Story 1: District Court Judge in 9th Circuit Commits Judicial Fraud Makes Up A Violation of Law — Trump Executive Order Requires Existing Federal Laws Passed By Congress Be Enforced — Videos —
Sanctuary Cities, Fed Money, and 9th Circuit Judge Block!
CA Fed Judge: Pres Trump Can’t Punish Sanctuary Cities By Withholding Funds – Tucker Carlson
Judge Blocks Attempts To Withhold Funding For Sanctuary Cities
9th Circuit Court “Going Bananas”
A federal judge suspends Trump’s unenforced ban on funding for sanctuary cities. A showboating federal judge in San Francisco has issued an injunction against President Trump’s executive order cutting off federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities. The ruling distorts the E.O. beyond recognition, accusing the president of usurping legislative authority despite the order’s express adherence to “existing law.” Moreover, undeterred by the inconvenience that the order has not been enforced, the activist court — better to say, the fantasist court — dreams up harms that might befall San Francisco and Santa Clara, the sanctuary jurisdictions behind the suit, if it were enforced. The court thus flouts the standing doctrine, which limits judicial authority to actual controversies involving concrete, non-speculative harms.
Although he vents for 49 pages, Judge William H. Orrick III gives away the game early, on page 4. There, the Obama appointee explains that his ruling is about . . . nothing. That is, Orrick acknowledges that he is adopting the construction of the E.O. urged by the Trump Justice Department, which maintains that the order does nothing more than call for the enforcement of
That is, Orrick acknowledges that he is adopting the construction of the E.O. urged by the Trump Justice Department, which maintains that the order does nothing more than call for the enforcement of already existing law. Although that construction is completely consistent with the E.O. as written, Judge Orrick implausibly describes it as “implausible.”
Since Orrick ultimately agrees with the Trump Justice Department, and since no enforcement action has been taken based on the E.O., why not just dismiss the case? Why the judicial theatrics?
There appear to be two reasons.
The first is Orrick’s patent desire to embarrass the White House, which rolled out the E.O. with great fanfare. The court wants it understood that Trump is a pretender: For all the hullaballoo, the E.O. effectively did nothing. Indeed, Orrick rationalizes his repeated misreadings of what the order actually says by feigning disbelief that what it says could possibly be what it means. Were that the case, he suggests, there would have been no reason to issue the order in the first place.
Thus, taking a page from the activist left-wing judges who invalidated Trump’s “travel ban” orders, Orrick harps on stump speeches by Trump and other administration officials. One wonders how well Barack “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” Obama would have fared under the judiciary’s new Trump Doctrine: The extravagant political rhetoric by which the incumbent president customarily sells his policies relieves a court of the obligation to grapple with the inevitably more modest legal text of the directives that follow.
Of course, the peer branches of government are supposed to presume each other’s good faith in the absence of a patent violation of the law. But let’s put aside the unseemliness of Orrick’s barely concealed contempt for a moment, because he is also wrong. The proper purpose of an executive order is to direct the operations of the executive branch within the proper bounds of the law. There is, therefore, nothing untoward about an E.O. that directs the president’s subordinates to take enforcement action within the confines of congressional statutes.
In fact, it is welcome.
It is the president’s burden to set federal law-enforcement priorities. After years of Obama’s lax enforcement of immigration law and apathy regarding sanctuary jurisdictions, an E.O. openly manifesting an intent to execute the laws vigorously can have a salutary effect. And indeed, indications are that the cumulative effect of Trump’s more zealous approach to enforcement, of which the sanctuary-city E.O. is just one component, has been a significant reduction in the number of aliens seeking to enter the U.S. illegally.
In any event, eight years of Obama’s phone and pen have made it easy to forget that the president is not supposed to make law, and thus that we should celebrate, not condemn, an E.O. that does not break new legal ground. Orrick, by contrast, proceeds from the flawed premise that if a president is issuing an E.O., it simply must be his purpose to usurp congressional authority. Then he censures Trump for a purported usurpation that is nothing more than a figment of his own very active imagination.
Orrick’s second reason for issuing his Ruling About Nothing is to rationalize what is essentially an advisory opinion. It holds — I know you’ll be shocked to hear this — that if Trump ever did try to cut off funds from sanctuary cities, it would be an epic violation of the Constitution. Given that courts are supposed to refrain from issuing advisory opinions, the Constitution is actually more aggrieved by Orrick than by Trump. * * *
In a nutshell, the court claims that the E.O. is presidential legislation, an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers. Orrick insists that the E.O. directs the attorney general and the secretary of homeland security to cut off any federal funds that would otherwise go to states and municipalities if they “willfully refuse to comply” with a federal law (Section 1373 of Title 8) that calls for state and local cooperation in enforcing immigration law.
According to Judge Orrick, Trump’s E.O. is heedless of whether Congress has approved any terminations of state funding from federal programs it has enacted. In one of the opinion’s most disingenuous passages, Orrick asserts that the E.O. “directs the Attorney General and the [Homeland Security] Secretary to ensure that ‘sanctuary jurisdictions’ are ‘not eligible to receive’ federal grants.” (Emphasis in original.)
But this is just not true; Orrick has omitted key context from the relevant passage, which actually states that “the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants.” (Emphasis added.) In plain English, the president has expressly restricted his subordinates to the limits that Congress has enacted. Under Trump’s order, there can be no suspension or denial of funding from a federal program unless congressional statutes authorize it. The president is not engaged in an Obama-
Of course, the peer branches of government are supposed to presume each other’s good faith in the absence of a patent violation of the law. But let’s put aside the unseemliness of Orrick’s barely concealed contempt for a moment, because he is also wrong. The proper purpose of an executive order is to direct the operations of the executive branch within the proper bounds of the law. There is, therefore, nothing untoward about an E.O. that directs the president’s subordinates to take enforcement action within the confines of congressional statutes. In fact, it is welcome.
It is the president’s burden to set federal law-enforcement priorities. After years of Obama’s lax enforcement of immigration law and apathy regarding sanctuary jurisdictions, an E.O. openly manifesting an intent to execute the laws vigorously can have a salutary effect. And indeed, indications are that the cumulative effect of Trump’s more zealous approach to enforcement, of which the sanctuary-city E.O. is just one component, has been a significant reduction in the number of aliens seeking to enter the U.S. illegally. In any event, eight years of Obama’s phone and pen have made it easy to forget that the president is not supposed to make law, and thus that we should celebrate, not condemn, an E.O. that does not break new legal ground. Orrick, by contrast, proceeds from the flawed premise that if a president is issuing an E.O., it simply must be his purpose to usurp congressional authority. Then he censures Trump for a purported usurpation that is nothing more than a figment of his own very active imagination.
Orrick’s second reason for issuing his Ruling About Nothing is to rationalize what is essentially an advisory opinion. It holds — I know you’ll be shocked to hear this — that if Trump ever did try to cut off funds from sanctuary cities, it would be an epic violation of the Constitution. Given that courts are supposed to refrain from issuing advisory opinions, the Constitution is actually more aggrieved by Orrick than by Trump. * * *
In a nutshell, the court claims that the E.O. is presidential legislation, an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers. Orrick insists that the E.O. directs the attorney general and the secretary of homeland security to cut off any federal funds that would otherwise go to states and municipalities if they “willfully refuse to comply” with a federal law (Section 1373 of Title 8) that calls for state and local cooperation in enforcing immigration law. According to Judge Orrick, Trump’s E.O. is heedless of whether Congress has approved any terminations of state funding from federal programs it has enacted. In one of the opinion’s most disingenuous passages, Orrick asserts that the E.O. “directs the Attorney General and the [Homeland Security] Secretary to ensure that ‘sanctuary jurisdictions’ are ‘not eligible to receive’ federal grants.” (Emphasis in original.)
But this is just not true; Orrick has omitted key context from the relevant passage, which actually states that “the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants.” (Emphasis added.)
In plain English, the president has expressly restricted his subordinates to the limits that Congress has enacted. Under Trump’s order, there can be no suspension or denial of funding from a federal program unless congressional statutes authorize it. The president is not engaged in an Obama-esque rewrite of federal law; he explicitly ordered his subordinates to follow federal law.
It is not enough to say Orrick mulishly ignores the clear text of the executive order. Again and again, Justice Department lawyers emphasized to the court that Trump’s order explicitly reaffirmed existing law. Orrick refused to listen because, well, what fun would that be? If the president is simply directing that the law be followed, there is no basis for a progressive judge to accuse him of violating the law.
Were he to concede that, how would Orrick then win this month’s Social Justice Warrior in a Robe Award for Telling Donald Trump What For? Orrick can’t confine himself to merely inventing a violation, either, because there is no basis for a lawsuit unless a violation results in real damages. So, the judge also has to fabricate some harm. This takes some doing since, in addition to merely directing that the law be enforced, the Trump administration has not actually taken any action against any sanctuary jurisdiction to this point.
No problem: Orrick theorizes that because San Francisco and Santa Clara receive lots of government funding, Trump’s order afflicts them with “pre-enforcement” anxiety. They quake in fear that their safety-net and services budgets will be slashed. Sanctuary cities? Maybe we should call them snowflake cities. As noted above, there is a transparent agenda behind Orrick’s sleight of hand. The judge is keen to warn the president that, if ever his administration were to deny funds to sanctuary cities, it would violate the Constitution. It is in connection with this advisory opinion that the judge makes the only point worthy of consideration — albeit not in the case before him. Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling.
Sanctuary cities? Maybe we should call them snowflake cities.
As noted above, there is a transparent agenda behind Orrick’s sleight of hand. The judge is keen to warn the president that, if ever his administration were to deny funds to sanctuary cities, it would violate the Constitution. It is in connection with this advisory opinion that the judge makes the only point worthy of consideration — albeit not in the case before him. Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling.
Sanctuary cities? Maybe we should call them snowflake cities. As noted above, there is a transparent agenda behind Orrick’s sleight of hand. The judge is keen to warn the president that, if ever his administration were to deny funds to sanctuary cities, it would violate the Constitution. It is in connection with this advisory opinion that the judge makes the only point worthy of consideration — albeit not in the case before him. Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling.
As noted above, there is a transparent agenda behind Orrick’s sleight of hand. The judge is keen to warn the president that, if ever his administration were to deny funds to sanctuary cities, it would violate the Constitution. It is in connection with this advisory opinion that the judge makes the only point worthy of consideration — albeit not in the case before him. Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling.
While conservatives inveighed against Chief Justice Roberts’s upholding of the individual mandate, the decision had a silver lining: The majority invalidated Obamacare’s Medicaid mandate, which required the states, as a condition of qualifying for federal Medicaid funding, to enforce the federal government’s generous new Medicaid qualifications. In our system, the states are sovereign — the federal government may not dictate to them in areas of traditional state regulation, nor may it conscript them to enforce federal law. The Supremes therefore explained that state agreements to accept federal funding in return for adopting federal standards (e.g., to accept highway funding in exchange for adopting the federally prescribed 55-mph speed limit) are like contracts. The state must agree to the federal government’s terms. Once such an agreement is reached, the feds may not unilaterally make material changes in the terms, nor may they use their superior bargaining position to extort a state into acceding to onerous new terms in order to get the federal money on which it has come to depend. Whether a particular case involves such an extortion, as opposed to a permissible nudge, depends on the facts. If the feds are too heavy-handed, they run the risk of violating the Tenth Amendment’s federalist division of powers.
Who knew federal judges in ur-statist San Francisco had become such federalists? Orrick contends that if Trump were to cut off funds from sanctuary cities for failure to assist federal immigration-enforcement officials, it would offend the Tenth Amendment. This is highly unlikely. First, let’s remember — though Orrick studiously forgets — that Trump’s order endorses only such stripping of funds as Congress has already approved. Thus, sanctuary jurisdictions would be ill-suited to claim that they’d been sandbagged.
Second, the money likely to be at issue would surely be nothing close to Medicaid funding. Finally, Trump would not be unilaterally rewriting an existing federal–state contract; he’d be calling for the states to follow federal laws that (a) were on the books when the states started taking federal money and (b) pertain to immigration, a legal realm in which the courts have held the federal government is supreme and the states subordinate. Still, all that said, whether any Trump-administration effort to cut off funding would run afoul of the Tenth Amendment would depend on such considerations as how much funding was actually cut; whether Congress had authorized the cut in designing the funding program; whether the funding was tightly related or unrelated to immigration enforcement; and how big a burden it would be for states to comply with federal demands. Those matters will be impossible to evaluate unless and until the administration actually directs a slashing of funds to a sanctuary jurisdiction. If that happens, there will almost certainly be no legal infirmity as long as Trump’s E.O. means what it says — namely, that any funding cuts must be consistent with existing federal law. But it hasn’t happened. And as long as it hasn’t happened, there is no basis for a court to involve itself, much less issue an anticipatory ruling. Such niceties matter only if you’re practicing law, though. Judge Orrick is practicing politics.
Thus, taking a page from the activist left-wing judges who invalidated Trump’s “travel ban” orders, Orrick harps on stump speeches by Trump and other administration officials. One wonders how well Barack “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” Obama would have fared under the judiciary’s new Trump Doctrine: The extravagant political rhetoric by which the incumbent president customarily sells his policies relieves a court of the obligation to grapple with the inevitably more modest legal text of the directives that follow.
Here, it is useful to recall the Supreme Court’s first Obamacare ruling. While conservatives inveighed against Chief Justice Roberts’s upholding of the individual mandate, the decision had a silver lining: The majority invalidated Obamacare’s Medicaid mandate, which required the states, as a condition of qualifying for federal Medicaid funding, to enforce the federal government’s generous new Medicaid qualifications.
In our system, the states are sovereign — the federal government may not dictate to them in areas of traditional state regulation, nor may it conscript them to enforce federal law. The Supremes therefore explained that state agreements to accept federal funding in return for adopting federal standards (e.g., to accept highway funding in exchange for adopting the federally prescribed 55-mph speed limit) are like contracts. The state must agree to the federal government’s terms. Once such an agreement is reached, the feds may not unilaterally make material changes in the terms, nor may they use their superior bargaining position to extort a state into acceding to onerous new terms in order to get the federal money on which it has come to depend. Whether a particular case involves such an extortion, as opposed to a permissible nudge, depends on the facts. If the feds are too heavy-handed, they run the risk of violating the Tenth Amendment’s federalist division of powers.
Who knew federal judges in ur-statist San Francisco had become such federalists?
Orrick contends that if Trump were to cut off funds from sanctuary cities for failure to assist federal immigration-enforcement officials, it would offend the Tenth Amendment. This is highly unlikely. First, let’s remember — though Orrick studiously forgets — that Trump’s order endorses only such stripping of funds as Congress has already approved. Thus, sanctuary jurisdictions would be ill-suited to claim that they’d been sandbagged. Second, the money likely to be at issue would surely be nothing close to Medicaid funding. Finally, Trump would not be unilaterally rewriting an existing federal–state contract; he’d be calling for the states to follow federal laws that (a) were on the books when the states started taking federal money and (b) pertain to immigration, a legal realm in which the courts have held the federal government is supreme and the states subordinate.
Still, all that said, whether any Trump-administration effort to cut off funding would run afoul of the Tenth Amendment would depend on such considerations as how much funding was actually cut; whether Congress had authorized the cut in designing the funding program; whether the funding was tightly related or unrelated to immigration enforcement; and how big a burden it would be for states to comply with federal demands. Those matters will be impossible to evaluate unless and until the administration actually directs a slashing of funds to a sanctuary jurisdiction.
If that happens, there will almost certainly be no legal infirmity as long as Trump’s E.O. means what it says — namely, that any funding cuts must be consistent with existing federal law. But it hasn’t happened. And as long as it hasn’t happened, there is no basis for a court to involve itself, much less issue an anticipatory ruling.
Such niceties matter only if you’re practicing law, though. Judge Orrick is practicing politics.
96.6 per cent of apprehensions by the Border Patrol in 2010 occurred at the southwest border. The number of Border Patrol apprehensions declined 61% from 1,189,000 in 2005 to 723,840 in 2008 to 463,000 in 2010. The decrease in apprehensions may be due to a number of factors including changes in U.S. economic conditions and border enforcement efforts. Border apprehensions in 2010 were at their lowest level since 1972. In March 2017 there were 17,000 apprehensions, which was the fifth month in a row of decline. In December 2016 apprehensions were at 58,478.
The 1,954-mile (3,145 km) border between the United States and Mexico traverses a variety of terrains, including urban areas and deserts. The barrier is located on both urban and uninhabited sections of the border, areas where the most concentrated numbers of illegal crossings and drug trafficking have been observed in the past. These urban areas include San Diego, California and El Paso, Texas. As of August 29, 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had built 190 miles (310 km) of pedestrian border fence and 154.3 miles (248.3 km) of vehicle border fence, for a total of 344.3 miles (554.1 km) of fence. The completed fence is mainly in New Mexico, Arizona, and California, with construction underway in Texas.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that it had more than 580 miles (930 km) of fence in place by the second week of January 2009. Work is still under way on fence segments in Texas and on the Border Infrastructure System in California.
The border fence is not one continuous structure and is actually a grouping of short physical walls that stop and start, secured in between with “virtual fence” which includes a system of sensors and cameras monitored by Border Patrol Agents.
The government of Mexico and ministers of several Latin American countries condemned the plans. Rick Perry, governor of Texas, also expressed his opposition saying that instead of closing the border it should be opened more and through technology support legal and safe migration. The barrier expansion was also opposed by a unanimous vote of the Laredo, Texas City Council. Laredo’s Mayor, Raul G. Salinas, was concerned about defending his town’s people by saying that the Bill which included miles of border wall would devastate Laredo. He stated “These are people that are sustaining our economy by forty percent, and I am gonna [sic] close the door on them and put [up] a wall? You don’t do that. It’s like a slap in the face.” He hoped that Congress would revise the Bill to better reflect the realities of life on the border. There are no plans to build border fence in Laredo at this time.However, there is a large Border Patrol presence in Laredo.
On September 29, 2006, by a vote of 80–19 the U.S. Senate confirmed H.R. 6061 authorizing, and partially funding the “possible” construction of 700 miles (1,125 km) of physical fence/barriers along the border. The very broad support implied that many assurances were been made by the Administration—to the Democrats, Mexico, and the pro “Comprehensive immigration reform” minority within the GOP—that Homeland Security would proceed very cautiously. Secretary of Homeland SecurityMichael Chertoff, announced that an eight-month test of the virtual fence he favored would precede any construction of a physical barrier.
On October 26, 2006, President George W. Bush signed H.R. 6061 which was voted upon and passed by the 109th Congress of the United States. The signing of the bill came right after a CNN poll showed that most Americans “prefer the idea of more Border Patrol agents to a 700-mile (1,125-kilometer) fence.” The Department of Homeland Security has a down payment of $1.2 billion marked for border security, but not specifically for the border fence.
As of January 2010, the fence project had been completed from San Diego, California to Yuma, Arizona.[dubious– discuss] From there it continued into Texas and consisted of a fence that was 21 feet (6.4 m) tall and 6 feet (1.8 m) deep in the ground, cemented in a 3-foot (0.91 m)-wide trench with 5000 psi (345 bar; 352 kg/cm²) concrete. There were no fatalities during construction, but there were 4 serious injuries with multiple aggressive acts against building crews. There was one reported shooting with no injury to a crew member in Mexicali region. All fence sections are south of the All-American Canal, and have access roads giving border guards the ability to reach any point easily, including the dunes area where a border agent was killed 3 years before and is now sealed off.
The Republican Party’s 2012 platform stated that “The double-layered fencing on the border that was enacted by Congress in 2006, but never completed, must finally be built.” The Secure Fence Act’s costs were estimated at $6 billion, more than the Customs and Border Protection’s entire annual discretionary budget of $5.6 billion. The Washington Office on Latin America noted on its Border Fact Check site in about the year 2013 that the cost of complying with the Secure Fence Act’s mandate was the reason it had not been completely fulfilled.
Secretary Chertoff exercised his waiver authority on April 1, 2008. In June 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of a lower court ruling upholding the waiver authority in a case filed by the Sierra Club. In September 2008 a federal district court judge in El Paso dismissed a similar lawsuit brought by El Paso County, Texas.
By January 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security had spent $40 million on environmental analysis and mitigation measures aimed at blunting any possible adverse impact that the fence might have on the environment. On January 16, 2009, DHS announced it was pledging an additional $50 million for that purpose, and signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of the Interior for utilization of the additional funding.
On March 16, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security announced that there would be a halt to expand the “virtual fence” beyond two pilot projects in Arizona.
Contractor Boeing Corporation had numerous delays and cost overruns. Boeing had initially used police dispatching software that was unable to process all of the information coming from the border. The $50 million of remaining funding would be used for mobile surveillance devices, sensors, and radios to patrol and protect the border. At the time, the Department of Homeland Security had spent $3.4 billion on border fences and had built 640 miles (1,030 km) of fences and barriers as part of the Secure Border Initiative.
In response to a perceived lack of will on the part of the federal government to build a secure border fence, and a lack of state funds, Arizona officials plan to launch a website allowing donors to help fund a state border fence.
Piecemeal fencing has also been established. In 2005, under its president, Ramón H. Dovalina, Laredo Community College, located on the border, obtained a 10-foot fence built by the United States Marine Corps. The structure was not designed as a border barrier per se but was intended to divert smugglers and illegal immigrants to places where the authorities can halt entrance into the United States.
In March 2017, President Donald Trump submitted a budget amendment for fiscal year (FY) 2017 that included an extra $3 billion for border security and immigration enforcement. Trump’s FY 2018 Budget Blueprint increases discretionary funds for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by $2.8 billion (to $44.1 billion). DHS would be the agency in charge of building the border wall.
According to Homeland Preparedness News, “Former members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection downplayed the idea that a wall alone would be enough to strengthen the U.S. southern border in a Senate hearing on [April 4, 2017], framing it as part of a broader strategy.”
One vocal critic of the wall is U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). She said during the hearing that while Americans want a secure border, she has “not met anyone that says the most effective way is to build a wall across the entirety of our southern border. The only one who keeps talking about that is President Trump.”
The barrier has been criticized for being easy to get around. Some methods include digging under it (sometimes using complex tunnel systems), climbing the fence (using wire cutters to remove barbed-wire) or locating and digging holes in vulnerable sections of the wall. Many Latin-Americans have also traveled by boat through the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific Coast.
Tribal lands of three indigenous nations would be divided by the proposed border fence.
On January 27, 2008, a U.S. Native American human rights delegation, which included Margo Tamez (Lipan Apache-Jumano Apache) and Teresa Leal (Opata-Mayo) reported the removal of the official International Boundary obelisks of 1848 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the Las Mariposas, Sonora-Arizona sector of the Mexico–U.S. border. The obelisks were moved southward approximately 20 meters, onto the property of private landowners in Sonora, as part of the larger project of installing the 18-foot (5.5 m) steel barrier wall.
The proposed route for the border fence would divide the campus of the University of Texas at Brownsville into two parts, according to Antonio N. Zavaleta, a vice president of the university. There have been campus protests against the wall by students who feel it will harm their school. In August 2008, UT-Brownsville reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the university to construct a portion of the fence across and adjacent to its property. The final agreement, which was filed in federal court on Aug 5 and formally signed by the Texas Southmost College Board of Trustees later that day, ended all court proceedings between UTB/TSC and DHS. On August 20, 2008, the university sent out a request for bids for the construction of a 10-foot (3.0 m) high barrier that incorporates technology security for its segment of the border fence project. The southern perimeter of the UTB/TSC campus will be part of a laboratory for testing new security technology and infrastructure combinations. The border fence segment on the UTB campus was substantially completed by December 2008.
In the spring of 2007 more than 25 landowners, including a corporation and a school district, from Hidalgo and Starr County in Texas refused border fence surveys, which would determine what land was eligible for building on, as an act of protest.
In July 2008, Hidalgo County and Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for the construction of a project that combines the border fence with a levee to control flooding along the Rio Grande. Construction of two of the Hidalgo County fence segments are under way; five more segments are scheduled to be built during the fall of 2008; the Hidalgo County section of the border fence will constitute 22 miles (35 km) of combined fence and levee.
Mexico-United States barrier at the pedestrian border crossing in Tijuana
In 2006, the Mexican government vigorously condemned the Secure Fence act of 2006. Mexico has also urged the U.S. to alter its plans for expanded fences along their shared border, saying that it would damage the environment and harm wildlife.
In June 2007, it was announced that a section of the barrier had been mistakenly built from 1 to 6 feet (2 meters) inside Mexican territory. This will necessitate the section being moved at an estimated cost of over $3 million (U.S.).
In 2012, then presidential candidate of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto was campaigning in Tijuana at the Playas de Monumental, less than 600 yards (550 m) from the U.S.–Mexico border adjacent to Border Field State Park. In one of his speeches he criticized the U.S. government for building the barriers, and asked for them to be removed. Ultimately, he mocked Ronald Reagan’s “Tear down this wall!” speech from Berlin in 1987.
The Wall at the border of Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego. The crosses represent migrants who died in the crossing attempt. Some identified, some not. Surveillance tower in the background.
Between 1994 and 2007, there were around 5,000 Migrant deaths along the Mexico–United States border, according to a document created by the Human Rights National Commission of Mexico, also signed by the American Civil Liberties Union. Between 43 and 61 people died trying to cross the Sonoran Desert from October 2003 to May 2004; three times that of the same period the previous year. In October 2004 the Border Patrol announced that 325 people had died crossing the entire border during the previous 12 months. Between 1998 and 2004, 1,954 persons are officially reported to have died along the US-Mexico border. Since 2004, the bodies of 1,086 migrants have been recovered in the southern Arizona desert.
U.S. Border Patrol Tucson Sector reported on October 15, 2008 that its agents were able to save 443 undocumented immigrants from certain death after being abandoned by their smugglers, during FY 2008, while reducing the number of deaths by 17% from 202 in FY 2007 to 167 in FY 2008. Without the efforts of these agents, hundreds more could have died in the deserts of Arizona. According to the same sector, border enhancements like the wall have allowed the Tucson Sector agents to reduce the number of apprehensions at the borders by 16% compared with fiscal year 2007.
“Wildlife-friendly” border wall in Brownsville, Texas, which would allow wildlife to cross the border. A young man climbs wall using horizontal beams for foot support.
In April 2008, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to waive more than 30 environmental and cultural laws to speed construction of the barrier. Despite claims from then Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff that the department would minimize the construction’s impact on the environment, critics in Arizona and Texas asserted the fence endangered species and fragile ecosystems along the Rio Grande. Environmentalists expressed concern about butterfly migration corridors and the future of species of local wildcats, the ocelot, the jaguarundi, and the jaguar.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducted environmental reviews of each pedestrian and vehicle fence segment covered by the waiver, and published the results of this analysis in Environmental Stewardship Plans (ESPs). Although not required by the waiver, CBP has conducted the same level of environmental analysis (in the ESPs) that would have been performed before the waiver (in the “normal” NEPA process) to evaluate potential impacts to sensitive resources in the areas where fence is being constructed.
ESPs completed by CBP contain extremely limited surveys of local wildlife. For example, the ESP for border fence built in the Del Rio Sector included a single survey for wildlife completed in November 2007, and only “3 invertebrates, 1 reptile species, 2 amphibian species, 1 mammal species, and 21 bird species were recorded.” The ESPs then dismiss the potential for most adverse effects on wildlife, based on sweeping generalizations and without any quantitative analysis of the risks posed by border barriers. Approximately 461 acres (187 ha) of vegetation will be cleared along the impact corridor. From the Rio Grande Valley ESP: “The impact corridor avoids known locations of individuals of Walker’s manioc and Zapata bladderpod, but approaches several known locations of Texas ayenia. For this reason, impacts on federally listed plants are anticipated to be short-term, moderate, and adverse.” This excerpt is typical of the ESPs in that the risk to endangered plants is deemed short-term without any quantitative population analysis.
By August 2008, more than 90 percent of the southern border in Arizona and New Mexico had been surveyed. In addition, 80 percent of the California/Mexico border has been surveyed.
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Story 2: Operation Gotham Shield 2017 — Simulation of Nuclear and EMP Attack Over New York City — Videos
April 24-26 2017 — Operation Gotham Shield 2017
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Washington D.C. To Hold Massive “Coordinated Terror Attack” Drill This Wednesday
by Tyler Durden
Apr 25, 2017 5:17 AM
April 26th is shaping up to be a busy day.
As we reported on Friday, that’s when Operation Gotham Shield, an exercise involving FEMA, Homeland Security and a myriad of law enforcement and military agencies and which simulates a nuclear bomb blast over Manhattan, is set to conclude.
Then, as we learned earlier, April 26 is also when the entire Senate will be briefed by Donald Trump and his four top defense and military officials on the situation in North Korea at the White House, an event which Reuters dubbed as “unusual.”
April 26 is also when the USS Carl Vinson is expected to finally arrive off the coast of the Korean Penninsula.
Now, in a statement from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the regional association reports that “law enforcement officials and other first responders will participate in a full-scale exercise on April 26 designed to prepare for the possibility of a complex coordinated terror attack in the National Capital Region.”
The statement adds that emergency managers who work together at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) planned the exercise to help protect residents by preparing for an attack involving multiple target locations and teams of perpetrators.
The exercise will be conducted across a widespread geographical area. According to the release, the regional exercise will be staged at six sites in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia, and will involve hundreds of police, fire, and emergency medical service personnel and volunteer actors.
The locations include neighborhoods in the northeast and southeast quadrants of the District of Columbia, Prince George’s County, and Arlington and Fairfax Counties. Residents in those neighborhoods will be notified ahead of time to expect the exercise.
According to Scott Boggs, Managing Director of Homeland Security and Public Safety at COG, “Law enforcement officials practice and exercise their skills on their own regularly because that’s the best way to ensure we are always ready to respond quickly and professionally. On April 26, we’ll go one step further and stage a very realistic emergency event involving multiple sites and actors posing as the casualties. However, there is no reason for residents to be alarmed because the exercise will occur in a controlled environment.”
The is scheduled to take place near or at George Mason University, and last from 8;30am until 4:30pm.
The statement also advises that the only media availability will be in a one hour block before the exercise, from 7:30am – 8:30am on April 26.
Operation Gotham Shield: Is there a connection between massive power outages and the nuclear EMP drill?
Posted onApril 22, 2017byState of the Nation
Are Today’s Massive Power Outages Really Secretly Part of the Operation Gotham Shield Nuclear EMP Drill?
When Russia holds a massive civil defense drill for nuclear war, the government informs its people and even includes them.When the US government does it however, they do it in secret, even using natural disasters as cover, meanwhile keeping the civilian population in the dark and telling them as little as possible.
The fact that there are massive power outages today of all days in San Francisco, LA and specifically New York City — causes reportedly still unknown at this time — seems like anything but a coincidence with everything else going on right now including a massive NYC-area 10 kiloton nuclear blast and EMP drill called Operation Gotham Shield.
The first massive power outage today occurred in New York City just before 6 am after the power inexplicably went down at the 7th avenue and 53rd street subway station, causing a chain reaction through the rest of NYC’s subway system. MTA did not get the generators back up and running until around 11:30. Delays are still rampant.
A few hours later, outages began being reported around Los Angeles, including at the LA airport.
This one is reportedly the worst. Some 90,000 people are still without power all around downtown San Francisco as of 1 pm this afternoon. Businesses are shuttered, transportation systems are shut down, whole skyscrapers are dark. People are calling the whole scene “surreal”. Again, the cause of the outage still has not been explained.
Operation Gotham Shield
All of this is coinciding with the Operation Gotham Shield drill being held in the NYC area; depending on who you ask, it’s even going on right now, but again, we civilians (read: peons) are being mostly kept in the dark about the huge drill. One set of dates says the drill started on April 18th and will run through May 5th. Another set of dates say the actual nuke/EMP simulation part of the drill won’t happen until April 24th–26th.
[Gotham Shield] is a tabletop, joint agency exercise involving FEMA, Homeland Security and a myriad of law enforcement and military agencies. WMD, chemical and biological units will all be on hand as a response is tested for a “simulated” nuclear detonation over the United States’ foremost urban center, in the iconic and densely populated island of Manhattan and nearby shores of New Jersey.
On April 18th thru May 5th, 2017, state, local, and federal organizations alike are planning for Operation Gotham Shield 2017 — a major nuclear detonation drill in the New York-New Jersey area, along with the U.S.-Canadian border. During this exercise, 4 nuclear devices, 2 of which are rendered “safe” during the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Vital Archer Exercise, and one successful 10kt detonation in the NYC/NJ area, along with one smaller detonation on the U.S./Canadian border are to take place.
Among the organizations involved are:
– U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
– U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)
– U.S. Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO)
– U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
– U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
– U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM)
– State of New Jersey Office of Emergency Management
– State of New York Office of Emergency Management
– City of New York Office of Emergency Management
And many more…
So the chances that we’re suddenly having totally random “unexplained” massive power outages in major cities, starting specifically in the one where this massive nuclear war/EMP drill is currently going down and it is all simply a coincidence seem poor at best.
The potential for a more explosive false flag to spin out of control, by hijacking and ‘converting’ the simulated actions, is all too real.
This is closely related to the mechanism that many researchers believe was at work on the day of 9/11, nesting a false flag attack inside of a series of large-scale training operations which invoked emergency powers and simulated attacks in locations that were actually hit.
President Trump reportedly backed off his demand that Congress include a down payment for a wall spanning the entire U.S.-Mexico border in a crucial spending bill that must pass by Friday night to keep the government funded.
Republican lawmakers have urged the president to focus on border security in general instead of the wall, which Democrats have called a poison pill that would cause them to reject the bill and shut down the government.
Trump told a group of conservative reporters he invited to the White House on Monday that he was open to getting funding for the wall in September when Congress debates the 2018 budget, the Associated Press reported. This is a sharp reversal from his position over the weekend and early Monday, when he doubled down on his demand for the wall. Trump tweeted repeatedly that the wall is necessary to stop the flow of drugs into the United States.
“If the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be!” Trump exclaimed Monday, adding: “#BuildTheWall.”
On Tuesday morning, the president claimed he had not changed his position on the wall as the “fake media” was claiming, but he didn’t specify whether he still believed he would get the funds in this week’s spending bill, which increasingly looks like a political impossibility.
The president may have realized that with Democrats ready to shut down the government over the wall and many lawmakers in his own party skeptical of it, there was little chance of reaching a deal on his signature campaign promise before the Friday night deadline. Some critics noted that Trump had long promised that Mexico — and not the U.S. — would pay for the wall’s construction.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., praised Trump in a statement for taking the wall “off the table.” He had earlier called the demand a “monkey wrench” the president had thrown into sensitive negotiations between the parties over a series of spending bills to keep the government funded for the next five months.
But it’s possible the president will find a way to declare victory even if his call for a wall goes unanswered by Congress. Several Republican senators urged the president to think of the “big, beautiful wall” he promised on the campaign trail as symbolic of border security in general. That way, the president could declare any increase in border spending in the spending bill a victory, right as his presidency passes the symbolic 100-day mark on Friday.
“Border walls and fences are part of an overall plan, but there will never be a 2,200-mile wall built. Period,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters Monday evening. “I think [the wall] has become symbolic for better border security. So it’s a code word for better border security.”
Graham said the president would still be in “good shape” if he gets funding for border security in the spending bill that’s not specifically for a wall.
Congress readies for border wall fight neither party seems to want
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., also pushed for interpreting “border wall” as border security in general. “I know it’s being generally referred to as a border wall, but I think it’s the efforts to make sure that Border Patrol can have adequate funding for the people, technology and infrastructure they think they need to secure [the border],” Tillis said. “I think we can be less prescriptive about exactly what the structure looks like and more focused on the fact that we need to secure the border.”
Both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Schumer have signaled openness to funding border security in the spending bill as long as it doesn’t go to construction of a wall or the “deportation force” Trump mentioned during the campaign. The Democrats could theoretically agree to funds for more surveillance technology on the border, or to hire and train more border patrol agents. But it’s harder to imagine them supporting an increase in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, since they enforce immigration laws internally in the United States and not at the borders.
Meanwhile, one of the president’s staunchest defenders in Congress defended the delay of the president’s campaign promise, urging Americans to be patient.
“He said we would build a wall and Mexico would pay for it, … but he never said when,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said Monday night on Fox Business. “Some things just take time and don’t occur real quick. I think that’s the way with the wall.”
The Bonner group/A Super PAC and fundraiser for Hillary & DNC. The Campaign against Bill OReily is orchestrated by MM & BG. #Smearproof
Glenn Beck ✔ @glennbeck The Bonner group/A Super PAC and fundraiser for Hillary & DNC. The Campaign against Bill OReily is orchestrated by MM & BG. #Smearproof 5:58 AM – 19 Apr 2017 321 321 Retweets 232 232 likes
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Sources: Fox News Has Decided Bill O’Reilly Has to Go
By Gabriel Sherman
The Murdochs have decided Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end. According to sources briefed on the discussions, network executives are preparing to announce O’Reilly’s departure before he returns from an Italian vacation on April 24. Now the big questions are how the exit will look and who will replace him.
Wednesday morning, according to sources, executives are holding emergency meetings to discuss how they can sever the relationship with the country’s highest-rated cable-news host without causing collateral damage to the network. The board of Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, is scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the matter.
Sources briefed on the discussions say O’Reilly’s exit negotiations are moving quickly. Right now, a key issue on the table is whether he would be allowed to say good-bye to his audience, perhaps the most loyal in all of cable (O’Reilly’s ratings have ticked up during the sexual-harassment allegations). Fox executives are leaning against allowing him to have a sign-off, sources say. The other main issue on the table is money. O’Reilly recently signed a new multiyear contract worth more than $20 million per year. When Roger Ailes left Fox News last summer, the Murdochs paid out $40 million, the remainder of his contract.
According to sources, Fox News wants the transition to be seamless. Executives are currently debating possible replacement hosts. Names that have been discussed include Eric Bolling, Dana Perino, and Tucker Carlson, who would move from his successful 9 p.m. slot and create a need for a new host at that time. One source said Sean Hannity is happy at 10 p.m. and would not want to move.
The Murdochs’ decision to dump O’Reilly shocked many Fox News staffers I’ve spoken to in recent days. Late last week, the feeling inside the company was that Rupert Murdoch would prevail over his son James, who lobbied to jettison the embattled host. It’s still unclear exactly how the tide turned. According to one source, Lachlan Murdoch’s wife helped convince her husband that O’Reilly needed to go, which moved Lachlan into James’s corner. The source added that senior executives at other divisions within the Murdoch empire have complained that if O’Reilly’s allegations had happened to anyone else at their companies, that person would be gone already.
Spokespersons for 21st Century Fox and Fox News did not respond to requests for comment, nor did O’Reilly’s agent, Carole Cooper.
By EMILY STEEL and MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT APRIL 19, 2017
Bill O’Reilly has been the top-rated host in cable news, serving up defiant commentary with a message that celebrated patriotism and expressed scorn for political correctness.CreditAndrew Hetherington/Redux Pictures
Bill O’Reilly has been forced out of his position as a prime-time host on Fox News, the company said on Wednesday, after the disclosure of multiple settlements involving sexual harassment allegations against him. His ouster brings an abrupt and embarrassing end to his two-decade reign as one of the most popular and influential commentators in television.
“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” 21st Century Fox, Fox News’s parent company, said in a statement.
Mr. O’Reilly’s departure comes two and a half weeks after an investigation by The New York Times revealed how Fox News and 21st Century Fox had repeatedly stood by Mr. O’Reilly even as sexual harassment allegations piled up against him. The Times found that the company and Mr. O’Reilly reached settlements with five women who had complained about sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior by him. The agreements totaled about $13 million.
Since then, more than 50 advertisers had abandoned his show, and women’s rights groups called for his ouster. Inside the company, women expressed outrage and questioned whether top executives were serious about maintaining a culture based on “trust and respect,” as they had promised last summer when another sexual harassment scandal forced the ouster of Fox News’s chairman, Roger Ailes.
That put pressure on 21st Century Fox and the Murdoch family that controlled it. After the dismissal of Mr. Ailes, the company struck two settlements involving sexual harassment complaints against Mr. O’Reilly and also extended his contract, even as it was aware of the complaints about his behavior.
Last week, the Murdochs enlisted the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to conduct an investigation into Mr. O’Reilly’s behavior after one woman, who had detailed her allegations against Mr. O’Reilly to The Times, called the company’s hotline to report her complaints. Another complaint was reported on Tuesday, according to the lawyer who represents the woman making the allegations.
Mr. O’Reilly has denied the allegations against him.
Mr. O’Reilly, 67, has been an anchor at Fox News since he started at the network in 1996. He was the top-rated host in cable news, serving up defiant commentary every weekday at 8 p.m., with a message that celebrated patriotism and expressed scorn for political correctness. His departure is a significant blow to Fox News’s prime-time lineup, which in January lost another star, Megyn Kelly, from a lineup that dominated the prime-time cable news ratings.
Media Matters President Angelo Carusone: “Even If Bill O’Reilly Stays, His Show Will Never Be As Profitable”
Carusone: Fox News Said It Themselves … ‘If You Have A Television Show And You Have Advertiser Problems, You No Longer Have A Television Show That Is Viable.”
Video ››› April 5, 2017 6:30 PM EDT ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
From the April 5 edition of Cheddar News:
KRISTEN SCHOLER (CO-HOST): We know that you’ve been following the developments in these sexual harassment claims against Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, and as of right now ABC reporting 22 advertisers pulling out of advertising at least temporarily on his show. How is this going to force Fox News to respond long term? We’ve heard the response short-term which is it’s working with these advertisers, but big picture what do you think this means?
ANGELO CARUSONE: One thing that at the top that I point out is, when we think about the number of advertisers that have dropped, that 22 number is the ones that have given public statements. From just observing the program and his advertisers the last couple of weeks, and then what his advertising looked like last night, and just from my own experience of running and being involved in similar kinds of advertiser efforts, like against Glenn Beck, I suspect that many more advertisers have actually adjusted their ad buys but just haven’t given public statements yet. Because many of the advertisers that had been advertising on the program every single night for the past few weeks did not appear last night after this controversy blew up, and I don’t think they’ll be there tonight.
JON STEINBERG (CO-HOST): Angelo, at what point — because they’re sticking by this guy, because he brings in money. And they basically don’t care; they don’t care how bad it is or what he’s done, he makes them so much money that they’re going to stick with him. At what point is it enough advertisers that the math — the problem is, this looks bad for them, and it could be even worse for them, they could have gotten ahead of this and been like, “this guy’s toxic, we’re done,” right? Instead they paid his settlements, stuck by him, now they’re going to lose money and now they’re going to have to pull the ripcord on him, at which point it looks like they’re just doing it for the money.
CARUSONE: And I think that’s the exact right question, which is at what point does it actually start to affect them? What happens during these kinds of flare-ups is that there’s an assumption on the public’s part that if O’Reilly was to leave the program in a couple of days, that everything was pointless and worth it and Fox News is totally fine and Bill O’Reilly is totally fine. That’s actually just not true, and during the Glenn Beck period, after he lost a wave of advertisers, his advertiser rates never recovered. He limped along for over a year. His advertiser rates were a quarter of what other Fox News programs were even though he had a million viewers than many other Fox News programs, comparable ones, during similar time slots. He was beating the programs around him by a million viewers but his advertiser rates for the same advertisers, and for the same commercials, were sometimes a fifth of what they were on just a program an hour later or an hour earlier. That’s because they fell precipitously after he lost a lot of advertisers. The market addressed that issue; once you started to see there’s a problem buying ads on that show, media buyers weren’t going to pay the same rates anymore, and they never did. So that’s the first thing that I would point out, that no matter what, even if Bill O’Reilly stays, his program will never be as profitable as it was three days ago. That is just a bottom-line fact.
On The O’Reilly Factor and on his former talk-radio program, Bill O’Reilly has focused on news and commentary related to politics and culture. O’Reilly has long said that he does not identify with any political ideology, writing in his book The O’Reilly Factor that the reader “might be wondering if whether I’m conservative, liberal, libertarian, or exactly what…. See, I don’t want to fit any of those labels, because I believe that the truth doesn’t have labels. When I see corruption, I try to expose it. When I see exploitation, I try to fight it. That’s my political position.” On December 6, 2000, the Daily News in New York reported, however, that he had been registered with the Republican Party in the state of New York since 1994. When questioned about this, he said that he was not aware of it and says he registered as an independent after the interview. During a broadcast of The Radio Factor, O’Reilly said that there was no option to register as an independent voter; however, there was in fact a box marked “I do not wish to enroll in party.” Despite being registered as an Independent, many view him as a conservative figure. A Pew Research February 2009 poll found that 66% of his television viewers identify themselves as conservative, 24% moderate, and 3% liberal. A November 2008 poll by Zogby International found that O’Reilly was the second most trusted news personality after Rush Limbaugh.
I’m not a political guy in the sense that I embrace an ideology. To this day I’m an independent thinker, an independent voter, I’m a registered independent… there are certain fundamental things that this country was founded upon that I respect and don’t want changed. That separates me from the secularists who want a complete overhaul of how the country is run.
According to the Newsmax publication, O’Reilly has repeatedly claimed that Clinton had the Internal Revenue Service audit him. O’Reilly says that he was audited three times since his program debuted in 1996.
In 2002, O’Reilly had criticized Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton, stating that she would run for president in 2008. In an interview with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, he said, “I just feel that Hillary is a socialist, and I’m paying enough tax. Hillary wants to take my money [and] your money… and give it to strangers. There’s something about that that offends me.” He said that she had voted for every single spending bill that year. In the same interview, he accused her of running as a political carpetbagger, and said that she intends to abolish the Electoral College in favor of the popular vote, claiming that it would be done only to give her an advantage in the presidential race.
During the lead up to the 2004 presidential election, O’Reilly said that the Democratic Party has been taken over by the “far-left” in a conversation with former Democratic Congressman Brad Carson. Shortly following the election, O’Reilly ridiculed a message in which Democratic challenger John Kerry thanked his supporters for their support as well as opposing “the attacks from big news organizations such as Fox, Sinclair Broadcasting, and conservative talk radio.” O’Reilly shot back, calling Kerry a “sissy” six times. Kerry himself stated publicly in a 2006 interview that he always felt he’d have a “fair shot” at conveying his views on The O’Reilly Factor and regrets not doing an interview prior to the election.
Although O’Reilly has never officially endorsed any candidate, he did advise his audience not to support Democratic South Dakota senator Tom Daschle in his Senate re-election bid on his radio program, saying that, “[W]ith all due respect to the senator, we don’t have any respect for him at all. And we hope he loses in South Dakota. And I — really, I stay out of all these races, but you guys listening in South Dakota, vote for the other guy.” Daschle would lose the 2004 Senate election in South Dakota to John Thune.
2008 presidential election
In the 2008 Democratic primary, O’Reilly urged his viewers not to vote for a candidate, this time John Edwards, and called Edwards a “phony” regarding his public statements on poverty. O’Reilly has, on many occasions, admitted to “having no respect for him”, and called him “arrogant” for keeping his campaign staffer Amanda Marcotte on after making remarks O’Reilly called offensive to Christians.
O’Reilly has also criticized Republicans. When speaking to Ed Schulz in 2007, O’Reilly said that then-presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani had “terrible character judgement” with Bernard Kerik and felt that “disqualified him from being president.”
“Culture War” and domestic politics
O’Reilly has taken to using the abbreviation “S-P”, for “SecularProgressive“, as a shorthand way of referring to a political category of people who want “drastic change” in the country. O’Reilly classifies the group as “far left”, and almost always refers to the group in a negative manner. However, he says that he is not equating the negative qualities he sees in “SPs” with a “liberal” political ideology, saying the SP camp is far more “libertine” with social values:
Liberal thought, however, can be a good thing. Progressive programs to help the poor, fight injustice and give working people a fair shake are all positive. But libertine actions damage a just society because actions have consequences. Kids who drink and take drugs are likely to hurt themselves and others. But obviously, the SPs do not make judgments like that.
O’Reilly initially supported the invasion of Iraq. Speaking on ABC’s Good Morning America on March 18, 2003, O’Reilly promised that “If the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it’s clean [of weapons of mass destruction]…I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again.” In another appearance on the same program on February 10, 2004, O’Reilly responded to repeated requests for him to honor his pledge: “My analysis was wrong and I’m sorry. I was wrong. I’m not pleased about it at all.” With regard to never again trusting the current U.S. government, he said, “I am much more skeptical of the Bush administration now than I was at that time.”
O’Reilly has questioned the U.S. invasion of Iraq in hindsight, in particular the performance of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. However, he maintains that the United States “did a good thing by trying to liberate a country”. O’Reilly says the war effort should continue as long as progress is being made. He has also said that some anti-war activists are actively rooting for the United States to lose:
Again, I don’t know. With all America has sacrificed in Iraq, though, it seems reasonable to let the end game play out. If things are getting better, don’t derail the train.
But the anti-war crew is now fully invested in defeat. So the struggle at home is becoming even more vicious. Iraq is a shooting war. America’s a political war. Both are driven by hatred.
O’Reilly called the Iraqi people a “prehistoric group”, citing a poll showing that only two percent of them viewed the U.S. Forces as liberators and 55 percent preferred that they leave. “We cannot intervene in the Muslim world ever again”, he said. “What we can do is bomb the living daylights out of them (…) no more ground troops, no more hearts and minds, ain’t going to work.”
You can’t win. No one could. No nation could unless the Iraqi people turn on all the terrorists. And they’re not. They’re not, Tony.
O’Reilly went on to say that the country was corrupt and compared the situation to the American support of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War:
It’s like South Vietnam. It’s the same thing. There were a lot of South Vietnamese helping us. A lot fought and died on our side but there wasn’t enough of them to prevent the communists which were more united.
The cost has been great. We all know that. In suffering and cash. And the Iraqi government is still a mess. But General Petraeus, backed by a brave and professional U.S. military, has restored much order, largely defeated the Iraqi Al Qaeda thugs, and at least given the good people of that country a chance to prosper. General David Petraeus is “The Factor” person of the year by a wide margin.
O’Reilly has endorsed an aggressive War on Terror policy. He supports coercive measures to extract information from detainees at Guantanamo Bay, which he visited on two occasions. He has said that, in comparison to procedures used under the regimes of dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot, the U.S.’s tactics are not torture and are beneficial even when involving physical techniques, claiming that “Torture is taking my fingers off, disfiguring me, taking my eye out — not keeping me in a cold room and uncomfortable with blaring rock music.” O’Reilly cites waterboarding as a successful coercive measure that should not be classified as torture, citing that Abu Zubaydah and Khaled Sheikh Mohammed have both given up valuable information after being subjected to the technique:
In my opinion, it is immoral to allow terrorists to kill people when you can stop them. If you capture someone who knows the inner workings of a terror outfit, you make life very uncomfortable for that person within boundaries set by Congress.
But let’s stop the nonsense here. America’s not a bad country because it waterboarded Zubaydah. The Bush administration has done its job. We haven’t been attacked since 9/11.
The liberal press, politicians, the ACLU can’t stop any wrongdoing. They’re all lost in a fog of misguided indignation, crazy with hatred for Bush, but we the people must take a stand here. This isn’t a game. This is life and death. And if you don’t believe it, I know scores of people right here in New York City that will tell you about their dead loved ones.
Waterboarding should be a last resort, but it must be an option.
O’Reilly has said that both political parties in the United States are “playing games” with regards to the war on terrorism:
…both the right and the left are playing games to some extent. Certainly, Al Qaeda remains dangerous, but the only way to hit them is to invade Pakistan. Do the Democrats want to do that?
On the other hand, it would be a tragedy if after all the blood and treasure Americans have sacrificed, Al Qaeda has not been badly damaged.
America should be united in fighting these savages, but we’re not. Ideology has poisoned a reasoned, disciplined approach to defeating the jihadists. America’s great strength, diversity of thought, can also be a weakness. And Al Qaeda knows it.
The old saying goes, “United we stand, divided we fall.” Well, we’re divided.
O’Reilly has accused billionaire businessman, investor and political activist George Soros of trying to influence the 2008 election by donating to causes and organizations that O’Reilly calls the “radical left”, such as moveon.org, which regularly criticizes conservative politicians. O’Reilly said of Soros “If Mike Myers didn’t invent Dr. Evil, some would give Soros that moniker.” O’Reilly also accused Media Matters for America of receiving funds from Soros; although Media Matters denies having any funding directly or indirectly from Soros, he and the group’s founder, David Brock, have raised money together to fund political advertisements challenging John McCain in the 2008 election for what politico.com called “attack ads”. O’Reilly responded to the politico report by labeling Soros, Brock and Paul Begala an “American axis of evil” and saying
This, ladies and gentlemen, is ultra dangerous. Most Americans have no idea who Soros or Brock are. They will only know what they see on TV, smear stuff against McCain. And the pipeline extends directly to NBC News, which will publicize every piece of slime Brock can create. Only one word describes this: despicable.
O’Reilly alleged that PBS personality Bill Moyers oversaw $500,000 worth of money transferred from the Shoeman Center Foundation (a group Soros donated to) to Media Matters.
you know, you’ve got to admire Soros for coming up with this organization. I mean, you know, he’s made billions by doing this in business, by being in Curaçao and Bermuda and France, where he was convicted of a felony. And he knows how to do this. He knows how to move the money around and use it to gain influence. And now he’s set his sights on changing the basic fabric of this country.
O’Reilly alleged hypocrisy on the part of the ACLU for stating that New York City‘s random searches of bags in the public transportation as a breach of personal rights, but requiring people entering their New York headquarters to consent to a bag search.
O’Reilly asserted that the ACLU is now a political organization rather than an advocacy group, taking positions and cases based on politics rather than free speech.
He has come down hard on the organization for its actions on behalf of the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) which is currently under suspicion of involvement with the rape and murder of a young boy:
Now many of these people subscribe to a philosophy of relativism. That is a theory which says there’s no absolute right or wrong. All moral values are relative. What’s wrong for you is not wrong for your neighbor if he or she doesn’t think his or her actions are wrong. That’s what the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) is all about. Those loons believe it’s OK to rape kids because they want to.
The ACLU defends NAMBLA’s freedom of speech surrounding their publications and has said that the legal blame in the murder should go to who committed it.
The ACLU has said that they sometimes have to defend “unpopular” speech or speech that they don’t agree with, including the Ku Klux Klan‘s, saying their only “client” is the Bill of Rights. O’Reilly alleges the ACLU “cherry picks” its cases to promote a left wing agenda while not supporting causes of free speech that conservatives support in his criticism of the ACLU defending live sex shows in Oregon.
O’Reilly decried the group’s criticism of The Minutemen, claiming the latter were only engaging in a form of protest, a right the ACLU defends. O’Reilly alleges that the organization is protesting the Minutemen because they are going against the ACLU’s agenda.
O’Reilly criticized the ACLU for suing San Diego County for renting property to the Boy Scouts of America in Balboa Park. The ACLU brought up a law claiming that the Boy Scouts discriminated against gays and atheists. O’Reilly criticized the San Diego City Council for voting 6-2 to vote the Scouts out before a ruling on the lawsuit was made.
It would be impossible for the Boy Scouts (search) or any children’s organization to admit avowed homosexuals because of the potential liability. Say the Scouts put openly gay and straight kids together and some sexual activity occurred. Well, parents could sue for millions, same way parents could sue if the Scouts put boys and girls together and underaged sex occurred. As far as the atheist issue is concerned, the Scouts say no specific belief in God is necessary, only an acknowledgement of a higher power. And that power could be nature. Come on. The whole discrimination thing is bogus.
Part of the Boy Scout Oath begins, “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country” and the final point of the Scout Law reads, “A Scout is reverent,” with the Boy Scouts’ of America official explanation being that “a Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.” However, the bylaws of the organization specifically state that Scouts must “respect the religious beliefs of others” and “in no case where a unit is connected with a church or other distinctively religious organization shall members of other denominations or faith be required, because of their membership in the unit, to take part in or observe a religious ceremony distinctly unique to that organization or church.”
O’Reilly argues this is a liberal definition of what God may be, allowing diversity for anyone believing in a higher power to join.
Now the ACLU is free to come to your town and sue the heck out of it. And believe me, that organization will. The ACLU doesn’t care about the law or the Constitution or what the people want. It’s a fascist organization that uses lawyers instead of Panzers. It’ll find a way to inflict financial damage on any concern that opposes its secular agenda and its growing in power.
He later went on to criticize the Boy Scout leadership for not standing up to the ACLU.
On October 16, 2006 at Mount Pleasant High School in Michigan, a student stood up publicly in the cafeteria and called the principal of the school “a skank and a tramp.” In addition to this, the student called the school administrators Nazis and questioned the sexuality of the vice-principal. The school suspended the boy for 10 days, an action that brought a lawsuit by the ACLU. O’Reilly criticized the ACLU for defending the remarks as satire when he saw it as hate speech.
O’Reilly strongly condemns doctors who provide legal abortion services. Since 2005, he has repeatedly referred to physician and abortion doctor George Tiller as “Tiller the baby killer” on his Fox News prime time show, claiming that there must be “a special place in hell” for him. In May 2009, Tiller was murdered by anti-abortion gunman Scott Roeder.
O’Reilly has said that there is a lack of leadership among the traditionalists and this has emboldened the secular-progressive cause. He consistently says that using religion to justify public policy is wrong:
Right now, religious people are the ones speaking out for traditional values. But America does not forge public policy based on religion. Thus as soon as God enters the debate, the secularists win.
O’Reilly supports some forms of gun control, such as gun registration.
O’Reilly opposed the nationalizedhealth care plan that filmmaker Michael Moore argues for in his film Sicko, saying it would create huge backlogs. He also said, however, that he thinks the government should perform more oversight functions on health care:
…[G]overnment-run health care would be a disaster, featuring long waits for treatment and an enormous rise in taxation. But there should be government oversight on private insurance companies and strict guidelines about abusing customers. There can be compromise and effective government control of medical care abuse in the USA. It is possible. But if Michael Moore’s plan ever gets traction, pray hard you never get sick.
O’Reilly’s stance on LGBT issues has been evolving.
On October 27, 2004, he was quoted saying: “I’ve been saying that all along, that if you open the door for gay marriage, then you have to have the polygamists and the triads and the commune people and everybody else, right?”
O’Reilly supports civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, but has said that nobody has the “right” to marry; he says that marriage, like driving a car, is a privilege, not a right. He has said that if the government felt marriage was a right, then it would not stop polygamists and incestuous couples from marrying. O’Reilly further explained his position in his book Culture Warrior:
To this culture warrior, gay marriage is not a vital issue. I don’t believe the republic will collapse if Larry marries Brendan. However, it is clear that most Americans want heterosexual marriage to maintain its special place in American society. And as long as gays are not penalized in the civil arena, I think the folks should make the call at the ballot box. Traditional marriage is widely seen as a social stabilizer, and I believe that is true.
On March 26, 2013, O’Reilly stated “I support civil unions, I always have. The gay marriage thing, I don’t feel that strongly about it one way or the other. I think the states should do it.” O’Reilly then said, “The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals … ‘We’re Americans, we just want to be treated like everybody else.’ That’s a compelling argument, and to deny that you’ve got to have a very strong argument on the other side. And the other side hasn’t been able to do anything but thump the Bible.
O’Reilly discussed a story surrounding around a teenage lesbian couple being elected as the “cutest couple” in their school yearbook. He stated that he believed that this couple was elected by the students to “tweak the adults” and to “cause trouble”. He explains further here:
High school kids, they experiment. They experiment all over the place, they have a chip on their shoulder. They do things just to get a reaction, just to rebel. Parents might say “We don’t want to normalize homosexuality in a public way in an academic setting among minors. We don’t think that reflects how we feel about it”.
O’Reilly is known to favor adoption by a same-sex couple since 2002.
O’Reilly is opposed to the School Success and Opportunity Act (Assembly Bill 1266), which extends gender identity and expression discrimination protection to transgender and gender-nonconforming K-12 students in public schools. O’Reilly described the law as “madness” and “anarchy” on Fox News Channel.
Just before the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law banning homosexuals from serving in the military, he appeared on the Tonight Show and called the law “nonsense” and said he didn’t understand why the President, in his role as commander in chief of the armed forces, simply didn’t sign an executive order rescinding it.
US legal system
He regularly criticizes jurists in controversial cases as “activist judges.” He uses the issue of gay marriage as an example. “The folks decide that by voting and, in the case of gay marriage, the folks have decided. And that decision should be respected.”
He has suggested convicted rapists, mass murderers, terrorists, and other people who commit crimes against humanity be sent to a gulag style prison in Alaska with strict rules and minimal privileges. He has said this would serve as a replacement for the death penalty, to which he is opposed.
O’Reilly has been very critical of the U.S. film industry for producing films featuring violence and human suffering, such as the Saw series. He has compared this to the brutal displays of death in the Colosseums of ancient Rome. O’Reilly has said that films like these are marketed to children and can have consequences on their personal development. He commented on Kill Bill: Volume 1:
It’s the most violent movie ever made, featuring brutal dismemberments and a scalping close-up. And you should see the raves this movie is getting from the pinhead critics. And who’s lining up to see it? Children, that’s who.
O’Reilly severely chastized billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, for his support of Brian De Palma‘s film Redacted that portrayed the rape of an Iraqi girl by American soldiers. O’Reilly claimed that the film would be used as a recruiting tool by terrorists.
Every educator that I’ve talked to, and I’ve talked to hundreds, say that the kind of gangsta rap that Ludacris traffics in has debased the culture, made it more difficult for them to teach children and indeed, led children into anti-social behavior.
In 2007, O’Reilly had a dispute with Nas after the rapper was hired to play a concert at Virginia Tech one year after the school had experienced the Virginia Tech massacre. “Having a rapper who trades in violence perform at Virginia Tech insults the victims, the university and the entire commonwealth,” declared Bill O’Reilly.Nas subsequently called Bill O’Reilly a racist, and accused O’Reilly of going to extremes for publicity. He repeated this stance again in July 2008, when a dispute between Nas and O’Reilly led to Nas taking a petition to Fox News, and appearing on both Fox News, and the The Colbert Report. Also in 2008, Nas challenged Bill O’Reilly to a public debate, to which O’Reilly did not accept.
In May 2015, O’Reilly blamed the decline of American religion particularly the declining numbers of American Christians on hip hop music citing the genre as “pernicious entertainment” and an adducing factor for contributing to the decline. O’Reilly remarked that people of faith are being marginalized by a secular media and pernicious entertainment and rap industry often glorifies depraved behavior causing the minds of people who consume the music as the least likely to reject religion.” American rapper Killer Mike subsequently criticized him for his remarks calling O’Reilly “full of s**t than an outhouse” and then mocked him while he was a guest Real Time with Bill Maher.
Several rappers and hip hop producers have appeared on The O’Reilly Factor. Rapper Cam’ron and hip hop entrepreneur Damon Dash appeared on the program to defend their supposed corruption of young people, to which Damon Dash responded:
So, if you know there is negative in something, try to find the positive as opposed to always talking about the negative. That’s the thing I don’t understand, why we’re criticized so hard within hip-hop. No one talks about the jobs we create, no one talks about the things we do within our community, and no one talks about the businesses we’ve done, how we’ve opened the doors and shown people that it’s cool to be smart, it’s cool to be a CEO, and it’s cool to not take advantage but to reap the benefits of all your labor and to do it fairly.
Bill O’Reilly has also interviewed Marilyn Manson on the topic of being a “dangerous” influence on U.S. youth. O’Reilly asked Manson if he thought his work encouraged kids to have sex, homosexuality, use drugs and profanity. He also asked Manson whether his songs encouraged suicide or not. Marilyn Manson answered that in his view the songs were about getting through those feelings, and that ultimately people make their own decisions.
O’Reilly believes the American news media is corrupt and often criticizes it for not reporting topics that hurt the liberal agenda. He has often stated that he is the only one in the media holding people accountable on both sides. In June 2007, Adweek Magazine sponsored a survey that asked participants who they trusted more as a source of political information between ABC News and O’Reilly. According to the poll, 36 percent believe that O’Reilly is a better source than ABC News, while 26 percent believe the opposite. According to the survey, 23 percent of Democrats believed that O’Reilly was a better source while 55 percent of Republicans believed the same.
O’Reilly has criticized the media for not highlighting Rosie O’Donnell‘s controversial remarks saying the United States attacked itself on September 11th while they highlighted Ann Coulter‘s remarks about calling Senator John Edwards a “fag.” O’Reilly said in response to the situation:
Doing the math, Ms. O’Donnell says something 100 times more offensive than Ms. Coulter, in my opinion, yet there’s no coverage about it. But there’s no left wing media bias in this country. Oh no!
O’Reilly has criticized journalists who donate to political parties after a report stated that nine out of 10 journalists donated to Democrats or liberal causes; he has said this has resulted in news media tilting to the left.
O’Reilly says that news coverage about positive improvements for American and Iraqi objectives in Iraq have been largely ignored. He conjectured that the ignoring of the positive news took place to help a Democrat win a presidential election.
O’Reilly has asked his viewers and listeners to not patronize the following media outfits, saying those organizations “have regularly helped distribute defamatory, false or non-newsworthy information supplied by far-left websites”:
In an interview with commentator Bill Maher, former CBS News anchor Dan Rather accused Fox News Channel of receiving “talking points” from the Republican controlledWhite House. O’Reilly criticized Rather heavily, responding that Rather did not offer any evidence to support the claim. O’Reilly cited his defense of Rather during the Memogate incident:
As you may remember, I defended Rather in the Bush National Guard debacle. I said Rather did not intentionally put on a bogus story. He just didn’t check it out, he was too anxious for the story to be true.
Now many of you criticized me for that defense, but I’m a fact-based guy. And there’s no evidence Dan Rather fabricated anything. It was sloppy reporting that did him in.
But now the fabrication word is in play again. If Dan Rather has evidence of White House dictums coming to FOX News employees, he needs to display that evidence. We are awaiting his appearance. We’ll let you know when it is.
O’Reilly has gone after PBS personality Bill Moyers. O’Reilly criticized Moyers for having no balance in his presentations, citing a criticism by PBS’ own ombudsman. He also called Moyers dishonest for making disparaging remarks about O’Reilly to Rolling Stone and then later denying he made the remarks when confronted by one of O’Reilly’s producers.
CNN journalists were prominent among those critical of O’Reilly when he stated that he “couldn’t get over the fact” that a largely African-American crowd at a Harlem restaurant behaved no differently than patrons of a white restaurant and garnered media coverage O’Reilly objected to CNN’s portrayal of his commentary, stating that CNN had been irresponsible in mischaracterizing his remark as racist, when in fact, he said, he was actually speaking against racism.
O’Reilly scolded MSNBC and CNN for not providing coverage of the ceremony that awarded Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy the Medal of Honor during their primetime shows. O’Reilly said that “[O]n their prime-time broadcast last night, CNN and MSNBC just said no to Lieutenant Michael Murphy and his proud family,” that the networks “despise the Bush administration and believe anything positive like American heroes in war zones, detract from their negative assessment of the administration” and that they should not claim to support the troops and ignore their heroism. MSNBC and CNN had covered the events during their daytime programs.
NBC News and MSNBC
O’Reilly has criticized NBC News and their affiliated cable service MSNBC several times for their coverage of the war in Iraq, claiming that it is biased toward the war’s opponents. He later called NBC News the most “anti-military news operation in the country,” when he cited an example of NBC correspondent William Arkin that called American troops “mercenaries.”
He also criticized the network of trying to downplay the War on Terror in the wake of American casualties in Iraq.
Robert Greenwald, who had directed the controversial documentary Outfoxed that criticized O’Reilly and the Fox News Channel, put together an event of homeless veterans criticizing O’Reilly for calling John Edwards dishonest when Edwards asserted that there were about 200,000 homeless veterans. O’Reilly denied Edwards claim, stating “They may be out there, but there are not many of them out there, OK. So if you know where there is a veteran sleeping under a bridge, you call me immediately, and we will make sure that man does not do it.” After government statistics supported Edwards, O’Reilly then said that there was no linkage between the economy and homeless veterans and claims that Veterans Affairs has up to 150,000 beds ready for them every night. O’Reilly felt Greenwald’s event was a “contrived” situation after O’Reilly’s producers had interviewed some of the homeless veterans whom were protesting and found out that some did not actually hear O’Reilly’s comments. O’Reilly blasted NBC’s Steve Capus and the New York Daily News for covering the event and claimed that Capus did not know about the nature of the event.
O’Reilly called NBC hypocritical for putting supporters of legalizing prostitution in the wake of Democratic Governor of New YorkEliot Spitzer resigning his post after allegedly engaging in the act in an effort and felt they would not be as defensive if a Republican had gotten in trouble.
Although he praised the late Meet the Press host Tim Russert in the past, O’Reilly criticized Russert for what he saw as a misinterpretation of what were seen as potentially racially insensitive comments by former President Bill Clinton. In his comments, Russert challenged Senator Hillary Clinton about her husband’s remarks regarding Senator Barack Obama, when Mr. Clinton referred to Obama’s position on Iraq as a “fairy tale.” O’Reilly said that Russert “should have known better” and realized the former President’s comments were regarding Obama’s Iraq policy and not his entire candidacy.
Tape doctoring incidents
O’Reilly would join in the criticism of others when NBC News was found to have doctored tapes on multiple occasions. The first was about accused killer George Zimmerman that portrayed Zimmerman as having a racial motivation. He also criticized veteran news correspondent Andrea Mitchell for her reporting of a doctored tape of Mitt Romney to portray him as out of touch. After the Sandy Hook Shooting, O’Reilly and others criticized MSNBC’s Martin Bashir of dishonesty when Bashir only played a part of the entire tape that portrayed the father of a victim being heckled when the entire tape showed the audience only saying something after he made it clear he was looking for an answer. O’Reilly criticized MSNBC host Rachel Maddow showed a tape of Senator John McCain portraying him as insensitive to the plight of a person who lost a family member to gun violence. Although Maddow did readily admit the tape may have been doctored, O’Reilly criticized her nonetheless for airing it knowing that it could have been edited.
O’Reilly has accused the print press of purposely misquoting him and using their hard news pages to further their editorial points of view. He has said that print media is too liberal and attacks opposing viewpoints.
In 2003, O’Reilly criticized the Los Angeles Times for endorsing then-governor Gray Davis, who was running against Arnold Schwarzenegger and a whole field of different candidates, including Republicans, Democrats and Independents, in a recall election. He said that he “has never seen a newspaper try to destroy someone as aggressively as the Times is doing.” He also criticized The New York Times on the same issue for referring to Schwarzenegger solely as a bodybuilder. He made the claim that Californians have canceled their subscriptions due to the “extreme left-wing bias” of the newspaper.
O’Reilly frequently criticizes The New York Times, accusing them of omitting information that would be damaging to left-wing organizations and causes.
On March 15, 2007, The New York Times ran an editorial titled “Immigration Misery” that had claimed a “screaming baby girl has been forcibly weaned from breast milk and taken dehydrated to an emergency room so that the nation’s borders will be secure.” Upon further investigation, the only two babies admitted to the hospital in the area of Bedford, Massachusetts (where the raid took place) were due to dehydration because of pneumonia and not as a result of being “forcibly weaned.” O’Reilly alleged that the information in the editorial was falsified and claimed The Times wanted to promote illegal immigration in order to make the illegal immigrants into legal US citizens and register them as Democrats.
On June 2, 2007, Homeland Security stopped a plot by four terror suspects thought to be linked to Al Qaeda. Authorities have alleged that the suspects were trying to blow up an oil pipeline in the Howard Beach section of New York City that carries jet fuel to JFK Airport. O’Reilly went on his program and told his listeners that he expected The Times to report it as a featured story on its Sunday edition for June 3, but found that the story was on page 37. A story that occupied the front page talked about brick laying in India. O’Reilly accused the newspaper of burying the story not to highlight a successful foiled terror plot because it contradicts the paper’s editorial point of view. O’Reilly claims that as polls show most Americans feel Republicans would do a better job of handling a terrorist threat than Democrats, The Times intentionally gave the news less exposure in hopes of influencing their readers’ focus away from issues that Democrats tend to poll weaker than Republicans in. O’Reilly has also said that the paper would highlight any terrorist attack if one was to occur so they may criticize the Bush Administration:
So The Times wins both ways. The paper diminishes the War on Terror by putting it on page 37, but if something bad ever happened, it can attack President Bush.
O’Reilly has accused the paper of being deceptive about television ratings for The O’Reilly Factor against that of MSNBC during the same time slot, citing that the paper felt that MSNBC was “competitive” with his program when O’Reilly’s ratings were significantly higher.
O’Reilly has questioned the paper’s interpretation of violence statistics among veterans of the military. His contention is that the paper is out to disparage the military as being overly violent after returning home from deployment in the War on Terror.
O’Reilly criticized the paper for running an article alleging Senator John McCain had an “inappropriate relationship” during the lobbyist controversy story the paper had. O’Reilly raised the question about why the paper had endorsed McCain on January 25, 2008 for the Republican nomination if they had information that alleged an inappropriate relationship.
In May 2009, O’Reilly severely criticized the paper as “corrupt” for dropping a story about a possible violation of campaign laws by ACORN and the Obama campaign. O’Reilly claimed that sworn testimony before Congress by a former ACORN employee, Anita Moncrief corroborated the story. O’Reilly stated:
Strong evidence suggests the paper killed a story linking ACORN to some Obama people. Instead they ran a general piece stating ACORN has a left-wing bias, knowing that story would be largely ignored while the Obama connection would not be.
In response, the New York Times ombudsman, Clark Hoyt stated it “was a normal and reasonable editorial decision” not to run the article. He said the Times had run four other stories on ACORN. The story in question had remained unpublished because Anita Moncrief had not provided independently verifiable proof. In addition, The Times ombudsman stated that Moncrief had not given sworn testimony to Congress as claimed by O’Reilly, and that she had credibility problems, having been fired from Acorn for employee theft.
O’Reilly has accused a few liberal political websites of “distorting the truth” and “engaging in hatred”:
There are no rules. These people will do and say pretty much anything to harm people with whom they disagree politically. The trend started back in the Clinton–Lewinsky days, and now thousands of bloggers are operating, throwing dirt all over the place. Now they’re not all bad. Some of these bloggers are good, accurate watchdogs. But there are plenty of awful ones.
In summer of 2007, O’Reilly said that the entire field of 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidates (aside from Senator Joseph Biden) went to the Yearly Kos convention that was sponsored by the Daily Kos. He has said that sites like the Kos are taking control of the Democratic Party through intimidation:
As we have been reporting, a group of far-left bloggers has succeeded in frightening most of the Democratic presidential candidates and moving the party significantly to the left, at least in the primary season. The lead intimidators are MoveOn, Media Matters and the vicious Daily Kos. These people savagely attack those with whom they disagree. And the politicians don’t want to become smear targets. So most of the Democratic candidates have agreed to speak at the Kos convention this coming weekend, something that is beyond shameful.
O’Reilly has compared the Huffington Post to the Nazis and the KKK. He also called MoveOn.org the “new Klan.” In response, Arianna Huffington wrote that O’Reilly had confused bloggers with anonymous commentors and suggested he enroll in “How to Use the Internet 101.” Huffington alleged that offensive comments are taken down from her site when confronted by one of O’Reilly’s producers. She also noted that offensive comments are posted by users of O’Reilly’s own site, billoreilly.com. O’Reilly alleged that Huffington had no standards of conduct and did not remove comments about wishing Nancy Reagan had died after she fell that were written on her site. “She says it is down, but it is not. She does not tell the truth.” O’Reilly later alleged that Huffington implied Pope Benedict XVI was a Nazi. O’Reilly referred to a satirical article written by comedian Chris Kelly, which mocked O’Reilly on Huffington’s website.
O’Reilly generally supports the notion of a clean environment, although he has said that he is not entirely certain that fossil fuels are the cause of global warming. Nonetheless, he has expressed support for a long-term strategy to curb fossil fuel use. He has said he would not support the Kyoto Treaty for economic reasons, but supports the use of fewer polluting agents, more conservation, and “tons more innovation” such as tax credits for alternative fuels. He has said that renewable energy is a waste of time because “God controls the climate” and that “nobody can control the climate except God, so give a little extra at mass”.
O’Reilly is a frequent critic of government welfare and poverty programs. He is also critical of the estate tax. However, he does not differentiate between the marginal tax rate (46 percent) and the effective tax rate (roughly nine percent ).
O’Reilly has said French unemployment and subsequent riots are the “common effects of socialist thinking”. He claims the French unemployment rate is high because of entitlements sanctioned by the French government, and that these entitlements make employers hesitant to hire young employees for fear that they will be required to give benefits to underperforming workers.
O’Reilly has been critical of companies doing business with countries that are hostile to the United States. O’Reilly criticized General Electric for doing business with Iran. O’Reilly cited how NBC News‘ correspondent John Hockenberry did a report on Dateline highlighting GE’s business relationship with the Bin Laden family and was criticized by the company, who owns NBC, for the Dateline report.
Free markets, profits, and the oil companies
O’Reilly questions the free market by suggesting that the oil companies need an excuse to raise prices thereby overlooking the fact that in a free market, oil companies have the right to increase prices so as to increase profits or for any other reason. Rather than praise oil companies for their record profits, O’Reilly has been critical of oil companies, claiming their record profits are evidence that they have price-gouged Americans with artificially high gas prices. and has said he is personally boycotting products by Exxon-Mobil. It therefore appears that O’Reilly does not recognize profit maximization as a virtue. He has often taken an opposing point of view to conservatives such as fellow Fox News analyst and commentator, Neil Cavuto. During one discussion on The O’Reilly Factor, Cavuto accused O’Reilly of “push[ing] populist nonsense.” He said blocking Brazilian ethanol imports was “awful” and has criticized both the Bush Administration and the Clinton Administration for not doing enough to stem the cost of oil from “foreign predators”.
In a May 8, 2006 article published at the Jewish World Review, O’Reilly said, “There is no question that illegal workers deliver more profit to business than American workers do. A Harvard study says that the employment of illegal foreign workers has driven down wages among American high school dropouts, the lowest labor pool rung, by 7 percent.”
Bill O’Reilly on his show The O’Reilly Factor has expressed the view that “if everybody followed the teachings of Jesus Christ, […] we’d have peace on earth, […] everybody would love one another, and we’d almost be an idyllic civilization.”
O’Reilly claims that the United States is not doing enough to make itself independent of foreign oil, stating that “There’s no way the ethanol industry could be dominated by five mega-companies. I mean corn and sugar cannot be carteled. The oil racket is simple: We control the marketplace, and you have to buy from us. … If Brazil can develop an ethanol industry that makes it completely independent of foreign oil, then the USA can.”
Story 2: Totalitarians of Lying Lunatic Left Attempt to Suppress Speech of Conservatives, Libertarians, and Classical Liberals — Nothing New — Go On Offense And Attack The Collectivist Totalitarians — Battle For Berkeley — Berkeley Protesters Take the Pepsi Challenge — Why the Right Won — Chief of Police Orders Berkeley Police To Stand Down — Videos
Does Free Speech Offend You?
Ben Shapiro on Free Speech, College Campuses, and The Regressive Left
Ben Shapiro – Practical Tactics For Fighting The Left
UC Berkley Must Be Disciplined For Furthering Leftist Violence Against Conservatives
Amid Mounting Controversy, Media Matters Says It’s Time for Bill OReilly to Go | Cheddar
HIDDEN CAM: Media Matters Brags About Sabotaging Roger Stone
Published on Oct 28, 2016
Project Veritas Action has released the sixth video in a multi-part series that is sending shockwaves through the DNC and the Clinton campaign. In a new video released by Project Veritas Action, a PVA journalist exposes how his pay for play with Robert Creamer landed him a meeting with Bradley Beychock, the President of Media Matters For America, an organization that has been attacking James O’Keefe for years.
During the meeting, Beychock gave the PVA journalist a tour of their offices. He also proudly boasted about the Media Matters assault on conservative writer and political consultant Roger Stone.
Battle of Berkeley: Why the Right Won
Published on Apr 17, 2017
Berkeley erupted into political violence on April 15th, 2017, with leftwing radicals attacking the Freedom Rally hosted by Trump supporters. The Antifa thugs were roundly defeated by the Freedom Rally attendees, but where did this violence start? I discuss the events that lead up to this day and uncover the progression of leftwing violence that’s destroying a city that once celebrated free speech.
Lauren Southern And The Madness Behind The Battle Of Berkeley
THE BEAUTIFUL LAUREN SOUTHERN; ProudBoys and Some Ugly Antifa
The Battle of Berkeley in 81 seconds
Berkeley Protesters Take the Pepsi Challenge
Battle of Berkeley 3 FULL DAY[ANTIFA Vs FREE SPEECH PROTESTERS]Patriots Day Rally Ft. Based Stickman
Trump Supporters chase Antifa down the street at FREE SPEECH Rally in Berkeley
Battle of Berkeley 3 as Antifa circled the park
2017 The Battle for Berkeley LARP!
Patriot’s Day Riot in the Streets
UC Berkeley Cancels Coulter Appearance Over Security Concerns
Conservative Commentator Ann Coulter To Speak At UC Berkeley
Ben Shapiro interviews Ann Coulter; Adios America; 7/13/2015; C-Span
UC Berkeley Presses Campus Republicans To Cancel Another Conservative Speaker
WARNING:TRUMP SUPPORTERS ATTACKED AT BERKELEY BY ANTI TRUMP PROTESTERS
Free Speech Battle For Berkeley, California! | Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux
Lauren Southern Coverage of Antifa vs Trump Supporters Battle
Berkeley April 15,Based stick man Antifa smashing
ANTIFA VS America Compilation
Antifa Reddit Admits They Lost Berkeley Battle with Trump Supporters
Berkeley April 15,BAMN leader Yvette Felarca assaults patriots
Berkeley Leftists Riot Against Milo (Mini Documentary: Arrest Yvette Felarca Part 2)
Handicap Senior Citizen U.S Military Vet Stands Up & Cucks Antifa
Is It Wrong To Bash Antifa Leftist Scum?
Berkeley Police Refuse To Stop the Riots – When Told People are Being Beaten, Officer Says “…and?”
Steyn: Media annoyed someone has outfaked their fake news
BILL O’REILLY EXPOSES GEORGE SOROS
EXPOSED : George Soros Owned Media Matters Sabotages Pro Trump Media
George Soros Lost Interview Compilation – Left Wing Oligarch
George Soros exposed!
George Soros Warns The World About Fox News And How Dangerous IT Really Is
George Soros, Puppet Master
Mark Levin: Media Matters is “A Criminal Enterprise”!
Andrew Breitbart — Media War
Thomas Sowell — Dismantling America
TAKE IT TO THE LIMITS: Milton Friedman on Libertarianism
Andrew Breitbart Predicted and Warned us about George Soro’s Media Matters Controlling our Media
One World Government & Collectivism – G. Edward Griffin
The Quigley Formula – G. Edward Griffin lecture
The Mainstream Media Are Enemies of Freedom, Agents of Tyranny and Must Be Overthrown
Super rich are in a conspiracy to rule the world – G. Edward Griffin – 2007
Antifa and Conservatives Throw Down At ‘Battle Of Berkeley’…
TEAM CROWDERMONDAY APRIL 17 2017
In the course of history, there have been many great battles. Thermopylae. Gettysburg. Tupac and Biggie. The forces of good and douchebag have long utilized beating the crap out of each other to resolve their grievances. Well, last weekend, yet another battle was had. Conservative and leftist blood alike was shed at what shall henceforth be referred to as the Battle of Berkeley…
For the third time this year, Trump supporters and Antifa clashed on the streets of Berkeley, California. The two forces met Saturday during the pro-Trump Patriot Day rally.
Berkeley Police have arrested at least 15 people this morning and afternoon, after antifascists met Trump supporters at a pro-Trump rally. Police attempted to maintain order with poles and fence mesh, but the barriers did not stop the two sides from violently engaging.
Trump supporters had organized a Patriot Day rally, starring Lauren Southern, a former reporter for conservative Canadian outlet The Rebel Media and Kyle Chapman, a man who achieved internet stardom as “Based Stickman” after assaulting a member of Antifa with a stick at the March 4 scuffle in Berkeley, among others.
Berkeley police have confiscated banned items such as knives, flagpoles, and sticks used as weapons.
Story 1: Amazing Grace and Forgiving Hearts of Robert Godwin Family — Breaking– Facebook Killer/Suicide of Steven Stephens — Amazing Grace — Rest In Peace — Videos —
Amazing Grace: The children of Robert Godwin with Anderson Cooper
Cleveland Police Chief and Mayor react to news of Steve Stephens death
Family of Robert Godwin Sr. remembers their father
Emotions flow at vigil for Robert Godwin
Rumors circulate about Facebook killer, Tara Molina reports
Debunking the rumors about Facebook live shooting, News 5’s Tara Molina takes you into our newsroom
Users call for Facebook to address “safety risk”
FBI: Massive Police hunt for Cleveland live stream Facebook killer Steve Stephens – LoneWolf
Manhunt in Cleveland for alleged gunman Steve Stephens in Facebook Live shooting of elderly man
BREAKING NEWS: Crazed Suspect Loose in Cleveland: 5 Things You Need to Know about Steve Stephens
Timeline of Facebook killer’s posts
Air Tracker 5: Jon Rudder reports
JUDY COLLINS – “Amazing Grace” with Boys’ Choir Of Harlem 1993
Amazing Grace (without choir) by Judy Collins
Celtic Woman – Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace (original version)
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be for ever mine.
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
A Clip from Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace – full movie
Amazing Grace, Ending
‘We just want him to know that God loves him’: Children of Cleveland man who was gunned down on Facebook say they FORGIVE his killer
Robert Godwin’s family spoke out about their father’s shocking death on Sunday
The 74-year-old father-of-ten was filmed as he was gunned down in Cleveland
‘Each of us forgives the killer, the murderer,’ his daughter, Tonya, said Monday
Police said the killer, Steve Stephens, 37, shot himself on Tuesday
By Dailymail.com Reporter
PUBLISHED: 12:03 EDT, 18 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:09 EDT, 18 April 2017
The children of the man who was shot dead in a Facebook video has incredibly forgiven his murder – just hours before it was announced the killer had been found dead.
Steve Stephens, 37, gunned down 74-year-old Robert Godwin – a father-of-ten and retired manufacturing worker – in Cleveland on Sunday. Police said on Tuesday morning the 37-year-old shot himself after a brief officer pursuit.
Godwin’s family spoke to WJW on Monday prior to Stephens’ death, saying they forgave him and called on him to turn himself in before hurting anyone else.
‘Each one of us forgives the killer, the murderer,’ his daughter, Tonya, said.
The family of 74-year-old Robert Godwin (pictured with his daughter, Tonya) has said they forgive the man who murdered their father in Cleveland on Sunday
‘We want to wrap our arms around him.
‘We just want him to know that God loves him, we love him. Yes we’re hurt, but we have to forgive him because the Bible says if we don’t then the heavenly father won’t forgive us.’
Godwin’s son, Robert Jr,echoed the sentiment.
‘One thing I do want to say is I forgive him. Because we are all sinners,’ he told CNN.
‘Steve, I forgive you man. I’m not happy with what you did, but I forgive you.’
Police had been searching for Stephens since the video of the shooting emerged on Sunday afternoon.
Police presser on Facebook murder suspect who killed himself
Stephens (pictured) had been on the run since posting the video on Facebook on Sunday. Police said he shot himself on Tuesday morning
Godwin’s son, Robert Jr (left), and his daughter, Tonya (right), both said they have forgiven their father’s killer
It showed him driving in his car, before getting out and walking up to a man – who was later identified as Godwin.
The two spoke briefly in the clip, before Stephens pulled the trigger and got back in his car to drive away.
In the video Stephens posted on social media, he was heard saying: ‘I snapped, I just snapped.’
He then addressed a woman, Joy Lane, by saying: ‘She’s the reason that this is about to happen.’
Robert Godwin’s (pictured) son said he just wanted Stephens to turn himself in before hurting anyone else
Stephens had been wanted on aggravated murder charges for killing 74-year-old Robert Godwin and then posting video of the shooting (above) to Facebook
Lane said in a text message to CBS News: ‘We had been in a relationship for several years. I am sorry that all of this has happened.’
Stephens filed for bankruptcy two years ago despite holding down a job as a counselor helping young people develop job skills and find employment.
The behavioral health agency where he worked said an extensive background check before he was hired turned up nothing worrisome.
In another video posted on Facebook, Stephens said he gambled away everything and that he and his girlfriend had planned to marry but did not, without saying why.
Pennsylvania State Police say they will hold a news conference on the Steve Stephens case at 3:30 p.m. at Troop E barracks in Lawrence Park.
Steve Stephens’ taste for McDonald’s helped the Pennsylvania State Police catch the accused Facebook killer in Erie.
Employees at the McDonald’s on Buffalo Road, in Harborcreek Township, said a drive-through attendant alerted state police when Stephens stopped at the restaurant’s drive-through window shortly after 11 a.m.
The McDonald’s is about five miles east of where state police stopped Stephens in Erie.
Thomas DuCharme Jr., owner and operator of the McDonald’s, said the attendant thought she recognized Stephens. DuCharme said the attendant then called state police.
DuCharme said Stephens ordered 20 chicken nuggets and a basket of fries, but that the workers held off on delivering the fries to delay Stephens. He said Stephens got the nuggets.
“We told him his fries were going to be a minute,” said Henry Sayers, the restaurant’s manager.
Said DuCharme: “I am pretty sure he figured out that we were on to him. He didn’t want to wait for his fries.”
He said Stephens then drove away without the fries.
Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook pronounced Stephens dead at the scene at 11:35 a.m. Investigators are getting search warrants for the car and are waiting on the arrival of a state police accident reconstruction team later this afternoon.
Cook said his office would conduct an autopsy at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
Three state police cruisers involved in the stop of Stephens’ car remained at the scene, along with Stephens’ car.
Warren Harris, 64, of Erie, who is on the scene of the investigation, said he had lived near Steve Stephens and his family in Beachwood, Ohio.
Harris, who said he has lived in Erie for 12 years, said the family is “good, churchgoing family.” He said that today’s events did not surprise him because “incidents like this happen where I’m from.”
A spokeswoman at Stephens’ employer told the Erie Times-News in a telephone interview on Tuesday afternoon that employees there learned quickly of Stephens’ death in Erie via news reports.
“It’s just been a tragic situation, on every front, with this story,” said Nancy Kortemeyer, senior director of marketing and public relations at Beech Brook, located in northeast Ohio.
Beech Brook is a behavioral health organization serving children, teenagers and families.
According to a statement Beech Brook officials posted on its website, Stephens worked there since 2008, most recently as a vocational specialist for youth and young adults. Prior to that, Stephens had been a youth mentor.
Stephens had no major disciplinary actions at Beech Brook, Kortemeyer said, and there was nothing in his work history “that would have been a red flag.”
The manhunt for Stephens has been “very much a strain and a worry” for the Beech Brook staff, Kortemeyer said.
“We’ve been worried about the safety of our staff and our clients,” Kortemeyer said. “We are just relieved the situation has been resolved without any further harm to anyone else.
Kortemeyer added, “It’s so sad that Steve Stephens took his own life. We don’t know what would have caused him to do this.”
Beech Brook issued a statement regarding Stephens’ death later Tuesday on its website:
“It was with a mixture of sadness and relief that Beech Brook learned of the suicide of Steve Stephens. Every suicide is a tragedy, but we also share a sense of relief with the rest of our community because we are no longer fearful that Mr. Stephens will take more lives.
“We are deeply grateful to the law enforcement officials who vigorously pursued this case. Our thoughts are with all of those impacted by these senseless acts of violence.”
From Pennsylvania State Police, or PSP, in a news release:
” ‘Facebook Killer’ Steve Stephens was spotted just after 11 a.m. by an alert citizen near the intersection of Buffalo Road and Downing Avenue in Erie County, Pennsylvania, which is less than two miles from PSP Troop E headquarters.
“PSP troopers immediately began to canvas the area for Stephens and located him in his vehicle a short time later. Troopers in marked patrol units initiated a pursuit that lasted approximately two miles.
“The troopers attempted a PIT maneuver to disable Stephens’ vehicle, a white Ford Fusion. As the vehicle was spinning out of control from the PIT maneuver, Stephens pulled a pistol and shot himself in the head.”
Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have arrived on scene. The FBI arrived earlier and agents are still on scene.
From a news conference in Cleveland at about 12:15 p.m.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said he had no information on why Steven Stephens was in Erie.
“We are taking a cautious approach,” he said. “There may be connections we don’t know about. There is still a lot we don’t know.”
Chief acknowledged that their federal partners had spent time searching Erie and the surrounding area.
Anyone who knows that area, he said, knows “there are a lot of places to hide.”
The press conference was held less than an hour after Stephens took his own life. At that early point, “We have spoken with all the families involved. They had all been notified,” Williams said.
Williams said at the news conference that he had few details: “Our investigators are on their way now,” he said.
Another officer who spokes at the news conference, but whose name was not available, said: “We had hoped to bring Steve in peacefully and talk to him about what happened.”
The same police officials said: “Kudos to Pennsylvania State Police for doing an outstanding job.”
Asked if he was worried about potential copycats who might commit their own crimes and post them to social media, Chief Williams shook his head no.
“We’re not putting that energy out there,” he said. “We’ve talked about people not living their lives on social media. This is something that should never have been shared on social media, period.”
Chief Williams said police followed up on about 400 leads across the country, but it was one particular tip that led police to Stephens.
“We are grateful to the people who gave this tip to Pennsylvania State Police,” he said.
State police commanders have left the scene. Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook had been examining the body of Steve Stephens inside the white Ford Fusion, where police said he fatally shot himself after state police pulled him over at around 11:10 a.m.
Spectators at the scene of an investigation of Steve Stephens’ apparent suicide in Erie, many streaming video of the scene from their smartphones, were glad the manhunt for the accused Cleveland Facebook killer was over. They said they’d been worried about the safety of local children after first hearing Stephens might be in Erie.
Others were not afraid at all.
“Everyone was scared of this dude for no reason,” Melvon Heidelberg said.
Heidelberg, 21, of Erie, traveled to the scene from East Lake Road after his friend told him Stephens had been found.
“People get shot out here everyday,” he said. “In Erie, that’s how it is. It’s real out here. You gotta be careful.”
Another spectator, Lisa Jenkins, of Erie, said the city has enough problems already.
“We don’t need Cleveland’s,” said Jenkins, 47.
Erie police have confirmed the suicide in Erie on Tuesday of Steve Stephens, the Cleveland resident suspected of fatally shooting a Cleveland man on Sunday and posting video of the slaying on Facebook.
Stephens died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while driving a white Ford Fusion near Buffalo Road and Downing Avenue around 11:10 a.m., police said.
State police were following the car as it headed west into Erie after leaving a nearby McDonald’s, police said.
The car, pointed west, is stopped in the westbound lane of Buffalo Road, across from the former Burton Elementary School, 1660 Buffalo Road. Police are blocking off the entire school grounds.
Erie police are also at the scene, with Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook and the FBI and Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri.
Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott said early Tuesday afternoon that he did not have much information about the incident, but he expected to be briefed later in the day by Police Chief Don Dacus.
“Obviously when you’ve got a fugitive out there, you’re pleased to see it come to some quick resolution,” Sinnott said.
Increase in Violent Crime, Decrease in Property Crime
Today, the FBI released its annual compilation of crimes reported to its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program by law enforcement agencies from around the nation. Crime in the United States, 2015 reveals a 3.9 percent increase in the estimated number of violent crimes and a 2.6 percent decrease in the estimated number of property crimes last year when compared to 2014 data.
According to the report, there were an estimated 1,197,704 violent crimes committed around the nation. While that was an increase from 2014 figures, the 2015 violent crime total was 0.7 percent lower than the 2011 level and 16.5 percent below the 2006 level.
Among some of the other statistics contained in Crime in the United States, 2015:
The estimated number of murders in the nation was 15,696.
During the year, there were an estimated 90,185 rapes. (This figure currently reflects UCR’s legacy definition. Learn more about the revised rape definition.)
There were an estimated 327,374 robberies nationwide, which accounted for an estimated $390 million in losses (average dollar value of stolen property per reported robbery was $1,190).
Firearms were used in 71.5 percent of the nation’s murders, 40.8 percent of robberies, and 24.2 percent of aggravated assaults.
Property crimes resulted in losses estimated at $14.3 billion. The total value of reported stolen property (i.e., currency, jewelry, motor vehicles, electronics, firearms) was $12,420,364,454.
In addition to national crime data, the publication also contains agency-level data, regional data, state totals, data from cities and counties grouped by populations, and statistics from certain metropolitan areas.
Crime in the United States, 2015 also features several smaller reports:
Federal Crime Data, the second report from UCR looking at crime reporting from federal agencies, includes 2015 data from FBI and ATF cases as well as traditional offense information from other federal agencies.
Human Trafficking, the third report from UCR’s Human Trafficking data collection, includes general content about human trafficking as well as data provided by agencies that reported human trafficking offenses in 2015.
Cargo Theft, the third report from UCR’s Cargo Theft data collection, contains general information about cargo theft and data provided by agencies that reported cargo theft violations during 2015.
Also included in Crime in the United States, 2015 is a message from Director James Comey on FBI efforts to improve the collection, analysis, and uses of crime statistics and data about law enforcement’s use of force, primarily through its ongoing shift to the more detailed National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) and a use-of-force database. Both, he said, will “give us a more complete, richer picture of crime in our communities, and a national and detailed picture of the ways we in law enforcement are using force.”
According to Comey, who cited the need for more transparency and accountability in law enforcement, “Information that is accurate, reliable, complete, and timely will help all of us learn where we have problems and how to get better.”
Expanded offense data are the details of the various offenses that the Uniform Crime Reporting Program collects beyond the count of how many crimes law enforcement agencies report. These details may include the type of weapon used in a crime, type or value of items stolen, and so forth. For example, expanded homicide data provide supplemental details about murders, such as the age, sex, race, and ethnicity of both the victim and the offender, the weapon used in the homicide, the circumstances surrounding the offense, and the relationship of the victim to the offender. In addition to these types of details, expanded data include trends (for example, 2-year comparisons) and crime rates per 100,000 inhabitants.
Expanded offense data, including expanded homicide data, are details collected in addition to the reports of the number of crimes known. As a result, law enforcement agencies can report an offense without providing the supplemental information about that offense.
Story 2: Breaking — Racist Black Muslim Kori Ali Muhammad,39, aka Black Jesus Kills Three Shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) — Pop, Bang, Boom — Camera Moves — Shot Spotter — Red Dot — Digital Justice — Videos —
Fresno shooting 4-18-17 Kori Ali Muhammad screaming Ali Akbar!
Fresno Shooting Suspect Identified – Kori Ali Muhammad AKA Black Jesus
Fresno Shooting Spree: Three Dead After Gunman Opens Fire | NBC Nightly News
Police: Fresno Shootings Race-Related, But No Ties To Terrorist Groups
Shooting Spree in California Leaves Three People Dead
ShotSpotter – Gunshot Detection System
Three Dead In Fresno Shooting Spree
Racial Crime Statistics
The Truth About Crime
Why Black Crime Matters | Colin Flaherty and Stefan Molyneux
The Role of Psych Meds in Mass Shootings
At Issue In Brief #140102 “Shot Spotter — How It Works”
SST – ShotSpotter Overview
Uploaded on Oct 27, 2011
ShotSpotter is a family of acoustic gunshot detection, alert and analysis solutions developed by SST Inc. Gunshot data has a trickle-down effect that can provide immense value. Watch the video to learn how our real-time data helps law enforcement respond more intelligently and make communities safer. It is our mission and honor to serve our communities and their respective law enforcement agencies.
Published on Apr 18, 2017
Three people were shot to death in less than a minute at separate locations Tuesday in Fresno, California, authorities said. A fugitive wanted in a previous homicide was arrested at the scene.
The man, identified as Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, who investigators said used the alias “Black Jesus,” was arrested and was being held awaiting at least four counts of murder, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters.In addition to the three people who were killed Tuesday, Muhammad had been wanted in connection with the shooting death of a security guard at a Motel 6 last Thursday, Dyer said.
At least 16 rounds were fired in less than a minute at four locations, including a Catholic Charities facility, where the gunman killed a man in the parking lot, Dyer said. None of the victims worked at the charity, he said.
While police said the gunman yelled “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) during the incident, it was too early to say whether terrorism was a factor, Dyer said.
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Hate crime is suspected after a gunman kills 3 white men in downtown Fresno
Veronica Rocha , Joseph Serna, Diana Marcum and Hailey Branson-PottsContact Reporters
Kori Ali Muhammad told his family there was a war going on between blacks and whites in America.
On social media, he referred to white people as “devils.” Earlier in the year, he posted a rap album on YouTube replete with violent, explicit, racially-charged lyrics, including referring to himself in one song as a “black soldier.”
On Tuesday morning, police say Muhammad stalked the streets of downtown Fresno, fatally shooting three white men with a .357 revolver. Before surrendering to police, he allegedly shouted “Allahu akbar” and expressed hatred toward white people and the government, according to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.
Local authorities said they don’t believe the attack was an act of terrorism but are investigating it as a hate crime.
“If in fact he’s lashing out at white people — white males in this case — that would constitute a hate crime,” Dyer said. “We believe it is a hate crime, definitely a hate crime.”
The chief said investigators don’t believe Muhammad worked with anyone else in the attack, calling him “an individual that is filled with hate, filled with anger.”
The attack occurred over less than two minutes with Muhammad firing a total of 16 shots. Dyer said he surrendered to a responding officer without incident and later apologized to the chief.
In addition to Tuesday’s killings, police said Muhammad was suspected in the fatal shooting of a security guard, also a white male, last week.
Muhammad’s father, Vincent Taylor, told The Times on Tuesday that his son believed that he was part of an ongoing war between whites and blacks, and that “a battle was about to take place.”
The attack began at around 10:45 a.m. in the 300 block of North Van Ness Avenue. Within a few seconds, a second burst of gunfire was heard, then a third and a fourth. Sixteen rounds were fired in four locations, Dyer said.
After the shots were heard, Dyer said the driver of a PG&E truck arrived at the city’s police headquarters to report that a passenger had been shot by a gunman who had approached them on foot.
After firing at the truck passenger, Muhammad walked west on East Mildreda Avenue, where he came across a resident and opened fire, Dyer said, but missed his target.
Muhammad then continued walking on Mildreda and approached Fulton Street, where he fatally shot another man before reloading his weapon, Dyer said.
He then headed toward Catholic Charities in the 100 block of North Fulton Street and fired a second fatal volley of gunfire, killing a man in the parking lot.
An officer in the area spotted the gunman running south on Fulton. He then “dove onto the ground” and was taken into custody, the chief said.
“As he was taken into custody, he yelled out, ‘Allahu akbar,’ ” Dyer said.
“Allahu akbar” roughly translates to “God is great” in Arabic and is a common positive refrain uttered by Muslims in prayer or in celebration. But the phrase has also been linked to terrorist attacks. The gunman who killed 13 people in a terror attack at Fort Hood, Texas, screamed “Allahu akbar” as he opened fire in 2009, and the phrase is often tweeted by social media accounts sympathetic to Islamic State and other terror groups.
The victims in Tuesday’s attack were not immediately identified. In a statement released last week, Fresno police said Muhammad was believed to have shot and killed Carl Williams, an unarmed 25-year-old security guard, outside of a Motel 6 on North Blackstone Avenue on Thursday.
Muhammad did not make any references to race during last week’s attack, according to Dyer, who said investigators will need time to determine the exact motive in the shootings.
“There was no statement made on Thursday night when he shot the security guard and killed him,” Dyer said. “There was no comments or no statements made at that time, so I am not certain why he said what he said today.”
Muhammad legally changed his name from Kori Taylor when he was a teenager, according to his grandmother, Glenestene Taylor, who said Muhammad was acting strangely when he visited her Sunday. He was crying, but she believed he was simply going out of town.
“I thought that’s why he’s upset, because he thinks of me as a mother,” said Taylor, 81. “He’s always telling me, ‘I’ll take care of it. I’ll protect you. Don’t you worry about it.’ He really didn’t want to go but he was going.”
A Facebook profile page for a Kori Ali Muhammad from Fresno paid homage to black pride and black nationalism, with images of the red, green and black Pan-African flag and a raised fist.
The rambling profile includes militant and apocalyptic language and repeated demands to “let black people go.” He referenced “white devils” and praised melanoma skin cancer.
On Saturday afternoon, Muhammad posted a photo of himself in a colorful garment, with his head covered, and the words: “LET BLACK PEOPLE GO OR THE DOOM INCREASES REPARATIONS & SEPARATION NOW.”
On Monday he wrote: “MY KILL RATE INCRESASES TREMENDOUSLY ON THE OTHER SIDE ASÈ ALLAH U AKBAR.”
Brian Levin, director of Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, said many of Muhammad’s social media postings make reference to terms used by the Nation of Islam, which has been labeled a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Pointing to Muhammad’s repeated references to “white devils” and “Yakub” — the villainous figure responsible for creating white people, according to Nation of Islam lore — Levin said it is likely Muhammad thought he was taking part in a race war against whites.
“We’re living in an era of violent reciprocal prejudice, and there are references on his website to Fard Muhammad, the founder of Nation of Islam, and Nation of Islam uses the term white devils quite prolifically, as did this shooter,” Levin said.
Muhammad also repeatedly used the phrase “Black Dragon Lion Hawk” in his Facebook posts, and Levin said such nods to warrior culture are also common in black separatist circles.
But Glenestene Taylor said she didn’t remember her grandson showing a racial bias, toward whites or anyone else, in all his years staying with her or during countless visits to her predominately white Fresno neighborhood.
“He would say something derogatory about anybody, didn’t matter about the color,” she said. “If he didn’t like what they did, he didn’t like what they did no matter the color.”
Muhammad had run afoul of Fresno police before. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2005 for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm for drug trafficking and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, after a Fresno police officer searched his car and found two large bags of cocaine, a loaded handgun and two rifles, court records show. A federal judge later declared Muhammad mentally incompetent to stand trial.
He was deemed competent in August 2006 and pleaded guilty to the charges of cocaine possession with intent to distribute and a weapons charge. He ultimately served 92 months in federal prison, records show.
Hours after the shootings Tuesday, two shaken workers at the Catholic charity said they had ducked under yellow police tape to get out.
They said they were told not to talk to the news media. But one, a Vietnam veteran, said a person never forgets the sound of guns. He said that the charity gives away food every day and that families are allowed to come only once a week.
“We feed a lot of children, so we have to make sure that the food gets spread around,” he said.
“This is a sad day for us all. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims,” Fresno Mayor Lee Brand said in a statement. “None of us can imagine what they must be going through.”
Vincent Taylor said he hopes his son’s capture headed off any future bloodshed.
“I’m happy he was arrested,” he said. “I would hope that whatever Kori tells [police,] they take him seriously and they start following up.”
Dr John Lott, “More Guns Less Crime” Northwest Business Club 6-12-2013
John Lott Presentation: Do Gun-Free Zones Make us Safer?
Three dead in central Fresno shooting spree; suspect caught, linked to Motel 6 slaying
BY JIM GUY
Three people were shot and killed after a man went on a shooting spree Tuesday in Fresno, randomly shooting at four white men, killing three, before he was taken into custody, police Chief Jerry Dyer said.
Two of the people shot outside Catholic Charities, on Fulton Street just north of downtown, may have been clients of the social service agency, not employees, Dyer said. The third victim was a passenger in a Pacific Gas & Electric truck. A fourth man was shot at but not injured.
Dyer said the gunman walked up to a PG&E truck in the 300 block of North Van Ness Avenue about 10:45 a.m. and shot the passenger repeatedly. The driver of the pickup then sped to Fresno police headquarters on M Street. The second shooting was only a few seconds later and was at Van Ness and Mildreda Street, where the gunman shot at but missed a resident. The gunman then turned onto Fulton Street and fired several rounds at another man, striking and killing him, Dyer said. After reloading at a bus stop, the gunman then shot and killed a man in the parking lot of Catholic Charities in the 100 block of North Fulton Street, he said.
Officers responding to the initial shotspotter reports found Muhammad running south on Fulton. Muhammad dove to the ground and yelled “Ali Akbar” before he was taken into custody, Dyer said. Although police found rounds of .357 caliber bullets and speed loaders for a revolver when Muhammad was taken into custody, no weapon was found, Dyer said.
Dyer said that it’s too soon to determine if the shootings involved terrorism.
Kori Ali Muhammad. FRESNO POLICE DEPARTMENT
However, a review of Muhammad’s social media shows he quoted the phrase “Allahu Akbar” in a tweet. The Arabic phrase translates to “God is the greatest.”
The FBI and ATF have both been notified about Tuesday’s shootings, Dyer said. But Dyer noted that in Thursday’s shooting at Motel 6, which was caught on surveillance video, Muhammad did not make any similar statements. “What we know is that this was a random act of violence,” Dyer said. “There is every reason to believe he acted alone.”
Muhammad was identified early in the Motel 6 murder, based on the surveillance cameras, and officers had sought him in Madera and other locations in subsequent days. His Facebook page at one point indicated that he was in Atlanta, which was untrue, Dyer said. His Facebook posts indicated that “he does not like white people, and he has anti-government sentiments,” the chief said.
Witnesses reported the gunman sprayed rounds while reloading and cursing. One man was reportedly shot to death at the scene near Catholic Charities.
A second gunshot victim was reported outside of the the Fresno Police Department station at Mariposa Mall and M Street at 10:51 a.m. The victim also was taken to Community Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, Dyer said.
Police are investigating at four separate crime scenes on Van Ness, Mildreda and Fulton, and those areas will remain closed for at least a few hours, Dyer said. At least one shooting victim remained on the scene, and officers with K-9 are searching for the murder weapon.
At 10:54 a.m., a report of a man down was reported at 215 N. Fulton St., about a block from Catholic Charities. That victim died at the scene, county Emergency Medical Services officials confirmed.
Fresno County government offices are on a lockdown alert. People have been urged to shelter in place. Homicide detectives were called to the shooting scenes. At least one agent from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was at the Fulton Street shooting scene, and agents from Homeland Security were outside Fresno police headquarters.
A witness who lives close to Catholic Charities who did not want to be identified, said he watched the chaos unfold from his front yard as the suspect, carrying a large-caliber revolver, shot a man repeatedly in a front yard on the west side Fulton Street north of Nevada Avenue. Then, he stopped and calmly ejected spent shell casings from the weapon and reloaded near a bus stop south of Nevada.
“The shells are still there,” the witness said, pointing them out.
The suspect then walked south on Fulton, where he opened fire on a man in the Catholic Charities parking lot, the witness said.A witness said the suspect carried a large-caliber handgun and shot a man repeatedly in a front yard on Fulton Street north of Nevada Avenue, then reloaded at a bus stop south of Nevada.
The suspect then shot a man in the Catholic Charities parking lot, the witness said.
“He didn’t look like a gang-banger or anything,” the witness said.
At Catholic Charities, about a dozen distraught people cried, moaned and hugged one another as several undercover police officers worked furiously to keep the shooting victim alive by pumping on his chest. Blood from the gunshot wounds flooded the ground nearby.
“It could have been me,” moaned one man. “I ran. He couldn’t get away,” he added, pointing to the victim as an ambulance sped toward the shooting, driving the wrong way up Fulton with siren blaring.
“Give us some room! Move back,” shouted a woman, apparently a worker at the charity, where people line up daily to seek food and necessities. It’s an area where misery and petty crime happen every day, but nothing like this.
Arriving police officers jumped from their cars, pushing everyone back and throwing up crime scene tape.
A witness describes the shooting near Fulton Street on Tuesday, April 18.
Jim GuyThe Fresno Bee
Teresa Dominguez, chancellor for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, said the diocese is providing support for those who witnessed the shooting.
“The diocese will be present to the needs of all those serving as witnesses to this violent and traumatic event,” Dominguez said, “such as counseling and pastoral care, and Bishop Ochoa asks for the prayer of all the faithful for the victims of this violent crime and their families, and that law enforcement will be successful in the their investigation in identifying the perpetrator.”
Imam Seyed Ali Ghazvini of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno said this attack is against the Muslim faith.
“We denounce and reject in the strongest words possible this kind of violence and attack,” Ghazvini said, “and we request law enforcement agencies investigate the reasons and motivations about the person himself. He’s not known in our community, and we are in touch with other communities to see if he was a member or not. At this time, we are collecting information to see who is this person.…We have a very active relationship with all branches of state and federal law enforcement agencies in the Valley to make them aware of possible extremism within our area.”
Ghazvini said the literal translation of “Allahu Akbar” means “God is the greatest.” It is used during prayers and “unfortunately the same term is being used in an evil manner by extremists and terrorists trying to give some kind of religious legitimacy to their acts – we strongly denounce this.
“We do use this term during our prayer and calls for prayer, and we use it to pray to God and ask for healing people and bringing peace…the way it is being used by extremist and violent people is actually against our faith and is a misrepresentation of the word.”
FRESNO, Calif. — A man shot and killed three people on the streets of downtown Fresno on Tuesday, authorities said.
Suspect Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, shouted “Allahu Akbar” — meaning “God is great” in Arabic — as police tackled him to the ground after the shootings, which were spread over four locations, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said, CBS affiliate KGPE-TV reports.
He later told police that he hates white people, according to authorities.
All three victims were white, police said, and the victims appeared to be random, according to Dyer.
The suspect had been wanted in connection to a killing last week, the Fresno Police Department said.
Shot Spotter detected the first gunshots around 10:45 a.m., according to KGPE. The suspect shot into a Pacific Gas & Energy vehicle, killing the passenger, the station reports, and Muhammad continued walking and opened fire at a local resident but missed.
KGPE said the suspect approached another resident and shot and killed that person.
Ashlee Wolf of Catholic Charities told the Fresno Bee newspaper that the final shooting took place at a bus stop near the charity.
Wolf said the charity doesn’t believe the shooter was tied to Catholic Charities. She says the charity is working with police to provide information.
Sayed Ali Ghazvini, imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, said Muhammad was not a member of his congregation and he did not recognize him. The imam said he is consulting with other faith leaders.
“We’re kind of shocked and surprised for what happened,” Ghazvini said. “We are very sorry for this to happen. We offer condolences for the victims, we pray for the victims and their families.”
Following the shooting, Fresno city spokesman Mark Standriff said county offices were placed on lockdown, and people were urged to shelter in place.
For years the city of Dallas has toyed with the idea of using ShotSpotter to pinpoint exactly where a gun was fired inside the city limits. But in 2009 the deal with the California company got hung up because of Oncor, which didn’t want ShotSpotter hanging its sensors on electrical poles. In 2011, SpotShotter went ahead and axed the pilot. And now, the council discovered Monday, it’s just too danged expensive.That’s what Dallas assistant police chiefs Catrina Shead and Mike Genovesi told the Dallas City Council’s Quality of Life Committee yesterday, as in: SpotShooter wants $50,000 per square mile of equipment, with a three-square-mile minimum. The city could try to lease it from SpotShooter, said Shead, but the price would remain about the same. At which point the council more or less dropped the subject.
Ralph A. Clark, the company’s chief executive, tells The Dallas Morning News today that it’s actually a little more than that — anywhere from $60,000 to $90,000 per square mile, depending on the terrain and the amount of sensors needed for deployment. ShotSpotter installs and maintains the sensors — which, he says, are “specialized computers with microphones that record, triangulate and time-stamp an impulse of noise” — which are monitored by police. Officers can be dispatched to a gunshot site in real time.
New York City started piloting ShotSpotter back in March, around Brooklyn and the Bronx, joining the likes of Boston, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis and other big and small cities willing to cough up the dough. Clark says his company’s had no “substantive” contact with Dallas officials during his tenure, which began in 2010. But “I do recall from the company oral history there were discussions with Dallas at one point” — but those died after Oncor took its firm pole position.
Dallas officials had hoped to use ShotSpotter all over town — not merely to track down violent crimes, but to cut down on so-called “celebratory noise violations” that occur, oh, every major holiday in some parts of town and every single night in others.
Outgoing council member Dwaine Caraway wants ShotSpotter no matter the price. He made that very, very clear yesterday.
“Even if we engage ourselves in a lease program for a minimum period of time, the idea is to change the behavior,” he told the chiefs and his colleagues. “I’d like to think we’d like to take a look at this program.” He proposed several locations: Audelia and LBJ Freeway, in Highland Hills, near Paul Quinn College. No doubt anyone reading this could suggest several other hot spots.
“I think it’s well worth trying to minimize that activity and let folks know the tech is there to prevent this,” he said. “Sometimes spending a few dollars to make sure people are aware would begin to minimize that behavior.”
But for now, at least, Dallas isn’t going to spot the shot, even if most of the gunfire in Dallas goes unreported. Instead, per the briefing materials, Dallas police will launch an “enhanced public awareness campaign against gunfire during celebrations.” Because that always works.
Story 1: Turkey Votes To Change From Parliamentary to Presidential System of Government — Videos —
Where’s Turkey headed after its referendum? – Inside Story
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Is Turkey Becoming a Dictatorship?: Erdogan Claims Victory in Vote to Give President Sweeping Powers
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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’
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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.
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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.