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.
Turkish rage at the US has been mounting since the failed July 15 coup, which President Erdogan blamed on his former ally Fethullah Gulen, a self-exiled cleric living in Pennsylvania. It has gotten so bad, President Obama sent his VP to smooth things over, and the Turks were not making the task easy for Joe Biden. The Turks began by sending Ankara’s deputy mayor to greet Biden—the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Turkey since the coup—at the airport. And while the VP was still visiting, the pro-Erdogan Daily Sabah stated: “Biden wasted a trip, Turkey wasted time.”
But Joe Biden, no stranger to hardball politics, took all of that in stride and stayed on message. For one thing, as Anadolu reported Wednesday, Biden hinted that Obama may be prepared to throw Gulen under the bus. “I can understand Mr. President how some of your countrymen would feel that the world didn’t respond rapidly enough to the existential crisis your country is facing,” the VP said at a joint press conference in Ankara Wednesday. “That’s why I want to personally be here. And I was asked by the president to personally be here to represent him, to tell you and all of your colleagues and your countryman how very, very sorry I am, the president and the American people are for the suffering and loss you have endured.”
Biden then said the US is “committed to doing everything we can to help bring justice for all those responsible for this coup attempt. Even as [we] speak, our American experts are on the ground here in Ankara, meeting with your people, closely coordinating with our Turkish counterparts to evaluate and gather material with regard to Turkish requests to extradite Gulen in accordance our bilateral extradition treaty.”
“We have more lawyers working on this case than any other extradition in recent history,” Biden reassured his host. According to Anadolu, during his earlier meeting with Speaker of Parliament Ismail Kahraman, Biden said he and Obama “wish Gulen were in another country, not in the US.”
Erdogan lectured Biden on how Gulen is operating a global terrorist network from his little home in Pennsylvania, and repeated his demand thata the US immediately detain Gulen, so he won’t give media interviews. Biden reportedly put his face in his hands at this point, and tried to explain the US Constitution to his Turkish host.
“The Constitution and our laws require for someone to be extradited that a court of the United States has to conclude there’s probable cause to extradite,” Biden said. “How long it will take will depend on what evidence is presented. Thus far, until yesterday, there has been no evidence presented about the coup.”
“God willing, there will be enough data and evidence to meet the criteria that you all believe exists,” Biden added later.
Last summer, Jerrold Nadler was New York City’s only Jewish Democratic House Member who supported President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, a point which was not lost on his opponent in last June’s primaries. Oliver Rosenberg, a Yeshiva University graduate and an orthodox Jew, argued that the Iran vote showed Nadler as being out of touch with his voters. Nadler, 69, won his primary election in a landslide, with Obama’s endorsement. But neither his crucial vote on the deal nor his firm hold on his own district have earned Nadler the respect of the Democratic National Committee staffers, the same folks who conspired with ousted DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz against candidate Bernie Sanders.
It all had to do with Congressman Nadler’s girth. In 2002 and 2003, Nadler underwent laparoscopic duodenal switch surgery, which helped him lose more than 100 pounds. But over the years all the weight came back, as often happens, unfortunately, with extreme diets and other dramatic measures. Now the NY Post has discovered among the thousands of DNC emails released by WikiLeaks last month an exchange that referred to Nadler in terms that might change his vote should another Iran deal come around.
It began with a mid-May request from Nadler’s office to attend an Obama fundraiser on June 8 at the home of Kenneth Lerer, the former chairman and co-founder of The Huffington Post, Managing Director of Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Chairman of Betaworks and BuzzFeed. Lerer lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, which means he might be a constituent of Nadler’s, whose district stretches from the Upper West Side down through Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, SoHo, Greenwich Village, TriBeCa, the Financial District and Battery Park City, and over to Brooklyn, where it includes parts of Borough Park, Kensington, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights and Gravesend.
“Do you really want Nadler there?” then DNC national finance director Jordan Kaplan asked the White House in the exposed email.
Presidential aide Bobby Schmuck wrote back that President Obama wanted Nadler to attend the fundraiser, but without a guest. He emailed: “No +1.”
At which point DNC staffer Zachary Allen mocked Nadler’s weight problem. Here’s the May 18 email exchange, courtesy of Wikileaks via the NY Post:
Allen: Homeboy is NOT little.
Kaplan: I thought he got his tummy tucked.
Allen: He did, but like [Gov. Chris] Christie it all came back.
One day later, Zach emailed Kaplan about Nadler: “He was petitioning on my corner the other day and I thanked him for supporting the Iran deal and he bear hugged me. I kinda love him.”
Gotta’ love those bears.
And another day later (sifting through Wikileaks emails is like eating peanuts, you just can’t stop) Zach emailed Jordan Kaplan—who has since stepped down, mired in the Wasserman Schultz scandal: “Are we back to the point where I can say I love you? Because I’d like to.”
And Kaplan emailed back: “I love you too. No homo. Phew.”
So now when they ask you if you think the DNC (and the White House) is being run by children, you can answer with certainty, well, maybe not children, but teenagers, for sure. But no homo. Phew.
As the Trump campaign is surrounding itself with strong, anti-Hillary voices from well established conservative media — Stephen Bannon and Roger Ailes, to name but two, WNYC’s All Things Considered host Richard Hake last week said that “the Clinton campaign has been looking for a surrogate to play Trump so she can practice and they are bringing in the well-known criminal and constitutional law attorney Alan Dershowitz.”
Hake was interviewing former New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, who said that of the two components required to win a presidential debate, knowledge and the ability to react quickly and sharply, Hillary possessed the former to a degree close to her own husband’s and to President Obama. But how should she react to an offensive criticism from her attacker in real-time?
“With Roger Ailes and Stephen Bannon advising Trump, Hillary’s team has to guess at what off-the-wall questions, attacks, about her or Bill are coming her way, and how to response with one phrase, one over-arching ribbon,” Green said.
Green, who used to be a student of Dershowitz’s at Harvard, said “Alan Dershowitz is quick-talking, New Yorkish, loud, of course a liberal, and he can mimic Trump pretty well.”
Green said the Democratic candidate should have one overall debate manager, one surrogate, and a team of ten advisers who would micro-analyze her answers during the practice bouts, and remind her to remain poised and, most important and “cheesy,” as Green put it, smile a lot.
“If you’re ideologically neutral and you see Trump yelling and angry, and self-centered, he never smiles, he never laughs, he’s too self-referential,” Green said, and then you turn to Hillary, and “Hillary is the tough mother you want, and if she smiles periodically and is always poised, she conveys empathy. Remember, Kennedy beat Nixon not on points but on appearance.”
So far, Dershowitz denied the story about his playing Trump, writing “Not that I’ve heard,” in response to a Jewish Insider email asking if he’ll do Trump in Clinton’s debate prep.
The first presidential debate is scheduled for Monday, September 26 at Hofstra University in New York.
Speaking to a large rally in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump accused President Obama of lying to the American people about the ransom the US paid the Iranians for returning three American hostages.
After lamenting the Obama Administration’s nuclear deal with Iran that gave the latter possession of its frozen assets to the tune of $150 billion, Trump continued, “Not to mention the $400 million in cash, which turned out to be a ransom payment after all, just like I said.”
“In other word, our president lied to us. He lied to us,” Trump concluded.
The cash payment to the Iranian government is the subject of the latest war between the Republicans and the Obama administration, with the Republicans saying the payment was ransom for the release of the three American prisoners from Iranian captivity.
President Obama and the State Dept. have been adamant about denying the ransom accusation, with the president claiming it was money the US owed Iran from well before the hostage incident, and had been announced as part of the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic. The $400 million payment was part of the $1.7 billion settlement of a US arms deal with the Shah in the 1970s.
On Thursday the State Department insisted they withheld the payment as “leverage” because it made sense to condition paying the debt on the old deal on letting the Americans go, but that didn’t make it a ransom.
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.