President Obama on Friday vetoed the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act,” which was passed unanimously by both the House and Senate, helping families of 9/11 victims sue Saudi Arabia. The bill enables the families to sue the Kingdom should it be shown to be legally liable, having supported the attack. Out of the 19 Sept. 11 terrorists, 15 were Saudi nationals.
Obama released a statement Friday, saying he bears “deep sympathy for the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, who have suffered grievously. I also have a deep appreciation of these families’ desire to pursue justice and am strongly committed to assisting them in their efforts.”
However, the president explained, the 9/11 bill is sure to “invite consequential decisions to be made based upon incomplete information and risk having different courts reaching different conclusions about the culpability of individual foreign governments and their role in terrorist activities directed against the United States — which is neither an effective nor a coordinated way for us to respond to indications that a foreign government might have been behind a terrorist attack.”
Yes, he actually used that as his argument: it’s going to cause a mess in the courts system.
A group named 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism released a statement Friday saying it is “outraged and dismayed” over the president’s veto, arguing that his reasoning is “unconvincing and unsupportable.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she supports the bill. Her spokesman said in a statement that “Clinton continues to support the efforts by Senator Schumer and his colleagues in Congress to secure the ability of 9/11 families and other victims of terror to hold accountable those responsible. She would sign this legislation if it came to her desk.”
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Obama’s veto was “shameful,” adding in a statement: “That President Obama would deny the parents, spouses and children of those we lost on that horrific day the chance to close this painful chapter in their lives is a disgrace.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) said earlier last week that he believes ” the votes are there for the override.” Sen. Chuck Schumer, (D-NY), who co-sponsored the bill, is on the record as promising to help override a veto.
This is the 12th veto by President Obama in his eight years in the White House, and none of his first 11 have been overturned. His predecessor, President GW Bush, used his veto power 12 times and was overturned four times. Out of President Bill Clinton’s 36 vetoes, two were overridden; President GHW Bush had 29 vetoes (in one term) and lost only one.
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday gave a foreign policy speech in Youngstown, Ohio, outlining his plan to fight terrorism. Addressing the large crowd (as usual), Trump opened, “Today we begin a conversation about how to Make America Safe Again. In the 20th Century, the United States defeated Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Now, a different threat challenges our world: Radical Islamic Terrorism.”
The candidate cited a very long list of terrorist attacks against individual Western targets (Paris, Brussels, Orlando), as well as a more generalized but no less forceful depiction of attacks on Muslims: “Overseas, ISIS has carried out one unthinkable atrocity after another. … We cannot let this evil continue.”
Trump promised, “We will defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before.” He then threw a jab at both president Obama and Democratic presidential Candidate Clinton, saying, “Anyone who cannot name our enemy, is not fit to lead this country.”
This led to a Trump analysis of how President Obama and his Secretary of State Clinton are to blame for the current alarming state of events. He blamed them for policies that led to the creation of ISIS, saying, “It all began in 2009 with what has become known as President Obama’s global ‘Apology Tour.’”
Remarkably, Trump omitted eight whole years in which the US was attacked by a different group of Islamic radicals, and the fact that then President GW Bush retaliated by invading a country that had nothing to do with that attack, inflicting chaos on Iraq and taking out the one fierce regional enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein. According to Trump, none of those eight bloody years of a Bush war had anything to do with the creation of ISIS (which took place in 2004) — it all began with “a series of speeches,” in which “President Obama described America as ‘arrogant,’ ‘dismissive,’ ‘derisive,’ and a ‘colonial power.'”
“Perhaps no speech was more misguided than President Obama’s speech to the Muslim World delivered in Cairo, Egypt, in 2009,” Trump said Monday night. Of course, the Obama Al Azhar University speech did launch a bizarre foreign policy that punished America’s friends and rewarded its enemies. Even if one were not pro-Israel, one would have to wonder what drove that disastrous foreign policy. But the Obama speech did not instigate the catastrophic failure of US policy in the Middle East, it only picked up Obama’s predecessor’s very bad situation and made it worse.
Trump believes that “the failure to establish a new Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq, and the election-driven timetable for withdrawal, surrendered our gains in that country and led directly to the rise of ISIS.” But in eight miserable years, having spent trillions of borrowed dollars our grandchildren and their grandchildren after them will continue to pay for, there were no US gains in Iraq — which is why when Obama honored the Bush agreement with the Iraqi government and withdrew some of the US forces, the whole thing came tumbling down.
Trump blames Hillary Clinton for destabilizing Libya, a claim supported by many, including President Obama and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He also added a jab at the Clintons, saying, “Yet, as she threw the Middle East into violent turmoil, things turned out well for her. The Clintons made almost $60 million in gross income while she was Secretary of State.” It’s factually true, but the implied moral outrage is hard to accept with a straight face, seeing as it came from a man who prided himself on turning homeowners’ misery into a hefty profit for himself during the housing crisis of 2008.
After much more of the candidate’s unique view on US foreign policy and the causes for rise of terrorism, Trump finally cut to the chase.
“If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended,” he said. “Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam. … As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President [Al] Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”
Trump added to the list of his envisioned coalition partners the NATO countries, explaining that although he “had previously said that NATO was obsolete because it failed to deal adequately with terrorism; since my comments they have changed their policy and now have a new division focused on terror threats.”
He also wants Russia to participate, clearly despite its dubious new alliance with both Iran and Turkey that threatens the very presence of US troops in that part of the region.
On this point, the Trump vision looks an awful lot like the current Administration’s policy on fighting ISIS: “My Administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cutoff their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting. We cannot allow the Internet to be used as a recruiting tool, and for other purposes, by our enemy – we must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately.”
So far so good, but then Trump suggested “we must use ideological warfare as well. Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.”
Trump then depicted his opponent as contributing to the repression of Muslim gays and women, promising his “Administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith. Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.”
At which point one must ask if the candidate is relying on expert advise on the Middle East. Because while he is absolutely right in condemning the cruelty and repression that have been the reality in Muslim countries from Pakistan to Morocco, his idea of promoting an American foreign policy of “speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings” and against the myriad other acts of unimaginable violence against women, his ideas that to defeat Islamic terrorism, the US must “speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism to grow” is shockingly sophomoric. Surely Trump knows that these attempts are a recipe for a far worse disaster than the one brought on by the Obama Al Azhar speech.
At this point, Trump turned to an area with which he is more familiar, the need for a new immigration policy. “A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” the candidate declared, adding that “the time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.”
“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law,” Trump said, explaining that “those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued visas.”
Easier said than done, of course, because it’s naturally difficult to discern what lurks inside the mind of any person, immigrants included. Trump’s solution is, to “temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.”
“As soon as I take office, I will ask the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures.” It should be interesting to gauge the response of, say, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, to the news that no more cash-laden Arab oil sheiks would be allowed to visit Vegas under a Trump Administration.
“Finally, we will need to restore common sense to our security procedures,” Trump declared, listing several notorious murders committed by Muslims on US soil, noting that in each case there had been warning signs that were overlooked by the authorities.
“These warning signs were ignored because political correctness has replaced common sense in our society,” Trump stated flatly, adding, “That is why one of my first acts as President will be to establish a Commission on Radical Islam. … The goal of the commission will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of Radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization.”
“This commission will be used to develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators, and immigration screeners,” Trump said, essentially suggesting legitimizing the police profiling that has been so vilified in the media and by many politicians. He also promised to keep Guantanamo Bay prison open (although Obama has just released fifteen of its inmates). He wants additional staff to Intelligence agencies and will keep drone strikes against terrorist leaders as part of his options. He also wants military trials for foreign enemy combatants.
In conclusion, there was absolutely no new policy idea in the Trump speech on foreign policy Monday night, but there was an implied, if mostly unspoken promise, to encourage all levels of law enforcement to be less restrained in pursuing their targets. In fact, across the board, what Trump was offering Monday night were not so much new ideas as the promise of taking existing ideas to a new level of dedication in their execution. It could mean a wider loss of individual civil rights, and serious economic hardship for US industries that cater to any aspect of immigration, and it could also end up with the alienation of both European and Mid-Eastern countries who would not take kindly to Trump’s promised level of fierceness, and would retaliate.
It should be noted in that context, that after having spoken bluntly about extreme security measures that could harm specific ethnic and religious groups, Trump attempted to soften his own tone with a final paragraph that promised: “As your President … I will fight to ensure that every American is treated equally, protected equally, and honored equally. We will reject bigotry and oppression in all its forms, and seek a new future built on our common culture and values as one American people. — Only this way, will we make America Great Again and Safe Again – For Everyone.”
Like him or hate him, Donald Trump remains the champion of cognitive dissonance.
To start our review of how the world’s conspiracy theories crazy crowd is lumping together Israel with every evil, real and imagined, let’s begin with the following headline, in a website called Veterans Today: “BREAKING! Same Israeli photo-propagandist pre-positioned in Nice AND NOW MUNICH.” And the story (one line, really) goes: “Mossad photographer Richard Gutjahr was pre-positioned in both Nice AND Munich! Talk about chutzpah.”
Richard Gutjahr, 43, is a German TV moderator, journalist and blogger. On July 14, 2016, Gutjahr was present at the truck ramming attack in Nice, which he reported on Twitter and on German media.
Gutjahr is married to former Israeli MK Einat Wilf. They have two children. That explains the “Israeli photo-propagandist” part. Gutjahr is not himself Israeli, but his wife is. Wilf is equally connected to the Labor party (served as consultant to Shimon Peres) and Likud (writes columns for Yisrael Hayom).
Now it gets complicated: after shooting the truck massacre in Nice more than two weeks ago, journalist Richard Gutjahr was also present during the police operation at the Olmypia shopping center in Munich and tweeted pictures from the incident. Gutjahr shared one picture of a group of armed police at the mall entrance, and another of armed officers crouching behind a wall.
Then he tweeted: “I made mistakes today. Could not believe that I once again ended up in such a situation. The images are now gone. #OEZ” The hashtag stands for Olympia-Einkaufszentrum, the mall where the attack took place.
What are the chances that the same journalist, who lives and works in Europe, would be present during two separate terrorist attacks within two weeks? Gutjahr himself appears stunned by this coincidence, as his tweet attests. He lost the images he had shot, admittedly that’s suspicious, but could also be explained so many reasonable different ways.
Enter former Georgia Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, whose Saturday night Tweet linked Israel to the two acts of terrorism: “Same Israeli photographer captures Nice and Munich tragedies,” McKinney tweeted, pointing to the Veterans Today page, and asking, “How likely is that? Remember the Dancing Israelis?”
The “dancing Israelis” is a reference to a real rabbit hall drop, a September 11, 2001 story about a moving van with five young Israeli tourists which was stopped by NJ police in a Jersey City parking lot for what could best described as inappropriate behavior. The men were eventually detained and interrogated by the FBI. The FBI report about the incident remains classified until 2035. In the conspiracy theory universe, those five Israelis constitute the proof that Mossad was behind the 9/11 attack. Because, as we know, Mossad agents always dance in open parking lots after taking down major US targets.
Cynthia McKinney is no stranger to Planet Crazy. McKinney was defeated by Denise Majette in the 2002 Democratic primary. Her loss was a rejection by the voters of her support for Arab causes and her suggestion that President Bush knew in advance of the Sept. 11 attacks. Her father, State Rep. Billy McKinney, said on Atlanta TV that his daughter was fighting for her political life because the “Jews have bought everybody. Jews. J-e-w-s.”
On March 29, 2006, Cynthia McKinney struck a Capitol Hill Police officer for stopping her to ask for identification. In 2007 she left the Democratic Party. She ran for President as the Green Party candidate in 2008 and received 0.12% of the vote.
As to Richard Gutjahr, the video McKinney linked to claims: “The fact that this guy happened to be at both [terrorist attacks], there’s no way it’s a coincidence.” Add to that Gutjahr’s Israeli wife, who served in the IDF Intelligence unit, and the video concludes that “it’s 100 percent clear that Israel’s fingerprints are all over these events.”
The sad fact is that in many communities and many countries, you don’t need more than the above conspiracy silliness to convict, and attempts to explain that while it’s unusual for a German journalist to be present in two terror attacks, it’s far from impossible, or that being married to an Israeli does not make one a Mossad agent—immediately dub the explainer an agent of the same conspiracy. Because when one denies there is a conspiracy, isn’t that exactly what someone behind the conspiracy would say?
In American democracy, like baseball, tennis and football, there’s no such thing as a tie. There’s one winner and winner takes all. True democrats, small “d,” are supposed to accept their losses, and when it comes to a Presidential nomination, support the winner, even if he/she is the candidate least favored. The majority wins. That’s what democracy is all about.
At this point in the American Republican political calendar, it doesn’t really matter which of the wannabes you supported, a loyal Republican leader, like those in the Bush Clan, have a responsibility to accept that their candidate lost, and Donald Trump won the nomination to be the official Republican Presidential nominee.
I have no doubt that the Bush Machine is supporting, in one way or another…, the Republican minority that is undermining/sabotaging Trump’s democratically chosen candidacy.
Convention drama: Trump campaign stops rules rebellion
Cleveland (CNN)Open discord and revolt broke out on the floor of the Republican National Convention Monday as GOP officials crushed an attempt to change party rules, a maneuver that could have embarrassed presumptive nominee Donald Trump.
In a highly unusual show of disunity and anger on the floor of a modern party convention, a group of states tried to force a state-by-state roll call vote on the rules of the convention. The rebellion apparently caught Trump’s campaign team by surprise, and his lieutenants were seen frantically whipping votes on the floor to squelch the effort amid scenes of deepening disarray.
Without powerful backing, the anti-Trump Republicans would have accepted their loss and either played ball fairly for Trump, or quietly wiped their tears and started working on 2020. This does not look good for Republican democracy, not at all.
It’s clear that these sore losers would rather hand the Presidency over to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats than support Trump. Remember that no Republican got close to Trump in the primaries. It’s a sorry state for the Republicans to be so un-American, so antidemocratic, so disloyal to their own party, so selfish and so disregarding the wishes of the voters.
New York Jews are losing their taste for Hillary Clinton and are moving towards Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, according to a new Siena College poll.
A majority of 54 percent of Jews in New York view Clinton as “unfavorable,” slightly more than the state average of 51 percent. If primary elections were held today, Clinton would come out on top but only with a plurality of 45%, compared with 24 and 23 percent for Biden and Sanders respectively.
Among Jewish voters, according to JPInsider, registered Democrats would give Clinton only 36 percent of their votes. Biden would win 31% of the Jewish vote, and Sanders would pick up 25 percent.
Clinton is in a tailspin and cannot dig her outsell of her deepening e-mail scandal hole, which makes Sanders look more appealing. Biden still has not announced if he will run, and if he does throw his hat in the ring, he will grab support from those who so far have backed off because of his procrastination.
Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg said:
For the first time ever, Hillary Clinton is under water with New York voters, facing her worst favorability rating ever in her adopted home state. Her favorability rating has seen a net drop of 21 points since July.
However, Clinton is the choice of New York Democrats
On the Republican side, Jews favor Marco Rubio.
Statewide, the Siena poll showed that a majority of Democrats want Biden to run for president.
Trump still leads the Republican field, with a commanding lead of 34% compared with only 14% for Carson and 11% for Bush.
Biden runs best against the three leading Republican candidates, and he runs stronger against each of the three than does Clinton with Democrats, Republicans and independents. Though Sanders has a bigger lead against Bush than does Clinton, she has bigger leads than Sanders against Carson and Trump.
Former President George W. Bush told leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that he did not trust the Iranian regime to change its intentions toward Israel, according to several people in attendance.
“I will not believe in Iran’s peaceful intentions until they can irrevocably prove that it’s true,” Bush told the 1,200 guests at the gala event at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. “The United States’ foreign policy must be clear eyed and understand that until the form of government changes in Iran, it is unlikely that their intentions toward Israel will change.”
The event, held Tuesday night, honored several past presidents of the umbrella organization and its longtime executive vice-chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein.
Bush’s appearance had not been publicized, and attendees were asked not to record or tape his comments.
The program also featured video testimonials from President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as remarks from several Israeli and U.S. politicians, and Jewish notables.
President Barack Obama’s speech at the National Defense University, “The Future of Our Fight against Terrorism” is a remarkable exercise in wishful thinking and denial. Here is basically what he says: the only strategic threat to the United States is posed by terrorists carrying out terrorist attacks.
In the 6400 words used by Obama, Islam only constitutes three of them and most interestingly in all three the word is used to deny that the United States is at war with Islam. In fact, that is what President George Bush said precisely almost a dozen years ago, after September 11. Yet why have not hundreds of such denials had the least bit of effect on the course of that war?
In fact, to prove that the United States is not at war with Islam, the Obama Administration has sided with political Islam throughout the Middle East, to the extent that some Muslims think Obama is doing damage to Islam, their kind of non-revolutionary Islam.
And how has the fight against al-Qaeda resulted in a policy that has, however inadvertently, armed al-Qaeda, as in Libya and Syria?
Once again, I will try to explain the essence of Obama strategy, a simple point that many people seem unable to grasp:
Obama views al-Qaeda as a threat because it wants to attack America directly with terrorism. But all other Islamist groups are not a threat. In fact, they can be used to stop al-Qaeda.
This is an abandonment of a strategic perspective. The word Islamism or political Islam or any other version of that word do not appear even once. Yet this is the foremost revolutionary movement of this era, the main threat in the world to U.S. interests and even to Western civilization.
If one wanted to come up with a slogan for the Obama Administration it would be that to win the war on terrorism one must lose the war on revolutionary Islamism because only by showing that America is the Islamists’ friend will it take away the incentive to join up with al-Qaeda and attack the United States.
Please take the two sections in bold above very seriously if you want to understand U.S. Middle East policy.
According to Obama:
If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Egypt that is not a strategic threat but a positive advantage because it is the best organization able to curb al-Qaeda. And that policy proves that the United States is not at war with Islam.
If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Tunisia that is not a strategic threat but a positive advantage because it is the best organization able to curb al-Qaeda. And that policy proves that the United States is not at war with Islam.
If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Syria that is not a strategic threat but a positive advantage because it is the best organization able to curb al-Qaeda. And that policy proves that the United States is not at war with Islam.
If a regime whose viewpoint is basically equivalent to the Muslim Brotherhood—albeit far more subtle and culture—dominates Turkey that is not a strategic threat but a positive advantage because it is the best organization able to curb al-Qaeda. And that policy proves that the United States is not at war with Islam.
These and other strategic defeats do not matter, says Obama in effect:
After I took office, we stepped up the war against al Qaeda, but also sought to change its course. We relentlessly targeted al Qaeda’s leadership. We ended the war in Iraq, and brought nearly 150,000 troops home. We pursued a new strategy in Afghanistan, and increased our training of Afghan forces. We unequivocally banned torture, affirmed our commitment to civilian courts, worked to align our policies with the rule of law, and expanded our consultations with Congress.
And yet the Taliban is arguably close to taking over Afghanistan in future. The group has spread to Pakistan. The rule of law in Afghanistan is a joke and soldiers there know that the Afghan government still uses torture.
Today, Osama bin Laden is dead, and so are most of his top lieutenants. There have been no large-scale attacks on the United States, and our homeland is more secure. Fewer of our troops are in harm’s way, and over the next 19 months they will continue to come home. Our alliances are strong, and so is our standing in the world. In sum, we are safer because of our efforts.
Well, it is quite true that security measures within the United States have been largely successful at stopping attacks. But the frequency of attempted attacks has been extensive, some of which were blocked by luck and the expenditure of one trillion dollars. Country after country has been taken over by radical Islamists who can be expected to fight against American interests in future. Obama continues:
So America is at a crossroads. We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us…
But he never actually defines it except to suggest that (1) al-Qaeda has spread to other countries (which does not sound like a victory for the United States) and (2) That its affiliates and imitators are more amateurish than those who pulled off the September 11, 2001 attack. Yet they got away with the September 11, 2012 attack.