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October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Matt Lee’

Cruz: I’ll Intro Bill to Strip US Citizenship From ISIS Members

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

According to the U.S. administration, and as discussed at Friday’s State Department Press Briefing, approximately 100 Americans are presently in Syria, many of whom are there to join the jihadist force ISIS, the rest to fight with a different terrorist group, al Nusra.

Although the Administration speaks very fiercely about those terrorist groups, especially ISIS, which President Barack Obama recently called “a cancer,” an idea put forth by a Republican senator was the object of derision and laughter both by reporters and the assistant spokesperson for the State Department, Marie Harf.

On Friday, Sept. 5, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced that he intended to introduce legislation that would bar U.S. citizens who went abroad to fight with ISIS from returning to the country by stripping them of their U.S. citizenship.

Cruz announced that as soon as the Senate is called back into session on Monday, Sept. 8, he intended to file the Expatriate Terrorist Act of 2014.

“Americans who choose to go to Syria or Iraq to fight with vicious ISIS terrorists are party to a terrorist organization committing horrific acts of violence, including beheading innocent American journalists who they have captured,” said Sen. Cruz. “There can be no clearer renunciation of their citizenship in the United States, and we need to do everything we can to preempt any attempt on their part to re-enter our country and carry out further attacks on American civilians.”

The law would amend a current statute that deems certain action taken by a U.S. citizen to constitute a renunciation of their citizenship. The addition which Cruz intends to introduce would include “becoming a member of, fighting for, or providing material assistance to a designated foreign terrorist organization that is working to attack the United States or its citizens.”

The amendment would ensure that due process is ensured, but beyond that would find that

“If a U.S. citizen undertakes these acts with the intent of supplanting his U.S. Citizenship with loyalty to a terrorist organization, that person can be deemed to have forfeited their right to be a United States Citizen and return to the United States.”

The merry crew at the State Department briefing room, however, treated the idea as absurd, and suggested that Sen. Cruz’s proposal was to strip a U.S. citizen of his citizenship simply if he traveled to Syria, even if just to report on the war or to provide humanitarian assistance. The following is the exchange between the Associated Press’s Matt Lee and State Deparment Spokesperson Harf:

QUESTION: Marie, there’s some on the Hill who think that – who say, who make the argument that simply traveling – for an American citizen to travel to Syria right now should be enough to either, one, revoke their passport, or two, revoke —

MS. HARF: Just for someone traveling to Syria? That’s a —

QUESTION: Well —

MS. HARF: – interesting way of reading United States law and the Constitution in terms of passports and citizenship.

QUESTION: No, no, no. I think that they’re suggesting that maybe it should be written in – the Brits have announced their plans to do —

MS. HARF: Right.

QUESTION: – to step up their procedure for doing this kind of thing.

MS. HARF: Well, look, there are American citizens who travel to Syria, even though we tell them on to, as – for example, reporters or aid workers.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: Right.

QUESTION: So you would – this is not my —

MS. HARF: Well, traveling to —

QUESTION: This is not my idea.

MS. HARF: I know.

QUESTION: It’s some – it’s other people’s idea, and I’m just —

MS. HARF: I know. It’s sources on the Hill.

QUESTION: Well, it’s —

MS. HARF: Some on the Hill.

QUESTION: Senator Cruz, your favorite senator, is tweeting this kind of thing.

MS. HARF: Oh, God. Here we go again. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: So – no, look.

MS. HARF: Wait – this is a real question, though.

QUESTION: So – it is a real question.

MS. HARF: I know. I just said it was.

QUESTION: So you’re saying you would oppose – you would oppose some kind of a blanket —

MS. HARF: Well —

QUESTION: – law or legislation that would strip people of their passports and citizenship for going to a place —

MS. HARF: Well, let’s – first of all, I’m not going to take a position on hypothetical legislation. Certainly, that’s not my purview. But let’s start here. For one point, we – people who just travel to a country I think I would feel comfortably – comfortable legally saying is not grounds for revoking your citizenship or taking your passport.

QUESTION: I know it’s not now. I think the point is –

MS. HARF: I don’t think it – not traveling to a country, nor should it be. There’s travel restrictions in place. Now, the question of how you prevent Americans who have traveled to a place like Syria and joined a terrorist organization, that is, said they want to attack the U.S., that is a separate question. We have the authority now to revoke their passports under U.S. law if the Secretary makes a determination about their threat to U.S. national security. We already have that power. We also have the power if there’s a law enforcement request —

QUESTION: Right.

MS. HARF: – to revoke their passport if there’s an outstanding warrant or something like that.

In other words, the idea Cruz said he intends to introduce is neither idiotic nor would it constitute a violation of the U.S. constitution, but the repartee at the press briefing certainly suggests that the senator is an unstable nut job whose ideas are laughable. In reality, the idea not only has merit, a version of it already exists and Cruz’s intention is simply to streamline the process.

Is the US Furious Over ‘Israeli’ Criticism of Kerry?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

The United States is circling the wagons around their secretary of state whose ego was apparently wounded by a torrent of Israeli criticism over the weekend regarding his proposed ceasefire draft plan.

John Kerry’s defenders are helping him look more pathetic by taking such umbrage to a unified Israeli cabinet’s rejection of his ceasefire proposal. And a virtually unified Israeli public, including the leftist and far left Israeli media, who are being accurately represented by the Israeli government’s less than flattering evaluations.

One of the biggest complaints about Israel’s criticism was ascribed to the State Department’s spokesperson Jen Psaki. She said, and was quoted in a myriad of media reports for saying, that Israel’s conduct in disseminating what she claims was false information about the proposed ceasefire draft: “it’s simply not the way partners and allies treat each other.”

There was a textbook example of a journalist baiting a government official to snipe at another government’s leadership despite her best efforts not to seem to be sniping.

At the State Department’s Daily Briefing on Monday, July 28, Matt Lee of the Associated Press was able to put words into Psaki’s mouth, and continue leading her into accepting certain phraseology to suggest — undoubtedly accurately, but surely going further than Psaki intended – that the U.S. administration was furious with Israel for disrespecting Kerry.

The questions asked by Lee included, “how angry are you? How unhelpful do you believe the Israelis, or at least some Israelis have been in this issue? And how angry are you at what you claim to be a serious misrepresentation of what the Secretary was trying to do?”

Lee then followed up with: “so you accuse – you’re accusing at least some in the Israeli Government of waging a misinformation campaign?”

When Psaki informs Lee, and the rest of the press corps, that she doesn’t have any information on the sources who were allegedly providing inaccurate information, the AP reporter followed up by incorporating one of the most quoted phrases of the day. The exchange follows:

QUESTION: When you say that this is not the way friends and allies should treat each other, you’re referring to Israeli treatment of Secretary Kerry and of his – of the Administration’s attempt to get a ceasefire together?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think there are obviously some anonymous sources that are out there that are speaking on behalf of the views of the Israeli Government. Whether or not that is an accurate depiction of their position is not for me to make a judgment of, but –

QUESTION: So how serious is this, in terms of jeopardizing the relationship?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think – I think Israel remains an incredibly important partner.

But Lee was only succesful at goading Psaki into revealing what her employer and her department are apparently feeling. But was the anger directed at the appropriate party? And was the criticism, in any event, justified?

The claims that Israeli leadership was harsh in its criticism concerning Kerry’s proposals and his behavior overlook several important facts. To wit: that while anonymous sources were likely quoting at least some members of the Israeli government, the harshest public attacks on Kerry’s flat-footed diplomacy came not from government officials, but from center, left and even far left members of Israel’s famously leftist media. For example, Barak Ravid of Haaretz wrote that Kerry’s “conduct in recent days over the Gaza cease-fire raises serious doubts over his judgment and perception of regional events.”

The Times of Israel’s editor-in-chief, David Horovitz, lambasted the secretary of state’s plan as something that looked like it might have been drawn up by or for Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.

Anti-Israel Pile-on at State Dept. Press Briefing

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

The Daily press briefing given by one of the State Department spokespeople was an even nastier version of itself when it came to a discussion about the conflict between Gaza and Israel on Wednesday, July 16.

Although Said Arikat, the Washington, D.C. bureau chief of the Palestinian Arab Al Quds newspaper, typically goads whoever is leading the briefing in an attempt to force the U.S. into denunciations of Israel, today there was a virtual pile-on by various members of the press.

It started with the ever dogged, although as often as not critical of Arab tactics as of Israel, Matt Lee of the Associated Press. Lee peppered spokesperson Jen Psaki with questions about a Human Rights Watch report which charged Israel with violating international law with some of its airstrikes on Gaza. Lee then linked the HRW report to the day’s incident on a beach in Gaza in which four Gazan teenagers were killed by what Hamas claimed was a hit by the Israeli Navy.

Put aside the fact – which never came up – that the Israeli Navy immediately stated it was not firing in that area at the time the beach was struck, Lee completed his “testimony” and ended, finally, with a question: “Do you endorse or do you echo the call of Human Rights Watch here for Israel to stop these attacks?”

Psaki didn’t immediately respond in a coherent way, and Lee followed up by asking her if she believed Israel was targeting either civilians or civilian structures.

The spokesperson then launched into her pre-packaged statement that the secretary of state has called on both parties to de-escalate the hostilities, and explaining that civilian deaths, whether of children or otherwise, is of course always a great concern of the United States.

Lee, not satisfied with the non-responsive answer, resumed peppering Psaki with demands that she answer whether or not the state department agreed with the Human Rights Watch report that Israel was “killing civilians in violation of the laws of war.”

When Psaki refused to agree, Lee moved on to another part of the HRW report, which stated that “Palestinian armed groups should end indiscriminate rocket attacks launched towards Israeli population centers.” Psaki, recognizing something the secretary has said, said “we agree with that statement.” Then Lee pounced, declaring that “So you agree with Human Rights Watch when they say that the Palestinians should stop their shelling, but you don’t agree with them when they say that Israel should; is that correct?”

It went even further downhill from there, with Lee continuing to badger Psaki along the same lines. Finally, Said Arikat jumped in with, “Shouldn’t Israel be held to the same standards in this case?” Psaki dismissed him by saying she had already answered the question. She then went to the next journalist who, unfortunately for Psaki, continued with the same line of questioning.

This journalist again discussed the deaths of the four Arabs on the beach, and concluded with the accusation, “How is an Israeli airstrike on what can only be described as a civilian target in full view of international journalists be acceptable to the U.S. Government?”

Psaki again discussed the U.S. being very concerned always by the death of civilians, but refused to allow herself to be drawn into a discussion of what exactly had happened on the beach, and resorted to the U.S. focus on de-escalating the violence.

Again, this third reporter attempted to draw out Psaki to have her condemn Israeli actions: “Why wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that civilians who, for whatever reason, happen to be living in Gaza would not become more hardened in their view of the Israeli Government, of the Israeli people, when their own children can’t ostensibly go play in the surf, and instead, the next time they see their children they’re on funeral biers?”

Kerry: Chem Weapons Used in Syria; Arabs Lied on Talks Walkout

Monday, August 26th, 2013

U.S. secretary of state John Kerry spoke to reporters at a press briefing today to discuss the issue of chemical weapons used against civilians in Syria.

Kerry was emphatic that the U.S. is absolutely certain chemical weapons were used against Syrian civilians, and he brusquely brushed aside claims made by the Syrian regime that it was the opposition who used the weapons.  The secretary of state was aggressive in his denunciation of the Assad regime’s offer to allow in inspectors while continuing to attack the same area where the chemical weapons had been used.

“It is a moral obscenity and, despite equivocations, is undeniable,” Kerry said about the use of chemical weapons.

“Our sense of basic humanity is offended,” by the use of the weapons, but also by the regime’s “cynical attempt to cover it up,” Kerry told reporters.  He said the regime’s “belated offer to allow access,” coupled with “today’s attack on U.N. investigators” is “not the behavior of a government with nothing to hide.”

The secretary of state’s report was long on emotion but short on direction.

All Kerry would say about actions being taken is that President Obama is “actively consulting with members of congress” and with “key allies,” and that the president would be “making an informed decision,” presumably about whether and when the U.S. will take any military action against Syria.

In the daily briefing given by State Department spokesperson Marie Harf following the secretary of state’s statement, it appears that any response that the U.S. is formulating at the present time is focused solely on the use of chemical weapons, and not as a response to the ongoing civil war.

PALESTINIAN LEADERSHIP LIED ABOUT CANCELLING TALKS IN JERICHO

Spokesperson Harf also, in response to intense questioning by Matt Lee of the AP, reiterated her earlier unequivocal statement that there had been no cancellation of talks between the Israeli and Arab Palestinian negotiators.  Lee, frustrated by Harf’s refusal to be cajoled into going off message – she repeatedly stated, “we are not going to confirm every meeting that takes place,” finally burst out, “one party is lying…” and later wondered aloud “why won’t you just say the Palestinians” are lying? Harf refused to respond, leaving Lee’s statement uncontested.

In other words, Lee revealed that despite the public statements by Arab Palestinian leaders following the funerals of those who died in Qalandiya on Monday, no talks were cancelled.  The Arab Palestinian leaders were playing to their street, while going forward with the talks.

AP Reporter: Is Construction Deal Killer Despite Murderers’ Release

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

For days the discussion throughout Israel and most of the pro-Israel world has been focused on the Jewish State’s decision to release more than 100 Arab Palestinian terrorists from prison, nearly all of whom are murderers who had been given life sentences.

Even those who approved of the release of more than 1000 Arab prisoners from jail in exchange for the freedom of Gilad Shalit several years ago had difficulty understanding this round of convicted murderer releases.

Why would the Israeli government agree to release prisoners guilty of heinous murders in exchange for…the privilege of sitting down with the Palestinian Arab negotiators? Particularly when it is clear to everyone who has been watching this peace process parade for years that the talks will only be about what else Israel will have to give up.

Israel is not going to obtain any reliable guarantees that terrorism will cease or decrease. What is a more likely guarantee is that terrorism may well increase, with potential terrorists emboldened by the realization that no matter what crimes they commit, no matter how young or how old their Israeli victims, no matter if they use bomb belts or firebombs or axes or pitchforks to murder Israelis, they will eventually be released from prison.

Anyone who thought that it was worth it for Israel to take such a painful step because it will convince those countries/journalists/diplomats who are not simply inveterate Israel haters that Israel really is committed to peace, need only watch the videos of the State Department’s Daily briefings from the last two days to understand that it simply does not matter what Israel does, it will be vilified and treated as if it – the party making concessions – is the wrongful actor, and the Arab Palestinians are the ones who are forced to suffer the grievous harm inflicted on them by Israel’s actions.

For example, the state department briefing on Tuesday, August 13, started out with outrage from Associated Press reporter Matt Lee, who repeatedly sought to provoke Marie Harf, the state department spokesperson, into condemning Israel’s approval of housing construction in the eastern part of Jerusalem. And Matt Lee is one of the more even-handed of the White House press corps reporters.

To her credit, Harf repeatedly refused to be baited and would not take a specific position on the housing approvals, other than to say – repeatedly – that the U.S. government has “serious concerns” which they have “made known” to the Israeli government.

What seemed to particularly irk Lee and some of his colleagues is that while the U.S. keeps referring to the two parties being “at the table in good faith,” they saw Israel as being totally in the wrong for daring to build housing for its citizens in areas that many people and many countries – but not Israel – think is not rightfully theirs.

Here’s an example of what went on:

The Palestinians meanwhile don’t seem to have done anything except kind of sucked it up on this, and I’m just wondering if you view – is this evidence of Israel’s good faith – what you talked about yesterday when you said both sides were at the table in good faith?

and then, Lee said: “does it bother you that the Israelis are doing exactly the opposite of what you would like them to do?

Another topic that came up several times – and has been the topic of many news stories over the past several days – has been the secretary of state Kerry’s description of Israeli communities beyond the 1949 Armistice Line as “illegitimate.”

Harf  was pressed on this point several times, and was asked to find out from her boss whether it is the view of the U.S. government that only “continued settlement activity is illegitimate,” or is prior “settlement activity” also illegitimate?

Again, it was Lee who articulated this.  Here are his questions, with the single word interruptions by Harf deleted:

And I just want to make sure that my question is clear. I want to know if the U.S. regards any existing settlement –or housing construction in the West Bank — I mean, in East Jerusalem — to be illegitimate or if it’s –all in the future.

Of course, this is the “facts on the ground” argument against Jewish homes being built anywhere over the Green Line.  Watch this be the new buzz phrase adopted by people like Jodi Rudoren from the New York Times.  Somehow the idea that no Jews would ever be permitted to live in any potential Palestinian state is never one that troubles reporters.

Not nearly so trepidatious as the Americans, the European Union took little time in denouncing Israel for the housing construction approvals, describing Israel’s decision “to approve the building of nearly 1,200 new settlement apartments in occupied territories” to be “illegal under international law and threatens to make a two-state solution impossible.”

No word from the EU on the impact of continued terrorism, or whether the description by the Palestinian Authority of the Arab murderers who will be released from prison as “freedom fighters” is an obstacle to peace or might threaten the “two state” concept.

AP reporter Lee asked the state department spokesperson whether the U.S. has a position on the Arab Palestinians referring to the prisoners as “freedom fighters”:

most of these people have been convicted of murder, of killing people, and the Israelis are very clear on the fact that they think that these people are terrorists, even though they’re releasing them. The Palestinians say that they are political prisoners, and I – and they have instructed their ambassadors, all their representatives around the world, to refer to them as freedom fighters, political prisoners. And I want to know, if you don’t have a position –

About the only thing less pleasant than having to be state department spokesperson with people like Matt Lee in the press corps would be having root canal surgery if the dentist was using a buzzsaw.

The next round of talks between the negotiators for the Israelis and the negotiators for the Arab Palestinians is scheduled for Wednesday, August 14.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/st-dept-briefing-arab-murderers-release-pales-next-to-housing-oks/2013/08/14/

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