Posts Tagged ‘Obama’
The publication of several news stories in the Wall Street Journal late Tuesday, Dec. 29, produced a subterranean tremor in the crowd that closely monitors U.S.-Israel relations. The articles, on the surface, revealed information that was not all that astonishing: The Israelis spied to obtain information on the U.S. and the U.S. spied on Israel regarding the recent Nuclear Iran Deal negotiations. Big news for naifs, but not so for close and constant observers.
But just below the words looms a much bigger story, one not quite completely spelled out by the Journal reporters, Adam Entous and Danny Yadron. But that story may well, or at least should, lead to a whole new political firestorm harkening back to the furor that led to the Church Committee hearings in the 1970’s.
Because, really, who did not already know that U.S. President Barack Obama and his team were furious with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to the Nuclear Iran Deal? And wasn’t it already known that the Israelis received information about the presumably “secret” back-door negotiations between U.S. intermediaries and Iran about a nuclear deal? And why would anyone be surprised that such tensions between two traditionally rock-solid allies would create or further encourage less than desirable activity to reveal what the other was doing?
But the interesting revelation was that the sharing of information between the NSA and the White House included, apparently, not only communications by senior level Israeli officials, but also communications between those officials and members of Congress, as well as between members of Congress and U.S. pro-Israel organizations.
A clue that this matters, is that the Journal published an entirely separate article laying out the law and practice regulating eavesdropping by the executive branch on federal legislators.
That article, Cold War-Era Rules Designed to Protect U.S. Lawmakers’ Communications, one of the three articles date-lined Tuesday on the topic, is probably the one over which most readers’ eyes glazed, but it was placed there for a reason.
This article explains the evolution of various safeguards on the identities of sitting members of Congress in the course of American eavesdropping by the National Security Agency. That practice, formalized during the Cold War, required the identity of lawmakers, and even of mere U.S. private citizens, be obscured, when acquired by the NSA while the security agency fishes for information to protect the homeland from, for example, terrorism.
In the 1990’s, the Journal article explains intelligence agencies were “required to notify congressional leaders of intelligence committees whenever a lawmaker’s identity was revealed to an executive branch official.” But the article reveals that this “requirement” has not been scrupulously followed in recent years.
A declassified 2011 NSA directive required analysts to destroy intercepted communications between foreign targets and U.S. officers or employees, such as legislators, unless the NSA director issued a waiver on the grounds of “significant foreign intelligence.”
The expanding network of intelligence gathering gained substantial steam after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but were reportedly dramatically curtailed after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden publicly revealed the vast width and breadth of surveillance gathering engaged in by the U.S.
In the wake of the Snowden disclosure, President Obama promised the country to curtail spying on U.S. allies. Except that a loophole remained – and a sensible sounding loophole it is – that permitted snooping when “there was a compelling national security purpose” motivating the eavesdropping.
And here the picture comes together.
You see, the Obama administration was dead-set on reaching a nuclear weapons deal with Iran. And the Israeli people and government, and many U.S. legislators, and many American citizens, were dead-set against it. That created, apparently, what the Obama administration considered a “national security” reason for continuing to eavesdrop on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and anyone the government of Israel was talking to, and anyone who agreed with them who was speaking with American legislators.Lori Lowenthal Marcus
(JNi.media) In 2011 and 2012, according to a Wall Street Journal revelation Wednesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama were in sharp conflict over what to do about Iran’s emerging nuclear program. Netanyahu was preparing to take a page out of his predecessor, Menachem Begin’s play book on the Iraqi nuclear plant–although striking in Iran would have been far more formidable–while Obama was engaged in secret talks with the Iranians, and by secret we mean without letting Israel know.
According to the WSJ report, the White House was petrified that Netanyahu would blitz Iran without alerting the Americans, thus bringing down the house on the negotiations that were still at their most tender phase. And so US spy agencies enhanced their surveillance of Israeli political targets, for which they had approval from congressional intelligence committees.
After a few years of this, the NSA was fairly certain there was not going to be a repeat of the 1981 Operation Opera, that took out the Osirak reactor in Iraq. Except that by then the American Administration had a new reason to keep tapping Bibi: they wanted to make sure Israel was not aware of the secret talks with the Iranians, because if those became known to the Israelis, they would have sounded the alarm and the fragile negotiations could go bust. So they kept on tapping.
According to the WSJ report, after the Edward Snowden scandal had erupted and it turned out the NSA was tapping all of America’s friends, including heads of state, when President Obama promised to behave better and stop tapping everyone, that’s not what he really meant. The NSA hadn’t spent decades bugging phone and Internet networks around the world to just cut them off all of a sudden. How would they spy on everyone in the future if they needed to? So, instead, they just stopped eavesdropping. The taps stayed in place, but silent.
Except for one particular trouble spot, right around wherever Bibi happened to be at the moment. Apparently, not tapping our friendliest nation, Israel, didn’t enter anyone’s mind over at the NSA. “Going dark on Bibi? Of course we wouldn’t do that,” a senior US official told the WSJ.
And so, the NSA was certain last year that Israel was spying on the Iran negotiations in Europe, and by late 2014 they knew Mr. Netanyahu wanted to block the nuclear deal but didn’t have a strategy yet. On January 8 this year, the strategy was hatched by then Republican House Speaker John Boehner and the new Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: they invited Netanyahu to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress. They contacted Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, who told Bibi, who grabbed the offer.
At which point, the NSA started yet another one of their famous walks on legal thin ice, because, according to US law, there’s a huge difference between tapping foreigners, even very friendly ones, like Netanyahu, and tapping US elected officials without their knowledge. If you’re going to tap Speaker Boehner chatting with PM Netanyahu, you must disclose this to the appropriate Congressional committees. Also, an NSA directive dating back to 2011 says that direct communications between foreign intelligence targets and members of Congress should be destroyed when they are intercepted, and only the NSA director can decide otherwise regarding “significant foreign intelligence.”
The NSA is allowed to tap communications between US lawmakers after, as an example, an ambassador tells his government back home about a meeting with said lawmakers. So this is how the NSA, working for the Democrat in the White House, could spy on the conversations of the Congressional leadership, that happened to be Republican.JNi.Media
President Barack Obama has blamed the media for the lack of enthusiasm for his “strategy” to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS).
In an interview with NPR last week, he was asked, “What is the public missing about your strategy? And I say that simply because, according to polls, you don’t have very much approval for it.”
President Obama charged that the media is chasing ratings, but it recently was leaked that he seems to be out of touch with American fears of the ISIS.
The New York Times recently reported that he said in an off-the-record meeting that he didn’t realize how much Americans are afraid of ISIS. The Times later removed the comment from its website.
In the interview with NPR, he explained away criticism of his war on ISIS:
Well, I think what’s fair is, post-Paris, you had a saturation of news about the horrible attack there, and ISIL combines viciousness with very savvy media operations.
And as a consequence, if you’ve been watching television for the last month, all you’ve been seeing, all you’ve been hearing about is these guys with masks or black flags who are potentially coming to get you, so I understand why people are concerned about it.
Some members of the U.S. Congress are pushing Secretary of State John Kerry to close the Washington, D.C. office of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The reason? The PLO is not only a primary source of incitement for terrorism, including murder, against Israelis, it also is a direct funder of that terrorism.
In the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987, Congress forbade the PLO from establishing or maintaining an office in the United States. However, each year since 1994, a President has signed a waiver allowing the PLO office in Washington, D.C. to remain open.
At the end of last week Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.-11) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and more than two dozen other legislators called on the State Department to revoke the PLO’s waiver to maintain an office in Washington.
The letter was signed by 32 members of Congress (see the list at the end of this article) who cited the very careful and credible news source Palestinian Media Watch report that “the PLO funds funds terrorism by paying “salaries” to Palestinians who are put in Israeli jails as a way of rewarding and incentivizing terror attacks.”
PMW revealed that the PLO, every year, provides about $150 million to convicted terrorists imprisoned in Israel’s jails or to their families of deceased terrorists. The worse the act of terrorism and the longer the prison term, the more money is “awarded” to each terrorist or terrorist survivor’s family. At least some of that money, by the way, can be traced to American government funds (i.e. U.S. taxpayer money).
The Secretary of State and President Barack Obama have repeatedly lectured the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Arabs to “end the incitement,” as if the two were equally engaged in that wrongdoing. In addition to the calls from this administration to cease the incitement, both Houses of Congress just this fall unanimously passed resolutions condemning continued Arab incitement. But the legislators were outraged to learn that not only does the Palestinian Arab leadership openly agitate for attacks on Israelis and glorify murderers and attempted murderers of Israelis, but they actually pay the terrorists explicitly for committing that terror.
“Our close ally Israel is enduring another wave of Palestinian terrorism in the form of car-ramming, rock-throwing, and brutal knife attacks,” Sen. Cruz said. “These horrific acts of terrorism are due to the continued incitement and glorification of violence by Palestinian leadership.
“Just last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the recent attacks a ‘justified popular uprising’ following his remarks in September, in which he said, ‘We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem.’
“It is long past time for the United States to hold the PLO and its leaders accountable for engaging in such rampant incitement, for celebrating the murder of Jews, and for providing payment to Palestinian terrorists jailed in Israel and their families. We must make it clear such actions are blatantly unacceptable and close the PLO office in Washington, D.C.”
“For too long the PLO has not just tolerated acts of terrorism against the Israeli people – but incited others to commit acts of violence in the name of jihad,” Rep. Meadows said. “It goes against everything we stand for as an American people to allow the PLO to retain an office in our nation’s capital, considering its long and well-documented history of encouraging violence and terror against our Israeli allies. It’s time we send a clear signal that the United States does not tolerate extremism and demonstrate our unwavering support for our allies in Israel by revoking this waiver.”
What the legislators seek in their letter is for the U.S. government to recognize that the Palestinian Arab leadership is continuously not only verbally inciting terror, but paying people to commit the most heinous terror possible. And concomitant with that recognition must be an immediate revocation of the PLO’s waiver, and a shuttering of its U.S. office. Failing to make that acknowledgement and take the requested action makes a mockery of the U.S. government’s calls for an end to incitement and its repeated claims to be anxious to bring peace to the region.Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Have you ever noticed that every time Barack Obama talks about ISIS he calls them ISIL?
Every politician, every news outlet, everyone in the world calls the terror group ISIS. President Obama’s words are deliberate, consistent and thought out. The reason why may shock you.
Jewish standing and security throughout the diaspora is on a freefall as Islam proliferates and metastasizes globally.
In response to the Muslim imperialism, the US, Europe, and the world are increasing their coercive pressure on Israel to make suicidal gestures such as the two state solution which would be both a denial of the justice of our connection to this land and a death sentence for countless Jews who would perish at the inevitable wave of terror which would result.
In the wake of the attacks on Israel both from within and without, what is the calling of the generations for the Jewish people today? How does the dramatic story of Joseph testing his brothers and revealing himself to them color the prism through which we can understand our times?Ari Abramowitz & Jeremy Gimpel
The Obama administration has followed up on exploiting Passover for its political agenda by coming out with a new interpretation of Hanukkah, whose lights supposedly are to enlighten Jews to back the President’s program to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said at the annual lighting of the National Hanukkah Menorah:
So this is a joyous occasion, and yet as we heard earlier we are mindful that even as we gather here tonight, that while the light of freedom burns brightly for us and for our generation, it flickers for others.
Refugees fleeing religious intolerance and oppression. People targeted for their faith, people whose faith is perverted by others.
He suddenly dropped the Jewish angle and switched to speaking for all Americans, saying:
We are Americans, and as Americans we do not turn our backs on those who seek sanctuary. Nor do we stay quiet in the face of bigotry or intolerance. We stand up for those persecuted around the world.
McDonough then switched back to express his ignorance of Judaism and continued:
We remember this season that we too were once strangers, that our inheritance gives an obligation to remain true to our values, that as Jewish tradition teaches, by saving one life, we save the world.
He seems to be getting Passover, when Jews recall being “strangers in a strange land,” with Hanukkah, the celebration of twin miracles of the victory of a small number of Jews over Greek invaders of Jerusalem and of a one-day’s supply of pure olive oil burning for eight days after the holy Menorah was relit.
It is no wonder he got confused because Passover also has been used by President Barack Obama to promote his political agenda. This past year, as in previous years, the President acted as a would-be Torah sage to declare that Jews must drive into their minds that Arabs deserve their freedom just like Jews won their freedom with the help of God.
He meant freedom for Arabs in Judea and Samaria, where their main lack of freedom is to kill Jews at will, and not in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and other Muslim countries where freedom is a strange word in a strange land.
Chabad Rabbi Levi Shemtov expressed a different political interpretation on whose lack of freedom should be remembered.
After declaring his sorrow for the victims of the terror attack in San Bernardino, he said:
They, their families, their loved ones that are mourning are with us in our prayers and in our celebration today. So are the families of all those innocent souls in Paris. … We must remember them as we celebrate our freedom.
Because even though we and France are two free countries, freedom is not free, and when it is disrupted, we must pause and remember those who give their lives in that cause.