David Albright, president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, and his co-author, senior policy analyst Andrea Stricker, issued a report on Thursday saying the US and other world powers have secretly allowed Iran to exceed the nuclear deal’s limits on stockpiles of enriched uranium and other dangerous materials. Albright cited key secret exemptions which were made in secret meetings of the Joint Commission that was composed of Iran, the US, the UK, France, China, Russia, and the European Union.
Albright is a physicist who took part in UN weapons inspections in Iraq, and has been a self-appointed watchdog over the Iran nuclear deal. He has repeatedly raised doubts that the deal is being implemented honestly.
Albright’s report claims Iran would not have been able to meet its compliance requirements by January 16, 2016—the deal’s Implementation Day: “The exemptions and in one case, a loophole, involved the low enriched uranium (LEU) cap of 300 kilograms, some of the near 20 percent LEU, the heavy water cap, and the number of large hot cells allowed to remain in Iran,” the report reveals, citing a senior knowledgeable official who stated that “if the Joint Commission had not acted to create these exemptions, some of Iran’s nuclear facilities would not have been in compliance with the JCPOA by Implementation Day.”
The report also suggests “the Joint Commission allowed Iran to store large amounts of heavy water in Oman that remained under Iran’s control, effectively allowing Iran to exceed its cap of 130 tons of heavy water as it continues to produce heavy water at its Arak facility.”
“Any rationale for keeping these exemptions secret appears unjustified,” the report said, noting that “these decisions, which are written down, amount to additional secret or confidential documents linked to the JCPOA.” The report also claims that “the Joint Commission’s secretive decision-making process risks advantaging Iran by allowing it to try to systematically weaken the JCPOA. It appears to be succeeding in several key areas.”
“Given the technical complexity and public importance of the various JCPOA exemptions and loopholes, the administration’s policy to maintain secrecy interferes in the process of establishing adequate Congressional and public oversight of the JCPOA,” the report said, stressing that “this is particularly true concerning potentially agreement-weakening decisions by the Joint Commission. As a matter of policy, the United States should agree to any exemptions or loopholes in the JCPOA only if the decisions are simultaneously made public.”
State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday that “the Joint Commission has not and will not loosen any of the commitments and has not provided any exceptions that would allow Iran to retain or process material In excess of its (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) limits that it could use in a breakout scenario,” adding his assurance that “there’s been no cutting of slack.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest expressed the administration’s “significant objections” to the Albright report, assuring reporters that “Iran is in compliance with the agreement. That’s not my opinion. That’s not rhetoric. That is not a conjecture. That is a fact that is verified by independent international experts who, because of the agreement, now have the kind of access that is required to verify it.”
The Trump campaigned quickly took advantage of the report, with a statement by retired Army General Michael Flynn, a top Trump adviser, who said, “The deeply flawed nuclear deal Hillary Clinton secretly spearheaded with Iran looks worse and worse by the day. It’s now clear President Obama gave away the store to secure a weak agreement that is full of loopholes.”
Matt Brooks, Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition released a statement saying,
“This latest report further confirms that the Obama Administration has consistently misled the American people on the Iran nuclear deal. First we learned about a secret side deal that allows Iran to upgrade its centrifuges, then it was the secret $400 million ransom payment, and now these secret exemptions that allow Iran to evade restrictions on their nuclear capabilities. Simply put, President Obama and his fellow Democrats have never been straightforward with the American people about Iran. It’s clear this is a dangerous and reckless deal with the largest state sponsor of terrorism, and no one who is serious about our national security could support it.”
In a snub to Bernie Sanders’ supporters who are enraged at the fact that leaked emails showed how then DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) advised their man’s opponent Hillary Clinton on how to best win the nomination, the Congresswoman’s Miami-area district voters rebuffed her primary challenger who enjoyed the financial and campaign support of Bernie Sanders. With 81 percent of the vote counted, Wasserman Schultz had 57 percent to her challenger Tim Canova’s 42 percent, according to the AP.
Hillary Clinton won the same district by just under 40 points in the Florida presidential primary. Besides Clinton’s endorsement, Wasserman Schultz received the support of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
It should be noted that besides fighting Sanders for the nomination, Wasserman Schultz had a lot to do with quashing the Senator’s efforts to turn the DNC platform into an all out attack on the Israeli “occupation.” Sanders picked James Zogby, a long-time pro-Palestinian activist, and Cornel West, a racial justice activist, to be his representatives on the Democratic party’s platform committee. The 15-member platform committee included six Clinton-picked members, five for Sanders, and four for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman. If not for the latter’s strong influence on the proceedings and her commitment to Israel, there could have been a platform agenda item condemning Israel.
The six-term congresswoman Wasserman Schultz was forced to leave her DNC post as a gesture to Sanders’ voters, and her own primary campaign this summer had been a fight for those same progressive voters in her district. Sanders did a lot, save for an actual personal appearance (Canova admitted he was disappointed), against the Florida Congresswoman, and his support for Canova boosted his national profile and helped him raise more than $3.5 million with small donations averaging $22 each. Wasserman Schultz only raised $3.4 million.
Wasserman Schultz faces a Republican challenger in November, but no one doubts her chances of winning Florida’s 23rd district.
Louis René Beres, the son of Austrian Jewish refugees, a professor of Political Science at Purdue University, and a long time advocate of rightwing Jewish and Israeli causes, is afraid of a Donald Trump presidency. Writing in US News & World Report (Israel Wouldn’t Survive Trump), Beres defies the “conventional wisdom” that sees presidential candidate Donald Trump as better for Israel than Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton. For starters, the PoliSci professor is aghast at Trump’s lack of intellectual discipline, citing his August 15 foreign policy speech from which one could conclude that he would enthusiastically be willing to “work with” Russia, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah, and which couldn’t be a good thing for Israel.
Beres warns that “Trump’s proposals would go so far as to put Israel’s physical survival at a tangibly greater risk,” seeing as the candidate is prepared to collaborate with Hezbollah and support Russian military cooperation with Iran. “How else ought anyone interpret Trump’s stunningly naive call for combating the Islamic State group at all costs?” Beres asks, calling Trump’s ideas “a seemingly random patchwork of ready-made phrases.”
Beres has no illusions about a Hillary Clinton presidency when it comes to Israel’s interests, but he is deeply concerned by the Republican candidate’s foreign policy being little more than an “endless litany of barren clichés, emotional arguments and thoroughly empty witticisms.” Or as he puts it politely: “Donald Trump is manifestly and incontestably imperfect.”
Talk about the art of the understatement…
“For Israel,” Beres suggests, judging by Trump’s “enthusiastic words of support for Jerusalem’s chief enemies,” the conclusion must be that “a Trump presidency could be irremediably catastrophic.” This is because “crafting a nation’s foreign policy is never a job for narrowly educated political operatives,” as it “calls for a deep and genuine appreciation of strategic interdependencies and also of assorted and corresponding legal obligations” — which Trump, apparently, does not bring to the table.
“The ultimate irony of Trump’s disjointed preferences” regarding US foreign policy and his perceived threat of radical Islam—as opposed to all the other, bigger threats out there, Beres asserts, “is that they would actually work on behalf of the Islamic State group, while at the same time strengthening America’s most formidable enemies.” Indeed, when it comes to foreign policy, Beres says the only voters who should support a Trump presidency are Americans who “prefer Russia, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah to Israel and America.”
Former DNC chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl) who was forced to resign on the first day of the Democratic convention in July because of leaked emails showing her conspiring against then presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign, is facing off Sanders-backed, law professor Tim Canova. Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has given her support to Wasserman Schultz, saying she needs her “in Congress, by my side, working day after day.” Especially should the need arise to block Senator Sanders, presumably.
Wasserman Schultz could be in for a tough election Tuesday, with predictions of a low turnout combined with Canova’s Sanders-backed fundraising. A recent public poll gave Wasserman Schultz 50% of the vote, compared with Canova’s 40%, but a Canova camp internal poll shows him trailing by 8 point. Meanwhile, Wasserman Schultz’s internal polling gives her 59% to Canova’s 26%.
In her role as DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s proxies on the party platform committee combined forces with Hillary Clinton’s proxies to block Sanders’ proxies anti-Israel proposals.
Huma Abedin, longtime confidante and top campaign official of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is leaving her husband, former Congressman (D-NY) Anthony Weiner over his latest scandal involving explicit text messages.
Abedin released a statement saying, “After long and painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband. Anthony and I remain devoted to doing what is best for our son, who is the light of our life. During this difficult time, I ask for respect for our privacy.”
Abedin’s move came after a report in the NY Post Sunday showing inappropriate images Weiner sent a woman with his little son in the picture.
Weiner’s political career ended after he had sent explicit messages to a woman in 2011. The new messages were sent on July 31, 2015. The accompanying text suggests he included his son in the picture on purpose.
A protégé of then Congressman and now Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Weiner was elected to the New York City Council in 1991, defeating fellow Democrat Adele Cohen in the primaries by 195 votes after sending out leaflets (in Crown Heights) accusing her of ties to Mayor David Dinkins and political gadfly Jessie Jackson. In 1998 Weiner ran for Congress in Chuck Schumer’s 9th congressional district (Brooklyn), when his mentor was running for the US Senate.
Weiner was vehemently pro-Israel in Congress. In 2006 he tried to bar entry by the Palestinian Authority delegation to the United Nations, declaring they “should start packing their little Palestinian terrorist bags.” He accused Human Rights Watch, The New York Times, and Amnesty International of anti-Israel Biases. In 2007, Weiner and fellow NY Congressman Jerry Nadler fought a $20-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, saying they wouldn’t give “sophisticated weapons to a country that … has not done enough to stop terrorism,” seeing as 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11 were Saudis. Weiner stood outside the Saudi consulate in DC, saying, “We need to send a crystal clear message to the Saudi Arabian government that their tacit approval of terrorism can’t go unpunished.” Weiner and other Congress members later criticized President Obama’s plan to sell more than $60 billion in advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia. Weiner said: “Saudi Arabia is not deserving of our aid, and by arming them with advanced American weaponry we are sending the wrong message.” He accused Saudi Arabia of having a “history of financing terrorism” and teaching “hatred of Christians and Jews.”
Despite all of the above, however, in 2010 Weiner married Huma Mahmood Abedin, a Muslim of Indian and Pakistani descent who was raised and educated in Saudi Arabia. Abedin had been a long-time personal aide to Hillary Clinton, and the wedding ceremony was officiated by former President Bill Clinton.
Abedin, 40, serves as vice chairwoman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, having served as Clinton’s deputy chief of staff when the latter was Secretary of State. In 2008 Abedin was traveling chief of staff for Clinton’s presidential campaign.
A profile in Nirali (Hillary’s Handler: Huma Abedin) relates that Abeedin, who was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, into a “very traditional family” with a Pakistani mother and an Indian father, moved at age 2 with her family to Saudi Arabia where her father started an institute devoted to religious understanding and her mother helped create a private women’s college. What the profile does not mention are the repeated allegations that Abedin’s mother and brother have been members or, at least, sympathizers of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the fact that Abedin’s 16 formative years growing up in Saudi Arabia are largely an unknown.
Vanity Fair pointed out in January (Is Huma Abedin Hillary Clinton’s Secret Weapon or Her Next Big Problem?) that the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, founded by Abedin’s late father, became the family business and was supported by the Saudi government. “Huma was an assistant editor there between 1996 and 2008. Her brother, Hassan, 45, is a book-review editor at the Journal and was a fellow at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies. … Huma’s sister, Heba, 26, is an assistant editor at the Journal.”
The contents of the Journal are consistent with Muslim tradition, including all the wonderful things it offers women. One 1996 article Abedin edited, headlined “Women’s Rights Are Islamic Rights,” states that single mothers, working mothers and gay couples with children are not really families. The same article says that an immodest dress “directly translates into unwanted results of sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility and indirectly promote violence against women” — the old “she was asking for it” argument.
In June 2012, five conservative congress members wrote to the State Department warning that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the highest levels of government, specifically citing Abedin: “Huma Abedin has three family members—her late father, her mother and her brother—connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations,” they wrote. But Senator John McCain denounced the letter saying it was an “unwarranted and unfounded attack” on Abedin. “I know Huma to be an intelligent, upstanding, hard-working, and loyal servant of our country and our government,” McCain vouched for Clinton’s closest aide.
How close? Vogue cited Clinton adviser Mandy Grunwald who said, “I’m not sure Hillary could walk out the door without Huma. She’s a little like Radar on *M*A*S*H. If the air-conditioning is too cold, Huma is there with the shawl. She’s always thinking three steps ahead of Hillary.”
The Clinton’s attorney of many years, Bob Barnett, said “Huma does make the trains run on time.”
Actress Mary Steenburgen, Hillary’s close friend, said, “I don’t know if it’s a chicken-or-the-egg thing—Hillary affecting Huma or the other way around—but together they work.”
Casino magnate and Bibi Netanyahu patron Sheldon Adelson is yet to put any money in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, NBC News reported Monday based on new filings from the Federal Election Commission. Adelson, a devoted friend of Israel, not just of its prime minister, attended the Republican National Convention in July, but apparently got cold feet about supporting the nominee because of the latter’s post-convention two weeks of endless shenanigans that cost Trump his short-lived rise in the polls.
Adelson donated an estimated $100 million in various stages of the 2012 election, probably the biggest spender back then, but with very little to show for his money. In May it looked as if he was going to stake his chips on Trump, and then had a change of heart.
Adelson is not the exception this election year but the rule. According to NBC, Charles and David Koch are concentrating on Senate races, much like Chicago Cubs owners Joe and Marlene Ricketts. And Jewish hedge fund manager Paul Singer remains uncommitted, too. Moreover, of the top 10 Republican donors this year, only two are supporting Trump: Richard and Elizabeth Uhlein, formerly anti-Trump donors; and Robert Mercer, who used to support Cruz.
The rest of the top 10 did not support Trump in the primaries and have not come around so far. Ricketts, Singer, Warren Stephens, Ken Griffith, Steven Cohen, and Sheldon Adelson have not warmed up to the Republican nominee.
Meanwhile, as the Washington Post reported Monday, even though in July the Trump campaigned raised about as much as Hillary Clinton’s, the new Federal Election Commission filings show that Trump’s campaign has transferred a lot less than expected from its joint fundraising with the RNC, and they have been very thrifty with the cash they raised. The Post suggested this frugality might impair the Trump campaign’s organizing efforts in the final two months before the election.
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.