Friday, November 8, 2019

'Iran's uranium enrichment a big step in the wrong direction' - Elad Benari

by Elad Benari

US State Department condemns Iran's expansion of uranium enrichment activities.

A spokesperson for the US State Department on Tuesday condemned Iran’s expansion of uranium enrichment activities, saying it is “a big step in the wrong direction”.

“We fully support the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in conducting its independent verification role in Iran and look to the IAEA to report on any developments,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The comments follow Iran’s announcement earlier on Tuesday that it would enrich uranium to 5% at the Fordow nuclear facility, in a further violation of the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with world powers.

"Tomorrow we will enrich uranium to five percent at Fordow ... Right now we have enough 20% enriched uranium but we can produce it if needed," said the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran head, Ali Akbar Salehi.

On Monday, Salehi announced that Iran is building a prototype centrifuge that is 50 times faster than those allowed under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed in 2015.

His announcement on Tuesday came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared that Iran would move forward quickly with gas injection at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment plant outside of the city of Qom, beginning Wednesday. A total of 1,044 centrifuges will be injected with uranium gas.

US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 deal last May. Since that time, his administration has ramped up the sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

In response to the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and its imposition of sanctions, Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal.

Elad Benari


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Trump Must Not Blink on Iran Threat - Clare Lopez

by Clare M. Lopez

Now is the time to press our advantage in every way possible to bring about the collapse of that aggressive, oppressive, jihadist regime once and for all.

Originally posted on Newsmax

‘Maximum pressure’ has been the crux of Trump administration policy towards the Iranian regime.

Withdrawing from the disastrous nuclear deal, reinstating tough sanctions, targeting top leaders of the regime, and forging the closest personal relationship ever between an American President and Israeli Prime Minister have been hallmarks of the ‘maximum pressure’ policy.

Easing up on those sanctions, extending waivers that allow continuation of nuclear work, and failing to respond promptly and harshly to escalating Iranian regime aggression sends entirely the wrong message to friend and foe alike. Precisely because of that ‘maximum pressure’ to date, Tehran is facing a collapsing economy, nation-wide popular uprising, open d├ętente among Arab Gulf states and Israel, and massive street protests in Iraq and Lebanon, two of the regime’s key satraps.

Now is not the time to go wobbly, with talk about new negotiations or ‘changing the behavior of the Iranian regime.’ Now is the time to press our advantage in every way possible to bring about the collapse of that aggressive, oppressive, jihadist regime once and for all.

While ‘maximum pressure’ has caused deep economic hardship (that has fallen mainly on the Iranian people, not the regime), Tehran’s response has not been reconsideration of its course of action, but quite the opposite: belligerence and increasing willingness to respond to diplomatic and economic pressure with kinetic violence.

Attacks against commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf area, seizure of oil tankers and crews, and bringing down a U.S. drone escalated to cruise missile attacks by proxy militias in Iraq and Yemen, and finally to a direct act of war in September 2019 with the launch of a drone and cruise missile attack against Saudi oil facilities (and the global oil economy) from Iranian territory. Incredibly, all have gone completely without meaningful retaliation. This sends a perception of weakness to this Iranian regime: the West and even the tough Trump administration are eager to talk, not fight.

Meanwhile, as I wrote in these pages in August 2019, Tehran continues its calculated violations of the 2015 JCPOA. From increased amounts and levels of uranium enrichment to re-starting activities at the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor and revelations by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu about weaponization work at Abadeh, it is clear the Iranian regime never did negotiate in good faith and never will. Tehran’s incessant attempts to get precision-guidance missile technology into the hands of Shi’ite terror proxies — Hizballah in Lebanon, Houthis in Yemen, Hashd-e Shaabi in Iraq — have been well-documented. In response, Israel acts forcefully and rapidly. The Israeli Defense Forces carry out regular air strikes against such weapons transfers and encroachment by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qods Force, and Hizballah in Lebanon, the Golan Heights, and Iraq.

Even in the face of Israel’s stiff defense posture, Iran continues efforts to deploy precision-guided rockets and missiles throughout the Middle East including in Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, as Israeli PM Netanyahu warned visiting U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in Jerusalem in late October 2019.

Whether aimed at Israel or Saudi Arabia, Iran’s intent is clear: to surround both with a menacing ring of proxy forces capable of striking anywhere in the region while maintaining some degree of plausible deniability. The sub-text of Netanyahu’s warning is also an alarming one: neither Israel nor the U.S. currently has an adequate defense against Iran’s cruise missile and drone capabilities — a reality that became glaringly obvious with the September 2019 Iranian attack against Saudi Arabia.

The IDF is on high alert and in late October 2019, the U.S. military reportedly began to relocate ‘sensitive elements’ (including the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group) out of range of those capabilities. Despite denials, it is reported that U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is considering moving some air force and intelligence command units out of the Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar (an Iranian partner) to Saudi Arabia. A little-noticed 24-hour exercise on September 28, 2019, practiced a rapid transfer of command and control from Al-Udeid to Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina.

The Saudis are as alarmed as either Israel or the U.S.

Speaking at the London-based Chatham House think tank on October 21, 2019, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir asserted that “Iran, since the Iranian revolution, has been on a rampage.” He also admitted what no U.S. administration has yet been willing to say, namely that “after the 9/11 attacks and the attack against Afghanistan, the virtual board of directors of al-Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden’s son, moved to Tehran and Iran gave them shelter.”

Iran is not modifying its behavior, backing down, or giving up. The editor of the regime’s Kayhan mouthpiece, Hossein Shariatmadari, has called for the “capture” of the U.S. and Saudi Embassies in Baghdad. On October 30, 2019, Qods Force commander Qassem Suleimani flew into Baghdad and reportedly took control of a meeting on security from Iraqi PM Adel Abdul-Mahdi, saying “We in Iran know how to deal with protests. This happened in Iran and we got it under control.”

Bottom line: in this neighborhood, perceptions matter. It’s either Strong Horse or Weak Horse. An impression of weakness given, intentionally or not, will be ten times harder to reverse than maintaining credibility and deterrence in the first place.

Please don’t go wobbly now, Mr. President.

Clare M. Lopez is Vice President for Research & Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.  She previously was a Senior Fellow with the Center as well as with the London Center for Policy Research, member of Sen. Ted Cruz’ 2016 presidential campaign national security advisory team, Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee, and a career operations officer with the CIA. Read her complete bio here. Follow Lopez on Twitter @ClareMLopez


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The Delusional One-State Solution - Matthew Mainen

by Matthew Mainen

Responsible actors who care about peace in the Middle East will not entertain this fairytale for even a minute. Lebanon is a good starting point as to why.

Fanciful imaginings aside, a one-state solution would be catastrophic for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
As widespread protests plunge Lebanon into political crisis mode once again, we are reminded that multi-ethnic democracies in the Middle East aren't exactly a model of good governance. Those looking for solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should take note, and this should give pause to advocates of the one-state solution.

As the name implies, the one-state solution centers on creating a harmonious binational state, with an almost certain Palestinian majority, between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River. It is supported by prominent Palestinian-Americans like Women's March co-founder Linda Sarsour and Electronic Intifada head Ali Abunimah. Just as things were about to burst in Lebanon, Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, expanded on his vision of the idea in an article titled, "There Will Be A One-State Solution," published in the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs.

Yousef Munayyer
Responsible actors who care about peace in the Middle East will not entertain this fairytale for even a minute. Lebanon is a good starting point as to why.

Since its creation, Lebanon has teetered on the brink of collapse. For 15 years, ethnic tensions fueled a bloody civil war as different branches of Islam, Islamic off-shoots, and Christianity vied for power. The convoluted power-sharing arrangement that ultimately ended the war, the Taif Agreement, has failed to turn Lebanon into a thriving society. As noted by The Economist, Lebanon has one of the largest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world. Sectarian strife keeps Lebanon mired in gridlock, which results in the kinds of inefficiencies driving the current protests. When painful compromises are made, such as giving the Shia Hezbollah terror organization effective veto power, they often prove fruitless.

Lebanon and Iraq exemplify the pitfalls of forging a multi-ethnic democracy in the Middle East.
One-staters may insist that we've learned much since the sectarian-based Taif Agreement was ratified into Lebanon's constitution 30 years ago. We haven't. Iraq's 2005 constitution eschews power-sharing on the basis of ethnicity, but Iraq is even worse off than Lebanon. From the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis in Baghdad, years of ceaseless suicide bombings, and ISIS atrocities against Shias and non-Muslims, Iraq exemplifies the pitfalls of attempting to forge a multi-ethnic democracy in the Middle East. Ironically, the one place that has not only functioned but thrived in Iraq is the Kurdish Regional Governorate, an ethnically homogeneous autonomous region.

While the cases of Lebanon and Iraq are highly illuminating, looking at the history of Israel and the Disputed Territories alone may suffice. From the end of World War I until Israel's independence in 1948, Jews and Arabs lived together under the single administration in the British Mandate of Palestine. It was a catastrophe.

Jews and Arabs lived together under a single administration in Mandatory Palestine for 28 years.
Events like the Jaffa Riots of 1921 (95 dead) and the Riots of 1929 (249 dead) were a common fixture. When all-out war inevitably emerged in 1948 due to Arab rejection of a Jewish state, it ended with the permanent exile of up to 90% of Palestinians from Israeli-controlled territory. Nothing unusual here. Population transfers are a common result of intrastate ethnic conflict. Those wishing to alleviate Palestinian hardship should consider this when contemplating a situation that would result in a power struggle similar to what emerged following the British Mandate.

And a power struggle it will be. One-staters envision shared governance between Jews and Arabs, who will work together under a liberal democratic framework, but the Palestinians have proven unable to do this even amongst themselves. Two years after Israel withdrew from Gaza, Hamas overthrew the PLO and instituted a totalitarian Islamist regime.

Mandatory Palestine exhibited many of the same problems that later bedeviled Lebanon and Iraq. Above, the Jaffa Riots of 1921.
Things are not much better in the West Bank, where President Mahmoud Abbas is now in his 15th year of a four-year term. The "occupation" cannot be blamed. After all, pre-state Israel somehow managed to uphold democratic norms under the brutality of the British Mandate. Democracy is simply not presently part of the Palestinian lexicon.

The same goes for the "liberal" part of "liberal democracy." Polls by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center show that the Palestinians hold beliefs vehemently at odds with an inclusive society. A majority support honor killings, and 93% of the population harbors antisemitic views, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Before the one-state solution as envisioned by Palestinian advocates is even discussed, Palestinians have a very long way to go. Looking at examples from the broader region, there's good reason to believe that an Israeli-Palestinian utopia will forever remain a pipe dream.

Understandably, as US President Donald Trump continues to delay his vision for resolving the conflict, ideas counter to the mainstream two-state solution will be discussed. Some are worse than others, but few are as bad as the one-state solution.

Matthew Mainen is a Washington-resident fellow at the Middle East Forum and graduate of Stanford Law School. Follow him on Twitter.


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So Vindman was ridiculing 'rednecks' and sneering about American exceptionalism to Russian officers? - Monica Showalter

by Monica Showalter

A new report is coming out about the Trump-hating national security aide's inability to keep his partisanship to himself, and it's not pretty.

Alexander Vindman, the vaunted National Security Council aide who recently gave Congress his haughty opinion about President Trump's phone call with the president of Ukraine, wasn't the simon-pure official just concerned about national security that he portrayed himself as earlier.

Turns out he's quite a partisan piece of work.

Over at American Greatness, Debra Heine found the tweets of one of Vindman's military superiors, a retired lieutenant colonel who had no choice but to verbally reprimand him.
A retired Army officer who worked with Democrat "star witness" Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman in Grafenwoher, Germany, claims Vindman "really talked up" President Barack Obama and ridiculed America and Americans in front of Russian military officers.
In an eye-opening thread on Twitter last week, retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Jim Hickman said that he "verbally reprimanded" Vindman after he heard some of his derisive remarks for himself. "Do not let the uniform fool you," Hickman wrote. "He is a political activist in uniform."
His series of tweets, soon after Vindman offered his anti-Trump impeachment testimony to Rep. Adam Schiff's panel, were confirmed and corroborated. The story Heine put together from the tweets ran like this:
He was apologetic of American culture, laughed about Americans not being educated or worldly, & really talked up Obama & globalism to the point of (sic) uncomfortable.
He would speak w/the Russian Soldiers & laugh as if at the expense of the US personnel. It was so uncomfortable & unprofessional, one of the GS [civil service]employees came & told me everything above. I walked over & sat w/in earshot of Vindman, & sure enough, all was confirmed.
One comment truly struck me as odd, & it was w/respect to American's falsely thinking they're exceptional, when he said, "He [Obama] is working on that now." And he said it w/a snide 'I know a secret' look on his face. I honestly don't know what it meant, it just sounded like an odd thing to say.
Regardless, after hearing him bash America a few times in front of subordinates, Russians, & GS Employees, as well as, hearing an earful about globalization, Obama's plan, etc., I'd had enough. I tapped him on the shoulder & asked him to step outside. At that point I verbally reprimanded him for his actions, & I'll leave it at that, so as not to be unprofessional myself.
The bottom-line is LTC Vindman was a partisan Democrat at least as far back as [2013]. So much so, junior officers & soldiers felt uncomfortable around him. This is not your professional, field-grade officer, who has the character & integrity to do the right thing. Do not let the uniform fool you…he is a political activist in uniform. I pray our nation will drop this hate, vitriol & division, & unite as our founding fathers intended!
Heine then confirmed the tweets, first with Hickman himself, via his LinkedIn page, and then with Hickman's superior, Lt. Col. Thomas Lasch.

It was good reporting with cross-checking, given that something like this out on Twitter could be fake news — but apparently was found to be not.

This raises questions about the kind of people being brought into the White House, supposedly to work on "national security" at six-figure salaries. Some of these people, such as Vindman, were Trump-hating partisans who seethed with Trump-loathing and were the first to jump at the chance to testify for the Schiff panel. Some of them, such as the CIA employee identified by Paul Sperry as the original whistleblower, who coordinated with Schiff from the state, were also suspected leakers. Some are people of talent. Yet to place talent above basic, garden-variety loyalty to the country as well as respectful service to its democratically elected leader seems to be a bridge too far for the people who brought these Trump-haters in. They're worthless and ought to be out on their ears. Nobody is that irreplaceable.

Now they're coming out of the woodwork.

It sounds as though it's long past time for Trump to clean house. This kind of disloyalty to the commander in chief is where it's led. Based on the recollections of the Army men, it started early. 

Monica Showalter


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Head of Shin Bet: We thwarted over 450 terror attacks in the past year - Jerusalem Post Staff

by Jerusalem Post Staff

The IDF mapped on Thursday the house of Kassem Shabli, one of the terrorists who carried out an attack near the West Bank town of Dolev in August, in which 17-year-old Rina Shnerb was murdered.

IDF soldiers at the demolition of terrorist Islam Yousef Abu Hamid's house, al-Am’ari refugee camp,
IDF soldiers at the demolition of terrorist Islam Yousef Abu Hamid's house, al-Am’ari refugee camp, October 24 2019. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Head of Shin Bet Nadav Argaman claimed on Thursday that the Shin Bet thwarted over 450 terror attacks in the past year. Argaman spoke at the Unmanned Systems Conference, UVID 2019, initiated by Israel Defense.

"We are an agency with excellent people, the best technology and synergy within the agency and with Israeli security authorities, which allows us to have an edge on very challenging enemies," Argaman said. "All that allowed us to thwart over 450 terror attacks in the past year and try to provide the citizens of Israel with safe and peaceful daily life without knowing what happens behind the scene."

Meanwhile, the IDF mapped on Thursday the house of Kassem Shabli, one of the terrorists who carried out an attack near the West Bank town of Dolev in August, in which 17-year-old Rina Shnerb was murdered.

The mapping was done in order to prepare for the demolition of the house in Kfar Kobar on Wednesday night.

Kassem a-Karim Ragah Shabli, 25, a member of the PFLP, has been arrested in the past for involvement in terrorist activities. Kassem provided the explosives that were used in the IED as well as assisted in assembling it, and took part in the killing of Shnerb.

Two other terrorists were arrested for involvement in the attack.

Overnight, the IDF, Shin Bet, Border Police and Israel Police arrested 11 Palestinians suspected of being involved in terrorist activities, popular terror, and violent disturbances against civilians and security forces. The suspects were transferred for questioning.

During searches in Kfar Kobar and Tul Karem, IDF soldiers found thousands of shekels in terrorist funds.

Alon Einhorn contributed to this report.

Jerusalem Post Staff


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Democrats, Tyranny, and Sophistry - Bruce Thornton

by Bruce Thornton

Something more ancient and dangerous is going on than just the usual Democrat double standards.

The Democrats are furiously busy with preemptive damage control of the ongoing investigation by U.S. Attorney John Durham. As well they should. This and other investigations of the origins of alleged Russian electoral interference has morphed into a criminal probe that likely will implicate members of the Obama administration’s FBI, DOJ, and CIA, and tear off the veil of misdirection that the Democrats and their lackeys in the media have draped over the dirty tricks they employed during the 2016 campaign and Trump’s first years in office. If this happens, the Democrats’ equally dicey attempts to impeach the president will crumble.

Once again, we are being subjected to progressive double standards and “projection” of their own sins onto others. But something more ancient and dangerous is going on: The links between tyranny and sophistry.

With the hoax of Trump’s collusion with Russia to wound his rival Hillary Clinton debunked by the Dems’ hand-picked special prosecutor and his team of partisan Democrats, California Democrat Representative Adam Schiff has been attacking Durham and AG William Barr. Schiff’s joint statement with Jerry Nadler (D. NY), his accomplice in the House impeachment show-trial, is a masterpiece of jaw-dropping hypocrisy:

These reports, if true, raise profound new concerns that the Department of Justice under AG Barr has lost its independence and become a vehicle for President Trump’s political revenge. If the Department of Justice may be used as a tool of political retribution, or to help the President with a political narrative for the next election, the rule of law will suffer new and irreparable damage.
The glaring double-standard––this description more accurately fits Obama’s self-described “wingman,” AG Eric Holder, more than AG Barr–– is laid out in a Wall Street Journal editorial:

Democrats know that the Hillary Clinton campaign paid Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump, and Fusion hired former British spook Christopher Steele, who compiled a dossier of allegations about Mr. Trump from Russian sources that turned out to be false. Worse, Fusion funneled the dossier to the FBI, which used it to persuade the secret FISA court to issue a warrant to eavesdrop on Trump official Carter Page. Democrats now want to discredit any attempt to hold people accountable if crimes were committed as part of this extraordinary dirty trick.
Moreover, as the Journal further points out, even if the charge that Trump demanded from the Ukrainian president an investigation of Joe Biden and his son in exchange for foreign aid is true, which it isn’t, it doesn’t compare to the Democrats’ very real Russian collusion. In Trump’s alleged attempt, he failed and the aid reached Ukraine even though there was no investigation. In contrast, the Democrats succeeded: “Russian disinformation was used by America’s premier law enforcement agency to justify investigating an American presidential campaign.” That “dirty trick” makes Watergate look like a jaywalking infraction.

How do we explain this shameless behavior of the Dems? A lot of smart people are characterizing the Democrats’ behavior as “projection” which according to Psychology Today, “is most commonly used to describe defensive projection—attributing one’s own unacceptable urges to another. The concept emerged from Sigmund Freud’s work in the 1890s.” In other words, a subconscious defense mechanism for people who can’t consciously acknowledge their own bad behavior.

But there’s nothing subconscious about what the progressives are doing, and telescopic psychologizing is notoriously unreliable, not to mention it lets offenders off the hook for what they say. If speech is conscious, it’s not projection, it’s lying. The more likely explanation is that Dems are following the ancient roadmap for reducing a democracy to tyranny: using sophistical rhetoric to gull the masses into giving an elite power outside the normal political protocols.

Plato, Aristotle, and Polybius laid out the conditions by which a democracy degenerates into tyranny. An ambitious man or faction, dissatisfied with the normal political processes for obtaining and using power, will win over the masses by redistributing property from the rich to the poor. Other instrument of this process are violence and sophistical rhetoric: The public speeches made during deliberations over policy. Once in power, a tyrant will concentrate more and more power in his and his faction’s hands, bringing about a regime based on violence and injustice.

For a century we have been witnessing a slow-motion, “soft” version of this process. Starting with progressive Woodrow Wilson, the Federal government has grown ever larger and more intrusive, concentrating power in federal agencies at the expense of the states, local government, civil society, families, and individuals. Obama’s presidency was the next giant step down the road to tyranny, his policies, especially Obamacare, marking an advance in centralized, concentrated power.

The ancient tyrant used violence to consolidate his power; our “soft despots,” as de Tocqueville called them, use federal investigative agencies and the instruments of political accountability to attack their enemies. Over the last three years we watched the FBI, DOJ, and CIA manipulate and abuse their powers to engineer the appointment of a Special Prosecutor armed with investigative and subpoena powers. Their aim was to destroy politically the duly elected president. Along the way they skirted and violated the law, just as ancient tyrants ignored the city-state’s procedures and protocols for using power.

When the Mueller investigation failed and the Democrats took back the House of Representatives, they then abused their oversight committee powers to lay the foundation for bringing impeachment charges. Next the traditional protocols of impeachment established in the cases of Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton have been abandoned. Rather than the House voting for articles of impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Luca Brasi Adam Schiff have used secret hearings and engineered anonymous “whistleblower” complaints based on second-hand information and mere personal opinion. I suppose it’s a civilizational advance that today our wannabe tyrants use procedure rather than the brutal violence the tyrants of old employed.

Back then, another important tool for aggrandizing power was rhetoric. A persistent theme in Athenian literature of the fifth-century B.C. is the dangers of public speeches made by orators trained in the skills of rhetoric by sophists. The main complaint, copiously documented in philosophy and literature, is that the “art of persuasion,” as Aristotle called political oratory, “makes the worse argument the better.” Indeed, sophists had exercises called dissoi logoi that argued both sides of a question. Sophistical rhetoric, then, turns the false, the unjust, and the bad into the true, the just, and the good by manipulating the citizens’ emotions, self-interest, and factional passions. Many Athenians, especially those opposed to the democracy, warned of the dangers of sophistical oratory. For example, Euripides’ Medea, who has been abandoned by Jason for a more politically useful bride, becomes enraged when Jason to her face tries to argue that his betrayal will benefit Medea: “The plausible speaker,” she tells Jason, “who is a villain deserves the greatest punishment.”

The dangers of being “slaves to the ear,” as Thucydides’ Cleon describes those who gape at a clever speaker, have been exponentially multiplied in our times. Today we are saturated with information and images 24/7, 365; we are now “slaves to the eye” as well as “slaves to the ear,” for the opportunities for sophistical rhetoric on social media, cable news, and twitter are unlimited, their effects magnified by the power of dramatic images. This explains the pronouncements coming from the House Democrats, echoed by their factotums in the media that quote and film them.

Take their complaints, for example, about Trump’s alleged “quid pro quo” that he imposed on the Ukrainians. Yet Dems are silent about Joe Biden’s bragging  on video about an actual quid pro quo: His threat to withhold foreign aid until a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating the company that was paying Biden’s son $50-80 grand a month was fired. This hypocrisy exposes perfectly the essence of sophistry, which is “the big lie,” one people believe despite its transparent falsity. And of course, the whole “Russia collusion” and “interference in our election” crimes were in fact perpetrated not by Trump and the RNC, but by Hillary Clinton and the DNC, with ample help from allegedly non-partisan federal agencies.

Meanwhile, the House’s ongoing procedures for impeachment reek of Soviet-era show-trials, in which the accused cannot confront his accusers and cross-examined them––a model pioneered during the Obama era in our colleges and universities with their star chambers that tried accused sexual assaulter. This injustice was corrected by Trump and his Secretary of Education Betsy De Voss. Does anyone think a President Warren or President Biden will not turn back the clock to that ancient judicial instrument of tyranny?

For true believers like the bipartisan NeverTrumpers, such blatant falsehoods and unjust procedures are irrelevant as long as they serve to overthrow Trump’s administration, either by a successful impeachment, or by damaging the president enough that he is defeated in 2020. In other words, regime change, the overthrow of a legally elected president, and the disenfranchising of his 63 million supporters. The more long-term cost, of course, will be a quantum leap in the century-long progressive aim of changing our Constitutional republic into a tyrannical technocracy.

If that sounds extreme, just listen to the Democrat’s proclaimed policy goals: socialized medicine, gutting the First and Second Amendments, ceding more national sovereignty to the global technocratic elite, and appropriating through ruinous taxation more of the country’s wealth to finance more redistributionist schemes for their clients. Meanwhile, they shrug off the violence and verbal attacks on Republicans by Antifa and other goons, or, like Representative Maxine Waters, they even encourage them.

If we allow this coup to happen, we will have proved de Tocqueville a prophet by creating a tyranny “more extensive and more mild [than ancient tyranny],” one that “would degrade men without tormenting him.”

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.


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Ex-Terrorist Calls Out Warren, Sanders for Backing Palestinian 1% Terrorists - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

And cheers Trump’s eviction of Palestinian terror delegation from D.C.

“You are partners in everything that is being done to us, you are collaborating in the suffering of the Palestinian people,” the crackling Arabic-accented voice on the phone says. “You think that you are working for peace, but you are actually supporting the terrorists of the Palestinian Authority.”

He pauses as he ponders the events going on thousands of miles away in Washington D.C.
“You are not working for peace, but for murder.”

That’s Muhammad’s message to J Street. The anti-Israel organization claims that it wants to listen to ‘Palestinians.’ But the man I’m on the phone with is one Palestinian they don’t want to hear from.

While Senator Elizabeth Warren and other 2020 Democrats bemoaned President Trump’s eviction of the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic delegation from Washington D.C., he’s all for it.

“We don’t want them. If the Democrats want them,” Muhammad says. “They can take and keep them.”

While I’m on the phone with Muhammad, and Amit Deri of Reservists on Duty, a pro-Israel campus group getting the real story out there, in D.C., Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, Amy Klobuchar, and other 2020 Democrats are partying with the biggest anti-Israel group in America.

Reservists on Duty, a group of former Israeli soldiers, whose Shillman Fellow activists come to American college campuses to tell the truth about Israel, have a fraction of J Street’s massive budget. None of the 2020 Democrats come to visit their events. Instead, Amit and other Reservists are in touch with Arabs like Muhammad who are telling the stories that J Street doesn’t want its members to hear.

Muhammad had spent 7 years in an Israeli prison fighting for a Palestinian state. And when he got out of prison, he learned the hard way the ugly reality of what he had really been fighting for.

Old photos show him wielding a Kalashnikov, draped in a keffiyah, the embodiment of the Palestinian cause. On the phone, Muhammad describes himself as, “Mamash Mehabel.” “A real terrorist.” But these days he lives at an undisclosed location in Israel. And being caught by the Palestinian Authority would mean death. But there is one place that Muhammad does want to go. The J Street conference.

J Street, the anti-Israel organization that sets the agenda for the Democrats, invited Palestinian Authority apparatchiks like Saeb Erakat, the Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee, and Osama Qawasma, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, organizations that Muhammad is all too familiar with.

Muhammad describes them as a “mafia” who don’t represent anyone except themselves.

“These Jews are part of the problem for inviting them,” he says, meaning J Street. “Shame on you, giving a stage to the people oppressing us, they are to be blamed for our suffering here.”

“I wish that J Street would invite me to come and hear my story.” Muhammad says.

Senator Bernie Sanders spends a lot of time talking about how the 1% run everything. I ask Muhammad if the Palestinian Authority is a social justice utopia.

“We have the 2%,” he says. “The 1% of the rich officials and the 1% of the terrorists.”

And, in the Palestinian Authority, they are usually one and the same.

“There are only rich people in the leadership,” he sardonically notes.

While 2020 Democrats have called for a restoration of aid to the Palestinian Authority, Muhammed accuses them and J Street of being “accessories to the crime”.

“Europeans and Americans giving money are part of the problem,” he passionately warns. “It's an illegitimate political system kept afloat by foreign money, the moment funding is cut off, Palestinian Authority officials will flee and whole thing will collapse.”

Foreign aid isn’t helping the “Palestinians” whom the Democrats are so worried about.

The Palestinian Authority “only take money from the US and Europe for their own families, and put money into their pockets,” Muhammad says. “The Palestinian Authority is getting rich from the Palestinian people, they don't care about the people, they control the people because they control the system, hospitals, welfare system, the basic needs, that's why people are afraid to talk.”

He describes how an acquaintance with cancer was denied a permit to be treated in an Israeli hospital because he had spoken out against the Palestinian Authority.

Many, like his friend, he says, “want the Israelis to come back. Most are oppressed by the Palestinian Authority, not Israel, and their voices are not heard at J Street.”

In the 90s, when Muhammad was in an Israeli prison and the Oslo Accords were announced, he was optimistic. Like everyone, he says, “Israelis and Arabs, I thought the Oslo accords would bring peace between two peoples.” But, instead of peace, they brought war, terror and oppression.

He vowed then that if he ever got out, he would escape to Israel and tell the truth.

That’s what he has been doing ever since.

It wasn’t the Israelis, but the Palestinian Authority, the interlocking organizations of Fatah, the PLO, and the PA, which tortured him in prison. The 2020 Democrats who appeared at the J Street conference and sent in video messages criticized Israel; but none said a harsh word about the Palestinian Authority.

Muhammad would like to change that. He would like to tell the conference attendees, the political candidates, and all the rest about the “Hayim shel mavet”, his “life of death” in a PA prison. He wants to tell them that he was almost beaten to death and suffered bleeding in the brain. He would like to describe the ‘shabeh’ torture in which he was left hanging suspended by his wrists from a hook.

‘Shabeh’ in Arabic means ghost. It’s a torture recently made famous by ISIS. But it’s also used by the PA.

And these days, Muhammad is a ghost. He can’t go back home. And J Street and other anti-Israel groups which claim to care about human rights would rather listen to the lies of his torturers than to him.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.


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Turkey Orders Qatar to 'Weed Out' Journalists Critical of Syria Invasion - Seth Frantzman

by Seth Frantzman

Turkey, which Amnesty International calls "the world's largest prison for journalists," appears to be using its media to try to order Qatar to muzzle Al Jazeera in English.

Originally published under the title "Turkish Pro-Government Media Orders Qatar to 'Weed Out' Critical Journalists."

Turkey's leading pro-governnment newspaper wants Qatar's flagship media outlet to button up about its invasion of Syria.
In a withering attack on Al Jazeera and Qatar, the pro-government Daily Sabah slammed Al Jazeera English for being critical of Turkey's foreign policy and demanded that it "weed out" journalists.

Turkey, which Amnesty International calls "the world's largest prison for journalists," appears to be using its media to try to order Qatar to muzzle Al Jazeera in English. The lead editorial at Daily Sabah calls the network a "threat against the Turkey-Qatar alliance."

The editorial begins by noting that Turkey and Qatar are "strategic partners" and accuses Israel and other countries of "ganging up" on Qatar. But the Turkish newspaper accuses Al Jazeera English, "Qatar's flagship news channel," of "spreading anti-Turkey propaganda under the pretext of independent and objective journalism." Turkey's pro-government media now accuses Qatar's media of "jumping on the Western media's Turkey-bashing bandwagon" and "smearing last month's Turkish operation into northeastern Syria."

The US State Department slammed Turkey on Saturday as one of the "worst offenders" in crimes against journalists. Amnesty International says Turkey has arrested hundreds of people for being critical of Turkey's invasion of Syria.

Read Amnesty International's report, "Hundreds Arrested in Crackdown on Critics of Military Offensive in Syria."
The Daily Sabah article now reflects Turkey's demands that regional media of other authoritarian states abide by Turkey's demands and control critical journalists. There can be no critique of Turkey's military operation, either in Turkish media or abroad.

The editorial claims Qatar uses the "PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] terrorist organization's talking points." It notes that Al Jazeera is "funded by Qatar's government" and that the network has traditionally presented an "alternative view of the world." However, the editorial argues that "a small group of people within Al Jazeera English are deliberately dismantling the network's own legacy and undermining the Turkey-Qatar partnership in an attempt to dictate the Gulf nation's foreign policy."

Basically, Turkey's pro-government paper, likely representing the views of Ankara, is asserting that any article in Al Jazeera represents the views of Qatar and is designed to dictate Qatar's foreign policy. Therefore, an article critical of Turkey is alleged to represent Doha's views and undermine Qatar's relationship with Turkey.

Ankara thinks Al Jazeera should present only the official views of Qatar.
Daily Sabah also alleges that Turkey is seeking to reverse the "de-Arabization of Syria's border towns" by "bringing Syrian refugees home" to eastern Syria. Kurds in the area – where 200,000 have been forced to flee since Turkey's operation began – have alleged that Arab Syrian rebel groups backed by Turkey have carried out human rights abuses over the last month.

"But Al Jazeera English, like Western outlets where some of its employees used to serve," has been critical of the operation, Turkey argues. "It reproduced the talking points of certain Western governments and the terrorist group they sponsor, on-air." This is harsh criticism in Turkey of Qatar which would only be permitted if it were Ankara's views. It is not only anti-Western, but accuses the West and Qatari media of pushing "terrorist" propaganda.

This gives a window into Turkey's own worldview of how media is supposed to work with the state. Turkey already has some media that is backed by the state, including TRT or Anadolu, while Daily Sabah is ostensibly merely pro-government. Its editorial argues that Al Jazeera has become "virtually indistinguishable from Al Arabiya and other gulf mouthpieces." This argument asserts that most media in the Gulf basically repackages the government views. Therefore, Al Jazeera's critique of Turkey undermines the alliance with Turkey.

"Without reciprocity, any relationship is at risk of falling apart. In light of Al Jazeera English's complicity in the smear campaign against Turkey, the Turkish people cannot be expected to support Qatar against countries, with which Turkey could easily join forces." This logic foresees Turkey working with Qatar's enemies merely due to a few critical media takes on Turkish foreign policy. Either Qatar should control its media and forbid critique of Turkey, or Turkey might end its alliance with Qatar.

Already Turkey has its public broadcaster, TRT, attack Qatar over the treatment of migrant workers. For apparently the first time, Turkey's government media critiqued Qatar. This reveals the degree to which government media has become a tool of foreign policy, with no pretense of journalistic independence. Qatar was beyond critique due to some mutual understanding, and now it is being critiqued to get back at Qatar for Al Jazeera's reports.

"The Turkish government must consider Al Jazeera English a hostile outlet."
With the Turkey-Qatar alliance at stake, Daily Sabah suggests Qatar deal with journalists the way Turkey deals with dissidents and critics. "Al Jazeera needs to weed out all individuals seeking to poison that alliance behind the smokescreen of independent journalism. Until the network takes the necessary steps, the Turkish government must consider Al Jazeera English a hostile outlet." And not just the network: Qatar could be burning bridges, the editorial says. It claims that this key ally has jeopardized itself "so that a handful of second-tier activists and washed-up Westerners can feel important." There is no reason for Turkey to "have Doha's back," the article concludes.

This is harsh language with serious ramifications, basically ordering Qatar to remove by "weeding out" any journalist critical of Turkey. If that doesn't happen and Qatar doesn't toe the line, Turkey-Qatar relations might suffer.

Seth Frantzman, a Middle East Forum writing fellow, is the author of After ISIS: America, Iran and the Struggle for the Middle East (2019), op-ed editor of The Jerusalem Post, and founder of the Middle East Center for Reporting & Analysis.


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In Gaza Strip, Palestinian Islamic Jihad agitates for violence - Yaakov Lappin

by Yaakov Lappin

Israel seeks to prevent a powder keg from detonating at the southern border as it prioritizes the more threatening front up north.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad activists participate in a march to mark the anniversary of the 32nd founding of the Jihad Organization in Gaza City, on Oct. 5, 2019. Photo by Hassan Jedi/Flash90.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad activists participate in a march to mark the anniversary of the 32nd founding of the Jihad Organization in Gaza City, on Oct. 5, 2019. Photo by Hassan Jedi/Flash90.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad—the second-largest armed terror faction in Gaza after Hamas—is agitating for violence, and is in fact the organization that conducted Friday-night’s rocket barrage on the Israeli border city of Sderot. 

It appears as if the commander of the PIJ’s northern Gaza brigade—a terror chief named Baha Abu Al Atta—is directly behind the latest rocket fire that targeted Israeli civilians. 

The Iron Dome air-defense system intercepted most of the incoming rockets, though one struck and damaged a civilian home. 

Hamas is the Islamist regime that runs Gaza, but PIJ has been challenging its authority repeatedly in recent months. PIJ has both an interest and an ability to destabilize the security situation with rocket fire.

PIJ wishes to position itself as the “authentic” jihadist organization in the Strip at the expense of Hamas, which unlike PIJ has to balance out its considerations as a government with its commitment to armed conflict and terrorism.
Hamas’s nightmare scenario is a popular revolt by Gazans who lose patience with their regime’s dead-end policies and economic failures. Unrest in Lebanon and Iraq could fuel such protests at any time. As a result, Hamas is holding out for the results of negotiations it is holding with Egypt and the United Nations aimed at preventing an economic collapse in the coastal enclave.

PIJ, in contrast, has no such concerns. It is more than willing to use its rocket arsenal, which is larger than that of Hamas, to upset the security situation. Iranian funding and rocket-production know-how has helped make PIJ a significant terror army, with some 15,000 armed operates (compared to Hamas’s 25,000-strong military wing). Hamas receives Iranian funding and support as well.

Since May 2019, PIJ has significantly stepped up attempts to launch attacks against Israel out of Gaza. Most of those attempts have been thwarted, but many more attack plots remains, and the organization’s intent is crystal-clear.

In retaliation for the rocket barrages, the Israel Air Force struck multiple Hamas targets throughout Gaza early on Saturday. One man, reportedly a Fatah member, was killed in the airstrikes.

Hamas’s leader, Yahya Sinwar, remains a strong figure who has been able to implement his regime’s rule over the other organizations in the past. Nonetheless, Israel’s message to him is consistent and clear: Hamas is responsible for what happens in Gaza, and it will receive the bill when Israeli civilians come under fire. If Hamas wants to avoid Israel’s firepower, then it must reign in PIJ.

If Hamas fears a confrontation with PIJ, it will face conflict with Israel instead.

Stabilizing factors vs. catalysts for violence 

Israel is not the only country in the region interested in stability in Gaza. Egypt, too, as well as the United States and European countries, has been trying to decrease tensions and improve Gaza’s humanitarian state of affairs. Currently, PIJ alone is actively disrupting these efforts.

In its airstrikes on Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces marked out targets that serve as a reminder that while Hamas is currently in favor of a truce, it is still investing the big majority of its resources in building a terrorist army for a future war, while demanding that others take care of Gaza’s neglected civilian needs.

The targets struck by the IAF include Hamas’s naval force military compound, a site containing an air-defense array, training compounds, weapons production and storage sites, and other structures.

The IDF Southern Command remains on high alert for a new escalation in Gaza. But as part of efforts to prevent a new war, Israel is ensuring that 600 to 700 trucks per day containing international assistance goods enter the Hamas-run enclave via the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

The trucks deliver fuel, imports, medicine, construction goods and other essential materials. Qatar is also continuing with its monthly transfers of funds into Gaza, which goes to families and construction projects. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has been trying to choke Gaza economically to damage its internal foe, Hamas.

Ultimately, the competition between stabilizing factors and the catalysts for violence will determine Gaza’s fate.

According to reports, the Israeli cabinet is looking to keep Gaza on a “low flame” because larger and more severe threats are looming to the north.

The Israeli defense establishment is focusing its readiness on the northern front, where Iran and Hezbollah are looking to build new attack capabilities.

These include upgrading Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal into precision guided missiles in Lebanon and entrenching Iran’s attack bases throughout Syria. Israel is actively working to disrupt both of these Iranian objectives. To help it achieve this mission, Israel is prioritizing the north over Gaza.

That formula has held up until now, but if PIJ remains determined to rock the boat, it could collapse into yet another Gaza war.

Yaakov Lappin


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FBI admits (or concocts) mind-boggling mistake on notes taken on General Flynn interview that resulted in guilty plea - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

Hat tip: Darrell Simms

There is every reason to suspect that skullduggery lies behind this claim of an authorship mistake.

Sidney Powell, Gen. Michael Flynn's replacement lawyer, is pulling on a thread that is unraveling the conspiracy to generate a crime with which to bludgeon him into cooperating in incriminating President Trump in the Russia hoax. Late yesterday, The FBI made an admission — or claim — that strains credulity: that it has for years misattributed authorship of the notes used in preparing the Form 302 interview summaries that were themselves altered to incriminate Flynn.

Here is the letter (hat tip: Conservative Treehouse):

Sundance summarizes:
The entire FBI case against Flynn; meaning the central element that he lied to FBI investigators (he didn’t); is predicated on the FD-302 interview reports generated by the two FBI agents; later discovered to have been edited, shaped and approved by Andrew McCabe…. And for almost two years the entire outline of their documented evidence has been misattributed? (snip)
Obviously what triggered this re-review of the notes was a smart sur-surreply from the defense that highlighted how Peter Strzoks notes were far too neat, organized and well constructed to have been written during an actual interview. [SEE HERE]

For the prosecution to now reverse course and say the agent attribution was transposed, is either the biggest screw-up in a high profile case…. OR, the prosecution now needs to reverse the note-takers due to the exact, and common sense, reasons highlighted by the defense.
Here is the Sur-reply in which Powell lays out her case. She refers to it in this interview last night with Shannon Bream:

There is every reason to suspect that skullduggery lies behind this claim of an authorship mistake. Retired 30-year FBI agent Mark Wauck comments on his blog, Meaning in History:

Here's the real problem. There were two sets of notes, one long, neatly written, and detailed, and the other seemingly scribbled, as one would expect in an interview setting. Van Grack's explanation is this: by switching the attribution of the two sets of notes, he's saying that the long, detailed set of "notes" belongs to Pientka--the "primary note taker"--rather than Strzok, as we've been told up to now. That's supposed to solve the difficulty of the lead interviewer--Strzok--also taking remarkably detailed notes. But that switch doesn't really solve the credibility problem. Here's why: The long set of notes actually looks like a handwritten draft of a 302. A rough, first draft--subject to approval from others--but a draft rather than notes taken in an interview setting. If you've taken a look at the "notes" that were originally attributed to Strzok--which we're now supposed to believe were taken by Pientka, the "primary notetaker" during the Flynn interview--you'll see what I mean. Follow this link and go to page 19. (P. 19 gets you into Exhibit 1, i.e., p 19 out of the full 46 page pdf.)
Look, I spent about 30 years doing interviews, taking notes, reading (or attempting to read) notes taken by other agents. I guarantee you that in my experience no notes looked like the "notes" you'll see at the link. As I said--they look like like a rough draft done after the interview.
Which leads to another question: Who does a handwritten rough draft of an interview these days? I stopped doing that decades ago. Once I had access to a computer I took my notes and sat down in front of the computer and started typing. Why would Joe Pientka--or Peter Strzok, as the case might be--bother to produce a handwritten draft (if we accept that what we've been shown are simply not "notes").
This is why. Because that handwritten draft could be changed at will, whereas nowadays, once you save something under a case file number--even as a draft--that's recoverable. There's an audit trail, which is what Powell keeps asking for. So, if you're an "investigator" and you're not sure how you want to make that interview sound, then you delay creating that discoverable digital trail. And that's a sure indicator of dishonest intent. [emphasis added]
The big mistake the FBI made here is that they apparently said, woops! we need some interview notes in Joe Pientka's handwriting. Hey, Joe, your rough draft will do! Or maybe they didn't even ask Joe. Maybe they just said, hey, we need some credible notes, notes in Joe's handwriting. Do we still have Joe's rough draft? Ok, that'll work.
Somebody is lying. Maybe, probably, more than just one person.
The railroading of General Fynn almost succeeded. Sidney Powell has done a huge service to our country. Getting to the bottom of this is imperative. Judge Sullivan will not be amused.

Graphic credit: YouTube screen grab.

Thomas Lifson


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