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Oh No, Not Him Again: Anthony Weiner Testing the Water?

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

In one of politics most recent ignominious flights from respectability, former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned his office in June, 2011, after it was exposed that he had a habit of “sexting” young women he met online with pictures of his barely clad private parts.

But if  you have consigned Weiner to the bin of history or source of tasteless jokes, you may have underestimated him.

Weiner, 47, who used to represent part of the Rockaways section of New York City which was slammed by Hurricane Sandy a few weeks ago, wrote an op-ed along with Congressman Meeks, who still represents the area.  The op-ed, published in the New York Daily News yesterday, Nov 28, was essentially a call for more funding, better transportation and improved protection from natural disasters – some might also describe it as a stump speech – for a community that was devastated by the storm.

This is not the first time Weiner has reared his head since his awkward exit from office less than 18 months ago.  In fact, Weiner reactivated his infamous twitter account during Hurricane Sandy, when he issued a call for help for the besieged community.

Other than these few forays, Weiner has largely been mentioned in the news only as the other half of a power couple – his wife, Huma Mahmood Abedin, works as Deputy Chief of Staff and Assistant to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Abedin, an American of Pakistani descent, was the target of criticism by a small group of conservative members of Congress who were alarmed by her alleged connection to Islamist extremists, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

Cong. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and four other Republicans, including Cong. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Cong. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) sent a letter to the U.S. State Department Deputy Inspector General this past summer.  In the letter, the congressmembers asked that there be an investigation into whether there has been an Islamist infiltration of the U.S. government, based upon research presented in various publications.  Abedin was specifically mentioned in that letter because her mother, her late father and her brother all were allegedly members of, or had connections to, Muslim Brotherhood organizations.

Those allegations ended up doing more harm to Bachmann and her colleagues than to Abedin, as not only Hillary and Bill Clinton defended her, but prominent Republicans such as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Speaker of the House, Cong. John Boehner (R-OHIO), blasted Bachmann for conducting what they essentially called a witch hunt.

Anthony Weiner is Jewish and was widely considered one of Israel’s most ardent defenders in Congress.  Weiner and Abedin had a son, Jordan, over the summer.  The reception for Jordan’s bris was held in the multi-million dollar Park Avenue apartment the couple moved into after Weiner resigned from office.  The apartment is owned by Jack Rosen, head of the American Jewish Congress and a huge financial supporter of the Clintons.

If Weiner is considering another political run, he already has a potential campaign war chest of $ 3.9 million.

There has been talk that Weiner might be eying the New York City mayoral seat.  If so, a poll conducted this summer by NY1-Marist poll shows New Yorkers are not enthusiastic, with 58% responding that they did not want Weiner to run, and just 25% in favor.

That same poll asked New Yorkers for their take on several other potential NYC mayoral candidates, including another disgraced Jewish New York Democratic politician, Eliot Spitzer.  Spitzer fared only slightly better than Weiner, with 57% opposing his run and 30% in favor.  Spitzer, New York State’s former governor, was forced to resign his office in March, 2008, after his repeated liaisons with prostitutes was exposed.

Protester Dies: When Is a Dictator Not a Dictator? Never

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

The recent Hamas-Israel confrontation ended abruptly when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced last Wednesday, November 21, a ceasefire that essentially put the relatively new, largely unknown Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in the role of peacekeeper for Israel and Gaza.

“Egypt’s new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace,” exclaimed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Well, Egypt had been a source of stability in the area, but Egypt’s new leader was not exactly in the mold of a Mubarak.  At least not in the positive ways.

The day after the U.S. administration cast Morsi in the role of new peacekeeper, he recast himself as something more like a new pharoah.  And, despite what the New York Times and the Washington Post wrote, he is not giving back any of the real power he’s granted himself.

On Thursday, November 22, while most Americans were eating turkey, Mohamed Morsi, the post-revolutionary leader of Egypt, issued a stunning series of decrees in which he usurped virtually all governmental power.  Morsi placed himself above the judiciary, sidelined the moderates in his council and signaled to all that his lifetime in the Muslim Brotherhood is his essence, no matter what role the U.S. seeks to cast him in.  He was now – in virtually every way possible – above the law.

On Friday, Samir Morcos, a Coptic Christian presidential adviser, resigned in protest, calling Morsi’s Decree, “undemocratic and a leap backwards.”

Secularists, liberals, women, journalists, and Christians have all resigned from the council, out of protest over the dominating influence of the Muslim Brothers and Salafists.  Nearly one quarter of its members walked out.

The Egyptian people were – briefly – stunned, and then they came back to doing what they do best: they rioted, and were beaten – some to death – in Tahrir Square.

After three days of ugliness captured on film and in photographs, President Morsi seemed to acknowledge he had gone too far, and “reminded” his people that his usurpation of power is intended to be only temporary, “until a new constitution is ratified. ”

Yeah, right.  When was the last time a dictator decided it was time to relinquish his control?

In at least one draft of the constitution, the Islamists insisted on changing women’s rights and obligations to match those under the rules of Sharia law.  This would require all women to wear the hijab and to be subservient to men, as is the case in Saudi Arabia and Iran.  If Sharia is to be applied, the rulings will have to be interpreted by Muslim legal scholars who would then have the same status as constitutional judges.

There have also been discussions in the constitutional council about lowering the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 14, or even to as young as 9 years.  The constitutional council, which is now dominated by Islamists, could have been disbanded under the constitutional court, but Morsi’s decree made the council immune from such action.

The 2012 Egyptian uprising already has its first martyr – a teenager, Gaber Salah, nicknamed “Jika,” a member of the April 6 movement.  The boy died from wounds he received during confrontations between police and protesters on Mohammed Mahmud street where protesters had been marking the first anniversary of deadly clashes.

Two other protesters have since died, the latest, Monday morning, November 26.  Since Morsi issued his dictatorial decree, there have been three deaths, more than 450 injuries, more than 260 detainees, and most of Egypt’s courts have been on strike.

Muslim Brotherhood’s political party offices were torched in several cities on Friday. In Alexandria, Egypt, Brotherhood members held up prayer rugs to protect themselves as they were pelted with stones.

Throughout the day on Monday, clashes were reported between pro- and anti-Morsi protesters in eight governorates. Those clashes reportedly took place in Alexandria, Ismailia, Assiut, Port-Said, Suez, Mahalla, Damietta, Menya, and Aswan.

Not surprisingly, the Muslim Brotherhood issued an official statement in support of Morsi’s declaration, one that is highly critical of the opposition.  The Brotherhood stated that Morsi’s actions were taken in order to rid the government of Mubarak holdovers and to fully complete the revolution and attain stability, “economic prosperity and social justice” for all Egyptians.

The Brotherhood described all those who oppose Morsi’s actions as seeking to keep Egypt in a state of chaos “as a prelude to toppling the elected regime and grabbing power.”

The Brotherhood claimed that certain political leaders were promoting distorted views of the president’s Decree.  The statement continued:

Thus they went out in counter-demonstrations chanting insults and obscenities for slogans. Joining them were groups of thugs who went on the rampage, destroying and burning the headquarters of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Alexandria and in other cities. Others attacked police officers with Molotov bombs and stones, setting public and private institutions on fire.
Then we heard irresponsible calls for escalation, sabotage and strike actions to disable state facilities. All this is certainly neither wise nor patriotic. In fact, it ignores the higher interests of the country, the popular will and the majority that represents the principles of democracy, which all parties claim to respect.
Despite material and moral harm, we still call on everyone to show a spirit of responsibility and to work with citizens to gain their trust. We call for honest political rivalry to achieve the interests of the country in the light of democracy and justice.
The majority of Egyptians, including the Muslim Brotherhood, strongly support the President’s Decrees, seek to build constitutional institutions and achieve the demands of the people and the revolution.
Ahmed Mekki, Egypt’s Justice Minister,  has been walking a political tightrope.  Mekki has expressed support for Morsi, but he has also said that it was wrong to place the president above the judiciary in the Nov. 22 Decree.

Earlier this week, more than a dozen groups called for mass demonstrations across the country on Tuesday to protest Morsi’s decree and the Constituent Assembly. Those groups include the liberal Constitution party, the Socialist Popular Alliance party, the Egyptian Social Democratic party, the leftist Popular Alliance, the Free Egyptians party, the Karama party, the April 6 Youth Movement, the National Association for Change, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Youth for Justice and Freedom movement, the Kefaya movement and several others.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo announced that it will be closed today, November 27, in order to avoid anticipated violence between anti- and pro-Morsi factions.

The Egyptian Government and its supporters also announced plans to hold rallies today, but after moving the location from Tahrir Square to Cairo University, the pro-Morsi factions eventually cancelled their events.

U.S. REACTION

Thus far the U.S. government has been largely silent about the roiling unrest in Egypt.  The State Department’s spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, “We call for calm and encourage all parties to work together and call for all Egyptians to resolve their differences over these important issues peacefully and through democratic dialogue.”

But Egypt is heavily dependent on the U.S. for financial aid.  Will this country use its financial leverage to dissuade Morsi from continuing in his dictatorial march?

According to the American Enterprise Institute’s vice-president for foreign and defense policy studies Danielle Pletka, “Obama has already made it clear he’s okay with Egypt as Morsi likes it – refusing to suspend aid after Morsi ignored attacks on the US Embassy in Cairo.”  Pletka then asks, “Will Congress take the same attitude?”

Pointing out that the Senate refused to suspend aid to Pakistan, Egypt and Libya in the wake of anti-U.S. demonstrations on 9/11 this year, Pletka wonders whether Congress will simply rubber stamp the $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars without making some demands?  And, “shouldn’t those conditions relate to rule of law, treatment of minorities, economic reform, and other priorities that could insulate the Egyptian people from yet another pharaoh?”

IMF INFUSION

Not only was Egyptian President Morsi catapulted to global stature by the Middle East peacekeeping role bestowed upon him by the U.S., at the same time Egypt was informed it was to become the recipient of a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund Loan.  Would those funds be in jeopardy because of the anti-democratic presidential decrees and crackdown on dissidents authorized by the Egyptian President?
The answer to that question is probably no.
“The latest developments could bring into question the stability of state institutions and raise doubts that could delay the loan,” stated an anonymous IMF official to Ahram Online.
“Broad-based domestic and international support will be crucial for the successful implementation of the planned policies,” Andreas Bauer, IMF Division Chief in the Middle East and Central Asia Department, stated last week.
“I do not think the IMF will rescind its agreement, but if the situation in Egypt deteriorates it could suspend the loan,” Samir Radwan, former Egyptian finance minister, told Ahram Online.
RESPONSE TO UNREST BY MORSI

On Monday, tensions rose in Egypt as protests continued in the streets.  An anxiously anticipated meeting between the judiciary and President Morsi took place late in the day.  It was an effort to negotiate a compromise between what the judiciary could accept, and what President Morsi was willing to relinquish of his newly-wrested powers.

The meeting ended with an announcement issued by Morsi’s spokesperson.  That statement was covered by a New York Times article which was headlined: “Egypt’s Leader Said to Agree to Limit Scope of Judicial Decree.”  Well, the title of the article is correct, Morsi did say that, but a more than cursory review of Morsi’s statement reveals something quite different.

Following his meeting with the Supreme Judicial Council, Morsi issued a statement that his decrees would only remain immune from judicial review in cases pertaining to “sovereign matters.”  But of course, it is entirely within Morsi’s control to decide what constitutes a “sovereign matter.”  In other words, there was no agreement whatsoever.

Members of Egypt’s Supreme Judicial Council told the Egypt Independent late on Monday, there had been no resolution to the crisis between the executive and judicial branches, and that while they had tried to reach an agreement, their efforts were in vain.
In other words, President Morsi is now not only immune from judicial review, he feels entirely comfortable in speaking for the judiciary, even when what he says completely contradicts the views of the judiciary.

On December 4, a case brought by lawyers and activists challenging Morsi’s power grab will be heard by a Cairo administrative court.  More than a dozen suits against the decree have been filed, according to Abdel Meguid Al-Moqannen, the deputy chief of the State Council, Egypt’s highest administrative body.

In one indication of Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi’s quirky rise to fame, Time Magazine included Morsi in its list of potential “2012 Person of the Year” candidates for online polling.

In the short time that Morsi has become almost a household name, he has gone from rock star status to one who is being referred to in the social media of Twitter as “Morsilini” and “Mubarak 2.0.”  He probably considers the latter a bigger insult.

UPDATE: During protests taking place today in Cairo, 50 year old Fathy Gharib, a member of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP), died of asphyxiation from tear gas inhalation. According to eyewitnesses, there are hundreds of thousands of anti-Morsi protesters in the streets. Tahrir Square is bursting with people chanting.

Clinton Takes ‘Responsibility’ for Benghazi, But Not Blame… (Video)

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton told CNN during an interview in Lima, Peru on Tuesday, Oct. 16, that she takes “responsibility” for what happened at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on the evening of September 11, 2011.  But, she said, “what I want to avoid is some kind of political gotcha or blame game.”

What?

If you’ve said you take responsibility for something, there is no “gotcha” or “blame game,” your acknowledgement means that you are the one to be blamed for the failure, that you are responsible for the consequences of the failures that occurred under your watch. So the question may remain whether the Secretary can credibly deflect responsibility from President Obama for the failure that led to the murders of American personnel in the most dangerous part of the world on the anniversary of the single worst attack on our country in history, not whether or not someone is to blame.

Blaming public officials for a failure so colossal that our Ambassador and others who were serving our country were murdered, that the buildings in Benghazi, Libya  – which are the iconic representations of the United States of America – were invaded, looted and destroyed, is exactly the right thing, not a “game” and not to be ridiculed and not to be avoided, even if a national political campaign is taking place.

Has Clinton explained why the U.S. State Department refused to provide additional security when experts involved knew it was needed and made the requests? Has she explained why the man she personally chose to be the U.S. Ambassador to Libya received death threats and yet no additional security was provided? Has she explained why the sensibilities of the Libyans who might be offended if the American security assigned to the Benghazi consulate had bullets in their guns trumped the sensibilities of the American family members whose loved ones died because they were not protected?

Clinton said,

In the wake of an attack like this, in the fog of war, there’s always going to be confusion. And I think it is absolutely fair to say that everyone had the same intelligence. Everyone who spoke tried to give the information that they had. As time has gone on, that information has changed. We’ve gotten more detail, but that’s not surprising. That always happens.

But Clinton’s direct subordinate Charlene Lamb, the person from the State Department with direct responsibility for the consulates, testified at the House congressional Oversight Committee hearing last week that she was in contact with the Benghazi consulate from almost the first minutes of the assault.

That means the State Department knew virtually immediately that there was no protest-gone-wrong outside the consulate, what there was, was a well-planned attack.  As Lamb’s testimony made clear, There was no violence inspired by a movie deemed insulting, there was violence inspired by anti-American hatred.

But despite Secretary Clinton’s efforts to use her claim of responsibility as a shield to block further inquiries and to cast any efforts to do so as electioneering and playing “gotcha,” at least some Republican members of congress have made clear the president is ultimately responsible for both the tragedy and its cover-up.

In a letter released Monday, October 15, U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) stated,

the events of September 11 were preceded by an escalating pattern of attacks this year in Benghazi, including a bomb that was thrown into our Consulate in April, another explosive device that was detonated outside of our Consulate in June, and an assassination attempt on the British Ambassador. If the President was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the President informed. But if the President was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the events of September 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any security failures that occurred. The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander-in-Chief. The buck stops there.

What’s more, the laying of blame for the tragedy on an American-made film for which this administration repeatedly apologized to the Muslim world also needs to be explained

the separate issue of the insistence by members of the Administration, including the President himself, that the attack in Benghazi was the result of a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video, long after it had become clear that the real cause was a terrorist attack. The President also bears responsibility for this portrayal of the attack, and we continue to believe that the American people deserve to know why the Administration acted as it did.

To mangle a tag phrase from a popular 1970 movie, responsibility means always having to say you’re sorry.  And in this case there remains much more to be said.

Obama, Clinton, in Ads Disavowing Anti Muslim Film which ‘Must Not Be Named’

Friday, September 21st, 2012

On Thursday, September 20, President of the United States Barack Obama and Hillary R. Clinton, the US Secretary of State, were featured in a thirty second television spot paid for by American taxpayers that was intended to make clear to angry Pakistanis that the US government disapproves of the cheap, artless film that portrays the Islamic prophet Mohammed as a pedophile and a womanizer.  That film is blamed by many as the source of more than a week of rioting and violence by Muslims around the globe in which at least 30 people in seven countries are dead, including the American ambassador to Libya. Two people died in protests in Pakistan.

The ad, which cost some $70,000,  aired on approximately seven different television markets in Pakistan, according to U.S. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland.

The statement includes clips of the President saying, “Since our founding, the United States has been a nation of respect – that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.”

Secretary Clinton then refers to the film, saying,  “Let me state very clearly that the United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its contents.  America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.”

In what is eerily reminiscent of the cowed population’s response to the evil villain in the Harry Potter series, the name of the offending film, “Innocence of Muslims,” is never mentioned.  The ad featuring Obama and Clinton is labeled: “President Obama and Secretary Clinton remark on the video circulating on the internet.”  There is also a series of videos with ordinary Americans explaining that the offensive video does not reflect the views of Americans.  That series is titled: “Americans Condemn the YouTube video.”  The ads were subtitled in Urdu.

Despite the official efforts to stem Muslim anger, thousands of Pakistanis attempted to storm the American Embassy in Islamabad on Thursday.  When riot police were unable to hold off the crowds, the Pakistani military was called in.

The Pakistani government has proclaimed Friday, the Islamic day of prayer which is when Muslim riots tend to be most extensive and violent, to be a national holiday so that the expected demonstrations can proceed “peacefully.”

The American officials did not film their statements for this advertisement, instead clips were taken from statements condemning the film each official had made earlier.  President Obama’s remarks were recorded in Washington, D.C. on September 12 and those of Secretary Clinton’s remarks were from September 13 in Morocco. The ad ends with the camera fixed on the official seal of the United States of America.

In other action taken by the US government on Thursday, all US citizens were warned to defer non-essential travel to Pakistan until further notice.  American consulates throughout Pakistan have been closed to the public all week.

House Members: Holder and Clinton Considering Release of ‘Blind Sheikh’

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

In a strongly worded letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, eight members of congress have demanded that a request to release Omar Abdel-Rahman from federal prison be rejected.  Abdel-Rahman, known as the “blind sheikh,” inspired the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and is serving a life sentence for his role in a plot to conduct assassinations and destroy bridges, tunnels and other landmarks in New York City.

It is believed that the unrest blanketing much of the Middle East last week was inspired at least in part by the demands that the Blind Sheikh be released, and that any consideration of such a request was inspired by an effort to quell the widespread anti-American fury.

The letter sent by Representative Pete King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and seven other key members of congressional leadership warned of the consequences of appeasing terrorism through such a blatant act of submission:

Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength….The release of Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is – a sign of weakness and a lack of resolve by the United States and its President.

In addition to Rep. King, the letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith; House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers; House Committee on Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon; House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers; House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Chairman Frank Wolf; and House Appropriations Subcommittee on State of Foreign Operations Chairwoman Kay Granger.

The administration has not yet formally responded to the letter, according to Rep. King’s communications officer.

The full text of the congressional letter follows.

September 19, 2012

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Attorney General Holder and Secretary Clinton,

We are concerned about recent reports that the Obama administration is considering the release of Omar Abdel-Rahman, better known as the “blind sheikh,” to the custody of Egypt for humanitarian and health reasons.  If these reports are true, such considerations would be extremely disconcerting as release of this convicted terrorist should not happen for any reason.

The blind sheikh inspired the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, ordered the 1997 massacre of Western tourists at Luxor, Egypt, and issued the Islamic religious ruling that Osama bin Laden relied upon to justify the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.  He is serving a life sentence at a federal penitentiary, for seditious conspiracy to wage war upon the United States, based on his role in a 1993 plot to conduct assassinations and destroy bridges, tunnels and other landmarks in New York City.  The blind sheikh was the first person convicted under this statute since the Civil War. Nonetheless, the newly-elected government in Egypt has indicated that his release is amongst its top foreign policy priorities.

While considerations regarding the blind sheikh’s release would be disturbing in any context, they are particularly alarming given recent events.  The 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks was marked by the assassination of America’s ambassador to Libya and an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. The violence in Egypt has been attributed, in part, to that government’s demands for the blind sheikh’s release.

Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength.  The blind sheikh should remain in federal prison.

The release of Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is — a sign of weakness and lack of resolve by the United States and its President.

We request a briefing this week by representatives from each of your Departments on the accuracy of recent reports and the status of any negotiations with Egypt.  We look forward to your immediate response.

How Not to Keep Israel from Bombing Iran

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

There are no deadlines:

The U.S. is “not setting deadlines” for Iran and still considers negotiations to be “by far the best approach” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Bloomberg in an interview published Monday.

Speaking to Bloomberg Radio on Sunday after the conclusion of meetings at an Asia-Pacific forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Clinton said that economic sanctions are affecting Iran and the U.S. is “watching very carefully about what [the Iranians] do, because it’s always been more about their actions than their words.”

And there are no red ones either, according to State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland yesterday:

QUESTION: Toria, your closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, is quite upset with a interview that the Secretary gave, particularly when she was asked about redlines or deadlines for Iran’s nuclear program. Do you have positions or levels in Iran’s nuclear enrichment that you consider unacceptable and that would force some sort of change to the current stalemate, let’s say?

MS. NULAND: Well, as we have been saying for many months, and as was clear when the Secretary was in Jerusalem earlier this summer, we have extensive and ongoing contacts with our close ally Israel to discuss the full range of security issues, but obviously to compare notes on the challenge posed by Iran, and we will continue to do that…

QUESTION: Well it’s a very – will you agree that it’s – are you – is there a specific policy of being – of constructive ambiguity here? Because, I mean, not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon means many different things to many different people. As you know, the Israelis have one definition of what it means to have a nuclear weapon, and maybe you have another one. So could you provide any –

MS. NULAND: Among the many reasons, Elise, why these consultations with Israel need to be constant, they need to be detailed, they need to be private. …

So we are absolutely firm about the President’s commitment here, but it is not useful to be parsing it, to be setting deadlines one way or the other, redlines. It is most important that we stay intensely focused on the pressure on Iran, the opportunity for Iran to fix this situation through the diplomacy that we’ve offered, and intensive consultations with Israel and all the other regional states, as we are doing.

Nuland seems to be trying to suggest that there is more going on under the surface with Israel, but Israel Hayom quoted “senior diplomatic sources in Jerusalem” saying that,

Hillary Clinton is speeding up the Iranian centrifuges with her erroneous public comments … Without a clear red line, Iran will not halt its race for nuclear weapons.  … not only do Clinton’s comments not deter Iran, they actually appease it.

So to recap: there are sanctions, but Iran’s 20 biggest trading partners have exemptions. Iran still refuses to let IAEA inspectors into its test site at Parchin, where it appears that experiments related to weaponization have been carried out. The I.A.E.A. also reports that Iran is carrying out computer simulations of the destructive power of nuclear warheads. Iran continues to add centrifuges to bolster its enrichment capabilities.

But the U.S. is not prepared to issue an ultimatum. It will go no further than to repeat that “we will not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon,” but it will not say — publicly or to Israel — how far it will allow Iran to go.

The Iranians understand this to mean that they can keep on doing what they are doing, which is putting all the pieces in place to sprint to the finish line when they choose to do so. It’s by no means clear that we will know when this is about to happen, or that we will be able to act quickly enough to stop it, even if we do know. It is also generally accepted that the ability of Israel by itself to prevent Iran from building a weapon is eroding with time.

The U.S. has the power to issue a credible threat to destroy Iran’s nuclear capability, as well as a great deal of its military assets — missiles, air defense systems, etc. Such a threat would most likely cause Iran to pull back and would not actually have to be carried out.

By not doing this, the administration leaves Israel with only one option, which is to try to destroy or delay Iran’s program itself. While an American threat carries the risk that the Iranians will call our bluff and provoke a conflict, an Israeli attack guarantees one.

Incidentally, it should be mentioned that the former Israeli security officials like Meir Dagan who are opposed to an Israeli attack in the near term do not believe that Iran should be allowed to get nuclear bombs. They simply disagree with the PM and Defense Minister aboutwhen there will be no other way to stop Iran. If the US persists in allowing Iran to proceed, then even Meir Dagan’s red line will be crossed.

If the administration wants to prevent an Israeli attack on Iran, it has a strange way of showing it!

Pollard supporters call Clinton’s remarks a ‘slap in the face’

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Supporters of Jonathan Pollard called Hillary Clinton’s remarks rejecting his possible clemency “a resounding slap in the face” to Israel’s leaders and its people.

“With respect to Mr. Pollard, he was convicted of spying in 1987, he was sentenced to life in prison, he is serving that sentence, and I do not have any expectations that that is going to change,” Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state, said Monday night during a news conference in Jerusalem in answer to a reporter’s question about Pollard, a civilian U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who was convicted of spying for Israel.

The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home and Justice for Jonathan Pollard said in a statement issued Tuesday that Clinton’s remarks “stunned her Israeli hosts and marred the warm reception she received from the Israeli public.” The statement noted Pollard’s “unprecedented 27 years in prison.”

Pollard supporters expressed anger in the statement that Clinton offered no explanation “as to why the U.S. wants to keep the aging and very ill Pollard in prison forever” and called for an official response to numerous formal requests for clemency for Pollard from Clinton’s boss, President Obama.

Clinton, while campaigning for the U.S. Senate in 2000, said that she had concerns about “due process issues regarding Jonathan Pollard’s sentence.”

Pollard has been at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina since his arrest in 1986. A succession of presidents has refused to grant clemency to Pollard since he was sentenced to life in 1987.

The calls to release Pollard, who is said to be in ill health, have intensified in recent months, with pleas from lawmakers and former top officials of both parties.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/pollard-supporters-call-clintons-remarks-a-slap-in-the-face/2012/07/18/

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