Saturday, December 16, 2017

Think the Alabama result has derailed Donald Trump? Think again - John R. Bolton

by John R. Bolton

Trump's rejection of "feel good" treaties in favor of concrete steps to protect American citizens and national interests will be vindicated.

Pundits are furiously assessing the broader consequences of the Democrats' upset Senate victory in Alabama on Tuesday, but there is less there than meets the eye. True, the Republican Senate majority now hangs by a thread, forcing even harder fights for every legislative victory.

Nonetheless, Republican chances for major gains in November 2018, perhaps six or seven Senate seats, remain strong. Moreover, Democrat 
Al Franken is resigning his seat any day now because of sexual misconduct charges, bringing another totally unexpected Republican opportunity.

Of course, any statewide Democratic victory in Alabama is stunning, but there were also stunning reasons for it. Republican Roy Moore was a flawed candidate even before allegations of sexual misconduct emerged – and he still lost by just one percentage point.

The winner, Doug Jones, will likely be defeated at the next regular election in 2020. The stakes have unquestionably been raised, but President Trump and Republicans hold a strong hand.

At some point, Democrats will have to declare what they believe in. Just as Hillary Clinton, the "inevitable" 2016 victor, fell from grace when she revealed her beliefs, so too will legions of aspiring Democrats.

Trump is also demonstrating how a President can continue to command the national agenda, regardless of the comings and goings of domestic politics. For all these reasons, those who think Alabama marks the beginning of the end for Trump should think again. This is not even the end of the beginning.

There is no better proof of this than his foreign policy moves thus far.

They have not only shown him to be a dogged defender of American interests but an effective one too. Take his announcement that the US will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. It is further unassailable evidence that he is not a status quo President.

Despite the anticipated opposition across the Middle East and Europe, apocalyptic predictions of mass rioting by the "Arab street" and the destruction of the "peace process", Trump proceeded nonetheless.

The evidence so far is that widespread violence has not materialized and, inevitably, the Arab-Israeli peace process will rise again. Trump's decision was an act of leadership, a paradigmatic act of realpolitik, not isolationism.

American leadership requires acting before others are willing to do so, not following some ephemeral global consensus, or waiting for Europeans or others to make up their minds.

Moreover, the Jerusalem precedent is consistent with the picture of Trump the "disrupter". He withdrew America from the Paris Climate accord and from negotiations over a Global Compact on Migration. Similar steps to protect American sovereignty will almost certainly follow.

Trump's rejection of "feel good" treaties in favor of concrete steps to protect American citizens and national interests will be vindicated. Indeed, the greatest "disrupter" decision for Trump may still lie ahead: how to correct nearly three decades of failure in the nuclear counterproliferation crusade, as North Korea and Iran grow close to becoming nuclear powers.

The same Establishment foreign policy cognoscenti who rejected Jerusalem as Israel's capital have insisted for 25 years that the judicious application of diplomacy and economic sanctions would resolve the Iranian and North Korean nuclear-proliferation threats.

But this conventional wisdom has been proven flatly wrong. No less a representative of this perspective than Susan Rice, Barack Obama's last national security adviser, conceded this summer that it had not delivered: "You can call it a failure. I accept that characterization over the last two decades." No kidding. And no wonder Trump is looking for alternatives.

Twenty-five years of diplomatic failure has significant consequences. Endless negotiations and failed sanctions have wasted the most precious resource of all: time -- time which has allowed Iran and North Korea to overcome the scientific and technological obstacles to building nuclear weapons.

Accordingly, Trump now faces extremely unattractive choices. The most pressing concerns North Korea. Unless China acts decisively, cutting off fuel and food shipments to the regime, forcing reunification with South Korea or replacing the Kim family dictatorship, the White House will soon face a binary choice: either Washington 
must accept a nuclear North Korea, 
or military force will be required.

The unpleasant alternative of pre-emptive military force is decidedly risky, but considerably less so than a future in which the world is subject to nuclear extortion by Kim's bizarre regime -- a regime perfectly prepared to sell nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to any bidder with the requisite hard currency.

Tut-tutting about where the United States locates its embassy in Israel simply obscures the far harder choices ahead. Let's keep our priorities straight. Trump has shown every evidence he can do so.

President Donald Trump signs the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018, at the White House, December 12, 2017. (Image source: The White House)
This article first appeared in The Daily Telegraph

John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad".


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Countdown to a conflict - Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror

by Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror

The increasing rocket fire from Gaza at Israel reflects a tragic reality in which neither Israel nor the Palestinians want a confrontation, but both sides may be helpless to stop it

The increasing tensions along the Israel-Gaza border are the result of several seemingly unrelated events.

They began with the Oct. 31 demolition of an Islamic Jihad terror tunnel dug from Gaza into Israel. Several senior Islamic Jihad operatives were killed during the operation and the terrorist group vowed to exact revenge – which it has yet to enact. 

The situation destabilized further when the reconciliation talks between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah hit a major obstacle stemming from the fact that each faction has a different interpretation of what reconciliation means. 

Hamas wants to maintain its considerable weapons arsenal and its grip on the coastal enclave, and would like to see the Palestinian Authority being held responsible for Gaza's image while having no real power there. 

But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wants to regain actual control of Gaza, including disarming Hamas. Unless one of the factions is willing to revise its demands, this is not a bridgeable gap.    

The third factor contributing to the tensions is U.S. President Donald Trump's decision on Dec. 6 to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. 

The Palestinian backlash over the U.S. announcement included calls by Hamas for a third intifada, and boisterous protests from Abbas, who decried Trump's "flagrant violation of international law" and declared that the U.S. could no longer serve as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process over its "obvious" pro-Israel bias.    

Fanning the flames 

The Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad exploited the volatile atmosphere and, alongside several smaller Gaza-based Salafi terrorist groups, fired rockets at southern Israel. 

The usually more cautious Hamas and the more aggressive Islamic Jihad have been overtly encouraged by Iran, which pledged to lend the Palestinian terrorist groups its full financial and military support in mounting "resistance aimed at blocking the implications" of the U.S. move. 

Meanwhile, earlier this week the IDF discovered and destroyed a Hamas terror tunnel dug under the border, making it clear to the Palestinians that such incidents are not the exception to the rule, but rather another phase in the military's development of advanced technological and operational capabilities that soon will enable Israel to neutralize the tunnel threat altogether.

The tunnels did not enable terrorist groups to tip the balance of power in their favor in the past, but the hysteria in Israel over the threat required the military to devote considerable attention to this issue, and now it is possible to reap the benefits of this effort and allay the concerns expressed by the residents of the border-adjacent communities.

Like the rockets, which are still fired at Israel despite the success of the Iron Dome defense system in intercepting most of them, the tunnel threat has not been completely neutralized. It will, however, be far more difficult for terrorists to use them in times of war, essentially rendering the threat empty. 

The convergence of these factors fueled Palestinian activity that fans the flames. Israel, for its part, is sparing no effort to contain events, but IDF retaliation over terrorist rocket fire is designed to clarify to Hamas that Israel holds it responsible for everything that transpires in Gaza and that it will be made to pay, even if the conflict has been a low-intensity one so far. 

As Israel holds Hamas accountable, the majority of targets struck so far – with surgical precision – have been Hamas posts. Israel has made sure to limit its strikes to peripheral targets, avoiding major installations or senior Hamas officials. This policy seeks to exact a price from Hamas while allowing it to contain the situation, thus avoiding a rapid security escalation.    

But where is all this leading? Iran is clearly pushing for an escalation, as it does not care about the plight of Gaza's residents as long as Israel suffers both rocket fire and the foreseeable international condemnation over any large-scale military campaign it may mount in response.  

Turkey may play a much smaller role but it has close ties with Hamas, so it would not surprise anyone to learn that Ankara is pouring fuel on the small fire burning in Gaza. 

Egypt, on the other hand, has no interest in seeing a security escalation, nor does it have any real sway over Hamas. 

As for Hamas, Gaza's rulers are in no rush to provoke a full-scale Israeli operation in the enclave. They have a good grasp of Israel's abilities to undercut the organization's military infrastructure and they are aware of the heavy toll a conflict would take on the Palestinian public.

But in the current reality, in which rockets hit southern Israel on a daily basis, there is no real way to ensure the situation will not spiral out of control. Any incident that results in Israeli casualties could prompt a harsh response that would, in turn, make Hamas remove its self-imposed limitations.

One has to remember that the events in the Gaza Strip are not completely controllable, both because Hamas does not employ all the means at its disposal to prevent an escalation and because the rogue terrorist groups, led by Islamic Jihad, care very little about the fate of Gaza's residents and continue firing rockets at Israel while ignoring the impending threat of escalation. 

The potential for both sides to lose control of the situation is therefore very high, despite the fact that neither Israel nor Hamas want that to happen. 

A cold Islamic world

The steady rise in tensions on the southern border comes against the backdrop of Hamas' continued failure to carry out major riots or terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria. This may change over the incitement seen at the emergency session called by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul on Wednesday over the U.S.'s Jerusalem move, and over the Palestinians' perception that Trump's decision has made the Muslim world rally to support them.

But the truth is, the Islamic world is cold, cynical and interest-driven. It has failed to rally to help the Muslims butchered in Syria by other Muslims; and it has done nothing to stop the war raging in Yemen, where Iran and Turkey are fanning the flames in the name of past Persian and Ottoman empires, which were known for inflicting pain and suffering on the Arabs. 

It is no wonder that a substantial part of the Arab world expressed its aversion of the summit. This created a Saudi-Egyptian-Gulf states axis opposing the gathering, facing a Turkish-Iranian axis to which the Palestinian Authority and Jordan joined, pushing for confrontation.  

This put Ramallah and Amman opposite the U.S. – a superpower on which both are heavily dependent – and its regional allies, and it remains to be seen whether this move will have any far-reaching repercussions for Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. 

One must also consider that the summit would affect the tensions in the south. The Gaza-based terrorist groups may be inspired by the anti-Israel atmosphere in the gathering and exacerbate their aggression. The price, as always, will be paid by the residents of the Gaza Strip – not by those inciting terrorism, the leaders of Iran and Turkey. 

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror


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Policy speeches vs. policy - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

What is President Donald Trump’s Middle East policy?

Originally published in the Jerusalem Post.

What is President Donald Trump’s Middle East policy?

Monday Trump is scheduled to release a new US national security strategy on Monday. This past Tuesday Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster gave a speech laying out some of its components in a speech in Washington.

McMaster’s speech was notable because in it he laid out a host of policies that McMaster himself has reportedly opposed since he was appointed to his position in February.

McMaster for instance has been open in his opposition to linking terrorism with Islam. He has also reportedly insisted on limiting US actions in Syria and Iraq to defeating Islamic State. McMaster reportedly fired his deputy for Middle East policy Derek Harvey last summer due to Harvey’s advocacy of combating Iran’s consolidation of control over Syria through its proxies President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah.

In his speech on Tuesday, McMaster embraced the policies he has reportedly opposed. He discussed at length the threat of what he referred to as “radical Islamist ideology.”

That ideology, which the US had previously interpreted “myopically,” constitutes “a grave threat to all civilized people,” he said.

McMaster regretted US myopia noting, “We didn’t pay enough attention to how it’s being advanced through charities, madrassas and other social organizations.”

McMaster fingered Turkey and Qatar, two ostensible US allies, as the main sponsors and sources of funding for Islamist ideology that targets Western interests.

He noted that in the past Saudi Arabia had served as a major sponsor of radical Islam. But Riyadh has been replaced by Qatar and by Turkey, he said.

Trump’s electoral victory raised hopes of his supporters and some of his advisers that the US would designate the Muslim Brotherhood has a terrorist organization. The Brotherhood has spawned multiple jihadist terrorist groups including al-Qaida and Hamas. President Recep Erdogan’s AK Party is a Turkish version of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Whereas McMaster reportedly opposed those calls, and his opposition played a role in Trump’s avoidance of the designation to date, McMaster took a significant step on Tuesday toward designating the Brotherhood a terrorist group.

While stipulating that not all Muslim Brotherhood groups are alike, McMaster said there is a “big problem when Islamist radical ideology bridges into political Islam.” He criticized the short-lived Muslim Brotherhood regime of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt and singled out Qatar for its support of “the Morsi model.”

He also noted that Turkey’s ruling AK Party operated through civil society to “consolidate power through one party.” He then said that the AKP’s consolidation of power “is a problem contributing to Turkey’s drift from the West.”

McMaster referred to Iran as a “rogue regime and a revisionist regional power.”

He said the US must “counter destabilizing [Iranian] activity, especially in Syria.”

Among other things, he said this includes blocking Iran’s path to nuclear weapons and blocking support for Iran’s proxies.

The problem with McMaster’s speech and the policy paper it set the stage for is that it is hard to know if they reflect an actual change in policy. Certainly his position and general drift haven’t been reflected in US actions in several key countries this week.

The day after McMaster’s speech the US Embassy in Beirut announced delivery of another $120 million in military assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces.

As Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has repeatedly stated, the LAF is a wholly owned subsidiary of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps controlled directly by Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese proxy army.

The Hezbollah-controlled LAF is the fifth-largest recipient of US military assistance worldwide.

According to Ambassador Elizabeth Richard, the LAF has received in excess of $1.5 billion in military aid over the past decade.

The newest arms shipment will include six MD 530G light attack helicopters, six Scan Eagle drones, and communications and night vision equipment.

Earlier shipments this year included Hellfire missiles, M1A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, rocket-propelled grenades, carbines and ammunition as well as helicopters, fighter jets, drones, advanced night vision and communications equipment.

Recently, Iran has become brazen in asserting its military control over Lebanon. A YouTube video posted this week portrayed Kais al-Ghazali, an Iranian- controlled Iraqi militia commander, standing 200 meters from Lebanon’s border with Israel. He and his colleagues were all wearing military uniforms.

Ghazali declared, “I am here with my brothers from Hezbollah. We announce that we are fully prepared and ready to stand as one with the Lebanese people with the Palestinian cause.”

If the LAF is a wholly owned subsidiary of Iran-Hezbollah, the Lebanese government is Iran’s satrapy.

Through Hezbollah, Iran controls every aspect of governmental activity.

In an attempt to force the West to recognize that basic truth, last month Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad summoned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Riyadh. Hariri’s father, former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, was assassinated by Hezbollah in 2005.

In Riyadh, an ashen-faced Hariri announced his resignation, acknowledging that Iran controls both his government (and him) and the LAF.

Hariri’s resignation was a great loss for Iran-Hezbollah and Western countries that do not wish to acknowledge the obvious. And so, represented by French President Emmanuel Macron, the West joined with Iran to demand that Hariri return to Lebanon.

The Saudis obliged. Hariri returned to Beirut and rescinded his resignation.

Hariri was embarrassed by Ghazali’s video. So Iran’s satrap denounced Ghazali and said his “activities of a military nature” 200 meters from Metulla were illegal.

He also insisted that his satrapy “is not a banana republic.”

Ahead of the US Embassy’s announcement of the new tranche of military hardware going to the Hezbollah- controlled LAF, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made clear that the Trump administration continues to view the LAF and Hariri as positive bulwarks against Iran and Hezbollah. Tillerson met with Hariri in Paris. After their meeting, Tillerson praised the French government for pressuring Saudi Arabia to permit Hariri to return to Lebanon where he could continue to pretend that he isn’t controlled by Iran.

Rather than shake their heads at the irony of Hariri becoming the servant of the forces that murdered his father, the Trump administration embraced the absurd lie of Lebanese independence.

Last Friday, Tillerson met with Hariri in Paris. After their meeting Tillerson praised the French government for pressuring the Saudis to let him return to Beirut to serve as Iran’s fig leaf.

“I think as to Lebanon, things have worked out in a very positive way, perhaps even more positive than before, because there have been very strong statements of affirmation for Lebanon, which will only be helpful,” Tillerson said.

He also expressed criticism of Saudi Arabia. Whereas Trump has backed the Saudis’ war against Iran’s Houthi proxies in Yemen, their political and economic campaign against Qatar designed to compel Doha to end its support for jihad and its alliance with Iran, and their moves in relation to Hariri, Tillerson criticized those efforts.

“With respect to Saudi Arabia’s engagement with Qatar, how they’re handling the Yemen war that they’re engaged in, the Lebanon situation, we would encourage them to be a bit more measured and a bit more thoughtful in those actions to, I think, fully consider the consequences.”

Tillerson also belittled the importance of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying that the embassy won’t be moved to Jerusalem for years.

In recent weeks, members of Congress have expressed anger at statements by both US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that indicated the administration is not requiring Qatar to stop funding Hamas.

Lawmakers sent separate letters to Haley and Mnuchin requesting clarification of the administration’s position. Whereas the administration informed Congress it continues to view Hamas as a terrorist group and demands Qatar end its support for Hamas, the administration’s diffident approach to Qatar has raised eyebrows.

Since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a blockade on Qatar in June in retaliation for its sponsorship of terrorism and its alliance with Iran, administration officials have pointed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar as a reason for US’s hesitant approach. Al Udeid is the air operations center for all US air operations in the Middle East and Central Asia.

US Air Force Gen. Charles Wald transferred US air operations from Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan’s Air Base to Al Udeid in 2001. According to Wald, the US has several readily available options to replace Al Udeid. The Saudis have expressed willingness for the US to move their operation center back to Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon recently budgeted $143m. to expand its air base in Jordan.

It isn’t surprising, and to a degree it is reasonable, that the US is of two minds about its Middle East policy. For decades the US has both opposed and appeased its Middle Eastern enemies, and supported and turned on its allies.

Under Obama, the two-faced policy was driven by Obama’s ideological conviction that the US must align its Middle East policy with Iran and away from its traditional allies led by Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Under other presidents – including Trump – the US’s double-dealing has been more a testament to the US’s inability to tell its friends from its foes.

Over the years, the US has been unable to tell its allies from its enemies because they were fluid.

As McMaster rightly recalled, for years the Saudis behaved like the Qataris. And they also served as the anchor of the US alliance system with the Sunni Arab world.

Even today, as Crown Prince Muhammad and Saudi Arabia and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in Egypt make unprecedented steps to fight both jihadist forces and the ideology of jihad, the US cannot know whether either leader will be alive tomorrow or if they will have a sudden change of heart and leave the US high and dry.

Yet despite the uncertainty about their future, today we have more clarity than we had in the past.

Today it is obvious that Iran, its satellites Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Gaza and its allies Turkey and Qatar are the ascendant enemies of the US and its allies.

The forces willing to confront and fight them – Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE – are also self-evident.

True, Muhammad and Sisi may not be around forever. But the steps they have already taken to move their nations and Sunni Islam more generally away from jihadist ideology and practice are unprecedented.

Their actions to date have earned them Washington’s support.

The significant positions McMaster set out on Tuesday will in all likelihood be reflected in the document Trump will release on Monday. But as the arms transfer to Lebanon, Tillerson’s remarks in Paris, and the administration’s incoherent position on Qatar make clear, even the best national security strategies are not worth the paper they are written on unless they are translated into real policies implemented on the ground.

Caroline Glick is the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Israel Security Project and the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. For more information on Ms. Glick's work, visit


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VIDEO: Mordechai Kedar on the Possibility of Peace with the Arabs

by Sally Zahav

Mordechai Kedar, in his inimitable, courageous style, tells it like it is to the FAKE Arab media.

Sally Zahav


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Comey Should Be Indicted - Daniel John Sobieski

by Daniel John Sobieski

Comey's FBI attempted to interfere in a presidential election to materially aid the candidate of its choice

Now we know that not only did Hillary Clinton show intent in her handling of classified materials routed through her private server, but that former FBI Director James Comey and his team showed intent in letting her get away with it, to the detriment of American national security.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, in a Thursday letter to current FBI Director Christopher Wray, reveals how edits to Comey’s exoneration memo went beyond changing “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless” but edited out content that shows the FBI knew Hillary was intentionally in violation of the Espionage Act but that, since the decision to exonerate her had already been made, they had to submit to the annals of history a lie they agreed upon:
Newly released documents obtained by Fox News reveal that then-FBI Director James Comey’s draft statement on the Hillary Clinton email probe was edited numerous times before his public announcement, in ways that seemed to water down the bureau’s findings considerably.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter to the FBI on Thursday that shows the multiple edits to Comey’s highly scrutinized statement.
In an early draft, Comey said it was “reasonably likely” that “hostile actors” gained access to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email account. That was changed later to say the scenario was merely “possible.”
Another edit showed language was changed to describe the actions of Clinton and her colleagues as “extremely careless” as opposed to “grossly negligent.” This is a key legal distinction.
Johnson, writing about his concerns in a letter Thursday to FBI Director Christopher Wray, said the original “could be read as a finding of criminality in Secretary Clinton’s handling of classified material.”
“This effort, seen in light of the personal animus toward then-candidate Trump by senior FBI agents leading the Clinton investigation and their apparent desire to create an ‘insurance policy’ against Mr. Trump’s election, raise profound questions about the FBI’s role and possible interference in the 2016 presidential election and the role of the same agents in Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation by President Trump,” Johnson said.
Indeed, this does raise profound questions. Coupled with the text messages of lead investigator, FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who has become known as the Zelig of the FBI who mysteriously appeared at every controversial moment, expressing clear intent to prevent the election of Donald Trump, we have before us a criminal conspiracy in which the most powerful law enforcement agency on this planet conspired with one political party to defeat the candidate of the other:
The letter reveals specific edits made by senior FBI agents when Deputy Director Andrew McCabe exchanged drafts of Comey's statement with senior FBI officials, including Peter Strzok, Strzok's direct supervisor, E.W. "Bill" Priestap, Jonathan Moffa, and an unnamed employee from the Office of General Counsel (identified by Newsweek as DOJ Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson) - in what was a coordinated conspiracy among top FBI brass to decriminalize Clinton's conduct by changing legal terms and phrases, omitting key information, and minimizing the role of the Intelligence Community in the email investigation. Doing so virtually assured that then-candidate Hillary Clinton would not be prosecuted.

Imagine what was at stake here. If the FBI had just followed the evidence where it led and drew the obvious conclusions, Hillary Clinton would have been indicted, the Democratic Party would have been irreparably shattered, with Donald Trump wining in a popular vote as well as electoral vote landslide. This, in the view of a corrupted and politicized FBI had to be prevented at all costs and the Comey memo had to be sanitized before its release:
In addition to Strzok's "gross negligence" --> "extremely careless" edit, McCabe's damage control team removed a key justification for elevating Clinton's actions to the standard of "gross negligence" -- that being the "sheer volume" of classified material on Clinton's server. In the original draft, the "sheer volume" of material "supports an inference that the participants were grossly negligent in their handling of that information." …
Furthermore, the FBI edited Comey's statement to downgrade the probability that Clinton's server was hacked by hostile actors, changing their language from "reasonably likely" to "possible" -- an edit which eliminated yet another justification for the phrase "Gross negligence." To put it another way, "reasonably likely" means the probability of a hack due to Clinton's negligence is above 50 percent, whereas the hack simply being "possible" is any probability above zero.
Strzok provided the motive for these activities to cover up the guilt of Hillary Clinton, activities which constitute obstruction of justice in text messages between him and his mistress and fellow FBI Agent Lisa Page: While everybody was predicting a Hillary victory, Strzok had his doubts and elevated himself to the status of savior of America, requiring that Trump be stopped at all costs, with this end justifying any and all means:
Out of all the damning, politically charged anti-Trump text messages released, one text from Strzok to Page on August 15, 2016, raised the most suspicion. It referred to a conversation and a meeting that had just taken place in "Andy's" (widely believed to be Deputy FBI Dir. Andrew McCabe's) office. According to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Strzok had texted this: "I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy's office [break]... that there's no way he gets elected. I want to believe that... But I'm afraid we can't take that risk... We have to do something about it."
In another text, Page said: "maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace." Strzok replied: "I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps."
"This goes to intent," Jordan said. "We can't take the risk that the people of this great country might elect Donald Trump. We can't take this risk. This is Peter Strzok, head of counterintelligence at the FBI. This is Peter Strzok, who I think had a hand in that dossier that was all dressed up and taken to the FISA court. He's saying, 'we can't take the risk, we have to do something about it.'"
What they tried to do about it is called obstructing justice and using the powers of their offices to interfere in a presidential election to materially aid the candidate of their choice. As Rep. Jordan notes, we face the probable reality of a dossier concocted by Russians, paid for by Team Hillary and the DNC, being used to fraudulently trick the FISA court to order surveillance of one campaign to the benefit of the other campaign. The politically motivated unmasking of Michael Flynn dovetails with this criminal conspiracy and explains much about the true purpose of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, which ignores Hillary’s collusion with Russia in Uranium One but indicts a Trump adviser for misremembering a legal phone call.. Can anyone say collusion? Then we face the prospect of a weaponized FBI becoming a campaign arm of the Hillary campaign.

We see now the method in the madness of the tarmac meeting between Bill Clinton and AG Loretta Lynch, why the FBI issued immunity agreements to Clinton cronies such as Cheryl Mills, never empanelled a grand jury, started drafting an exoneration agreement before witnesses were interviewed, and failed to put Hillary under oath in an interview that James Comey did not attend. The fix was in

One can only hope that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not asleep at the switch but rather just keeping a low profile as he methodically puts together a damning case of criminal conspiracy, obstruction of justice and, yes, gross negligence prior to an avalanche of indictments starting with Hillary Clinton and working its way down the food chain to include James Comey, Peter Strzok, Andrew McCabe and many others.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.


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Airbus and Boeing eager to accept promises from Iran to behave itself - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

Billions of dollars and thousands of jobs are at stake, as Iran seeks to re-equip its fleet of airliners with at least 180 new birds

Lenin famously said, "The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them," and the mullahs of Iran are putting his dictum to work. Billions of dollars and thousands of jobs are at stake, as Iran seeks to re-equip its fleet of airliners with at least 180 new birds, and Boeing and Airbus for a piece of the pie. Adam Kredo reports in the Free Beacon:
Executives from major airplane manufacturers Boeing and AirBus will reportedly head to Iran next week to hammer down multi-billion dollar deals to sell the Islamic Republic a new fleet of commercial planes amid a congressional crackdown on Tehran's continued use of commercial aircraft to transport weapons and terrorist fighters across the region.
As controversy continues to swirl around Boeing's and AirBus's efforts to sell Iran a fleet of new jets, Congress has taken steps to mandate the U.S. government release public reports outlining Tehran's continued use of commercial aircraft for illicit terrorism purposes.
Boeing, whose principal law firm, Perkins Coie, served as a cutout in hiring Fusion GPS on behalf of the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign, faces more difficulty in closing the deal than it would have if the campaign sabotage had been more effective in defeating Trump.
Included in the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a mammoth yearly funding bill for America's defense priorities, is a requirement that the U.S. government begin providing Congress with an annual report on Iran's use of commercial aircraft for illicit purposes.
The effort, lawmakers told the Free Beacon, is meant to highlight the danger of deals being pursued by Boeing and AirBus.
"Iran Air has been using their sanctions relief money from Obama's nuclear deal to fly weapons, material, and fighters directly into Syria," Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.), the architect of the new effort, told the Free Beacon.
"We need a closer look into how Iran is propping up the murderous Assad regime," Perdue said. "As President Trump determines how it will proceed with regard to these commercial aircraft sales, a new reporting requirement included in the defense bill he signed into law today will help give us a better look at Iran's nefarious behavior."
Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), who spearheaded the reporting requirement in the House, told the Free Beacon that Boeing and AirBus executives should not be holding meetings with Iran's hardline regime.
"The reports of Boeing and Airbus executives traveling to Tehran to sell aircraft to the Iranian regime's airliner are outrageous," Roskam said. "In the past month, IRGC-backed forces have threatened to attack U.S. forces in Iraq and Iran's military leadership has threatened Europe with ballistic missiles. No American company should be doing business with this regime, let alone be selling militarily-fungible jets to the terror-supporting transport-arm of the IRGC."
The State Department would not directly comment on potential licenses that may or may not be granted to Boeing, but told the Free Beacon that Iran's use of commercial aircraft for terror purposes is extremely concerning.
It is hard to see what the mullahs could do to assuage this concern other than promise to be good boys.
The Trump administration will not grant any license to sell Iran commercial aircraft unless it can be concretely proven they will not be used for illicit operations.
"We do not comment on individual OFAC [Office of Foreign Assets Control] specific licenses, but the administration's position is clear: We will not issue export licenses unless we are convinced the aircraft will be used exclusively for civilian passenger aviation," a State Department official told the Free Beacon.
I suspect that Airbus might be willing to accept such promises. In which case, expect massive protests over high-paying aircraft assembly jobs being shifted overseas to Airbus.
Of course, roughly a third of the value of an average Airbus commercial airliner comes from the United States. Critical systems, such as avionics, are not available elsewhere in some cases. The United States could theoretically embargo the sale of such components to Iran if push comes to shove. But there would be blowback from that decision, possibly encouraging substitution of non-American components, even at the cost of performance.

Iran's civil aviation has suffered under the embargo that lasted until the Obama Iran deal shipped pallets of cash and freed up a hundred-plus billion dollars' worth of assets for use by Tehran. Iran is a large country and needs airliners in order to carry on business and family life. The Iranians have kept ancient airliners flying (and attracted foreign plane-spotters) by buying used parts on the aftermarket to keep them airworthy. That is both expensive and risky. Cranky Flier is but one of many aviation buffs who have made fun of the vintage of Iran's fleet and the promise of new planes:

The economics of airliner manufacturing makes extra volume very profitable. Once the fixed development costs have been recouped, and as the per plane costs of manufacturing decline ("the "experience curve") with increasing volume, additional sales become highly lucrative. Iran is likely to buy airliners already in wide use and therefore especially profitable for the manufacturers.

Keep your eyes on this drama. And remember that Boeing makes billions off of national defense in addition to its commercial airliner business. More threats mean more defense business, and unless the mullahs are trustworthy, more airliners for Tehran means more threats. In other words, a booming market in rope, as Lenin put it.

Hat tip: Bryan Demko

Thomas Lifson


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Jerusalem, Israel's Capital: Watch the Masks Fall - Najat AlSaied

by Najat AlSaied

The US Department of State is no less culpable than the mainstream media in failing to play a more vital role in revealing these realities

  • When the actual announcement came, nothing happened. Those who were exploiting sensitivities related to Jerusalem -- especially political Islamists, such as Hamas and Hezbollah -- come mainly from the axis of resistance, led by Iran.
  • While mainstream media shows the oppressor to be Israel and the oppressed to be the Palestinians, the polls tell a different story.
  • The US Department of State is no less culpable than the mainstream media in failing to play a more vital role in revealing these realities, which could also mitigate the anger and hatred felt towards the US. This Department needs to be reformed from top to bottom to ensure that all diplomats are truly working for US interests. I am sure that it is the Department of State itself that will be the most reluctant to move its embassy to Jerusalem. It is not an exaggeration to say that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is the best decision that has been taken by any American President because it lays bare a rotten reality.
Many analysts say that US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital is a campaign promise to evangelical Christian and right-wing Jewish voters, but there is another way of looking at it. Trump's recognition might be a golden opportunity for two-faced opportunists to be unmasked -- a shot of reality that might eventually help the peace process and solve this long-lasting conflict.

Since the declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, many Arab observers, intellectuals and academics have started to question the veracity of those jihadists who claim they are sacrificing themselves to defend Jerusalem, because when the actual announcement came -- nothing happened. Those who were exploiting sensitivities related to Jerusalem -- especially political Islamists, such as Hamas and Hezbollah -- come mainly from the axis of resistance, led by Iran.

Other opportunists are the two-faced countries in the region, such as Qatar and Turkey. While publicly hostile towards Israel, behind closed doors they support it. Further opportunists are the Western and Arab media, who for decades have been promoting the idea that the problem is the Israeli occupation, but never mention the Palestinian Authority corruption.

Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital has also revealed the shortcomings of the US Department of State. It has not played any role in clarifying the above-mentioned points and, by this negativity and bureaucracy, only generated further hatred towards the US.

Trump's recognition has exposed the hypocrisy of the armed militia Hezbollah which always claims it will never disarm because of its fight against Israel. Now after the recognition of Jerusalem, many Arabs are questioning Hezbollah's motivations regarding Israel. Lebanese and other Arabs are questioning why Hezbollah has not sent its armed militia to fight in Israel as it did in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Dr. Hadi El Amine, a Lebanese researcher in political science and governmental studies, tweeted, "The axis of resistance's words are aimed against Israel, but their missiles are pointed at the Arabs."

Adhwan Alahmari, a Saudi journalist based in London for Asharq al-Awsat also tweeted:
"The soldiers, rockets and suicide bombers of Hezbollah are at Israel's borders yet they did not support Jerusalem after Trump's declaration, instead supporting the Wilayat al-Faqih [Iranian Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist] to fight in Syria to displace and annihilate its people to protect the shrine."
Yet another opportunist is Hamas and its supporters who have succeeded in turning Arabs against the Palestinians. This time, the Palestinians' anger was not turned only towards Israel and the US, but mainly at Saudi Arabia. Hamas and its followers attacked the Saudi flag and insulted King Salman of Saudi Arabia. These Palestinians seem to think that Trump did not make this announcement without a wink of approval from Saudi Arabia. Their reaction has angered countless Saudis, who consider this attack a demonstration of ingratitude from the unappreciative Palestinians, to whom they have given billions of dollars.

In response, the Saudis started several hashtags on Twitter such as #hellwithyouand your issue, and #Saudis are angry for their king. Many Saudis behind these hashtags regret every penny that has been given to defend the Palestinians, especially after they saw these Palestinian traitors, as they put it, insulting Saudi Arabia, which has enriched them and channeled exorbitant financing into Palestinian development projects. Salman Al-Ansari, a Saudi writer and political commentator based in Washington DC, tweeted:
"We want to make everyone aware that the salaries of Palestinian diplomats around the world come from Riyadh-Saudi Arabia; salaries which are 30% higher than that of Saudi diplomats. What did Doha and Ankara do for them other than offer empty slogans and stab Jerusalem in the back?"
If you now ask the Saudis, the one of their main supporters and funders, about this conflict, the majority will say, "It is none of our business". The Saudis would rather, it seems, focus on their own internal affairs and save their money rather than pay ungrateful Palestinians.

A large numbers of Saudis additionally seem surprised by the attitude of Palestinians, who support Qatar and Turkey, countries which have diplomatic relationships with Israel. As a result, many Saudis think the Palestinians are not serious about defending their cause.

The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, after Trump's declaration, tweeted that he will turn the whole Muslim world against Washington. This kind of posturing does not influence the Arab public or intellectuals any more. As Yousef Al Kowaileet, a Saudi deputy editor-in-chief of the newspaper Al Riyadh put it in a tweet, "Most Muslim countries have ties with Israel. People are not stupid and they know that these interests supersede any creed."

Arab people cannot even believe Erdoğan's tweets, when they see that the day after his outburst on Twitter, Turkey, amid political turmoil, signed a deal worth 18.6 million euros with Israel.

Arabs also shared pictures of Turkish Cultural Day celebrations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Several Saudi intellectuals responded to Erdoğan's rhetoric against Israel by saying, "If you are honest, the Muslim world wants you to cut diplomatic relations and stop military cooperation with Israel."

Qatar is playing the same two-faced role as the Turks, but with more of a focus on attacking Saudi Arabia. Qatar, through its news outlet Al Jazeera, apparently now wants to galvanize the Muslim world into embarrassing Saudi Arabia because of its relationship with Trump since his announcement.

Ostensibly this response is to defend the Palestinian cause, but its real objective seems rather to pressure Saudi Arabia into ending its relationship with the US administration. Qatar will never stop dreaming of Trump's impeachment; the rulers doubtless think that a Democratic President, like Obama, would again support Qatar in its Muslim Brotherhood project. Mohamed Krishan, a news anchor on Al Jazeera, tweeted:
"Jerusalem is the first of the two Qibla [the direction faced during salah prayers] and the third of the two Holy Mosques that is given to the Israelis as their capital by Trump after he got billions from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques."
Ahmad Al-Faraj, a Saudi academic and researcher, tweeted back to him:
"If you leave your television channel of intelligence #Al Jazeera and go to your house in Doha, you will see on your right the Israeli representative building 600 meters from your house. People there... will tell you about the role of your channel in the betrayals and conspiracies that destroyed the Arab world and they will tell you who sold Jerusalem."
Saudis have also started to tweet interviews with Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, the former foreign minister of Qatar, and Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former Emir of Qatar, about supporting Israel, to reveal their hypocrisy to the wider public. In the interview with Hamad bin Jassim on Qatar's Al Jazeera television on October 25, 2017, he mentioned that close Qatari-Israeli relations were to get closer to America so that Israel could open doors for Qatar in America.

Qatar is also trying to gain favor in the US through Saudi dissidents, such as Jamal Khashoggi. He previously held a number of positions in several newspapers in Saudi Arabia, served as a political adviser, and now, entirely backed by Qatar, is a columnist for The New York Times and based in Washington DC. Nowadays, Khashoggi takes every opportunity to attack Saudi Arabia in different US and European newspapers.

Anyone who can read Arabic can tell you Twitter account of Jamal Khashoggi is full of anti-Semitic tweets and retweets; it looks as if the New York Times allows him to write in its newspaper only because he attacks Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi tweeted:
"Feel angry and shout out even if you do so among your own people and inside your frightened houses, it's #Jerusalem. Allah suffices me, for He is the best disposer of affairs. I feel distressed."
Saudis recognize that his real intention was not to defend Jerusalem or the Palestinians, but to galvanize people on the streets of Saudi Arabia to rise up against their own government. Ahmad Al-Faraj tweeted:
"If you feel that angry, why do you not leave this damned country of America, whose President is moving its embassy to Jerusalem?"
Other Saudi writers and others simply ridiculed him. "Go and drink a glass of wine to calm down", wrote Hani Al Dahri, a Saudi journalist, inserting Kashoggi's tweet above along a photograph of him celebrating Thanksgiving in the US with bottles of wine on the table:
Even with all this controversy and a complete change in Arab attitudes on social media towards the Palestinian cause, both Western and traditional Arab media still keep regurgitating the same anti-Israel slogans and rhetoric, and pumping out the same Palestinian propaganda. Most comments on social media have come from intellectuals, assuring the general public that the main reason for this never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a corrupt Palestinian Authority, run by Fatah and Hamas. The Palestinian Authority, they seem to believe, has traded on the Palestinian cause, which has garnered them millions, but none of that is ever discussed in the mainstream media.

While the mainstream media still shows the oppressor to be Israel and the oppressed to be the Palestinians, Palestinian polls tell a different story[1]:
  • In a June 2015 poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (based in Beit Sahour, the West Bank), 52% of Palestinians living in Israeli-ruled East Jerusalem said they would prefer to be citizens of Israel with equal rights, compared to just 42% who would choose to be citizens of a Palestinian state.
  • More Palestinians in Jerusalem seek Israeli citizenship.
  • According to polls conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 14 and 16 September, 2017, the majority of Palestinians are unhappy with President Mahmoud Abbas's performance. 67% of the public want him to resign while 27% want him to remain in office. The demand for Abbas's resignation stands at 60% in the West Bank and 80% in the Gaza Strip.
  • If new legislative elections were held today, 63% of the Palestinians surveyed said they would vote. Of those who would participate, 29% said they would vote for Hamas; 36% said they would vote for Fatah; 10% would vote for all other parties combined, and 25% were undecided.
  • Only 38% of the Palestinian public polled said West Bankers could criticize the Palestinian Authority (PA) without fear of reprisal; 59% said that people could not freely criticize the PA. Half of the public (50%) viewed the PA as a burden on the Palestinians. 77% perceived the PA as corrupt.
  • Most of Hamas leaders, who portray themselves as jihadists against Israel, are millionaires. A senior official in Hamas, for example, Khaled Mashaal, who is worth US $2.6 billion according to global estimates, while Arab commentators put his worth at between US $2 and $5 billion, saying he "invested in Egyptian banks and Gulf countries, some in real estate projects." Next on the list is Ismail Haniyeh, who, until the recent signing of a unity deal between Hamas and Fatah, was the Prime Minister of Gaza. "His fortune is estimated at US $4 million, and most of his assets in the Strip are registered in the name of his son-in-law Nabil, and a dozen children of his and other less well-known Hamas officials. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank appears no less corrupt than leaders in Gaza. Abbas and other leaders in the PLO have stolen millions of dollars from international funding meant for the Palestinian people. This corruption is the mistake of international donors who never hold these leaders to account.
Why is all this data absent from the mainstream media, which shows images of burning flags and other displays of anger only from the point of view of the Palestinian Authority and its supporters?

The US Department of State is no less culpable than the mainstream media in failing to play a more vital role in revealing these realities. Exposing this corruption would go a long way to mitigating the anger and hatred felt towards the US. The Department of State is always passive and bureaucratic, functioning mostly like a third-world country governmental body.

The Harry S Truman Building in Washington, DC, headquarters of the US Department of State. (Image source: Loren/Wikimedia Commons)

During my time working in the US Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, I met some diplomats who do not hold the US Government's views. On the contrary, some of them held political views that were totally different to those of their administration, and some were even anti-Semitic. In addition, the expertise of the diplomats was not of the high standard that you would expect from a powerful country such as the US. A lot of these diplomats are sent to Arab countries like Saudi Arabia with no knowledge of the Arabic language and not much more of the region -- in sharp contrast to diplomats in the British Embassy. I was surprised to work with a diplomat who, instead of supporting his country in liberating Iraq from the most brutal dictatorship in history, was calling it "an invasion" to Saudi intellectuals and academics. He was also against the peace process. He insisted on calling Israel an "occupier" and complained that I was reading "right-wing websites" such as the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). The organization mainly translates material meticulously from the Arabic, but the diplomat calls it pro-Israel.

So, I was hoping that after Trump became President, the Department of State might be reformed to avoid the same mistakes made under George Bush – mainly that he did not confront the US Department of State about its incompetence. President Trump should be firm and alert avoid the same mistake. Currently, it is ineffective.

This Department needs to be reformed from top to bottom to ensure that all diplomats are truly working for US interests. I am sure that it is the Department of State itself that will be the most reluctant to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

The world has followed a course that has gotten this peace process nowhere. The fact that this conflict has been ongoing for 70 years demonstrates that there is something at fault. The main reasons for this stalled progress are a lack of transparency, hypocritical opportunists with hidden personal agendas, a biased mainstream media and ineffective diplomatic missions. It is not an exaggeration to say that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is the best decision that has been taken by any American President because it lays bare a rotten reality. This is exactly what is needed to galvanize the peace process toward a two-state solution. It will also put pressure on the corrupt Palestinian Authority either to reform or change its leadership. Who knows, it might even stop opportunists from perpetuating this conflict for their own ends.
Najat AlSaied is a Saudi American academic and the author of "Screens of Influence: Arab Satellite Television & Social Development". She is an Assistant Professor at Zayed University in the College of Communication and Media Sciences in Dubai-UAE.

[1] Polling data were all kindly provided by Dr. Michael Sharnoff, Associate Professor of Middle East Studies at Daniel Morgan Graduate School

Najat AlSaied is a Saudi American academic and the author of "Screens of Influence: Arab Satellite Television & Social Development". She is an Assistant Professor at Zayed University in the College of Communication and Media Sciences in Dubai-UAE.


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