent Turkish provinces, and have therefore historically strongly opposed Kurdish independence in Iraq. However, following the chaos in Iraq after the US invasion, Turkey has increasingly worked with the de facto autonomous Kurds in Iraq.
The successful 2014 Northern Iraq offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, with the resultant weakening of the ability of the Iraqi state to project power, also presented a “golden opportunity” for the Kurds to increase their independence and possibly declare an independent Kurdish state. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, who took more than 80 Turkish persons captive in Mosul during their offensive, is an enemy of Turkey, making Kurdistan useful for Turkey as a buffer state. On 28 June 2014 Hüseyin Çelik, a spokesman for the ruling AK party, made comments to the Financial Times indicating Turkey’s readiness to accept an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq. Various sources have reported that Al-Nusra has issued a fatwā calling for Kurdish women and children in Syria to be killed, and the fighting in Syria has led tens of thousands of refugees to flee to Iraq’s Kurdistan region. As of 2015, Turkey is actively supporting the Al-Nusra.
In A Dictionary of Scripture Geography (published 1846), John Miles describes Upper and Lower Kurdistan as following:
Modern Curdistan is of much greater extent than the ancient Assyria, and is composed of two parts the Upper and Lower. In the former is the province of Ardelan, the ancient Arropachatis, now nominally a part of Irak Ajami, and belonging to the north west division called Al Jobal. It contains five others namely, Betlis, the ancient Carduchia, lying to the south and south west of the lake Van. East and south east of Betlis is the principality of Julamerick, south west of it is the principality of Amadia. the fourth is Jeezera ul Omar, a city on an island in the Tigris, and corresponding to the ancient Bezabde. the fifth and largest is Kara Djiolan, with a capital of the same name. The pashalics of Kirkook and Solimania also comprise part of Upper Curdistan. Lower Curdistan comprises all the level tract to the east of the Tigris, and the minor ranges immediately bounding the plains and reaching thence to the foot of the great range, which may justly be denominated the Alps of western Asia.
The northern, northwestern and northeastern parts of Kurdistan are referred to as upper Kurdistan, and includes the areas from west of Amed to lake Urmia.
The lowlands of southern Kurdistan are called lower Kurdistan. The main cities in this area are Kirkuk and Arbil.
Much of the region is typified by an extreme continental climate – hot in the summer, bitterly cold in the winter. Despite this, much of the region is fertile and has historically exported grain and livestock. Precipitation varies between 200 and 400 mm a year in the plains, and between 700 and 3,000 mm a year on the high plateau between mountain chains. The climate is dominated by mountains in the zone along the border with Iran and Turkey, with dry summers and cold, snowy winters or wet springs, while to the south, it progressively transitions towards semi-arid and desert zones. The northern mountainous regions along the border with Iran and Turkey receive heavy snowfall.
Kurdistan is one of the most mountainous regions in the world with a cold climate receiving annual precipitation adequate to sustain temperate forests and shrubs. Mountain chains harbor pastures and forested valleys, totaling approximately 16 million hectares (160,000 km²), including firs and countryside is mostly oaks, conifers, platanus, willow, poplar and olive. Also the Mediterranean region known as west Kurdistan has olive trees. Kurdistan’s climatic conditions are due to the northern mountainous topography producing the steppe and forest vegetation in the area. The region north of the mountainous region on the border with Iran and Turkey features meadow grasses and such wild trees as poplar, willow and oak, hawthorn, Cherry plum, rose hips, mountain apple, pear, mountain ash, and olive. The desert in the south, by contrast, has such species as palm trees and date palm.
The plateaus and mountains of Kurdistan, which are characterized by heavy rain and snow fall, act as a water reservoir for the Near and Middle East, forming the source of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as well as other numerous smaller rivers, such as the Little Khabur, Khabur, Tharthar, Ceyhan, Araxes, Kura, Sefidrud, Karkha, and Hezil. Among rivers of historical importance to Kurds are the Murat (Arasān) and Buhtān rivers in Turkey; the Peshkhābur, the Little Zab, the Great Zab, and the Diyala in Iraq; and the Jaghatu (Zarrinarud), the Tātā’u (Siminarud), the Zohāb (Zahāb), and the Gāmāsiyāb in Iran.
These rivers, which flow from heights of three to four thousand meters above sea level, are significant both as water sources and for the production of energy. Iraq and Syria dammed many of these rivers and their tributaries, and Turkey has an extensive dam system under construction as part of the GAP (Southeast Anatolia Project); though incomplete, the GAP already supplies a significant proportion of Turkey’s electrical energy needs. Due to the extraordinary archaeological richness of the region, almost any dam impacts historic sites.
Kurdistan extends to Lake Urmia in Iran on the east. The region includes Lake Van, the largest body of water in Turkey; the only lake in the Middle East with a larger surface is Lake Urmia – though not nearly as deep as Lake Van, which has a much larger volume. Urmia, Van, as well as Zarivar Lake west of Marivan, and Lake Dukan near the city of Sulaymaniyah, are frequented by tourists.
KRG-controlled parts of Iraqi Kurdistan are estimated to contain around 45 billion barrels (7.2×109 m3) of oil, making it the sixth largest reserve in the world. Extraction of these reserves began in 2007.
Al-Hasakah province, also known as Jazira region, has geopolitical importance of oil and is suitable for agricultural lands.
In November 2011, Exxon challenged the Iraqi central government’s authority with the signing of oil and gas contracts for exploration rights to six parcels of land in Kurdistan, including one contract in the disputed territories, just east of the Kirkuk mega-field. This act caused Baghdad to threaten to revoke Exxon’s contract in its southern fields, most notably the West-Qurna Phase 1 project. Exxon responded by announcing its intention to leave the West-Qurna project.
As of July 2007, the Kurdish government solicited foreign companies to invest in 40 new oil sites, with the hope of increasing regional oil production over the following 5 years by a factor of five, to about 1 million barrels per day (160,000 m3/d). Gas and associated gas reserves are in excess of 2,800 km3 (100×1012 cu ft). Notable companies active in Kurdistan include Exxon, Total, Chevron, Talisman Energy, Genel Energy, Hunt Oil, Gulf Keystone Petroleum, and Marathon Oil.
Other mineral resources that exist in significant quantities in the region include coal, copper, gold, iron, limestone (which is used to produce cement), marble, and zinc. The world’s largest deposit of rock sulfur is located just southwest of Erbil (Hewlêr).
In July 2012, Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government signed an agreement by which Turkey will supply the KRG with refined petroleum products in exchange for crude oil. Crude deliveries are expected to occur on a regular basis.
Story 1: Russian Agents of Influence in Democratic Party Outed Hillary Clinton/DNC (Inside Job) — Putin Payback for Libyan Double Cross — Fake News? or Real News? — What Difference Does It Make? — He Came, He Saw, Clinton Lost — Trump Won — Live With It — Move On — Forward With Trump! — What Crimes Clinton Covered-up By Destroying 33,000 Emails? — Videos
Tomi Lahren – The Blame Game Continues | Final Thoughts
Tomi Lahren – The Real “Fake News” 12/08/16 | Final Thoughts
FULL: Bill O’Reilly Interviews Tomi Lahren – Fox News
Donald Trump at Fox News Sunday Special – Full Interview on Russia Hacking Election
Fox News Sunday 12/11/2016: Interview with Donald Trump
Kellyanne Conway MOCKS Hillary Clinton and Democrats, “They’re a BUNCH of Wrist Flickers” – WHAT?
WIKILEAKS Assange says Clinton election hack was ‘inside job’ NOT Russia
Published on Dec 14, 2016
WIKILEAKS BOMBSHELL: Assange ally says Clinton election hack was ‘inside job’ NOT Russia
AN ally of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said the hack of the Democratic Party in the run up to the US elections was not Russia but instead an ‘inside job’.
Former British ambassador Craig Murray said he has met the person who handed over the e-mails and they WERE from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Clinton and Trump Clash Over Alleged Russian Hack of DNC at the First Presidential Debate
Trump Benefited From Russia Hacking Suggests Obama Spokesman
JUDGE “RUSSIA DID NOT HACK THE ELECTION”! CHAOS! CHUCK TODD AND REINCE PRIEBUS GO AT IT!
BREAKING: WikiLeaks Just ENDED Russia Hacking Rumors!See Who Is Really Behind The DNC Leaks!Assange?
WIKILEAKS BOMBSHELL: Assange ally says Clinton election hack was ‘inside job’ NOT Russia.Wikileaks!
The Truth About Fake News | Russia Hacked U.S. Election For Donald Trump?
Democrat hasn’t heard anything from intelligent sources on Russian hacking the election
HEATED EXCHANGE: Tuck vs Democrat on Russian Election Hacking
Corporate Media & Democrats Play Russia FEAR Card; Hide Hillary Clinton’s Russian Record
Def Secretary Gates: Obama Double-Crossed Me
US Russian Cyber Attack Election Propaganda to Cover Clinton Dem Corruption Revealed in Wikileaks
Speaking Of ‘Fake News’!! Rachel Maddow Was So Happy Spewing Out Fake Polls!!
MSNBC Apologizes for Fake News
Globalists Are To Blame For Their Collapse, Not Russia
CIA Agent Admits “No Evidence” for “Fact” of Election Tampering
Clinton Refuses To Take The Blame
Paul Jay and Abby Martin on Trump and ‘Fake News’
The Empire Files: Abby Martin Exposes John Podesta
Published on Nov 5, 2016
With the Wikileaks release of thousands of emails belonging to John Podesta, very little is known in US society about Podesta himself. While he’s maintained a low profile, John Podesta is actually considered one of Washington’s biggest players, and one of the most powerful corporate lobbyists in the world.
In this episode of The Empire Files, Abby Martin explores John Podesta’s political rise, his vast network of corporate connections and his think tank “Center for American Progress.” Learn why the Podestas and the Clintons are a match made in ruling class heaven.
Abby Martin on Hillary Clinton’s Hunger for Endless Wars
Empire Files: Abby Martin Exposes What Hillary Clinton Really Represents
Global Empire – The World According to Seymour Hersh [Part Two]
Published on Aug 10, 2016
Tariq Ali talks to investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, about his revelations concerning the chemical attack at Ghouta, Syria in August 2013.
Global Empire – The World According to Seymour Hersh [Part One]
Published on Aug 10, 2016
Tariq Ali talks to investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, about the assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011 and describes what the Americans and Pakistanis knew about his whereabouts.
Glenn Greenwald: Why Did Trump Win? Blame the Failed Policies of the Democratic Party
GREAT INTERVIEW: Stephen Cohen Analyzes US Prospects with Russia after Trump’s Win
John Pilger talks on RT about Trump, Very Interesting Interview
2016 RED ALERT! PUTIN HAS LEFT THE NEW WORLD ORDER AND IS FIGHTING THEM
Putin Tells The West A Dirty Little Sercet! The New World Order Is terrified!
Putin: US / NATO is irreversibly pushing the world towards nuclear war
Biggest News Story Of The Year! And you’ve never heard about it. Until Now.
McCain Steps On Gen Dunford To Protect Establishment Elite War Option in Syria
No-fly zone would require war with Syria and Russia – top US general
Putin Issues No Fly Zone, Puts Obama On Notice!
THEY WILL DESTROY THE ELITE! Vladimir Putin And Donald Trump Have First phone Call
NATO Now In Declared War With Russia!
The Libya Gamble: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Push for War & the Making of a Failed State
Published on Mar 3, 2016
http://democracynow.org – The New York Times has published a major two-part exposé titled “The Libya Gamble” on how then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed President Obama to begin bombing Libya five years ago this month. Today, Libya is a failed state and a haven for terrorists. How much should Hillary Clinton be blamed for the crisis? We speak to journalist Scott Shane of The New York Times.
Democracy Now! is an independent global news hour that airs weekdays on nearly 1,400 TV and radio stations Monday through Friday. Watch our livestream 8-9AM ET: http://democracynow.org
‘Greater share of oil production’ Hillary Clinton emails reveal motives of Libya intervention
Libya 5 years after NATO intervention: From one of richest nations in Africa to most troubled
How Will History Judge U.S., Coalition Intervention in Libya?
Global Empire – US 2016: Trump or Hillary?
Hillary Clinton & The Truth About Libya, watch this & you will vote Bernie Sanders P3
Published on May 17, 2016
Minute 23 Dr Derbesh states his feelings about Hillary Clinton.
Tariq Ali talks to Professor Mabruk Derbesh, formerly University of Tripoli, now in exile, about the worsening state of affairs in Libya. May 2016. Dr Derbesh was opposed to Gadaffi, but now is shocked at how how his country was “liberated”.
Hillary Clinton & the truth about Libya: Watch this & you will vote for Bernie Sanders!
Semantics – The Rise and Fall of Muammar al Gaddafi
Gaddafi The Truth About Libya- Documentary
Putin: Who gave NATO right to kill Gaddafi?
This Is How a No-Fly Zone Actually Gets Enforced
Debate The Libyan Intervention: Humanitarian or an Aggression?
Inside Story – NATO’s intervention in Libya
U.N. approves Libya no-fly zone
CNN: UN approves no-fly zone in Libya
CNN: A closer look at Libyan no-fly zone
EXCLUSIVE: Ex-British ambassador who is now a WikiLeaks operative claims Russia did NOT provide Clinton emails – they were handed over to him at a D.C. park by an intermediary for ‘disgusted’ Democratic whistleblowers
Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and associate of Julian Assange, told the Dailymail.com he flew to Washington, D.C. for emails
He claims he had a clandestine hand-off in a wooded area near American University with one of the email sources
The leakers’ motivation was ‘disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the ’tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders’
Murray says: ‘The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks’
‘Regardless of whether the Russians hacked into the DNC, the documents Wikileaks published did not come from that,’ Murray insists
Murray is a controversial figure who was relieved of his post as British ambassador amid allegations of misconduct but is close to Wikileaks
PUBLISHED: 15:33 EST, 14 December 2016 | UPDATED: 18:01 EST, 14 December 2016
A Wikileaks envoy today claims he personally received Clinton campaign emails in Washington D.C. after they were leaked by ‘disgusted’ whisteblowers – and not hacked by Russia.
Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and a close associate of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, told Dailymail.com that he flew to Washington, D.C. for a clandestine hand-off with one of the email sources in September.
‘Neither of [the leaks] came from the Russians,’ said Murray in an interview with Dailymail.com on Tuesday. ‘The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.’
His account contradicts directly the version of how thousands of Democratic emails were published before the election being advanced by U.S. intelligence.
Craig Murray (left), former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and a close associate of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (right), told the Dailymail.com that he flew to Washington, D.C. for a clandestine hand-off with one of the email sources in September
Murray is a controversial figure who was removed from his post as a British ambassador amid allegations of misconduct. He was cleared of those but left the diplomatic service in acrimony.
His links to Wikileaks are well known and while his account is likely to be seen as both unprovable and possibly biased, it is also the first intervention by Wikileaks since reports surfaced last week that the CIA believed Russia hacked the Clinton emails to help hand the election to Donald Trump.
Murray’s claims about the origins of the Clinton campaign emails comes as U.S. intelligence officials are increasingly confident that Russian hackers infiltrated both the Democratic National Committee and the email account of top Clinton aide John Podesta.
In Podesta’s case, his account appeared to have been compromised through a basic ‘phishing’ scheme, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
U.S. intelligence officials have reportedly told members of Congress during classified briefings that they believe Russians passed the documents on to Wikileaks as part of an influence operation to swing the election in favor of Donald Trump.
But Murray insisted that the DNC and Podesta emails published by Wikileaks did not come from the Russians, and were given to the whistleblowing group by Americans who had authorized access to the information.
‘Neither of [the leaks] came from the Russians,’ Murray said. ‘The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.’
He said the leakers were motivated by ‘disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.’
Murray said he retrieved the package from a source during a clandestine meeting in a wooded area near American University, in northwest D.C. He said the individual he met with was not the original person who obtained the information, but an intermediary.
Murray claims he met with the person who passed the emails over in a Washington, D.C. part near American University
His account cannot be independently verified but is in line with previous statements by Wikileaks – which was the organization that published the Podesta and DNC emails.
Wikileaks published the DNC messages in July and the Podesta messages in October. The messages revealed efforts by some DNC officials to undermine the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was running against Hillary Clinton.
Others revealed that Clinton aides were concerned about potential conflicts and mismanagement at the Clinton Foundation.
Murray declined to say where the sources worked and how they had access to the information, to shield their identities.
He suggested that Podesta’s emails might be ‘of legitimate interest to the security services’ in the U.S., due to his communications with Saudi Arabia lobbyists and foreign officials.
Murray said he was speaking out due to claims from intelligence officials that Wikileaks was given the documents by Russian hackers as part of an effort to help Donald Trump win the U.S. presidential election.
‘I don’t understand why the CIA would say the information came from Russian hackers when they must know that isn’t true,’ he said. ‘Regardless of whether the Russians hacked into the DNC, the documents Wikileaks published did not come from that.’
Murray was a vocal critic of human rights abuses in Uzbekistan while serving as ambassador between 2002 and 2004, a stance that pitted him against the UK Foreign Office.
He describes himself as a ‘close associate’ of Julian Assange and has spoken out in support of the Wikileaks founder who has faced rape allegations and is currently confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Assange has similarly disputed that charges that Wikileaks received the leaked emails from Russian sources.
‘The Clinton camp has been able to project a neo-McCarthyist hysteria that Russia is responsible for everything,’ Assange told John Pilger during an interview in November.
‘Hillary Clinton has stated multiple times, falsely, that 17 US intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. That’s false – we can say that the Russian government is not the source.’
Murray suggested that John Podesta’s emails might be ‘of legitimate interest to the security services’ in the U.S., due to his communications with Saudi Arabia lobbyists and foreign officials
The Washington Post reported last Friday that U.S. intelligence agencies had ‘identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails.’
The paper said U.S. senators were presented with information tying Russia to the leaks during a recent briefing by intelligence officials.
‘It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,’ a senior U.S. official familiar with the briefing told the Post. ‘That’s the consensus view.’
The paper said U.S. senators were presented with information tying Russia to the leaks during a recent briefing by intelligence officials.
‘It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,’ a senior U.S. official familiar with the briefing told the Post. ‘That’s the consensus view.’
The Obama administration has been examining Russia’s potential role in trying to influence the presidential election. Officials said Russians hacked the Republican National Committee, but did not release that information in a deliberate effort to damage Clinton and protect Donald Trump.
Several congressional committees are also looking into the suspected Russian interference.
While there is a consensus on Capitol Hill that Russia hacked U.S. political groups and officials, some Republicans say it’s not clear whether the motive was to try to swing the election or just to collect intelligence.
‘Now whether they intended to interfere to the degree that they were trying to elect a certain candidate, I think that’s the subject of investigation,’ said Sen. John McCain on CBS Face the Nation. ‘But facts are stubborn things, they did hack into this campaign.’
President elect Donald Trump raised doubts about the reports and said this was an ‘excuse’ by Democrats to explain Clinton’s November loss.
‘It’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it,’ said Trump on Fox News Sunday.
WikiLeaks: Seth Rich Leaked Clinton Emails, Not Russia
Posted on December 15, 2016
by Sean Adl-Tabatabai in News, US
WikiLeaks have suggested that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich leaked the Clinton and Podesta emails, and not Russian hackers as is widely reported.
According to a new interview in the U.K.’s Daily mail newspaper, WikiLeaks say that U.S. intelligence reports suggesting that Russia interfered with the U.S. elections to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary are “absolutely wrong”.
In the interview Wikileaks envoy Craig Murray and former British ambassador stated the he personally flew to the United States and was handed both the DNC emails and the Podesta emails.
Murray told the Daily Mail the emails came from DNC insider with legal access to the emails who had knowledge of the corruption within the Clinton Foundation leaked the emails because he was frustrated with the DNC rigging the Democratic primaries against Bernie Sanders.
Murray stated regardless of whether Russia hacked any emails or not the Wikileaks emails did not come from Russia.
‘Neither of the leaks came from the Russians,’ Murray said. ‘The source had legal access to the information. The documents came from inside leaks, not hacks.’
He said the motivation behind the leaks was ‘disgust at the corruption of the Clinton Foundation and the tilting of the primary election playing field against Bernie Sanders.’
The new information may likely lead U.S. intelligence sources to the more information about the source of the leak given they will be able to cross-reference Murray’s flight records and cross-reference satellite and CCTV cameras during the time Murray was in Washington.
Murray told the Express that the person that who handed over the e-mails was from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Murray’s statements now officially corroborate prior claims initially made by Director Oliver Stone who suggested the leak was most likely an inside job in an interview with CNN three months ago.
Wikileaks is also retweeting confirming that Russia was not their source.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange floated the possibility on Tuesday that a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer was an informant for the organization.
“Whistleblowers often take very significant efforts to bring us material and often at very significant risks,” Assange said in an interview to be aired Tuesday on the Dutch television program Nieuwsuur. “There’s a 27-year-old who works for the DNC and who was shot in the back, murdered, just a few weeks ago, for unknown reasons as he was walking down the streets in Washington.”
Seth Rich, a DNC employee who did voter outreach, was shot to death last month early in the morning in Washington, D.C. The case is unsolved and police have speculated it was an attempted robbery.
On Reddit, Rich’s death has become the source of theories about whether he was involved in the leaks of emails and files from the Democratic National Committee last month. US intelligence officials have linked the leak to a Russian hack, though there has been no official conclusion on the matter.
“I am suggesting that our sources take risks and they become concerned to see things occurring like that,” Assange added, when asked what he was alleging. “We don’t comment on who our sources are.”
Asked by interviewer Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal why he would speculate about someone being shot, Assange said it showed “our sources face serious risks.”
This was coupled by a tweet from WikiLeaks offering a reward for information leading to the conviction of Rich’s murderer.
Speaking to The Guardian, Mr Murray said: “I know who leaked them.
“I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.
“As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks – there is a major difference between the two.”
Earlier this week, leaders of the Democratic National Committee and former officials of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign made the startling allegation that the Russian government hacked into Clinton’s colleagues’ email accounts to tilt the presidential election toward Donald Trump. They even pointed to statements made by CIA officials backing their allegations.
President-elect Trump has characterized these claims as “ridiculous” and just an “excuse” to justify the Clinton defeat, saying they’re also intended to undermine the legitimacy of his election. He pointed to FBI conclusions that the CIA is wrong. Who’s right?
Here is the back story.
The American intelligence community rarely speaks with one voice. The members of its 17 publicly known intelligence agencies — God only knows the number of secret agencies — have the same biases, prejudices, jealousies, intellectual shortcomings and ideological underpinnings as the public at large.
The raw data these agencies examine is the same. Today America’s spies rarely do their own spying; rather, they rely on the work done by the National Security Agency. We know that from the Edward Snowden revelations. We also know from Snowden that the NSA can monitor and identify all digital communications within the United States, coming into the United States and leaving the United States. Hence, it would be foolhardy and wasteful to duplicate that work. There is quite simply no fiber-optic cable anywhere in the country transmitting digital data to which the NSA does not have full-time and unfettered access.
I have often argued that this is profoundly unconstitutional because the Fourth Amendment requires a judicially issued search warrant specifically describing the place to be searched or the thing to be seized before the government may lawfully invade privacy, and these warrants must be based on probable cause of criminal behavior on the part of the person whose privacy the government seeks to invade.
Instead of these probable cause-based, judicially issued search warrants, the government obtains what the Fourth Amendment was written to prohibit — general warrants. General warrants are not based on evidence of probable cause of criminal behavior; rather, they are based on government “need.” This is an unconstitutional and absurd standard because the government will always claim that what it wants, it needs.
General warrants do not specifically describe the place to be searched or the thing to be seized; rather, they authorize the bearer to search where he wishes and seize whatever he finds. This is the mindset of the NSA — search everyone, all the time, everywhere — whose data forms the basis for analysis by the other agencies in the intelligence community.
In the case at hand, the CIA and the FBI looked at the same NSA-generated raw data and came to opposite conclusions. Needless to say, I have not seen this data, but I have spoken to those who have, and they are of the view that though there is evidence of leaking, there is no evidence whatsoever of hacking.
Leaking is the theft of private data and its revelation to those not entitled or intended to see it. Hacking is remotely accessing an operational system and altering its contents — for example, removing money from a bank account or contact information from an address book or vote totals from a candidate’s tally. When Trump characterized the CIA claim that the Russians hacked the DNC and Clinton campaign emails intending to affect the outcome of the election as ridiculous, this is what he meant: There is no evidence of anyone’s altering the contents of operational systems, but there is evidence — plenty of it — of leaking.
If hackers wanted to affect the outcome of the election, they would have needed to alter the operational systems of those who register voters and count votes, not those who seek votes.
During the final five weeks of the presidential campaign, WikiLeaks released tens of thousands of DNC and Clinton campaign emails to the public. WikiLeaks denies that its source was the Russian government, yet for the purposes of the DNC and Clinton campaign claims, that is irrelevant because whoever accessed these emails did not alter the operational systems of any of the targets; the accessor just exposed what was found.
We do not know what data the president-elect examined. Yet in six weeks, he will be the chief intelligence officer of the U.S., and he’ll be able to assimilate data as he wishes and reveal what he wants. He should be given the benefit of the doubt because constitutionally, the intelligence community works for him — not for Congress or the American people.I
Who did the leaking to WikiLeaks? Who had an incentive to defeat Clinton? Whose agents’ safety and lives did she jeopardize when she was extremely careless — as the FBI stated — with many state secrets, including the identity and whereabouts of U.S. intelligence agents and resources?
The answer is obvious: It was the same intelligence community that cannot agree on the meaning of the raw data it has analyzed.
Someone leaked the Democrats’ and the Clinton campaign’s private work, and the government has a duty to find the person or entity that did so, even if it was one of the government’s own. Though the truthful revelation of private facts may have altered some voters’ attitudes, there is no evidence that it altered ballot totals. The law guarantees fair elections, not perfect ones.
Did the Russians hack Hillary Clinton? No. No one did. But some American intelligence agents helped WikiLeaks to expose much dirty laundry.
Foreign governments have launched numerous cyberattacks on the U.S. government and sensitive industrial sites, but Republicans say President Obama has not responded in a forceful way to years of Russian hacking.
A more assertive response might have headed off the type of hacking Russia is accused of launching during the presidential election, they say.
Russia, whose supposed cyberoffensive now is generating a Democratic Party movement that would delegitimize the incoming presidency of Donald Trump, has hacked Pentagon systems. In 2014 it penetrated computer networks at the White House and the State Department. Neither the White House nor the mainstream media reacted with any great alarm.
In one of the most extensive hacks on America, Chinese hackers invaded the massive files of the Office of Personnel Management and stole personnel data and security background checks of millions of federal workers.
In other examples, the Federal Reserve, which sets monetary policy and oversees the banking industry, detected more than 50 cyberbreaches between 2011 and 2015, and some were called espionage, Reuters reported in June, citing federal records. The IRS also has acknowledged that taxpayer files have been stolen by hackers.
Mr. Obama’s record on defeating hackers has come into focus during the transition as he orders a sweeping probe of Russia’s alleged hack on the president’s own Democratic Party.
His White House spokesman has joined Democratic politicians in issuing a blistering attack on Mr. Trump and his aides for ties to Russia, even as it was this administration that early on reached out to the Kremlin and asked for a “reset” in relations. In 2010 then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped Moscow create a “Russian Silicon Valley.” White House press secretary Josh Earnest even seemingly questioned the patriotism of Trump supporters in Congress.
House intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes accused Mr. Obama of not taking Russia’s cyberthreat seriously until now, a month before he leave office, when Democratic Party politics are involved.
“Russia’s cyberattacks are no surprise to the House intelligence committee, which has been closely monitoring Russia’s belligerence for years,” Mr. Nunes said. “As I’ve said many times, the intelligence community has repeatedly failed to anticipate [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s hostile actions.
“Unfortunately, the Obama administration, dedicated to delusions of ‘resetting’ relations with Russia, ignored pleas by numerous intelligence committee members to take more forceful action against the Kremlin’s aggression. It appears, however, that after eight years the administration has suddenly awoken to the threat,” said Mr. Nunes, California Republican.
CIA Director John O. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s former campaign adviser and White House aide, has taken the extraordinary step of having his agency add to the climate of illegitimacy Democrats are trying to wrap around the Republican president-elect.
The Washington Post reported last week that CIA briefers told senators that Mr. Putin had ordered the hacking to help elect Mr. Trump, who sporadically has praised the former KGB officer as a stronger leader than Mr. Obama.
The CIA assessment goes well beyond a statement by James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence. He told the House intelligence committee on Nov. 17 that his agency does not have good intelligence on any link between the Putin regime and WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website that published emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and from John Podesta, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman.
Mr. Clapper assessed Russia’s motives as a desire to “interfere” in elections in the West, as it has done in Europe. He did not say it was designed to get Mr. Trump elected.
Former CIA officer Kent Clizbe charges that Mr. Brennan has politicized the spy agency, and with the hacking brief to Congress, even more so today.
“But all the politicization of the CIA of the previous eight years is nothing compared to Brennan’s current operation — his vile use of the good name of the CIA in an attempt to invalidate our presidential election,” Mr. Clizbe said. “Brennan’s misuse of the CIA in an effort to serve his political masters is unprecedented and unforgivable. These are the actions of totalitarian dictators, using foreign security services to sully political opponents. Someone needs to stop him before it’s too late.”
Mr. Earnest, the White House press secretary, was asked Monday what the administration did to thwart Russia from hacking U.S. sites.
“Our intelligence community, our national security agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, were closely watching Russia’s malicious cyberactivity,” he said. “There was an ongoing investigation. It was being investigated. It was being closely watched in order to protect our democracy.”
Mr. Earnest unleashed a long attack on Mr. Trump, a recitation that might be unprecedented for a White House during what is supposed to be a smooth transition.
“You didn’t need a security clearance to figure out who benefited from malicious Russian cyberactivity,” Mr. Earnest said. “The president-elect didn’t call it into question. He called on Russia to hack his opponent. He called on Russia to hack Secretary Clinton. So he certainly had a pretty good sense of whose side this activity was coming down on. The last several weeks of the election were focused on a discussion of emails that had been hacked and leaked by the Russians. These were emails from the DNC and John Podesta — not from the RNC and Steve Bannon.”
Mr. Bannon, a former Breitbart News executive, is a senior Trump adviser headed to the White House.
Mr. Trump said in July that perhaps Russia could find the 33,000 emails deleted from Mrs. Clinton’s secret server during her tenure at the State Department. A federal judge ruled that her exclusive use of a private server for government business violated federal information laws.
Mr. Earnest also attacked Mr. Trump’s supporters in Congress.
“So what I’ve stated is not an argument but really just a presentation of objective facts about what all of you and the American public knew in advance of the election,” he said. “And, yes, this was all material that was known by Republican politicians in the Congress that endorsed the president-elect. And how they reconcile their political strategy and their patriotism is something they’re going to have to explain.”
One of those supporters is Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican and a former Marine Corps officer who deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.
“How misinformed. I think this statement verifies just how out of touch and clueless this administration truly is to the demands and expectations of the public,” said Joe Kasper, Mr. Hunter’s chief of staff. “There’s a reason why Democrats don’t have the House and the Senate, and have lost seats in various elections. I can tell you that Rep. Hunter was not duped by any stretch, and to question his patriotism means that he’s being questioned both as a lawmaker who loves this country and will fight for its interests and a U.S. Marine who did three tours.”
He added: “If the administration and Democrats are so worried about Russian hacking, they should have done something about it. They didn’t, but stating concerns now sure makes it one heck of an argument of convenience.”
As Mr. Obama began his second term, a number of experts said the U.S. still had not adjusted to the new world of hundreds of hackers attacking America daily.
“We are in a conflict — some would call it war,” Oracle’s security chief Mary Ann Davidson told Congress. “Let’s call it what it is. Given the diversity of potentially hostile entities building cadres of cyberwarriors probing our systems for weakness, infiltrating government networks and making similar attempts against businesses and critical industries, including our defense systems, is there any other conclusion to be reached?”
It was not until February that the White House proposed $3 billion in new funding to upgrade cyberdefenses and appoint a federal czar to oversee network protection.
When Russia hacked the White House two years ago, there did not appear any public threats against Moscow. The news media treated the story as a sign of the times: China, Russia and other adversaries are trying to hack into thousands of computer networks.
What makes the election hacking different, Democrats say, is that a foreign power was interfering in an election by targeting Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman and the DNC. WikiLeaks periodically dumped huge volumes of emails, creating news stories on Clinton aides’ intolerance toward Christians and, sometimes, toward each other.
Mr. Earnest stopped short of saying that the embarrassing disclosures released by WikiLeaks were a main factor in the election’s outcome, noting that analysts have cited a number of issues, such as Mrs. Clinton’s official emails and her strategy in battleground states.
Late today US and British cruise missiles joined with French and other NATO combat aircraft in Operation Odyssey Dawn/Operation Ellamy, a neo-imperialist bombing attack under fake humanitarian cover against the sovereign state of Libya. Acting under UN Security Council resolution 1973, US naval forces in the Mediterranean on Saturday night local time fired 112 cruise missiles at targets which the Pentagon claimed were related to Libya’s air defense system. But Mohammed al-Zawi, the Secretary General of the Libyan Parliament, told a Tripoli press conference that the “barbaric armed attack” and “savage aggression” had hit residential areas and office buildings as well as military targets, filling the hospitals of Tripoli and Misurata with civilian victims. Zawi accused the foreign powers of acting to protect a rebel leadership which contains notorious terrorist elements. The Libyan government repeated its request for the UN to send international observers to report objectively on events in Libya.
The attacking forces are expected to deploy more cruise missiles, Predator drones, and bombers, seeking to destroy the Libyan air defense system as a prelude to the systematic decimation of Libyan ground units. International observers have noted that US intelligence about Libya may be substandard, and that many cruise missiles may indeed have struck non-military targets.
Libya had responded to the UN vote by declaring a cease-fire, but Obama and Cameron brushed that aside. On Saturday, France 24 and al-Jazeera of Qatar, international propaganda networks hyping the attacks, broadcast hysterical reports of Qaddafi’s forces allegedly attacking the rebel stronghold of Bengazi. They showed a picture of a jet fighter being shot down and claimed this proved Qaddafi was defying the UN by keeping up his air strikes. It later turned out that the destroyed plane had belonged to the rebel air force. Such coverage provided justification for the bombing attacks starting a few hours later. The parallels to the Kuwait incubator babies hoax of 1990 were evident. Qaddafi loyalists said Saturday’s fighting was caused by rebel assaults on government lines in the hopes of provoking an air attack, plus local residents defending themselves against the rebels.
At the UN vote, the Indian delegate correctly pointed out that the decision to start the war had been made on the basis of no reliable information whatsoever, since UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon’s envoy to Libya had never reported to the Security Council. The bombing started shortly after a glittering Paris summit “in support of the Libyan people,” where Sarkozy, Cameron, Hillary Clinton, Stephen Harper of Canada and other imperialist politicians had strutted and postured.
Token contingents from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia were supposed to take part in the attack, but were nowhere to be seen, while some Arab states were expected to provide financial support. The minimum estimated cost of maintaining a no-fly zone over Libya for one year is estimated in the neighborhood of $15 billion — enough to fund WIC high-protein meals for impoverished US mothers and infants for two years. http://www.infowars.com/obamas-bay-of…
Webster Tarpley: Obama’s Bay of Pigs in Libya – Imperialist Aggression Shreds UN Charter 2/2
Never in the history of the Central Intelligence Agency has it and its surrogates so blatantly and boldly interfered in a U.S. election. The U.S. media, in a matter of hours, altered course from concentrating on «fake news» about innocent pizzerias being linked to child sexual exploitation to spotlighting «fake intelligence» about Russia’s alleged cyber-espionage operation designed to elect Donald Trump president. The CIA leaked to The Washington Post, the owner of which has a $600 million contract with the CIA to provide cloud computing, findings of a secret report on Russia’s alleged «fixing» of the 2016 U.S. presidential election to favor Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The scandal-plagued Mrs. Clinton was defeated by Trump not because of nefarious cyber-sleuths from Moscow but because she and her campaign forgot how Barack Obama’s and her husband’s free trade deals destroyed the economic lifeblood of America, particularly in the «rust belt» Midwestern states. Rather than talk jobs and the economy, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign concentrated on such trivial matters as trans-gender restrooms and a former Miss Venezuela harping in poor housemaid English about how she was insulted over her weight by Trump.
Mrs. Clinton has been reduced to appearing in public dressed in purple outfits looking like the children’s character «Barney» the dinosaur. Clinton’s «purple haze» is a continuation of George Soros’s election-overturning «Purple Revolution». While Soros-paid protesters commit acts of vandalism across the country, the failed presidential candidate is pathetically complaining about «fake news». But when it comes to the CIA’s «fake intelligence» about Russia and the U.S. election, some of Mrs. Clinton’s ardent supporters are demanding that the results of the November 8th election be rejected and that President Obama remain in office indefinitely until a new election can be sorted out. Of course, none of this is constitutional. And the Clintonistas even have a novel solution for dealing with the certain resulting protests by states that voted for Trump and his supporters: Obama must declare martial law and suspend the U.S. Constitution.
The CIA intelligence on Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential election is so sketchy that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in response to questions from members of Congress who were briefed on the CIA report, testified before the House Intelligence Committee that the CIA’s contentions about Russia were «fuzzy and ambiguous». The FBI did not support the CIA’s findings, claiming that the CIA’s conclusions lacked «facts and tangible evidence». Even the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Devin Nunes of California, told The Washington Post that, as far as he was concerned, the CIA conclusions about Russia lacked «clear evidence», adding, «There’s a lot of innuendo, lots of circumstantial evidence, that’s it».
But the comments of Nunes and the FBI have not prevented the CIA and their puppet-stringed Democrats and media pundits from complaining about a «rigged» election and even the need for an election «do over». There are no constitutional provisions for election remakes in the United States. Obama, who claims to be a constitutional scholar, did not help matters by ordering the intelligence community to undertake a full-scale investigation of Russia’s alleged involvement in the U.S. election. Chomping at the bit to derail Trump’s selection of Exxon’s CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State are the «all-but-married» neocon duo of Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. This political version of «Ken and Barbie» want to turn Tillerson’s Senate confirmation hearing into a Russia-bashing event. McCain, continuing to show classic signs of dementia, declared that Russia waged a form of «warfare» against the United States during the election campaign. This is the same man who thought selecting Alaska’s governor Sarah Palin as his 2008 vice presidential running mate was wise political move.
It is instructive that Obama, by ordering an investigation into foreign interference in the election, helped provide ammunition to the CIA in trying to nullify the election results. Obama’s actions came the same week that Gambia’s dictator president, Yahya Jammeh — after conceding his re-election loss to his opponent — reversed course and nullified the election and Ghana’s President John Mahama, dragged his feet on conceding his election loss to his opponent. Obama, who is a friend of both Jammeh and Mahama, was acting more like a tin-pot African dictator than President of the United States in lending official credence to the election conspiracy story involving Russia.
Trump’s transition team dismissed the CIA’s charges and their flimsy report, stating, these are «the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction». It was CIA director George Tenet that told George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in the aftermath of 9/11 that it was a «a slam dunk case» that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The claim was used as prima facie evidence for the U.S. to justify its invasion and occupation of Iraq. Now, the very same CIA and some of the same discredited CIA officials are trying to convince the American people that Russia somehow «selected» Trump as president of the United States.
During the election campaign, it was not Russia, but the CIA that was trying to influence the American people. In August, after Trump’s nomination for president, former acting CIA director Michael Morrel said, «Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security». Morrel then began the CIA’s campaign to link Trump to Russia by telling CBS News that, «we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation». By «we», Morrel was saying the CIA. Those comments, alone, showed a CIA that was not hesitant to play favorites in the U.S. election. The entire meme that Russia interfered with the presidential election is a false one. The real headlines should read: «CIA interfered in presidential election by supporting Clinton over Trump».
Former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden, the architect of NSA’s unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping program, said that Trump was «factually incorrect” in dismissing the CIA’s report about Russia’s alleged hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails prior to the election. Five days before the election, Hayden penned an op-ed column for the CIA-linked Washington Post, in which he claimed that Trump was a «polezni durak», or «useful fool», for President Vladimir Putin. Such political commentary by intelligence chiefs, active or retired, is unprecedented in modern times.
Former CIA clandestine operative Robert Baer told CNN that he favors an election re-vote, even though there is no constitutional provision for one. Baer said, «It looks like to me, the Russians did interfere in our elections… Having worked in the CIA, if we had been caught interfering in European elections, or Asian elections or anywhere in the world, those countries would call for new elections, and any democracy would». This is where Baer is altering history to suit himself and his Democratic friends. The CIA repeatedly has interfered in elections in Europe and Asia, as well as Latin America, Africa, and Oceania and there were no «do-overs» but plenty of coups engineered by the boys from Langley. Baer continued, «I don’t know how it would work constitutionally, I’m not a lawyer, but I’m deeply disturbed by the fact that the Russians interfered, and I would like to see the evidence… If the evidence is there, I don’t see any other way than to vote again as an American citizen».
It is doubtful that Baer would have made his comments had he not been given some sort of green light from the CIA director, the Saudi-loving John Brennan. Brennan spent so much time as the CIA station chief in Riyadh kissing the robes of the Saudi royals that he lost any conception of what a constitutional federal republic is all about. It was Brennan who prevailed on Obama to fire Trump’s national security adviser-designate, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, as chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn concluded that it was Brennan and Obama who authorized the creation of the Islamic State to help topple the Syrian government.
The CIA has learned nothing from its blatant involvement in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the 1972 set-up of President Richard Nixon in the Watergate break-in and cover-up, the 1980 «October Surprise» that resulted in President Jimmy Carter’s re-election loss, and the 1980s «Iran-contra» scandal that almost forced President Ronald Reagan from office through impeachment and his replacement by the former CIA director, Vice President George H. W. Bush.
The CIA is the actual villain in the 2016 presidential election, just as it has been the villain in every major domestic and foreign scandal involving the United States since 1947. The problem with the CIA is that for the past 70 years it has held sway over almost every facet of America’s political, social, religious, entertainment, and educational life. As described in this author’s newly-released book, «The Almost Classified Guide to CIA Proprietaries, Front Companies & Contractors», the CIA has stamped its insidious imprimatur on every sector of American society, including the media. It is the CIA’s remote-controlled media, with its «fake news» and its pushing of the CIA’s «fake intelligence», that is victimizing the American people. President Trump’s first action as commander-in-chief should be a complete shake-up of the CIA with the goal of doing what President Kennedy vowed to do with the «bastards» who ran the agency: splinter it in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds. The CIA were bastards in the early 1960s and they continue to be bastards today. Trump should fire every one of the bastards on January 20, 2017.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the US against repeating the mistake it made in Libya in Syria, noting that Barack Obama’s confession about Libya being his “greatest mistake” shows the US President is a “decent person.”
“Firstly, it confirms once again that the current US president is a decent man – and I say this without irony, because it’s not easy to say such things,” President Putin said during his annual Q&A session.
He recalled that Barack Obama, while still a senator, had criticized the actions of the US administration on its 2003 Iraq campaign.
“Unfortunately, [Obama] himself made those mistakes in Libya. It is very good that my colleague has the courage to [admit it], not everyone can do it,” Putin said, adding that “only a strong man” can make such bold statements. But Putin stressed “the bad thing is that this series of errors continues. After all, the same mistake was almost made in Syria, and it is still not clear what the outcome will be.”
When asked by Fox News last week what his “worst mistake” as a president had been, the US leader answered: “Probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya.”
Putin’s response to the question about Obama was one of the most unexpected at the Q&A session.
When asked about his thoughts on Obama leaving his post later this year, the Russian president said “we will all leave some day,” adding, “there will come a new president, and we will work with the new one.” He did not, however, say who he prefers to see as US president – Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, saying only that he “prefers someone less exceptional.”
Exclusive: As pressure again builds on President Obama to attack Syria and press a new Cold War with Russia, the extraordinary events of three years ago after a sarin attack near Damascus are worth revisiting, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
By Ray McGovern
Three years ago, when a reluctant President Barack Obama was about to launch an attack on Syria, supposedly in retaliation for President Bashar al-Assad crossing a “red line” against using chemical weapons, Obama smelled a rat – or rather he sensed a mousetrap.
Advised by some of his intelligence advisers that the evidence blaming the Syrian government for the lethal sarin attack was weak, Obama disappointed many of Washington’s neocons and liberal war hawks, including those in his own administration, by deferring action. He tossed the issue to Congress, thus guaranteeing a delay.
Precisely at that key juncture, Russian President Vladimir Putin took the pressure off Obama by persuading the Syrian government to destroy its chemical weapons, which Assad did – while still denying any role in the attack at Ghouta, just outside Damascus, on Aug. 21, 2013.
Washington’s hardliners were left aching for their lost opportunity to attack Syria by citing the Ghouta attack as a casus belli. But the evidence suggested, instead, a well-orchestrated Syrian rebel false-flag operation aimed at fabricating a pretext for direct U.S. intervention in the war on Syria.
With Putin’s assistance in getting Assad to surrender the chemical weapons, Obama was able to extricate himself from the corner that he had rather clumsily painted himself into with his earlier bravado talk about a “red line.”
But Washington’s irate neocons and many of their liberal-interventionist chums felt cheated out of their almost-war. After all, Syria had been on the neocon “regime change” list as long as Iraq and was supposed to follow the 2003 Iraq invasion if that neocon-driven adventure had not turned out so disastrously.
Still, the neocons would make Putin pay for his interference six months later by promoting an anti-Russian putsch in Ukraine, followed by U.S. and European Union sanctions to punish Russia for its “aggression.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.“]
According to Jeffrey Goldberg who conducted a series of interviews with Obama for a lengthy article in The Atlantic, the President boasted about his decision on Aug. 30, 2013, to resist pressure for military action from many of his advisers and instead step outside what he called “the Washington playbook.”
Goldberg described the day as Obama’s “liberation day.” For Secretary of State John Kerry, however, Aug. 30 ended in disappointment after earlier that day he had shaken the rafters at the State Department bellowing for a U.S. attack on Syria.
Goldberg explained that having already caved in under hardline pressure to double down on sending more troops to Afghanistan for a feckless “counterinsurgency” operation in 2009, Obama was not in the mood for “seeking new dragons to slay” merely to preserve his “credibility.”
According to Goldberg, within the White House, Obama would argue that “dropping bombs on someone to prove that you’re willing to drop bombs on someone is just about the worst reason to use force.”
Nevertheless, Washington’s neocons and liberal hawks – along with the Saudis, Israelis and French – argued strenuously that Obama was obliged to “retaliate” for Syria’s alleged violation of the “red line” he had set a year earlier against Syria’s using – or merely moving – chemical weapons.
Goldberg wrote that Kerry told Obama that he was expecting the President to give the final order for a military strike on Syria on Aug. 31 – the day after Kerry’s afternoon cri de guerre and Obama’s evening volte-face.
Obama: Sensing a Trap
It took uncharacteristic grit for Obama to face down his advisers and virtually Washington’s entire foreign policy establishment by calling off the planned attack on Syria at the last minute.
Goldberg wrote that Obama had “come to believe that he was walking into a trap — one laid both by allies and by adversaries, and by conventional expectations of what an American president is supposed to do.”Shortly after Kerry delivered his Aug. 30 philippic at the State Department, in which he blamed the Syrian government no fewer than 35 times for the chemical attack at Ghouta, Obama chose to spend an hour with his Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, on the South Lawn of the White House.
Goldberg noted: “Obama did not choose McDonough randomly: He is the Obama aide most averse to U.S. military intervention, and someone who, in the words of one of his colleagues, ‘thinks in terms of traps.’”
It was an important conversation. In my view, Obama’s willingness to listen and then assert himself can be seen as a dress rehearsal for the kind of leadership that was required to hammer out a deal on the nuclear issue with Iran. The President ended up putting a tighter rein on Kerry and ordered him to avail himself of Moscow’s help in negotiating last year’s landmark deal restraining Iran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon.
In that venue also, Putin and Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov proved helpful, and both Obama and Kerry have expressed appreciation for Russia’s assistance in closing that major deal.
Still, in late September 2013, after the dust had settled regarding the Syrian mousetrap – with the Putin-brokered agreement on track to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons on a U.S. ship specially configured for that purpose – it must have become crystal clear to Obama that he had come within inches of letting himself be tricked into starting yet another unnecessary war.
The first step into that trap had come a year earlier, when he was persuaded to set down a red line against Syria’s using or even moving its chemical weapons.
At the end of an impromptu press conference on Aug. 20, 2012, NBC’s Chuck Todd primed the mousetrap with some cheese by asking what seemed like an expected question that Obama appeared ready to answer. Todd asked a two-part question (one part was about Mitt Romney’s taxes and the other about Syria’s chemical weapons). Obama eventually wound around to the Syrian part of Todd’s question:
“I have, at this point, not ordered military engagement … But the point that you made about chemical and biological weapons is critical. That’s an issue that doesn’t just concern Syria; it concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel. It concerns us. … We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”
It is a safe bet that this answer was pushed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her neocon advisers who had made no secret of their determination to topple Bashar al-Assad, one way or another. The Washington Postaccount of the press conference suggests that White House staffers had been blindsided and were trying to put the best face on it.
Then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told Jeffrey Goldberg, “I didn’t know it [the red line] was coming.” Goldberg added that Vice President Joe Biden had repeatedly warned Obama against drawing a red line on chemical weapons, fearing that it would one day have to be enforced.Ten days before Obama’s impromptu press conference, Clinton met with her Turkish counterpart in Istanbul and emphasized the need to jointly plan ways to assist the rebels fighting to topple Assad – including possibly implementing a no-fly zone. Clinton announced the establishment of a working group in Turkey to respond to the Syrian crisis, according to The Associated Press. The group would increase the Syrian involvement of the intelligence services and militaries of both the U.S. and Turkey.
“We have been closely coordinating over the course of this conflict, but now we need to get into the real details of such operational planning. It needs to be across both of our governments,” Clinton said.
The urgent tone reflected the reality that in early 2012, Syrian government forces were beginning to prevail in key parts of the country. Middle Eastern history and politics Professor Jeremy Salt of Bilkent University, Ankara, noted that the Syrian opposition had little hope of being effective without help from the West.
Professor Salt pointed out that Damascus had mostly been cleared of rebels and Aleppo was on its way to being cleared, with the rebels very much “on the back foot. … that’s why Hillary Clinton is in Istanbul. To ask the basic question, ‘What’s next?’”
Foreign affairs analyst Richard Heydarian put it this way: “What the Clinton administration [sic] is trying to do right now is try to coordinate some sort of military approach with Turkey and possibly also with the help of Israel and Arab countries because they feel the opposition has a chance to retain its stronghold in Aleppo.”
These were signs of the times. Washington’s hawks felt something needed to be done to stanch rebel losses, and Turkey was eager to help – so much so that it appears likely that Turkey played a key role in enabling and coordinating the sarin false-flag attack in Ghouta a year later. [Also, see “A Call for Proof on Syria Sarin Attack.”]
Evidence reported by Seymour Hersh in April 2014 in the London Review of Books implicates Turkish intelligence and extremist Syrian rebels, NOT the “Syrian regime.” Hersh does his customarily thorough job of picking apart the story approved by the Establishment.
A Convenient Sarin Attack
So, sure enough, a sarin gas attack took place in Ghouta on Aug. 21, 2013, a year and a day after Obama set his red line. The Washington establishment and its surrogate media stenographers immediately blamed the attack on Bashar al-Assad – a pantomime villain whom Western media shoehorn into the same category as its other favorite bête noire, Vladimir Putin.
Of course, you would not have learned this history from reading the “mainstream media,” which operated with the same sort of “group think” that is demonstrated before the disastrous invasion of Iraq, but evidence was available at the time and accumulating evidence since then has put the finger on jihadist rebels as the most likely sarin culprits. Intelligence reporting showed that they were getting sarin precursors from Europe via Turkey and making “homemade sarin.”
Though the behind-the-scenes story was ignored by the major U.S. news media, Hersh reported that British intelligence officials promptly acquired a sarin sample from the debris of the Aug. 21 attack, ran it through their laboratory, and determined it NOT to be the kind of sarin in Syrian army stocks.
(Hersh holds the uncommon twin-distinction of being the quintessential investigative, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter during an earlier era of more independent American journalism and now being blacklisted from today’s U.S. “mainstream media” which shuns such independence in favor of government “access” and lucrative careers. This is why he must go to the London Review of Books to get published.)
In late 2013, Hersh reported that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with Al Qaeda had mastered the mechanics of making sarin and should have been an obvious suspect. But U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. (and a top proponent of “humanitarian” wars) Samantha Power told the media the opposite. After all, blaming the sarin attack on Assad was just what Power and the other hawks needed to push Obama into a major retaliatory strike on Syria.
Hersh noted that intelligence analysts became so upset with “the administration cherry-picking intelligence” to “justify” a strike on Assad that the analysts were “throwing their hands in the air and saying, ‘How can we help this guy [Obama] when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?’”
Writing in December 2013, Hersh asked if “we have the whole story of Obama’s willingness to walk away from his ‘red line’ threat to bomb Syria. … It appears possible that at some point he was directly confronted with contradictory information: evidence strong enough to persuade him to cancel his attack plan, and take the criticism sure to come from Republicans.”
We Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) tried to warn Obama shortly after the sarin attack. But we have little reason to believe that our Memoranda to the President are high on his reading list.
More likely, Obama was brought up short when, a few days before Aug. 30, 2013, he was paid a visit by James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence. According to Goldberg’s account, Clapper interrupted the President’s morning intelligence briefing “to make clear that the intelligence on Syria’s use of sarin gas, while robust, was not a ‘slam dunk.’
“He chose the term carefully. Clapper, the chief of an intelligence community traumatized by its failures in the run-up to the Iraq War, was not going to overpromise, in the manner of the onetime CIA director George Tenet, who famously guaranteed George W. Bush a ‘slam dunk’” regarding all those non-existent WMD in Iraq.
Or, who knows? We should allow for the chance that the President was told the truth by someone else in his entourage.
Pay-Back for Putin
For his part, Russian President Putin had the gall to think that Moscow’s help on Syria might bring a more cooperative spirit in Washington and a chance to cultivate healthy bilateral relations based on mutual interest and respect. He even suggested that Washington might consider abandoning the notion that the U.S. is more equal, so to speak, than other nations.
Perhaps a bit deluded in the immediate afterglow of having helped Obama steer away from an unnecessary war in Syria, Putin published a highly unusual op-ed in the New York Times on Sept. 11, 2013. Putin reportedly drafted the final paragraph himself. It is worth citing in full:“My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is ‘what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.’ It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”
So, if you are still wondering why the neocons and their complicit mainstream media have made Putin into the devil incarnate, think about his sin of pulling Obama’s chestnuts out of the fire in September 2013 when war with Syria was so tantalizingly close. The neocons would make Putin pay for that by moving into high gear plans for a coup d’etat in Ukraine six months later (Feb. 22, 2014), as Putin’s attention was focused on the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the fear that it would be disrupted by a terrorist attack.
In more than a half century watching U.S. presidential administrations develop foreign policy, I have not seen a more bizarre sequence of events.
[I provide more detail on the play-by-play during the fall 2013 imbroglio on Syria in a 30-minute video.]
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was a CIA analyst for 27 years and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Story 1: What Bombshell Evidence Does The FBI Have and When Will They Reveal It? Evidence Will Never See The Light of Day — Obama Will Pardon Clinton After The Election — Case Closed — Trump Elected President — Videos
Will Obama pardon Hillary Clinton?
Blame Game Mainstream Media Points Finger At Comey Clinton Scandal Fox friends
BREAKING NEWS! FBI Mutiny Reopens Hillary’s Case
Rep. Gowdy on the impact of the FBI’s new Clinton inquiry
WoW! Bombshell***** FBI Reopens Clinton Email Case!!!!!
Why Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Is Collapsing | True News
3 Scandals: Hillary Clinton, Anthony Weiner and Loretta Lynch | True News
FBI Reopens Hillary Email Investigation, So Obama Can Pardon Her When She Loses
Lou Dobbs Tonight – FBI bribed by Obama / Clinton admin | Fox Business | October 17, 2016
Trump Demands That Obama Not Pardon Hillary! This Video is Explosive! Best 15 min Of Trump To Date!
Donald Trump Warns President Obama Not to ‘Pardon Hillary Clinton and Her Co-Conspirators’
Will Barack Obama PARDON Hillary Clinton?
Why The FBI Are Taking So Long on Clinton
CHECKMATE: Hillary Clinton Needs President Obama’s Pardon After FBI Indictment. Bernie Wins.
Why Obama Won’t Dare Indict Hillary: She Will Unleash DC Secrets
Laptop may contain thousands of messages sent to or from Mrs. Clinton’s private server
By DEVLIN BARRETT
Updated Oct. 30, 2016 7:59 p.m. ET
The surprise disclosure that agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation are taking a new look at Hillary Clinton’s email use lays bare, just days before the election, tensions inside the bureau and the Justice Department over how to investigate the Democratic presidential nominee.
Investigators found 650,000 emails on a laptop that they believe was used by former Rep. Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife Huma Abedin, a close Clinton aide, and underlying metadata suggests thousands of those messages could have been sent to or from the private server that Mrs. Clinton used while she was secretary of state, according to people familiar with the matter.
It will take weeks, at a minimum, to determine whether those messages are work-related from the time Ms. Abedin served with Mrs. Clinton at the State Department; how many are duplicates of emails already reviewed by the FBI; and whether they include either classified information or important new evidence in the Clinton email probe.
Officials had to await a court order to begin reviewing the emails—which they received over the weekend, according to a person familiar with the matter—because they were uncovered in an unrelated probe of Mr. Weiner.
The new investigative effort, disclosed by FBI Director James Comey on Friday, shows a bureau at times in sharp internal disagreement over matters related to the Clintons, and how to handle those matters fairly and carefully in the middle of a national election campaign. Even as the probe of Mrs. Clinton’s email use wound down in July, internal disagreements within the bureau and the Justice Department surrounding the Clintons’ family philanthropy heated up, according to people familiar with the matter.
The latest development began in early October when New York-based FBI officials notified Andrew McCabe, the bureau’s second-in-command, that while investigating Mr. Weiner for possibly sending sexually charged messages to a teenage minor, they had recovered a laptop. Many of the 650,000 emails on the computer, they said, were from the accounts of Ms. Abedin, according to people familiar with the matter.
Those emails stretched back years, these people said, and were on a laptop that hadn’t previously come up in the Clinton email probe. Ms. Abedin said in late August that the couple were separating.
The FBI had searched the computer while looking for child pornography, people familiar with the matter said, but the warrant they used didn’t give them authority to search for matters related to Mrs. Clinton’s email arrangement at the State Department. Mr. Weiner has denied sending explicit or indecent messages to the minor.
In their initial review of the laptop, the metadata showed many messages, apparently in the thousands, that were either sent to or from the private email server at Mrs. Clinton’s home that had been the focus of so much investigative effort for the FBI. Senior FBI officials decided to let the Weiner investigators proceed with a closer examination of the metadata on the computer, and report back to them.
At a meeting early last week of senior Justice Department and FBI officials, a member of the department’s senior national-security staff asked for an update on the Weiner laptop, the people familiar with the matter said. At that point, officials realized that no one had acted to obtain a warrant, these people said.
Those emails stretched back years, these people said, and were on a laptop that hadn’t previously come up in the Clinton email probe. Ms. Abedin said in late August that the couple were separating.
The FBI had searched the computer while looking for child pornography, people familiar with the matter said, but the warrant they used didn’t give them authority to search for matters related to Mrs. Clinton’s email arrangement at the State Department. Mr. Weiner has denied sending explicit or indecent messages to the minor.
In their initial review of the laptop, the metadata showed many messages, apparently in the thousands, that were either sent to or from the private email server at Mrs. Clinton’s home that had been the focus of so much investigative effort for the FBI. Senior FBI officials decided to let the Weiner investigators proceed with a closer examination of the metadata on the computer, and report back to them.
At a meeting early last week of senior Justice Department and FBI officials, a member of the department’s senior national-security staff asked for an update on the Weiner laptop, the people familiar with the matter said. At that point, officials realized that no one had acted to obtain a warrant, these people said.
Presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump addressed the FBI’s new email inquiry on Monday.
Mr. McCabe then instructed the email investigators to talk to the Weiner investigators and see whether the laptop’s contents could be relevant to the Clinton email probe, these people said. After the investigators spoke, the agents agreed it was potentially relevant.
Mr. Comey was given an update, decided to go forward with the case and notified Congress on Friday, with explosive results. Senior Justice Department officials had warned the FBI that telling Congress would violate policies against overt actions that could affect an election, and some within the FBI have been unhappy at Mr. Comey’s repeated public statements on the probe, going back to his press conference on the subject in July.
The back-and-forth reflects how the bureau is probing several matters related, directly or indirectly, to Mrs. Clinton and her inner circle.
New details show that senior law-enforcement officials repeatedly voiced skepticism of the strength of the evidence in a bureau investigation of the Clinton Foundation, sought to condense what was at times a sprawling cross-country effort, and, according to some people familiar with the matter, told agents to limit their pursuit of the case. The probe of the foundation began more than a year ago to determine whether financial crimes or influence peddling occurred related to the charity.
New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin, attended a news conference in New York in 2013. Mr. Weiner had attempted to revive his career with a bid for New York City mayor, but that effort was doomed after a website published lewd photos that he had evidently sent to another woman. PHOTO: ERIC THAYER/REUTERS
Some investigators grew frustrated, viewing FBI leadership as uninterested in probing the charity, these people said. Others involved disagreed sharply, defending FBI bosses and saying Mr. McCabe in particular was caught between an increasingly acrimonious fight for control between the Justice Department and FBI agents pursuing the Clinton Foundation case.
It isn’t unusual for field agents to favor a more aggressive approach than supervisors and prosecutors think is merited. But the internal debates about the Clinton Foundationshow the high stakes when such disagreements occur surrounding someone who is running for president.
The Wall Street Journal reported last weekthat Mr. McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe, received $467,500 in campaign funds in late 2015 from the political-action committee of Virginia Gov.Terry McAuliffe, a longtime ally of the Clintons and, until he was elected governor in November 2013, a Clinton Foundation board member.
Mr. McAuliffe had supported Dr. McCabe in the hopes she and a handful of other Democrats might help win a majority in the state Senate. Dr. McCabe lost her race last November, and Democrats failed to win their majority.
A spokesman for the governor has said that “any insinuation that his support was tied to anything other than his desire to elect candidates who would help pass his agenda is ridiculous.”
Dr. McCabe told the Journal, “Once I decided to run, my husband had no formal role in my campaign other than to be” supportive.
In February of this year, Mr. McCabe ascended from the No. 3 position at the FBI to the deputy director post. When he assumed that role, officials say, he started overseeing the probe into Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server for government work when she was secretary of state.
FBI officials have said Mr. McCabe had no role in the Clinton email probe until he became deputy director, and by then his wife’s campaign was over.
But other Clinton-related investigations were under way within the FBI, and they have been the subject of internal debate for months, according to people familiar with the matter.
Early this year, four FBI field offices—New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Little Rock, Ark.—were collecting information about the Clinton Foundation to see if there was evidence of financial crimes or influence-peddling, according to people familiar with the matter.
Los Angeles agents had picked up information about the Clinton Foundation from an unrelated public-corruption case and had issued some subpoenas for bank records related to the foundation, these people said.
The Washington field office was probing financial relationships involving Mr. McAuliffe before he became a Clinton Foundation board member, these people said. Mr. McAuliffe has denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyer has said the probe is focused on whether he failed to register as an agent of a foreign entity.
Clinton Foundation officials have long denied any wrongdoing, saying it is a well-run charity that has done immense good.
The FBI field office in New York had done the most work on the Clinton Foundation case and received help from the FBI field office in Little Rock, the people familiar with the matter said.
In February, FBI officials made a presentation to the Justice Department, according to these people. By all accounts, the meeting didn’t go well.
Some said that is because the FBI didn’t present compelling evidence to justify more aggressive pursuit of the Clinton Foundation, and that the career anticorruption prosecutors in the room simply believed it wasn’t a very strong case. Others said that from the start, the Justice Department officials were stern, icy and dismissive of the case.
“That was one of the weirdest meetings I’ve ever been to,” one participant told others afterward, according to people familiar with the matter.
Anticorruption prosecutors at the Justice Department told the FBI at the meeting they wouldn’t authorize more aggressive investigative techniques, such as subpoenas, formal witness interviews, or grand-jury activity. But the FBI officials believed they were well within their authority to pursue the leads and methods already under way, these people said.
About a week after Mr. Comey’s July announcement that he was recommending against any prosecution in the Clinton email case, the FBI sought to refocus the Clinton Foundation probe, with Mr. McCabe deciding the FBI’s New York office would take the lead, with assistance from Little Rock.
Director James Comey testified before the House Judiciary Committee in September on a variety of subjects including the investigation into former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server. PHOTO: WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY IMAGES
The Washington field office, FBI officials decided, would focus on a separate matter involving Mr. McAuliffe. Mr. McCabe had decided earlier in the spring that he would continue to recuse himself from that probe, given the governor’s contributions to his wife’s former political campaign.
Within the FBI, the decision was viewed with skepticism by some, who felt the probe would be stronger if the foundation and McAuliffe matters were combined. Others, particularly Justice Department anticorruption prosecutors, felt that both probes were weak, based largely on publicly available information, and had found little that would merit expanded investigative authority.
According to a person familiar with the probes, on Aug. 12, a senior Justice Department official called Mr. McCabe to voice his displeasure at finding that New York FBI agents were still openly pursuing the Clinton Foundation probe during the election season. Mr. McCabe said agents still had the authority to pursue the issue as long as they didn’t use overt methods requiring Justice Department approvals.
The Justice Department official was “very pissed off,” according to one person close to Mr. McCabe, and pressed him to explain why the FBI was still chasing a matter the department considered dormant. Others said the Justice Department was simply trying to make sure FBI agents were following longstanding policy not to make overt investigative moves that could be seen as trying to influence an election. Those rules discourage investigators from making any such moves before a primary or general election, and, at a minimum, checking with anticorruption prosecutors before doing so.
“Are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?” Mr. McCabe asked, according to people familiar with the conversation. After a pause, the official replied, “Of course not,” these people said.
For Mr. McCabe’s defenders, the exchange showed how he was stuck between an FBI office eager to pour more resources into a case and Justice Department prosecutors who didn’t think much of the case, one person said. Those people said that following the call, Mr. McCabe reiterated past instructions to FBI agents that they were to keep pursuing the work within the authority they had.
Others further down the FBI chain of command, however, said agents were given a much starker instruction on the case: “Stand down.” When agents questioned why they weren’t allowed to take more aggressive steps, they said they were told the order had come from the deputy director—Mr. McCabe.
Others familiar with the matter deny Mr. McCabe or any other senior FBI official gave such a stand-down instruction.
For agents who already felt uneasy about FBI leadership’s handling of the Clinton Foundation case, the moment only deepened their concerns, these people said. For those who felt the probe hadn’t yet found significant evidence of criminal conduct, the leadership’s approach was the right response.
In September, agents on the foundation case asked to see the emails contained on nongovernment laptops that had been searched as part of the Clinton email case, but that request was rejected by prosecutors at the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn. Those emails were given to the FBI based on grants of partial immunity and limited-use agreements, meaning agents could only use them for the purpose of investigating possible mishandling of classified information.
Some FBI agents were dissatisfied with that answer, and asked for permission to make a similar request to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. McCabe, these people said, told them no and added that they couldn’t “go prosecutor-shopping.”
Not long after that discussion, FBI agents informed the bureau’s leaders about the Weiner laptop, prompting Mr. Comey’s disclosure to Congress and setting off the furor that promises to consume the final days of a tumultuous campaign.
The FBI director lends credence to Trump’s accusation that the system is rigged.
FBI Director James Comey before the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., Oct. 22.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
By BRET STEPHENS
Updated Oct. 31, 2016 7:49 p.m. ET
There was once an honorable tradition of resignations from government service. Cy Vance stepped down as Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of State after each man lost confidence in the other’s judgment. George Tenet resigned as George W. Bush’s CIA director in the wake of the Iraq WMD intelligence debacle.
Now it behooves James Comey to do the same. The FBI director lost the confidence of millions of Americans last summer by using semantic sophistry and bureaucratic legerdemain to exonerate Hillary Clinton from charges of mishandling classified information. He lost the confidence of millions more last Friday with his blundering letter to Congress announcing that the Clinton email investigation might not be closed after all—details to come, maybe.
In the most divisive political season in memory, Mr. Comey has become the rare object of political consensus, his motives distrusted by Trump and Clinton voters alike, his judgment doubted by congressional Republicans, Democratic Justice Department officials and probably a great many agents in his own bureau. He needs to go.
This isn’t because Mr. Comey is a secret partisan—an “arm of the [Clinton] campaign,” as journalist Mark Halperin suggested in September. In July Mr. Comey, an Obama appointee who also served as deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, testified that he had been a registered Republican “for most of my adult life,” but that he was “not registered any longer.”
Whatever that means. Mr. Comey’s gnomic, ex cathedra distinction between Mrs. Clinton’s “extremely careless” handling of classified information and the “grossly negligent” standard that would have put her in legal jeopardy probably saved her candidacy. Friday’s letter to Congress, raising “there’s-gotta-be-something-there” suspicions, may yet save Mr. Trump’s.
These aren’t partisan acts. They are self-regarding ones. Mr. Comey is a familiar Washington type—the putative saint—whose career is a study in reputation management. He went after investment banker Frank Quattrone. He threatened to resign from the Bush administration over its warrantless wiretap program. He vouchsafed the case against Steven J. Hatfill, the virologist accused of the 2001 anthrax mail attacks, in internal White House deliberations. He appointed his close friend Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the leak of CIA analyst Valerie Plame’s name.
One common thread in these cases is that Mr. Comey was always on the right side of Beltway conventional wisdom. The second is that he was consistently on the wrong side of justice.
Mr. Quattrone was exonerated. Warrantless wiretaps were ruled constitutional by the FISA court. Mr. Hatfill was an innocent man who eventually won a $5.8 million settlement from the Justice Department. Mr. Fitzgerald oversaw a three-year witch hunt that conveniently overlooked Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage’s role in leaking Ms. Plame’s identity. Instead, New York Times reporter Judith Miller went to jail for protecting her sources and Scooter Libby had his career wrecked.
The Journal brought this record to light in a blistering 2013 editorial. “Any potential FBI director deserves scrutiny, since the position has so much power and is susceptible to ruinous misjudgments and abuse,” the editorial warned. “That goes double for Mr. Comey, a nominee who seems to think the job of the federal bureaucracy is to oversee elected officials, not the other way around.”
The Senate ignored our advice. Mr. Comey was confirmed 93-1.
It’s amusing to read liberal pundits suddenly denounce Mr. Comey as a self-serving operator, not the man of honor he was supposed to be when his behavior was more congenial to Democrats.
It’s also amusing to conjecture that Mr. Comey’s hand in sending Friday’s letter to Congress was forced by fear that disgruntled FBI agents would leak the news of the emails. Mr. Comey used just that kind of tactic when he threatened to resign from the Bush administration.
What’s not amusing is that Mr. Comey has lent credence to Donald Trump’s toxic accusation that the system is rigged. In July, the FBI director arrogated to himself the right to decide whether a “reasonable prosecutor” would bring Mrs. Clinton’s case to trial, a decision that belonged to the Justice Department. Now he has flouted Justice Department protocols against using “official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election.” All to protect his position and reputation.
FBI directors are supposed to be above politics, not in them. President Obama has the authority to fire Mr. Comey but will be hard-pressed to do so politically. That goes double if Mrs. Clinton is elected. Who knows what a President Trump would do.
All the more reason for Mr. Comey to do the right thing. He has lost the trust of his political masters, his congressional overseers and the American people. Wanting to spend more time with family is the usual excuse.
WSJ: FBI Agents Allege DOJ Ordered ‘Stand Down’ on Clinton Foundation Investigation
By Guy Benson
Lost in all the shouting and hypocrisy over James Comey and the FBI’s renewed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s national security-compromising email scandal is a true jaw-dropper of a Wall Street Journal scoop regarding deep internal divisions within the Bureau and DOJ. The story begins by focusing on the email probe side of the controversy, then delves into great detail about a raging, under-the-radar battle over multiple FBI field offices examining possible criminal wrongdoing at the Clinton Foundation. The specifics of the report are remarkable, with warring factions offering differing accounts of what has really transpired. One thing that becomes clear from the Journal’s reporting is that some within the FBI believe top brass at their agency and at the Justice Department have repeatedly exerted their influence to hamstring or shut down a serious criminal investigation:
New details show that senior law-enforcement officials repeatedly voiced skepticism of the strength of the evidence in a bureau investigation of the Clinton Foundation, sought to condense what was at times a sprawling cross-country effort, and, according to some people familiar with the matter, told agents to limit their pursuit of the case.The probe of the foundation began more than a year ago to determine whether financial crimes or influence peddling occurred related to the charity.Some investigators grew frustrated, viewing FBI leadership as uninterested in probing the charity, these people said. Others involved disagreed sharply, defending FBI bosses and saying Mr. McCabe in particular was caught between an increasingly acrimonious fight for control between the Justice Department and FBI agents pursuing the Clinton Foundation case…
Early this year, four FBI field offices—New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Little Rock, Ark.—were collecting information about the Clinton Foundation to see if there was evidence of financial crimes or influence-peddling, according to people familiar with the matter…The FBI field office in New York had done the most work on the Clinton Foundation case and received help from the FBI field office in Little Rock, the people familiar with the matter said. In February, FBI officials made a presentation to the Justice Department, according to these people. By all accounts, the meeting didn’t go well. Some said that is because the FBI didn’t present compelling evidence to justify more aggressive pursuit of the Clinton Foundation, and that the career anticorruption prosecutors in the room simply believed it wasn’t a very strong case. Others said that from the start, the Justice Department officials were stern, icy and dismissive of the case.
Let’s pause right there. Remember this August report about an active FBI probe into the Clinton Foundation, which was pooh-poohed as unsubstantiated at the time? Apparently, it had quite a lot of validity to it. Also recall that those rumors began to swirl shortly after an element of the Obama Justice Department was alleged to have rebuffed an FBI request to look into the Clintons’ controversial family charity. Those headlines came and went rather quickly, but it turns out that there was a heavy duty tug-of-war underway beneath the surface. One contingent of agents views their bosses at DOJ as actively trying to deep-six their investigative efforts, which could have further damaged the Clintons. Another contingent believes the evidence wasn’t strong enough to justify a full-scale investigation. Back to the Journal’s piece:
Anticorruption prosecutors at the Justice Department told the FBI at the meeting they wouldn’t authorize more aggressive investigative techniques, such as subpoenas, formal witness interviews, or grand-jury activity. But the FBI officials believed they were well within their authority to pursue the leads and methods already under way, these people said. About a week after Mr. Comey’s July announcement that he was recommending against any prosecution in the Clinton email case, the FBI sought to refocus the Clinton Foundation probe, with Mr. McCabe deciding the FBI’s New York office would take the lead, with assistance from Little Rock…The Washington field office, FBI officials decided, would focus on a separate matter involving Mr. McAuliffe…Within the FBI, the decision was viewed with skepticism by some, who felt the probe would be stronger if the foundation and McAuliffe matters were combined. Others, particularly Justice Department anticorruption prosecutors, felt that both probes were weak.
The decision to keep pursuing the Clinton Foundation did not sit well with at least one high-ranking DOJ boss, who placed an angry phone call to McCabe — whose name may sound vaguely familiar. More on that connection in a moment, but first, this smacks of improper political pressure:
WSJ: DOJ official was “very pissed off” that the FBI was pursuing its Clinton Foundation investigation & applied pressure to kill.
“Are you telling me that I need to shut down a validly predicated investigation?” Mr. McCabe asked, according to people familiar with the conversation. After a pause, the official replied, “Of course not,” these people said. For Mr. McCabe’s defenders, the exchange showed how he was stuck between an FBI office eager to pour more resources into a case and Justice Department prosecutors who didn’t think much of the case, one person said. Those people said that following the call, Mr. McCabe reiterated past instructions to FBI agents that they were to keep pursuing the work within the authority they had. Others further down the FBI chain of command, however, said agents were given a much starker instruction on the case: “Stand down.” When agents questioned why they weren’t allowed to take more aggressive steps, they said they were told the order had come from the deputy director—Mr. McCabe.Others familiar with the matter deny Mr. McCabe or any other senior FBI official gave such a stand-down instruction. For agents who already felt uneasy about FBI leadership’s handling of the Clinton Foundation case, the moment only deepened their concerns, these people said.
It sounds as if McCabe was caught between DOJ higher-ups who wanted the Clinton Foundation probe jettisoned or significantly defanged, and line agents who were angry and suspicious that their work was being undermined by a political agenda. Did agents on the case hallucinate the effective “stand down” order they received? Was the decision to back off wrongly attributed to Mr. McCabe? He is an interesting figure, as it was recently revealed that Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe — a very close Clinton ally, and the subject of yet another FBI probe — funneled $675,000 to the the State Senate campaign of McCabe’s wife, a liberal Democrat. Even if Mr. McCabe did his best to abide by ethical guidelines, his central involvement in all of these politically-charged matters at least looks questionable, given his family’s very recent partisan alliance with Clintonworld. And then there’s this:
In September, agents on the foundation case asked to see the emails contained on nongovernment laptops that had been searched as part of the Clinton email case, but that request was rejected by prosecutors at the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn. Those emails were given to the FBI based on grants of partial immunity and limited-use agreements, meaning agents could only use them for the purpose of investigating possible mishandling of classified information. Some FBI agents were dissatisfied with that answer, and asked for permission to make a similar request to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. McCabe, these people said, told them no and added that they couldn’t “go prosecutor-shopping.”
McCabe apparently denied agents’ September request to seek non-government laptops seized from Clinton aides during the (then dormant) email scandal investigation. Relevant FBI/DOJ-granted immunity deals, described by ex-federal officials as highly irregular, stipulated that the evidence in question could only be used by officials looking into the mishandling of classified data — not other potential crimes related to the Clinton Foundation. Hmmm. Layer all of this new information atop the facts that Attorney General Loretta Lynch improperly huddled with Bill Clinton while the email probe was still active and then broke her word by inserting herself into the case, pressuring Comey not to update Congress on new developments that impact his previous testimony. Asking tough pointed about whether some top officials at DOJ are abusing their roles to protect their partisan allies is justified. I’ll leave you with this bottom-line assessment, amid all the finger-pointing and acrimony:
FBI in Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe
As federal agents prepare to scour roughly 650,000 emails discovered on a laptop for possible links to Hillary Clinton’s private server, the case lays bare tensions within the FBI and Justice…
Correct, on all three counts. But Continetti neglects to add Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin to his list, now that the FBI has reopened the email matter, too.
UPDATE – Here’s Clinton categorically denying that there was any FBI investigation into her family’s ‘slush fund‘ foundation earlier this year. Those reports had “no basis” and were “irresponsible,” she claimed. Wrong again:
Story 1: Trump Won Debate and Will Win Election With Independents and White Voters! — Videos —
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Ann Coulter GOP Will Win by ‘Driving Up the White Vote,’ Not Pandering to Minorities
Gerald Celente Predicts Trump Wins White House
Inside The White Vote: Ethnic Germans And Italians Love Trump, Poll Finds
Pundits often talk about the “white vote,” but it’s more complicated than that. Voters who say they have German or Italian heritage lean most heavily to Trump and the GOP, a poll run for BuzzFeed News reveals.
posted on Oct. 9, 2016, at 9:16 a.m.
Peter Aldhous BuzzFeed News Reporter and Jeremy Singer-Vine BuzzFeed News Data Editor
Yet in all the slicing and dicing of voting intentions by key demographic groups, the “white vote” has largely been considered as a single ethnic block — until now.
A new poll run for BuzzFeed News, which delves into white voters’ self-reported ancestry, reveals surprising diversity in their political outlook. White voters who identify most strongly with their German or Italian heritage strongly support Trump, whereas those who self-identify as Irish, English, or Scottish are more evenly split between Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Between September 22 and October 2 (notably, before the bombshell video of Trump making lewd comments about women), as part of its regular online political poll, the survey firm Morning Consult asked more than 5,000 registered voters to check which of the most common ancestry categories recorded by the Census Bureau applied to them, and also to pick the one ancestry they identified with most.
As in previous polls, voters were starkly divided along broad racial, ethnic, and gender lines.
Black means any voter who identified as African American; Latino means voters who identified as Hispanic; white refers to non-Hispanic whites. The poll included 4,441 white voters, 441 Latino voters, and 460 black voters; there were 2,468 men and 2,897 women. Don’t know/no opinion not shown. Peter Aldhous for BuzzFeed News
But the differences across the most commonly reported white European ancestries were also striking, especially when voters were asked to choose the one heritage they identified with most.
The poll included 429 white voters who identified most strongly with German ancestry, 533 English, 344 Irish, 211 Italian, and 911 American. Margins of error run from +/- 3.25 percentage points for American to +/- 6.75 percentage points for Italian. Peter Aldhous for BuzzFeed News
“The survey suggests that white Americans are not a monolithic group,” Kyle Dropp, Morning Consult’s co-founder and chief research officer, told BuzzFeed News.
Many white Americans simply described their ancestry as “American.” Historically, that has been a label favored by people of Scotch-Irish descent who settled in Appalachia — although it was probably used more widely in our poll.
German is the most common European heritage in the United States, claimed by some 45 million people in 2015, or more than 14% of the U.S. population, according to the Census Bureau. Irish, at more than 10%, and English, at about 7.5%, are the next most common. (These categories overlap because many people identify with more than one ancestry).
Those ancestries also led the way in our poll, although Morning Consult recorded more people who identified as English and American than expected from the Census Bureau numbers. That could reflect differences in sampling, the way in which the ancestry question was asked, or the fact that our poll only included registered voters.
So why do ethnic Germans and Italians like Trump and the GOP?
Italian Americans seem to have been among the first aboard the “Trump train” of disaffected white voters that swept him to victory in the Republican primaries.
“Italian heritage was a significant predictor of Trump support,” Patrick Ruffini, a Republican digital strategist and founder of the media firm Engage in Alexandria, Virginia, told BuzzFeed News.
In the primaries, Trump dominated in the Northeast, Appalachia and the South, performing particularly well among a demographic once called “Reagan Democrats.” In the Northeast, many of these voters were Italian Americans.
In favoring Trump, voters with German ancestry are siding with one of their own: Trump’s grandfather, Friedrich Trump, then a 16-year-old barber, sailed in 1885 from Bremen, Germany, to make a new life in New York.
But that seems unlikely to explain their preference for the Republican candidate.
“I’m pretty sure these voters do not see Trump as a friendly co-ethnic,” James Gimpel, a political scientist at the University of Maryland who has studied the persistent influence of European ancestry on voting habits in New England, told BuzzFeed News.
Indeed, when asked about their preferences in a congressional race with a generic Republican and Democrat, voters who identified as most German were more likely than others to prefer the GOP.
Voters were asked if they would support a Republican or Democrat, if a congressional election were held in their district today. Groups and margins of error as above. Peter Aldhous for BuzzFeed News
White voters generally had negative views of President Barack Obama’s record, but ethnic Germans were the most disapproving.
Voters were asked if they approved or disapproved of the job Barack Obama is doing as President. Groups and margins of error as above. Peter Aldhous for BuzzFeed News
“People’s inherited party preferences are very stable, which is what your poll probably shows,” Gimpel said. He pointed out that concentrations of ethnic Germans in midwestern cities including St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis, and in parts of rural Texas, have long leaned Republican.
Indeed, much of the variation in political views across the country can be explained by looking at the immigrants who settled there, David Shor of Civis Analytics, a data science firm in Chicago and Washington DC, spun out of the 2012 Obama campaign, told BuzzFeed News. Scandinavian immigrants shaped the liberal politics of parts of Minnesota, he said, while Dutch Protestants made parts of Iowa deeply conservative.
The German immigrants who came to the United States in the 1800s were a large and diverse group, including Protestants and Catholics, socialists and conservatives. “For a long time, Germans were seen as a swing demographic,” Shor said.
More recently, they have tended to lean Republican, according to Ruffini.
If ethnic Germans are motivated more by traditional conservative values than specific support for Trump, then the recently publicized tape of the candidate making lewd comments about women may change the picture. (A poll conducted on Saturday for Politico, however, revealed little change in voting intentions among GOP supporters.)
In our poll, ethnic Germans were a little older and more likely to be Protestant than the typical white voter, which could partly explain why they skewed GOP.
Still, Peter Skerry, a political scientist at Boston College who studies race, immigration, and ethnic politics, wondered if the tense racial backdrop to the 2016 election cycle has exaggerated splits among white voters along old ethnic lines.
Ethnic Germans, who were forced to downplay their heritage in two world wars, may be particularly suspicious of more recent immigrants, Skerry speculated: “If immigration is one of the key topics in the campaign, what’s the largest immigrant group in America, and the one that was most suppressed? It’s Germans.”
Donald’s Great Escape: Trump keeps his campaign alive with barnstorming comeback after confronting Hillary with four Clinton ‘sex victims’ – and she FAILS to nail him over sleazy tape scandal
Second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has taken place in St Louis
The two candidates locked horns throughout the bitter debate, which Trump backers said he won
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani described the night as a ‘home run’, for Trump in the spin room
Clinton opened saying she is concerned about ‘some of the things being said and done in this campaign’
Trump said the controversial remarks he made in 2005 that were revealed Friday were ‘locker room talk’
However, moderator Anderson Cooper pulled Trump up on it, saying he ‘bragged’ about assaulting women
Donald Trump also told Hillary Clinton that should would be in jail if he was in charge of the country’s laws
The Republican also accused the moderators of being biased against him, saying it was ‘three on one’
Before the debate, Trump held a press conference with women who have accused Bill Clinton of rape
The women sat in the front row for the debate – just feet from Clinton, the woman they earlier condemned
By DAVID MARTOSKO, U.S. POLITICAL EDITOR FOR DAILYMAIL.COM, IN ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI and
GEOFF EARLE, DEPUTY U.S POLITICAL EDITOR FOR DAILYMAIL.COM IN ST LOUIS, MISSOURI and
LIAM QUINN FOR DAILYMAIL.COM
The debate night that will be discussed for generations in Political Science classes – and Women’s Studies seminars – ended with Republican Donald Trump landing more punches than Democrat Hillary Clinton, and successfully deflecting attention successfully away from a two-day-old crisis about graphic sexual language that threatened to derail his White House bid.
In the first debate at Hofstra University 13 days earlier, Clinton sat back and let Trump hang himself. But on Sunday her quiet patience gave him room to roam and dominate.
Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who has been among Trump’s most forceful defenders, summed up the real estate tycoon’s performance with two words in the post-debate spin room: ‘home run.’
‘I think the momentum is going to switch, like that,’ Giuliani told DailyMail.com, snapping his fingers. ‘It was one of the biggest victories in a presidential debate, ever.’
Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta called Trump ‘desperate’ and called him ‘incoherent’ in policy discussions.
Neither candidate appeared in the hall where reporters waited to grill them. For Clinton, that was par for the course. For Trump, it marked his first such absence in any debate in which he’s participated in 2016 and 2015.
Clinton established herself as a superior bureaucrat Sunday night with more mature knowledge of foreign policy minutiae and a more intelligible way of communicating details about how laws are made.
But Trump won on points in what has become the Year of the Outsider, playing to a national television audience that polls show are weary of Washington’s same-old same-old and eager for new blood.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton shakes hands at the end of the second presidential debate in St Louis, Missouri, on Sunday
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton speak to each other at the end of Sunday’s debate
Republican candidate Donald Trump stands on the debate stage as a clock in front of his shows time has run out for an answer
Republican nominee Donald Trump (left) is pictured speaking during Sunday’s debate, while Hillary Clinton leans on a chair (right)
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton takes notes during the second presidential debate against Donald Trump
Extraordinary moment: Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathy Shelton were seated close to Bill Clinton for the debate and arrived just minutes after publicly accusing him of sexual attacks and his wife of abusing women
The eyes have it: At times Bill Clinton’s face suggested he was not happy with his own alleged crimes and misdemeanors being raised in the debate. He was in the family box with daughter Chelsea and her husband Marc Mezvinsky
He had Clinton playing defense for most of the 90-minute clash, saying she would be ‘in jail’ if he ran the Justice Department – a reference to her classified email scandal – and declaring that she had ‘tremendous hate in her heart’ when she branded ‘half’ his supporters as ‘deplorables.’
He even bested her on her recollection of her own tenure at the helm of the U.S. State Department.
Trump recalled that Clinton was secretary of state when President Barack Obama drew his now-infamous rhetorical ‘red line’ in Syria, ineffectively warning Bashar al-Assad not to use chemical weapons against insurgents and civilians.
Clinton insisted she had retired from the government by the time that happened. Not so: Obama dared Assad to cross his line in August 2012, six months before Clinton’s term ended.
There was no handshake at the top. Only polite nods at each other. The white-hot stares, straight ahead, came 90 minutes after Trump held a photo-op press event featuring four women with sex-assault accusations from the Clintons’ past.
The first question of the debate was expected to focus on lewd remarks revealed Friday in an 11-year-old audiotape of Trump. But it was milder, asking Clinton about the overall tone of the 2016 campaigns.
The temperature at Washington University in St. Louis dropped. No fireworks. No first blood.
For two minutes.
DONALD TRUMP’S FIERY OPENING ON BILL CLINTON’S PAST
Then Trump found himself behind the 8-ball, with co-moderator Anderson Cooper telling him bluntly that he had admitted to ‘sexual assault’ in the audio – referring to a remark saying that powerful men could touch women whenever they wanted. ‘Grab them by the p***y,’ he said as one example.
‘You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women,’ Cooper charged.
Trump insisted, as he did Friday night, that ‘this was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it.’
But then he turned the discussion on the Clintons.
‘If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse,’ trump jabbed. ‘Mine were words, his were actions.’
‘Bill Clinton was abusive to women. Hillary Clinton attacked those women, attacked them viciously.’
Earlier in the night Trump had hosted a press event with Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Kathy Shelton.
Melania Trump is seen walking away from the stage after the conclusion of the second presidential debate on Sunday night
Hillary Clinton campaign vice chair Huma Abedin (R) and Democrat Hillary Clinton (L) at the end of the second Presidential Debate
Donald Trump kisses his daughter Ivanka Trump as his son Donald Trump Jr. watches after the second presidential debate
GOP nominee Donald Trump holds a finger in the air while on stage during the second presidential debate in St Louis
Broaddrick accused former President Clinton of raping her when he was the Arkansas attorney general. She later pointed a finger at Hillary Clinton for intimidating her into silence as her husband launched his 1992 bid for the presidency.
Willey and Jones made similar accusations against this year’s Democratic nominee for the White House.
He also noted that Shelton was sitting in the front row. The Arkansas native was 12 when she was raped by a 41-year-old drifter. Hillary Clinton was her attacker’s lawyer.
‘Her client – she represented – she got him off,’ Trump said, recalling that she was recorded ‘laughing [about the case] on two separate tapes.’
Giuliani later remarked that ‘if you listened to them when they had their own press conference, it wasn’t just that Bill Clinton raped them, assaulted them or took sexual advantage of them.
‘It was that Hillary Clinton attacked them. One of them was a 12-year-old girl. And Hillary Clinton got the rapist acquitted and then laughed about it.’
Trump was on a tear Sunday night, recalling that the former president ‘was impeached, lost his license to practice law’ because he lied to Congress about his affair with a young White House intern named Monica Lewinsky.
‘When Hillary brings up a point like that and she talks about words that I said 11 years ago, I think it’s disgraceful and I think she should be ashamed of herself,’ Trump said.
Trump’s partisans in the audience cheered and applauded.
‘So much of what he said is not right,’ Clinton protested.
‘I’m reminded of what my friend Michelle Obama advised us all: When they go low, you go high.’
Her claque in the auditorium screamed and hollered.
Democratic nominee for president Hillary Clinton on stage during the second debate as Republican candidate Donald Trump frowns
Members of the audience look on on Hillary Clinton speaks to them and answers a question during the second presidential debate
Trump vows to ‘get a special prosecutor’ to probe Clinton emails
Republican nominee Donald Trump makes a gesture with his hand while speaking during Sunday night’s presidential debate
Republican nominee Donald Trump (right) discusses with is daughter Ivanka Trump (second right) his wife Melania Trump (second left) and his daugher in law Lara Yunaska (left)
Former President Bill Clinton (left) speaks to his daughter Chelsea Clinton (center) and her husband Marc Mezvinsky (right)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump glares at Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as she speaks
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton looks on during the second presidential debate at Washington University
Hillary Clinton and Donald Clinton appear on the debate stage as the audience claps during the town hall event on Sunday night
Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, praised the Democrat after the debate and declared Trump the loser.
‘He was on the attack the whole evening. I think he wanted to throw her off her game with the stunt that he pulled at the beginning,’ he told DailyMail.com, referring to how Trump brought up the past sex abuse claims against Bill Clinton. ‘He clearly didn’t do that, and I think that to the extent that that was his goal I think he failed.’
‘Trump is desperate. He’s trying to take this race to a place in the gutter, and we’re not going there,’ Podesta said.
DONALD GETS DEFENSIVE OVER HOT MIC CONTROVERSY
Trump bristled at having to respond to his sexually graphic words from 2005.
He complained that ‘where you have ISIS chopping off heads … when you have wars and horrible, horrible sights happening,’ talking about his lewd banter was a waste of time.
‘Yes, I’m very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it’s locker-room talk, and it’s one of those things. I will knock the hell out of ISIS,’ he said.
Trump insisted: ‘I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do. I said things … but I have tremendous respect for women. And women have respect for me.’
Cooper asked Trump repeatedly if he had ever made unwanted sexual advances on a woman, or touched her without consent.
‘No, I will tell you, I have not,’ he responded.
Former president Bill Clinton waits for the start of the second presidential debate in St Louis, Missouri, on Sunday night
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump listens as Hillary Clinton speaks during Sunday’s second presidential debate
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton take the stage at the start of their presidential town hall debate
Republican Donald Trump (L) and Democrat Hillary Clinton (R) during the second Presidential Debate at Washington University
Focus: Bill Clinton was repeatedly the focus of the debate as Donald Trump raised allegations he was ab abuser of women, while Hillary cited his economic record in office
Ending: Bill Clinton appeared pensive as he left the stage after the end of the debate
HILLARY GOES ON THE ATTACK
Clinton responded more patiently and philosophically.
‘Like everyone else, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking over the last 48 hours about what we heard and what we saw,’ she said.
After saying she had disagreed with previous Republican nominees on substance, ‘Donald Trump is different. I said back in June that he was not fit to serve as president and commander-in-chief.’
‘What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about women, what he thinks about women, what he does to women,’ she charged.
‘And he has said that the video doesn’t represent who he is. But I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is.’
‘He has also targeted immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities, POWs, Muslims, and many others.’
‘This is not who we are.’
Trump shot back: ‘It’s just words, folks. it’s just words. Those words, I’ve been hearing them for many years.’
The first question of the debate was expected to focus on lewd remarks revealed Friday in an 11-year-old audiotape of Trump. But it was milder, asking Clinton about the overall tone of the 2016 campaigns. Clinton responded first
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton stand together prior to the second debate
Donald Trump’s children at the start of the second Presidential Debate at Washington University in St. Louis
Trump’s biggest zinger came when Clinton was asked about a fundraising speech where she said ‘half’ of Trump’s voting base belong in ‘baskets of deplorables,’ and branded the same group as ‘irredeemable’ because of their views.
Trump pushed back, framing himself as a uniting force in the face of divisive rhetoric.
‘We have a divided nation because of people like her. Believe me, she has tremendous hate in her heart.’
The line drew audible gasps in the auditorium.
When she said “deplorables,” she meant it. When she said “irredeemable” – “they were irredeemable,” you didn’t mention that – but when she said they were irredeemable, to me that might have been even worse.’
‘She has tremendous hatred. This country cannot take another four years of Barack Obama and that’s what you are getting with her,’ Trump said.
TV monitors in the press room show Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton on stage at the second presidential debate
Ivanka Trump at the start of the second Presidential Debate on Sunday night at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump smiles at Hillary Clinton as the two walked onto the stage at the start of the debate
TRUMP TALKS TOUGH ON HILLARY’S EMAILS
The two candidates got into another angry exchange after the moderators raised the issue of Clinton’s classified email scandal.
The Democrat delivered a stock response, saying, ‘That was a mistake and I take responsibility for using a personal email account … I’m not making any excuses. It was a mistake and I’m very sorry about that.’
Clinton pledged that she was ‘very committed’ to taking classified information seriously.
Trump countered: ‘And yet she didn’t know the letter “C” on a document,’ referring to Clinton’s statement to the FBI that she didn’t recognize that marking for classified information.
‘She didn’t even know what that letter meant,’ Trump fumed.
‘And she’s lying again … do you think it was fine to delete 33,000 emails?’ Trump asked rhetorically. ‘I don’t think so.’
‘For you to say that there was nothing wrong with you deleting 39,000 [sic] emails again, you should be ashamed of yourself, what you did,’ Trump said, adding that Clinton should be ‘put in jail.’
‘It’s just not true,’ Clinton tried to respond, saying, ‘Well we turned over 35,000 emails’ to the State Department, but Trump cut her off.
‘Please allow her to talk,’ moderator Anderson Cooper jumped in, scolding Trump that Clinton allowed him to speak.
‘That’s true I didn’t,’ Clinton agreed.
‘Because you have nothing to say,’ Trump shot back.
Clinton replied: ‘Its just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law of our country.’
‘Because you’d be in jail,’ he snapped.
‘Okay Donald, I know you’re into big diversion,’ Clinton said, shifting gears. ‘Anything to avoid talking about your campaign and the way it’s exploding and the way Republicans are leaving you.’
Donald Trump stands and points his finger at Hillary Clinton as he speaks during the second presidential debate on Sunday
Republican nominee Donald Trump interrupts Hillary Clinton as she answers a question during the second presidential debate
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton greets Melania Trump before the start of the second U.S. presidential debate
THE DONALD, OUTNUMBERED?
Amid deafening silence after the email remark, the moderators tried to go to an audience question, but Trump complained about the quick shift – complaining it was ‘one on three’ – him against Clinton, Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz.
When Trump tried to take a question when it apparently was Clinton’s turn, the former secretary of state was diplomatic: ‘He wants to start, he can start.’
‘No, I’m a gentleman, Hillary, that’s okay,’ Trump said, drawing laughter in the press filing room where hundreds of reporters passed judgment.
Forty people, selected by Gallup after submitting questions, were on hand to query the candidates along with the two TV news personalities.
A general view shows the press center for the second presidential debate between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton
(L-R) Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, Donald Trump, Kathy Shelton and Paula Jones held a photo-op in St. Louis, Missouri on Sunday before the second presidential debate
Story 2: Trump Apology For Boys Being Bad Bus Boys Video — Big Lie Media Feeding Frenzy — Videos –
Donald Trump posts apology video after October 7 release of his lewd comments about women
Trump recorded lewd conversation about women Donald Trump & Billy Bush’s Conversation About Women
Trump Issues Statement About Vulgar Comments Caught on Hot Mic in 2005
JUSTICE w / Judge Jeanine Pirro 10/8/16 Donald Trump Recording
Will Tape of Trump’s Lewd Remarks About Women Cost Him the Race? (With All Due Respect – 10/07/16)
Can You Trust The Press?
Part 1 – Anti-Trump attack ads by Hillary Clinton aired in September 2016
Part 2 – Anti-Trump attack ads by Hillary Clinton aired in September 2016
300: Making America Great Again [Donald Trump Parody]
TRUMP, BEFORE DEBATE, APPEARS WITH BILL CLINTON’S ACCUSERS
BY JONATHAN LEMIRE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Donald Trump, on the defensive since a video came out depicting him using vulgar language about women and seeming to condone sexual assault, held a pre-debate appearance Sunday with women who accused Bill Clinton of rape and unwanted sexual advances.
Trump has telegraphed for days that he was going to make the accusations against the former president a part of his White House campaign. It was a strategy he raised in his taped apology, posted hours after Friday’s leak of the video from 2005 that has rocked his campaign and caused dozens of Republican lawmakers to abandon their support of his candidacy.
Trump refused to take questions when he appeared with Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey at the St. Louis hotel where he was preparing for the debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton. The meeting was posted on his Facebook page. The four women also were invited by Trump to watch the debate inside the debate hall.
“Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me,” Broaddrick said. “I don’t think there’s any comparison.”
Broaddrick, a former Arkansas nursing home administrator, first claimed 17 years ago that Bill Clinton raped her during a meeting in Little Rock in 1978. She sued Bill Clinton in 1999; the case was dismissed in 2001. A Twitter account that claimed to be that of Broaddrick revived the allegations on Saturday and was retweeted by Trump. Bill Clinton has long denied her account.
Jones, a former Arkansas state worker, alleged in 1991 that Bill Clinton propositioned and exposed himself to her. In 1994, she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. Bill Clinton’s lawyers tried to have the suit dismissed. In November 1998, he paid Jones $850,000 to settle the case without apologizing or acknowledging culpability.
“I think they should all look at the fact that (Trump) is a good person,” Jones said. “He’s not what other people have been saying he’s been, like Hillary. He’s going to make America great again.”
Willey, a former White House volunteer, is using a website to again accuse Bill Clinton of forcing himself on her in 1993. He denied her charge and an independent prosecutor later concluded there was no evidence to doubt that denial.
Kathy Shelton, a fourth woman who appeared with Trump at the hotel conference room, was an Arkansas sexual assault victim whose assailant was defended by Hillary Clinton.
In 1975, at age 12, Shelton was sexually assaulted in northwest Arkansas. Clinton was asked by a judge overseeing the case to represent Shelton’s alleged attacker. After the prosecution lost key evidence, Clinton’s client entered a plea to a lesser charge. In an interview a decade later, Clinton expressed horror at the crime, but was recorded on tape laughing about procedural details of the case. The audio has been seized on by conservative groups looking to attack Clinton’s presidential candidacy.
On Friday, The Washington Post and NBC released a video of Trump, unaware he was on a hot microphone, suggesting that he forced himself on women to “grab them by the p—-” and that “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
The comments have prompted a number of prominent Republicans to un-endorse the celebrity businessman.
Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005
By David A. Fahrenthold
October 8 at 12:44 AM
Donald Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation caught on a hot microphone, saying that “when you’re a star, they let you do it,” according to a video obtained by The Washington Post.
The video captures Trump talking with Billy Bush, then of “Access Hollywood,” on a bus with the show’s name written across the side. They were arriving on the set of “Days of Our Lives” to tape a segment about Trump’s cameo on the soap opera.
Late Friday night, following sharp criticism by Republican leaders, Trump issued a short video statement saying, “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.” But he also called the revelation “a distraction from the issues we are facing today.” He said that his “foolish” words are much different than the words and actions of Bill Clinton, whom he accused of abusing women, and Hillary Clinton, whom he accused of having “bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.”
“I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am,” Trump said.
In an apparent response to Republican critics asking him to drop out of the race, he said: “We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released a video statement saying comments from a 2005 video in which he bragged about groping women emerged “don’t reflect” who he is. (Donald J. Trump)
The tape includes audio of Bush and Trump talking inside the bus, as well as audio and video once they emerge from it to begin shooting the segment.
In that audio, Trump discusses a failed attempt to seduce a woman, whose full name is not given in the video.
“I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it,” Trump is heard saying. It was unclear when the events he was describing took place. The tape was recorded several months after he married his third wife, Melania.
“Whoa,” another voice said.
“I did try and f— her. She was married,” Trump says.
Trump continues: “And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’”
“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married,” Trump says. “Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”
At that point in the audio, Trump and Bush appear to notice Arianne Zucker, the actress who is waiting to escort them into the soap-opera set.
“Your girl’s hot as s—, in the purple,” says Bush, who’s now a co-host of NBC’s “Today” show.
“Whoa!” Trump says. “Whoa!”
“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”
“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.
“Grab them by the p—y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
A spokeswoman for NBC Universal, which produces and distributes “Access Hollywood,” declined to comment.
“This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close,” Trump said in a statement. “I apologize if anyone was offended.”
Billy Bush, in a statement released by NBC Universal, said: “Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago — I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”
After the video appeared online Friday afternoon, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wrote on Twitter: “This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president.” Her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.), told reporters, “It makes me sick to my stomach,” while campaigning in Las Vegas.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which has endorsed Clinton, issued a statement from Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens saying: “What Trump described in these tapes amounts to sexual assault.”
Trump was also criticized by members of his own party. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who said he is “sickened” by Trump’s comments, said the Republican presidential candidate will no longer appear with him at a campaign event in Wisconsin on Saturday.
“Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests,” Ryan said in a statement.
In a short statement issued moments after Ryan’s, Trump said his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, “will be representing me” at the Wisconsin event.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), who is running for reelection and has said she will vote for Trump, called his comments “totally inappropriate and offensive.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who has stood by Trump uncritically through numerous controversies, said in a statement: “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever.”
Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Trump critic, said in a statement: “Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America’s face to the world.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the comments are “repugnant, and unacceptable in any circumstance” and made clear Trump’s brief statement would not suffice.
“As the father of three daughters, I strongly believe that Trump needs to apologize directly to women and girls everywhere, and take full responsibility for the utter lack of respect for women shown in his comments on that tape,” he said late Friday.
One of Trump’s most prominent social-conservative supporters, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, told BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray: “My personal support for Donald Trump has never been based upon shared values.”
Trump’s running mate, Pence, was at a diner in Toledo when the news broke — about to view the diner’s collection of signed cardboard hot-dog buns, which includes one signed by Trump. But the reporters traveling with Pence were quickly ushered out of the diner by campaign staff, before they could ask Trump’s running mate about it, according to Politico. Politico reported that the journalists, traveling in Pence’s “protective pool,” were not permitted to film Pence as he left the diner.
The tape appears at a time when Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has sought to make a campaign issue out of his opponent’s marriage. Trump has criticized former president Bill Clinton for his past infidelity and criticized opponent Hillary Clinton as her husband’s “enabler.”
“Hillary Clinton was married to the single greatest abuser of women in the history of politics,” Trump told the New York Times in a recent interview. “Hillary was an enabler, and she attacked the women who Bill Clinton mistreated afterward. I think it’s a serious problem for them, and it’s something that I’m considering talking about more in the near future.”
Trump carried on a very public affair with Marla Maples — his eventual second wife — while still married to first wife Ivana Trump.
Trump has been criticized in this campaign for derogatory and lewd comments about women, including some made on TV and live radio. In an interview Wednesday with KSNV, a Las Vegas television station, Trump said that those comments were made for entertainment.
“A lot of that was done for the purpose of entertainment. There’s nobody that has more respect for women than I do,” he told the station.
“Are you trying to tone it down now?” asked the interviewer, Jim Snyder.
“It’s not a question of trying, it’s very easy,” Trump said.
The tape obtained by The Post seems to have captured Trump in a private moment, with no audience beyond Bush and a few others on the bus. It appears to have been shot around Sept. 16, 2005, which was the day media reports said Trump would tape his soap-opera cameo.
The video shows the bus carrying Trump and Bush turning down a street on the studio back lot. The two men cannot be seen.
“Oh, nice legs, huh?” Trump says.
“Oof, get out of the way, honey,” Bush says, apparently referencing somebody else blocking the view of Zucker.
The two men then exit the bus and greet Zucker.
“We’re ready, let’s go,” Trump says, after the initial greetings. “Make me a soap star.”
“How about a little hug for the Donald?” Bush says. “He just got off the bus.”
“Would you like a little hug, darling?” Zucker says.
“Absolutely,” Trump says. As they embrace, and air-kiss, Trump says, “Melania said this was okay.”
The video then follows Trump, Bush and Zucker into the studio. Trump did appear on “Days of Our Lives” in late October. In a tape of that cameo posted online, Zucker’s character asks Trump — playing himself — for a job at his business, and tells him suggestively, “I think you’ll find I’m a very willing employee. Working under you, I think, could be mutually beneficial.”
Trump’s character gives her the brushoff.
“That’s an interesting proposition,” Trump says on-screen. “I’ll get back to you.”
A publicist for Zucker did not immediately respond to questions on Friday afternoon.
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