Friday, August 12, 2016

Compromised: Justice Dept. Refused FBI Probe of Clinton Foundation - Mattthew Vadum

by Mattthew Vadum

"See no evil" ought to be the motto of the Obama administration.

The highly politicized Department of Justice swatted down pesky FBI requests to investigate the Clinton Foundation earlier this year, CNN reported yesterday.

CNN buried the lede, as it frequently does on news stories that make Democrats look bad. The online version bears the innocuous-sounding headline, “Newly released Clinton emails shed light on relationship between State Dept. and Clinton Foundation.”

It is not until the 25th paragraph that the article states that an unidentified law enforcement official gave CNN a heads-up earlier this year. As the probe of Clinton’s private email servers was ramping up “several FBI field offices approached the Justice Department asking to open a case regarding the relationship between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.”

At that time, the article continues, the Justice Department “declined because it had looked into allegations surrounding the Clinton Foundation around a year earlier and found there wasn't sufficient evidence to open a case.”

Not even enough evidence to look into the foundation’s affairs?

Not more than a year after the publication of Peter Schweizer’s blockbuster book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, opened the floodgates for investigative reporters to dig into the matter.

As I’ve written before, various lawyers have told me there is already a strong legal case against Mrs. Clinton. The fact that she destroyed email evidence -- evidence subject to a congressional subpoena, no less -- is already evidence in itself that she obstructed justice through spoliation of evidence. Spoliation means you can take as evidence the fact that evidence has been destroyed. Courts are entitled to draw spoliation inferences and convict an accused person on that basis alone.

The only reason FBI Director James Comey didn’t recommend she be prosecuted is because, well, he lacks a spine and he’s corrupt. He said there was no evidence of Clinton’s “efforts to obstruct justice,” a requirement that does not actually appear in the Espionage Act.

Evidence of corruption at the Clinton Foundation is everywhere, yet CNN and much of the mainstream media are still doing everything they can to ignore, misrepresent, or downplay the questionable things Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did through the foundation.

The congenitally corrupt Clintons created their private email system to frustrate Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) requesters, shield Hillary's correspondence from congressional oversight, and steer money to their corrupt foundation, which, amazingly enough, still enjoys tax-exempt status.

These illegal, insecure private email servers Clinton used while at the State Department are at the heart of the scandal over her mishandling of an Islamic terrorist attack in militant-infested Benghazi, Libya on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 that left four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens, dead. Even now, four years after the assault, the Obama administration has failed to provide an autopsy report about Stevens who was initially reported to have been ritualistically sodomized before being murdered by Muslim terrorists.

Every few days Judicial Watch has been releasing emails obtained under FoIA that may ultimately lead to evidence of political interference at the highest levels that provided cover for the anticipatory presidential bribe processing vehicle known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

“No wonder Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin hid emails from the American people, the courts and Congress,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “They show the Clinton Foundation, Clinton donors, and operatives worked with Hillary Clinton in potential violation of the law.”

On Tuesday the watchdog group published emails sent to Abedin, Clinton’s longtime aide with generational ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, seeking favors. Abedin now vice-chairs Clinton’s presidential campaign. She also worked at the State Department with Clinton and with her at the Clinton Foundation.

“The new documents reveal that in April 2009 controversial Clinton Foundation official Doug Band pushed for a job for an associate,” according to a Judicial Watch summary. “In the email Band tells Hillary Clinton’s former aides at the State Department Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin that it is “important to take care of [Redacted]. Band is reassured by Abedin that “Personnel has been sending him options.” Band was co-founder of Teneo Strategy with Bill Clinton and a top official of the Clinton Foundation, including its Clinton Global Initiative.”

Emails also show Abedin left then-Secretary Clinton’s daily schedule, presumably a  sensitive document, on a bed in an unlocked hotel room. 

“An email on April 18, 2009, during a conference in Trinidad and Tobago, from aide Melissa J. Lan to Huma Abedin asks for the Secretary’s “day book binders.” Abedin replies: “Yes. It’s on the bed in my room. U can take it. My door is open. I’m in the lobby. Thx.” Moreover, the emails show the annoyance of another Clinton aide that the schedule was sent to an authorized State Department email address and not to an unsecured account.”

Other emails show Clinton campaign adviser and pollster Mark Penn provided Clinton advice on NATO and piracy. Clinton fundraiser Lana Moresky asked Clinton to have the State Department hire someone. Clinton asked Abedin to follow up and “help” the applicant and asked Abedin to “let me know” about the job.

Meanwhile, the Left is trying to take the focus off the Clinton Foundation.

A high-profile watchdog group controlled by Hillary Clinton ally David Brock is demanding the IRS investigate Donald Trump’s personal foundation for allegedly aiding his presidential campaign.
The call by CREW, or Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has to be the most obvious political hit job of this election cycle.

CREW is a member of what some in the conservative think tank community call the “Brocktopus,” that is, the network of groups the disgraced former journalist runs, which spends oodles of money defending all things Clinton. An admitted serial liar, Brock’s empire of sleaze also includes “conservative misinformation” watchdog Media Matters for America, pro-Hillary disaster-control spin site Correct the Record, and American Bridge 21st Century, a super PAC that promotes Hillary and attacks her critics.

CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder asked the IRS to investigate the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a tiny nonprofit founded by Trump decades ago to give away profits from his book, The Art of the Deal.

How the foundation, which ranked 4,347th in the FoundationSearch “Top Foundations by Assets for the state of New York” list would help the Trump campaign isn’t clear. “The Trump Foundation has no full-time staff, and gave away just $591,000 in 2014 — the last year for which records are available,” the Washington Post reports.

It’s possible the Trump Foundation has been helping the Trump campaign but the philanthropy is so anemic it is difficult to imagine it doing much to help its benefactor’s political career. Even if the IRS takes up this piddling little case not much is likely to come of it. It’s a political stunt by CREW, a nakedly partisan group under the boot of one of Hillary’s biggest backers.

It’s the wheeling and dealing Clinton Foundation with its involvement in billion-dollar transactions, its ties to shady figures, and the debt it owes to the unsavory governments of countries around the world that needs to be properly and thoroughly examined.

Mattthew Vadum


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Is Israel about to Sign a Terrible Deal? - Shoshana Bryen

by Shoshana Bryen

100% of the money will be spent in the U.S., while Israel is presently able to spend 25% in Israel. This is a subsidy for U.S. defense industries and constrains Israel's defense choices by forcing the IDF to exclude weapons from Europe and elsewhere.

  • Without the ability to spend some money in Israel, it will be harder for smaller defense and high-tech industries to keep up.
  • Israel will be prohibited from asking Congress for additional funds for ten years, effectively removing a bipartisan center of support for Israel's security from the equation and reducing Israel's flexibility in addressing rapidly emerging threats.
  • This could be particularly problematic: an administration that opposes missile defense in principle -- as does the Obama administration -- could effectively stifle Israel, which protects its people with a layered missile defense system.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is an agreement between two parties -- in this case, the governments of Israel and the United States. It is less than a treaty, more than a handshake. The first MOU was signed in 1981, recognizing "the common bonds of friendship between the United States and Israel and builds on the mutual security relationship that exists between the two nations." The current MOU, signed in 2007, represented a 10-year commitment. The Obama Administration and the government of Israel have been negotiating a new 10-year agreement that will come into effect in 2017.

It is hard to get the nuance right in a security arrangement between a superpower and a small country, even if the small country is a first-world democracy in terms of education, income, technology, and political structure. It is harder when large sums of money are involved, and harder still when the small country is, in military terms, a "security producer," one that provides more security to a region than it requires in assistance, but is still uniquely threatened in the world.

It is hard to get the nuance right in a security arrangement between a superpower and a small country, even if the small country is a first-world democracy in terms of education, income, technology, and political structure. Above, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets President Barack Obama at the White House, May 20, 2011. (Image source: Israel PM office)

The Obama Administration is making it harder, perhaps because one of the President's goals has been to remove the United States from its role as security guarantor not only for Israel, but also for the region, and possibly, it seems, for the rest of the world, such as the South China Sea, Crimea and the Balkans.

The administration proposes somewhat more money for Israel -- from $3.1 billion to close to $4 billion -- but with important caveats:

1) 100% of the money will be spent in the U.S., while Israel is presently able to spend 25% in Israel.

This is a subsidy for U.S. defense industries and constrains Israel's defense choices by forcing the IDF to exclude weapons from Europe and elsewhere. While some think of Israel as an expense to the U.S., the fact is that Israeli R&D innovations -- shared with the U.S. by agreement -- have helped mitigate the decline in the U.S. missile defense budget in an era of growing threats. Without the ability to spend some money in Israel, it will be harder for smaller defense and high-tech industries to keep up.

2) The total figure will include money for missile defense, which in this administration has been an add-on from Congress. That makes the increase substantially less than it appears to be.

This could be particularly problematic: an administration that opposes missile defense in principle -- as does the Obama administration -- could effectively stifle Israel, which protects its people with a layered missile defense system. As Iran continues to violate UN prohibitions on ballistic missile testing, and Hamas and Hezbollah increase their arsenals, the consequences could be devastating.

3) Israel will be prohibited from asking Congress for additional funds, effectively removing a bipartisan center of support for Israel's security from the equation and reducing Israel's flexibility in addressing rapidly emerging threats. This year, Congress wrote in $42.7 million for anti-tunnel cooperation -- something that emerged as essential only after the 2014 Gaza war.

In deference to the outsized threats and acknowledging Israel's status as an American ally, it has been U.S. policy for decades and law since 2008 that "Israel will be made capable of defending itself against and defeating any likely combination of conventionally armed adversaries." This is known as Israel's Qualitative Military Edge (QME).

It was simple once -- Arab armies were Soviet equipped and trained. But the world has changed.

On the plus side, Jordan joined Egypt in making peace with Israel, and the Soviet Union disappeared. On other hand, the U.S. has been selling arms and equipment to Arab states that maintain a state of war with Israel. Israel still receives more cutting edge technology, but at some point, the quantity of oil-financed Arab purchases can tip the quality scales. Saudi Arabia spent $9.3 billion on U.S. weapons last year.

To be fair, Israel understands Saudi purchases to address the war in Yemen and the larger conflict with Iran, not aimed against Israel. Israeli-Saudi relations have thawed at least temporarily, but other threats, some conventional, some not, have increased.

ISIS, Hamas and Hezbollah are what former IDF Chief of Intelligence Amos Yadlin calls "substate actors" -- terrorist organizations that have attributes of statehood, such as territory, populations, etc. Syria remains in a state of war with Israel and as the civil war continues, Iran and Hezbollah have forces and weapons close to the Golan Heights. Iran is only a decade away, if that, from the freedom to openly pursue its nuclear capability as the JCPOA ends.

It was the release of hundreds of millions of dollars by the U.S. to the Islamic Republic, destined to improve and enhance Iranian military capabilities, which added urgency to Israel's request for missile defense and other capabilities.

The U.S., then, is on both sides of Israel's security conundrum.

On one hand, U.S.-Israel security cooperation is embodied in QME joint R&D on missile technology, joint training and exercises (most recently a joint missile defense exercise in Israel), and Israel's new diplomatic mission to NATO Headquarters.

But on the other hand, having to spend all the money on U.S. procurement, U.S. arms sales to countries still in a state of war with Israel, the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars to Iran and removing Congress from its pivotal role as a security partner for Israel are all positions that clearly express administration weariness and irritation with Israel.

Israel, of course, does not have to sign. There is a new administration coming, and no doubt Israel can manage evolving bilateral relations with the U.S. under either party. There is, however, something to be said for the reassurance of a 10-year American commitment, even if the current terms are not ideal.

On balance, Israel is a strong, accomplished, and increasingly capable country with both military and civilian assets sought by countries around the world. It finds itself in a vastly improved international situation even as its neighborhood declines. It would have been in the larger interest of the United States to enhance those capabilities rather than trying to constrain them.

Shoshana Bryen, is Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center.


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Shocking data revision by feds: Americans’ wages dropped 4.2% instead of rising in the first quarter - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

This shocking news was buried in a report on second-quarter earnings and has barely registered in the nation’s media

Wages for Americans are dropping at a rapid rate, instead of rising as the feds had claimed.  This shocking news making President Obama’s claim that the economy has recovered from the great recession laughable – was buried in a report on second-quarter earnings and has barely registered in the nation’s media, which are anxious to elect Hillary Clinton.
Neil Munro of Breitbart summarizes the changes:
“Real hourly compensation decreased 0.4 percent after revision, rather than the previously-published increase of 4.2 percent,” the BLS admitted. Compensation also fell another 1.4 percent in the second quarter, from April to June, the BLS admitted in the same report. That’s 2 percent drop in wages since December.
Pay shrank 0.3 percent in 2013, rose a mere 1.1 percent in 2014, but rose a promising 2.7 percent in 2015, according to the BLS.
Based on the erroneous data, President Obama has been taking victory laps on the economy.
In June, Obama cited the mistaken 2016 wage-growth claim while arguing the economy was finally helping ordinary Americans. “Let’s get wages rising faster,” Obama declared in a speech at Concord Community High School, Elkhart, Indiana.
I also know that I’ve spent every single day of my presidency focused on what I can do to grow the middle class and increase jobs, and boost wages … Here’s the good news: Wages are actually growing at a rate of about 3 percent so far this year. That’s the good news. Working Americans are finally getting a little bigger piece of the pie. But we’ve got to accelerate that.
That speech was advertised as his first speech of the 2016 campaign, and he continued his wage-boosting theme during his July 27 speech at the Democratic Convention;
If you’re really concerned about pocketbook issues and seeing the economy grow, and creating more opportunity for everybody, then the choice isn’t even close. If you want someone with a lifelong track record of fighting for higher wages, and better benefits, and a fairer tax code, and a bigger voice for workers … you should vote for Hillary Clinton.
Don’t expect Obama to revise his comments, and don’t expect the media to inform the public that wages are falling fast.  Voters will have to figure that out for themselves, unless Donald Trump starts harping on wages in his speeches.  And even then…

Thomas Lifson


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The New Threat of Very Accurate Missiles - Dr. Max Singer

by Dr. Max Singer

Hat tip: Kati Cohen

Limited missile forces, like those many small powers would be likely to possess, may not be effective unless they are fired first. There could be some trigger-happy regions in such a world

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 356, August 9, 2016

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Precision-guided medium-range missiles, a relatively new technology, are beginning to proliferate in the Middle East. When they work as designed, they can deliver half a ton of high explosive to within meters of their targets. This means that for many targets, they are almost as effective as nuclear weapons. With their capacity to destroy capital facilities like power plants, the loss of only a few of which would severely harm Israel’s economy, they introduce a new way for Israel to decisively lose a war. Israel will have to get the difficult balance between offense and defense right before the next war or it may not have a second chance.

Throughout history, until 1945, a country was basically safe as long as no enemy army could invade and defeat its army. This basic strategic fact became obsolete with the invention of nuclear weapons, which could be thrown or delivered by plane over a defender’s undefeated army and kill hundreds of thousands of a defender’s population with a single warhead.

The first generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) was not accurate enough to present much of a threat to military or strategic targets. They could not reliably hit close enough to destroy an airfield. But large nuclear weapons, each with destructive effects measured in miles, combined with ICBMs whose accuracy was similarly measured, turned the focus of war thinking toward attacks on cities. This represented a new kind of war.

A special kind of “deterrence” thus became the central topic of strategic thinking: deterrence based on the threat of a retaliatory attack that hurts the country to be deterred, but doesn’t necessarily turn the balance of forces in the deterrer’s favor.  This new style of deterrence says, “If you hit me, I will hit you back even if I have to do so in a way that does me no good. I will commit myself to hitting you, regardless of its effect on my situation, to stop you from hitting me first.”

This paper is a narrow analysis of strategic concepts in a historical context, omitting diplomatic and arms control considerations as well as several technical issues. Throughout history, countries have faced dangers other than those posed by military attack. And in a nuclear world, there are ways of protecting yourself other than through your own nuclear deterrence.

ICBMs eventually became accurate enough that smaller nuclear weapons could be used, but not so accurate that ballistic missiles without nuclear weapons could be a strategic threat.

More recently, however, technology driven by the computer revolution began to create a new strategic situation for the great powers. This technology controlled a warhead’s accuracy not by improving the precision of the missile’s launch, but by guiding the missile’s warhead as it approached its target.

“Terminal guidance,” as this technology is known, can enable warheads to be delivered over very long distances and to hit within meters of their aim-points. The launch does not have to be perfectly accurate if the final trajectory of the warhead is controlled by guidance that depends not on the initial trajectory of the missile but on equipment on the warhead.

To survive, a country has to make sure that it is not attacked by weapons that kill a large number of its citizens or that destroy so many critical pieces of infrastructure, like power plants, that its economy will be ruined. Precision-guided missiles make it possible to threaten decisive damage with a small number of non-nuclear weapons. They can have a strategic effect, in other words, that is comparable in important ways to that of nuclear weapons.

Terminal guidance technology (much of which is based on civilian technology) is now beginning to spread among smaller powers, including some that have not acquired nuclear weapons. Before now, few countries without nuclear weapons bought or built medium-range missiles, because the warheads those missiles could deliver were not destructive enough to justify the missiles’ cost. But even half a ton of high explosive, if delivered accurately, can kill a lot of people or destroy a strategic target.

That is, a precision-guided missile armed with a non-nuclear warhead can produce enough damage to justify its cost. It is reasonable to expect, therefore, that over the next twenty years or so, some smaller countries that do not possess medium-range missiles might acquire such missiles with terminal guidance. The future might reveal a world in which a number of countries – especially in the Middle East – are armed with precision-guided missiles.

Now, many countries participate in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which stipulates that they neither produce nor help others produce any missile that can deliver a half-ton payload over a distance beyond 300 km. Most countries seem to be observing this limitation. But until recently, the ineffectiveness of non-nuclear missiles meant that countries were not giving up anything useful by refraining from building them. As precision guidance technology spreads, it is unclear whether as many countries will continue to refrain from buying or building such weapons.

Up to now, the fundamental strategic situation was different for the great powers versus the less advanced countries. The less advanced countries lived in the traditional world in which they could only be militarily defeated by an enemy army invading their territory and defeating their army. The countries threatened by superpowers could have decisive damage inflicted on them by distant enemies leaping over their armies.

But if terminal guidance technology spreads to more countries (and possibly to terrorist groups), we will be living in a new world. Many governments will have to recognize that countries all over their region, or even those more distant, will have the ability to inflict decisive damage on them. On the other hand, at a reasonable cost, they themselves will be able to acquire the ability to inflict significant damage on distant enemies, either to deter attacks or for political benefit.

This prospect of a world containing many missile-armed countries, and perhaps missile-armed terror organizations, is distinctly unattractive. This is not only because of the bad effect such a scenario would have on political relationships and the prospects for peace. Limited missile forces, like those many small powers would be likely to possess, may not be effective unless they are fired first. There could be some trigger-happy regions in such a world.

Much attention has been given to the need to avoid becoming a world containing many small nuclear powers. But there is another possibility: that the world will contain many countries in possession of precision-guided missiles. These missiles can’t kill as many people as nuclear weapons can, but they can still produce many casualties and cause significant strategic damage.

The effects of precision-guided missiles are similar enough to those of nuclear weapons that if they became commonplace, the world’s strategic situation would change significantly from what it has been historically. A world of widespread precision-guided missiles is not as dangerous as a world containing many nuclear powers, but it would still be much more dangerous than the current world or the worlds of the past.

Israel has, unfortunately, been the first to enter this new world of precision-guided missiles. It faces at least two enemies that already have this capability, or are likely to have it within the next few years (Iran and Hezbollah). Someday, Hamas might also acquire such weapons.

For many years, long-range missiles were not a serious danger to Israel because they were not accurate. Without nuclear warheads attached, they could produce only limited damage. During the second Lebanon war, Israel was hit with some 4,000 missiles (mostly short-range rockets and mortars) but suffered only some 53 fatalities, including 44 civilians, and limited (but substantial) property damage.

Iran recently acquired the technologies that make very accurate medium-range missiles possible, and other regional powers may have done so as well. Iran is thought to have delivered missiles to Hezbollah that are designed to reach deep into Israel and deliver 500 kg of high explosive to within meters of their targets. We don’t know how well or how reliably these missiles work.

Accurate missiles make another kind of war possible because they create a new way that Israel can be defeated even if it wins the old forms of war. Consider the hypothetical possibility of a war with Hezbollah that results in Hezbollah ground forces being defeated so badly that other Lebanese are able to regain control of their country, and a large part of Lebanon’s infrastructure is destroyed. But at the same time, Israel could suffer thousands of civilian deaths, as well as the destruction of its main electric power plants, water desalination capabilities, international airport, and other critical infrastructure.

Two-thirds of Israel’s electricity is produced by only six power plants. The harm caused by the destruction of those six plants would be immense, although the degree of harm would depend on how fast they could be rebuilt and on how efficiently the electricity from smaller plants could be used. Similarly, the impact on Israel of the destruction of the country’s water desalination plants would depend on how efficiently other sources of water could be used. People would have enough water to drink as soon as the distribution system was working, but most irrigation might need to be stopped.

Nobody knows how badly life in Israel would be hurt by a small number of missiles destroying important structures. But the loss of electricity alone would be immensely damaging to Israel’s standard of living and its ability to maintain its economy. And Israel, unlike most countries, could expect little if any help from its neighbors.

The IDF’s effectiveness could also be sharply reduced by the destruction of key facilities. The military damage might be so great that Israel would be less able to defend its borders. Or the economic damage from a small number of missiles hitting cleverly chosen targets might be great enough to cause a significant fraction of Israelis and foreign investors to leave the country.

In other words, in this new kind of war, Israel can be fatally damaged even if it wins according to the tests and goals of the kinds of war with which the IDF has experience.

The IDF has much experience dealing with enemy missiles, but they were inaccurate. The experience therefore taught the wrong lessons for the new kind of war. The missiles of the past, and indeed most of the missiles currently facing Israel, were not accurate enough to do decisive damage.

Now that precision guidance technology has come to the region, the IDF, in addition to all its “normal” responsibilities, must make sure that no enemy can inflict a fatal blow against Israel with accurate short- or medium-range missiles carrying high explosives. Fewer than 20 or 30 missiles that succeed in exploding on target could be enough to produce a fatal blow in this new kind of war.

The IDF might therefore have to plan and organize very differently than it has in the past. This will be no small challenge, as it is very difficult for any big organization to change its conceptions to face a threat it has never seen in action.

If Hezbollah, or Hezbollah plus Hamas, is thought to have more precision-guided missiles than the IDF is confident that it can protect against, strong deterrence will limit Israel’s freedom of action. It could prevent Israel from making an attack, for example, on Iran’s nuclear forces.

While the IDF may recognize the new threat presented by accurate missiles, an adequate response to this threat could require a great deal of money. It is not clear that the Ministry of Defense is capable of moving large amounts of the budget from existing organizations to meet new threats, and the ministry has a long history of being extremely reluctant to use its money for defense.

Missile defense systems like Iron Dome and David’s Sling are recognized as potent ways of protecting the country from the threat of accurate missiles aimed at essential Israeli infrastructure. However, some will argue that increased missile defense would provide less protection against precision-guided missiles than offensive improvements that might increase deterrence and enhance Israel’s ability, in the air and on the ground, to prevent missiles from being launched.

The challenge to Israeli leadership will be to find the best balance between defense and offense and to overcome internal IDF resistance to moving budgets to implement that balance. There is good reason to fear that the IDF will not buy as much missile defense as will be needed to prevent the new kind of defeat.

Israel is not helpless before this new threat. Enemy missiles can be deterred, or destroyed on the ground, or stopped by missile defenses. And the amount of damage, particularly in terms of human casualties, caused by these missiles can be drastically reduced by civil defense.

But the battle between accurate missiles and the measures taken to protect against them is an almost wholly new part of the IDF’s task. It would be easy to fail to give it the attention it needs, and to fail to divert to it the resources it requires. But we cannot afford to use a first experience of the new kind of war to learn how to win the next time. We have to get it right the first time.

In the next war, the threat to the Israeli economy, and the number of Israelis who might be killed, by accurate Hezbollah missiles may require Israel to be able to end the war successfully in a very few days. Even six days might be too long. To do this, Israel might have to threaten to use, or to actually use, some precision-guided missiles of its own to compel Iran to stop Hezbollah from further attacks.

The revolution produced by the spreading technology of precision-guidance may well not be a revolution in Israel’s favor, even if it gives Israel some valuable weapons.


BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Dr. Max Singer, a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is co-founder of the Washington-based Hudson Institute.


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Turkey, Europe's Little Problem - Burak Bekdil

by Burak Bekdil

Europe is giving signals, albeit slowly, that it may be waking up from the "Turkey-the-bridge" dream. Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmaier said that his country's relations with Turkey have grown so bad the two countries have virtually "no basis" for talks.

  • "Italy should be attending to the mafia, not my son," said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Typically, he does not understand the existence of independent judiciary in a European country. He thinks, as in an Arab sheikdom, prosecutors are liable to drop charges on orders from the prime minister.
  • "We know that the democratic standards are clearly not sufficient to justify [Turkey's] accession [to the European Union]." — Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern.

Nations do not have the luxury, as people often do, of choosing their neighbors. Turkey, under the 14-year rule of Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist governments, and neighboring both Europe and the Middle East, was once praised as a "bridge" between Western and Islamic civilizations. Its accession into the European Union (EU) was encouraged by most EU and American leaders. Nearly three decades after its official bid to join the European club, Turkey is not yet European but has become one of Europe's problems.

Europe's "Turkish problem" is not only about the fact that in a fortnight a bomb attack wrecked a terminal of the country's biggest airport and a coup attempt killed nearly 250 people; nor is it about who rules the country. It is about the undeniable democratic deficit both in governance and popular culture.

In only the past couple of weeks, Turkey was in the headlines with jaw-dropping news. In Istanbul, a secretary at a daily newspaper was attacked by a group of people who accused her of "wearing revealing clothes and supporting the July 15 failed coup." She was six months pregnant.

Also in Istanbul, a Syrian gay refugee was murdered: he had been beheaded and mutilated. One social worker helping LGBT groups said: "Police are doing nothing because he is Syrian and because he is gay."

Turkey is dangerous not only for gays and refugees. A French tourist was left bloodied and beaten by Turkish nationalists after he refused to hold a Turkish flag. Grisly footage shows the gang, encouraged by Erdogan to patrol the streets on "democracy watch," telling the man "You will be punched if you don't hold the flag." The tourist is alone and does not appear to speak Turkish.

Meanwhile Europe is giving signals, albeit slowly, that it may be waking up from the "Turkey-the-bridge" dream. Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmaier said that his country's relations with Turkey have grown so bad the two countries have virtually "no basis" for talks. He said that Germany has serious concerns about mass arrests carried out by Turkish officials. According to Steinmaier, Turkey and Germany are like "emissaries from two different planets." Steinmaier is right. He is also not the only European statesman who sees Turkey as alien.

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmaier (right) said that his country's relations with Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan have grown so bad the two countries have virtually "no basis" for talks.

Erdogan recently threatened Italy that its bilateral relations with Turkey could deteriorate if Italian prosecutors investigating Erdogan's son, Bilal, for money laundering, proceeded with their probe. "Italy should be attending to the mafia, not my son," Erdogan said. Typically, he does not understand the existence of independent judiciary in a European country. He thinks, as in an Arab sheikdom, prosecutors are liable to drop charges on orders from the prime minister.

Italy's prime minister, Matteo Renzi, answered Erdogan in language Erdogan will probably will not understand: "Italy has an independent legal system and judges answer to the Italian constitution and not the Turkish president."

In unusual European realism, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said that he would start a discussion among European heads of government to end EU membership talks with Turkey. He rightly called the accession talks "diplomatic fiction." Kern said: "We know that the democratic standards are clearly not sufficient to justify [Turkey's] accession."

Even Turkish Cypriots on the divided island fear that Erdogan's Islamization campaign may target their tiny statelet. On August 3, about 1,500 people from 80 groups spanning the political spectrum took to the streets in Nicosia to protest against "Turkey's attempt to mold their secular culture into one that's more in tune with Islamic norms."

All of that inevitably makes Turkey an alien candidate waiting at Europe's gates to join the club. According to a European survey, Turkey is the least-wanted potential EU member -- even less wanted than Russia. Opposition to Turkish membership ranges from 54% (Norway) to 81% (Germany).

Celal Yaliniz, a little-known Turkish philosopher, likened Turks in the 1950s to "members of a ship's crew who are running toward the west as their ship travelled east." The Turks were not alone. Erdogan's "liberal" Western supporters have been no different.

Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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Sen. Sessions: Obama 'in denial' about inadequate vetting of refugees - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

It's not that no one has been sounding the alarm. --  The problem is no one in the administration is listening to them.

Senator Jeff Sessions is once again issuing a warning to the administration about its inadequate vetting procedures that could lead to terrorist attacks here at home.

It's not that no one has been sounding the alarm.  FBI director Comey and many in the intelligence community have been straightforward about the threat from the connection between refugee resettlement and terrorism.  The problem is no one in the administration is listening to them.
“Despite a clear nexus between immigration and terrorism, and warnings from top officials in his own Administration about their inability to properly vet refugees, President Obama remains in denial about the dangers that his policies pose to the United States,” Sessions said in a statement Wednesday.
To Sessions, Obama’s refugee plan is reckless and fails to consider the real perils of a refugee flow that has already been infiltrated by terrorists in the past. The Alabama lawmaker said, “the Obama Administration leads the United States down a dangerous path — admitting as many refugees as possible from areas of the world where terrorists roam freely, and granting a temporary amnesty to Syrians living in the United States illegally. And contrary to the assertions made by many, the potential for future terror activity is real.”
According to Sessions, the administration should be seeking out locations of refuge for displaced migrants close to their homelands so that they might be able to return once the conflict is over. Instead, however, the Obama Administration has pursued a plan of further displacement, promising to bring at least 10,000 Syria refugees to U.S. shores by the end of this fiscal year — as Sessions noted, a nearly 500 percent increase over FY 2015 when just 1,600 Syrian refugees were admitted to the U.S.
“This radical increase places the safety and security of the American people at risk, there will surely be consequences,” Sessions said.
Sessions points to the worrying and growing numbers of refugees and the probabilty that the slipshod vetting regimen is allowing the wrong people to enter the U.S.:
As of August 9, 2016 the administration has already admitted 61,232 refugees this fiscal year, including 8,114 from Syria, 7,322 from Iraq, 7,067 from Somalia, 2,838 from Iran, and 1,924 from Afghanistan. By all accounts the Obama administration will achieve, if not exceed its goal of 10,000 Syrian refugees resettled in the U.S. this year and pursue a plan to resettle another 100,000 refugees in the U.S. next year.
Sessions notes that the threat of infiltration by terrorists is real, pointing out that at least 40 people admitted to the U.S. as refugees since September 11, 2001 have been implicated in terrorism.
“Some were admitted as adults, others as children, but these cases refute the false assertion that those admitted to the United States as refugees never engage in terrorism. But because these facts do not fit within his worldview, President Obama rejects them. And in so doing, he rejects his sacred oath for what he perceives as political gain,” Sessions said.
European security officials have said flat out that there are 500 terrorists on the continent who have made it to the West by blending in with refugees.  Why should our vetting procedures be any better than theirs? 

They aren't, but that's not the point the Obama administration is trying to make.  Without saying so, the administration believes we can absorb a few terrorist attacks from refugees in order to achieve the higher humanitarian goal of admitting desperate people into the U.S.  That is the subtext of the denial that there is any danger.  We can sacrifice a few dozen or a few hundred American lives in order to show how much heart we have.

No matter how well we vet the newcomers, it is likely some terrorists will get through.  Many agree with Mr. Trump that the refugee flow should be completely stopped.  Others believe we can severely limit the risk simply by applying the same vetting procedures we use for any other immigrant.  Either course of action would be far superior to the way the issue is being handled by the administration today.

Rick Moran


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GOP Blames Victim of Media Rape - Ann Coulter

by Ann Coulter

Republicans join in pummeling Trump with the media's lies.

Even having predicted that the media's attacks on Trump would be unprecedented, I'm still amazed. Every single news outlet is dedicated to hysterically denouncing Trump, every minute of every day, while cooing at Hillary. 

Everything Hillary has ever touched has failed, been engulfed in scandal, resulted in massive investigations, litigation, financial ruin, prison or death. The final stage of any Hillary enterprise is a grand announcement that Hillary did not technically break the law. Or no one can prove she did. Or, even if she did, no one ever gets prosecuted for it. 

She's prone to coughing fits and lapses of memory in the middle of speeches, and falls down all the time. But that's not nearly as important as the media's manufactured story about Trump throwing a baby out of a rally! 

Trump is supposed to be joined at the hip to David Duke based on not "disavowing" him with sufficient ferocity the 17th time he was asked about this person he's never met, never mentioned and didn't invite to speak at his convention. 

Hillary invited the mother of violent cop-hating criminal Mike Brown to speak at her convention, and the Democratic platform expressly endorses the anti-police Black Lives Matter -- even as these celebrated cop haters inspire the mass slaughter of police officers across the country, in New York City, Dallas and Baton Rouge. 

Now we find out that another honored guest at Hillary events is the father of Omar Mateen, the Muslim jihadist who murdered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando a few months ago. On Monday night, he attended a Hillary rally where he sat cheering, right behind her on the stage. 

Is David Duke's father given VIP seating at Trump events? (As long as you mention it, did David Duke gun down 49 people in June? Or ever? Or anyone?) 

It took the national media 24 hours to mention the fact that the jihadist's father is a big Hillary supporter, sitting in the camera's line of sight at her Florida rally. A Google search of Trump and David Duke produces more than 11 million hits. A Google search of Hillary and Omar Mateen gets a few hundred thousand hits.

Hillary's being supported by the father of a jihadist is treated like back-page stuff, presented amid florid excuses and rationalizations. It was a staffer's mistake, an "unforced error," and Hillary's opponents are "leaping on it." 

The main story this week: The media's psychotic claim that Trump called for Hillary's assassination. 

Trump said: "Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the Second Amendment. If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don't know." 

Hmmm. What could Second Amendment people "do"? One thing they could do is what they did do -- in 1994. That was the year gun rights supporters voted out dozens of Democrats who voted wrong on guns, ushering in the first Republican Congress in 40 years. 

It's been nearly a quarter century, and the Democrats are still so traumatized by their sweeping losses in 1994, that, even after Gabby Giffords was shot in Arizona, even after the Aurora movie theater shooting, even after the Sandy Hook massacre, Democrats refused to take up a gun bill in the U.S. Senate. 

Apparently, the only news you'll be getting from now until the election is the media's own insane interpretation of every little thing Trump says or does. Anyone remember the week-long scandal about a star on a Trump retweet? 

No one, not even Joe McCarthy, has ever faced this level of obsessive hatred from our constitutionally protected guardians of liberty in the press. Anyone else would be chewed up and spit out after one minute of such relentless attacks. 

But sissy conservatives who have never faced one minute of press hostility blame the victim, saying it's Trump's fault for giving the media openings to twist his words. 

The sissies have no idea what they're talking about. There's no way to phrase something so that it can't be lied about. Here are the first three lines from an affectionate article on Hillary Clinton in Wednesday's New York Times: 

-- "Hillary Clinton Hopes to Capitalize on Republican Defectors" 

Hillary to accept bribes from Goldman Sachs, Halliburton and the Koch brothers. 
-- "Hillary Clinton's campaign would like to turn the drip-drip-drip of Republican defectors abandoning Donald J. Trump into a deluge." 

Hillary supports the use of Chinese water torture. 

-- "On Wednesday, after days in which several high-profile Republicans said they could not support Mr. Trump or were endorsing Mrs. Clinton, her campaign introduced an official outreach effort to target Republicans ..." 

Hillary campaign to "target" Republicans for murder. 

There's no strategy for overcoming this level of media hostility. Trump has made some mistakes during this campaign, but he hasn't done anything wrong for months now. He could say "yes," and the media would change the question to, "Are you a child molester?" 

Craven Republicans who blame Trump for the media's lies may as well blame a rape victim for wearing a short skirt. Except with Trump, it's the Muslim standard: They're blaming a woman's rape on being a woman.

Ann Coulter


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Suspected gas attack in Syria causes deaths, injuries - Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

by Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

Rescue workers, staff at Al-Quds hospital in Aleppo suspect that dozens of civilian injuries and several deaths are direct result of chlorine gas attack on the city • Hospital says it is preserving patients' clothing and bomb fragments as evidence.

A civilian breathes through an oxygen mask at Al-Quds hospital, after an alleged gas attack in the Syrian city of Aleppo
Photo credit: Reuters

Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff


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Excavations reveal 6,000-year-old city, Roman-era frescoes - Yori Yalon

by Yori Yalon and Israel Hayom Staff 

In project with local youth in southern Israel, archaeologists uncover ancient underground network of homes and storage spaces linked by tunnels • Meanwhile, rare frescoes of animals, plants and people found at site in northern Israel.

The archeological site in southern Israel
Photo credit: Dudu Grunshpan
The recently uncovered a cluster of underground structures dating back about 6,000 years beneath the Shoket junction in southern Israel during a joint excavation project with local youth. 

The Israel Antiquities Authority is set to complete its dig near the roadway ahead of plans to build a new junction on the site as part of the Trans-Israel Highway project. 

During the dig, archaeologists found ancient homes built along the Hebron Stream, surrounded by a vast network of underground spaces dug into the soil. Some of the spaces are lined with large stones and others are connected by underground tunnels.

The IAA said the underground cavities, which maintain relatively cool temperatures despite the hot climate in the Negev Desert, were used for storage and production during the Chalcolithic period. The spaces may have also been used as living quarters.

Hundreds of clay vessels found at the site provide evidence of the extensive human activity that took place inside the underground spaces. Among the clay artifacts found were storage jars, churns, decorated tableware, spindles and loom weights for creating textiles. Stone tools for grinding grains were also found, along with sickles, axes, knives and grain seeds. 

The excavation was led by Dr. Ron Beeri, Vladik Lifshitz, Alex Fraiberg, Moran Belila and Ilanit Azoulay, who worked together with more than 100 youths from southern Israel as part of an IAA project to bring young people closer to their cultural heritage and encourage them to take proper care of Israel's antiquities. Young people from Beersheba, Lehavim, Meitar and Arad, among other places, participated in the dig. 

Beeri said of the finds: "During this period, we see the early use of irrigation ditches to direct water from the rivers to the fields. The towns, which sit along the Hebron Stream and the Beersheba River, [were built] directly on the banks of the river at an incredible density. In the excavation, we found a large amount of grain seeds, and my guess is that the residents took advantage of the river floods to divert water for irrigation."

Meanwhile, at Zippori National Park in northern Israel, rare fresco fragments from the Roman period were found during a Hebrew University of Jerusalem excavation. Among the fragments were paintings of people, plants and geometric motifs.

The dig was carried out in memory of Ursula Johanna and Fritz Werner Blumenthal of Perth, Australia, and led by Prof. Zeev Weiss of the Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology. The findings shed new light on the village of Zippori, which was an important Jewish center in the Galilee during the Roman and Byzantine periods.

The frescoes found once decorated a building constructed in the early second century C.E. The building's purpose is still unknown. It was destroyed during the third century, also for an unknown reason, and another building was erected in its place. Building materials, including stones and pieces of plaster, were buried under the floor of the new Roman building. The designs on the pieces of plaster are colorful and varied, some of them including pictures of plants, people, a lion, a bird, a tiger and other figures. 

The vast construction in Zippori after the Great Revolt indicates the switch in the local Jewish attitude toward Roman culture. Zippori reached the status of a Roman "polis" (city-state) due to its loyalty to Rome during the revolt. 

Yori Yalon and Israel Hayom Staff


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