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Quick Takes: News You May Have Missed

Klein-Aaron

Kerry Suggests International Control Of Jerusalem’s Holy Sites

Secretary of State John Kerry quietly presented a U.S. plan for eastern Jerusalem that calls for an international administrative mandate to control holy sites in the area, according to informed Palestinian and Israeli diplomatic sources.

The exact composition of the international mandate is up for discussion, the sources said, but Kerry’s plan recommended a coalition that includes the Vatican, together with a group of Muslim countries such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The international arrangement is being proposed as a temporary solution for about two to three years while security arrangements in Jerusalem between Israelis and Palestinians are finalized, said the sources.

Israel, the sources said, was not receptive to the particulars of Kerry’s plan, especially the concept of Turkish participation in Jerusalem. Kerry told the Israelis he would hold talks with the Kingdom of Jordan about its playing a leading role in the proposal in the place of Turkey, the sources added.

Kerry was in Jerusalem last week as part of an Obama administration effort to reach a deal for a Palestinian state by April, a timeline that is still on track, Kerry told reporters.

 

Why Did The U.S. Sabotage Its Own Raid?

More information is emerging that a puzzling decision by the Obama administration likely sabotaged the effort to capture one of the most important terrorist figures charged with carrying out the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Questions surround the timing and manner in which the U.S. in October seized wanted militant Abu Anas al-Libi, who was living openly in his home in Libya and likely could have been captured at a different time.

It is now becoming increasingly clear the decision to capture al-Libi all but thwarted an operation by covert U.S. operatives who were potentially just hours away from grabbing Ahmed Abu Khattalah, a senior leader of the Ansar Al-Sharia militia wanted for the Benghazi attack.

The Libyan government reportedly granted the U.S. permission in October to seize both al-Libi and Khattalah.

Due to al-Libi’s capture, the Libyan government has clamped down on any further U.S. raids, making it more difficult to go after the Benghazi suspects.

Last week, the Washington Post reported it is increasingly unlikely the U.S. will have another opportunity to capture Khattala in the foreseeable future.

Reported the Post: “Law enforcement officials said that the United States might have missed its best chance to arrest Khattala earlier this year. The U.S. intelligence community hatched a plan to snatch Khattala and…al-Libi. The planning took months, requiring coordination between the FBI, the CIA and the Army’s elite Delta Force.”

The paper quoted American officials claiming that another raid to seize Khattala could “lead to the toppling of Zeidan’s government and increase the chaos in a country that the United States would like to see stabilize.”

The claim that a new raid can topple the Libyan government is largely based on reports Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was briefly kidnapped in retaliation for allowing the U.S. to act on Libyan soil to capture al-Libi.

However, it was the Obama administration that first leaked the details of the al-Libi capture, leading to the alleged kidnapping, as highlighted in a previous Washington Post opinion piece by Mark Thiessen. The leak came in the form of a New York Times front-page story titled “U.S. Officials Say Libya Approved Commando Raids.”

Al-Libi was accused of playing a role in the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

Al-Libi was seized by U.S. Special Forces on Oct. 5 in a daylight raid outside his home. His whereabouts for years was so well known that he had given scores of news media interviews in public places in Libya.

The al-Libi raid was carried out as Special Forces were possibly just hours away from capturing Khattalah after tracking his whereabouts, U.S. officials told CNN.

CNN reported U.S. forces may have been ready to act to capture Khattalah as soon as the day after al-Libi’s arrest, according to some officials.

CNN revealed a top-level White House meeting was scheduled for around Oct. 7 to get Obama’s final approval to capture Khattalah.

However, al-Libi’s capture and its subsequent announcement to news media sent Khattalah deep underground and further caused a major rift with the Libyan government, which demanded an end to any further U.S. raids.

CNN reported the Khattalah raid never materialized “partly because there was so much publicity inside Libya and in the Western press about the al-Libi capture.”

The news network reported the aborted Khattalah capture is leading “to sensitive questions inside the administration about the tradeoff between getting al-Libi and going after the perpetrators of the politically charged Benghazi attack.”

 

Is Obama Prepping To Bypass Congress?

A senior progressive strategist and former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton who specializes in the use of executive authority to bypass Congress is reportedly joining the White House.

The New York Times is reporting John Podesta, founder of the Center for American Progress, has agreed to serve as counselor to President Obama for a year.

The Times reported Podesta will help the White House on “matters related to the health care law, administration organization and executive actions,” with particular focus on so-called climate change issues, according to a person familiar with the plans.

Podesta is a long-time champion of the use of executive powers, including bypassing the legislative branch to enact progressive change.

In November 2010, he co-authored a 48-page Center for American Progress paper titled, “The Power of the President: Recommendations to Advance Progressive Change.”

“The U.S. Constitution and the laws of our nation grant the president significant authority to make and implement policy,” wrote Podesta in the paper’s introduction.

Podesta stressed: “The ability of President Obama to accomplish important change through these powers should not be underestimated.”

The paper states the president can use his executive authority to:

• Conserve federal lands for future generations.

• Create a web portal to empower housing counselors, reduce burdens on lenders and speed up home mortgage modifications.

• Promote practices that support working families.

• Partner with the private sector in health care payment reform.

• Focus on health care prevention in implementing the Affordable Care Act.

• Create a virtual U.S. statistical agency.

• Redouble support for Palestinian state- and institution-building efforts.

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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