Posted on

The real reasons for Russian electoral meddling


The money quote:

“And even if Putin did favor one candidate, I’m skeptical that he would prefer Trump. After all, it was President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who were repeatedly outplayed and embarrassed by Putin on Ukraine, Syria and the Baltics. At the very least, Putin’s preference would seem debatable.”

President Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry were played so expertly by Putin that it was if he had programmed them to always do the wrong and stupid thing.

By REP. CHRIS STEWART • 12/15/16 12:04 AM

Did Russian intelligence officials attempt to interfere in our election? Almost certainly they did. Did they attempt to tip the scales in favor of Donald Trump. Very clearly, they did not.

Several outlets reported last weekend that the CIA recently told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia interfered in the U.S. elections for the purpose of helping to elect Trump. To quote from one report: “‘It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,’ said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. ‘That’s the consensus view.'”

As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I can say unequivocally that such an assessment has not been briefed to me. To the contrary, the claims in the press conflict with recent statements to the public and our committee characterizing alleged Russian activities. For example, on Nov. 17, 2016, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the committee in an open hearing that the intelligence community lacked “good insight” into the connection, if any, between Russian hacking and WikiLeaks.

Last weekend’s reporting was based on an anonymous official who claimed to be familiar with the supposed CIA assessment. Whether this source was confused or deliberately misleading is less important than the fact that the current media uproar advances Vladimir Putin’s goal to sow chaos and distrust in our electoral system.

Posted on

Obama Administration gave the Iranian regime secret loopholes to keep Iran compliant with last year’s nuclear deal


September 2,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ,  Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-05) issued the following statement after the Institute for Science and International Security released a report today that the Obama Administration gave the Iranian regime secret loopholes to keep Iran compliant with last year’s nuclear deal. The report states that Iran did not limit their nuclear stocks and facilities by Implementation Day in direct violation of the parameters set by the P5+1 nuclear deal.

“To recap the perks given to Iran by the Obama Administration since signing the nuclear deal, Iran has been given sanctions relief, a financial windfall, ransom money, less oversight, and freedom to test ballistic missiles. Now, according to today’s report, we can add secret loopholes to that list. It’s as if the president is going out of his way to keep the American people in the dark about the details of this dangerous deal.”

“It’s obvious from this report that the Obama Administration thought it was more important to keep a politically expedient deadline than to ensure terrorists never develop nuclear weapons. The world will undoubtedly be a more dangerous place if the Iranian regime builds a nuclear arsenal, and I will continue to fight against this terrible deal to ensure the safety and security of the United States and its allies.”

Posted on

Europe’s Convinced U.S. Won’t Solve Its Problems


368 FEB 13, 2016 3:32 PM EST
By Josh Rogin

Europe is facing a convergence of the worst crises since World War II, and the overwhelming consensus among officials and experts here is that the U.S. no longer has the will or the ability to play an influential role in solving them.

At the Munich Security Conference, the prime topics are the refugee crisis, the Syrian conflict, Russian aggression and the potential dissolution of the European Union’s very structure. Top European leaders repeatedly lamented that 2015 saw all of Europe’s problems deepen, and unanimously predicted that in 2016 they would get even worse.

“The question of war and peace has returned to the continent,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the audience, indirectly referring to Russian military interventions. “We had thought that peace had returned to Europe for good.”

What was missing from the conference speeches and even the many private discussions in the hallways, compared to previous years, was the discussion of what Europe wanted or even expected the U.S. to do.

Several European officials told me that there was little expectation that President Barack Obama, in his last year in office, would make any significant policy changes to address what European governments see an existential set of crises that can’t wait for a new administration in Washington.

Posted on

Murdoch unloads on Kerry, Obama, the left

Rupert Murdoch


11/30/15 11:11 PM EST

News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch, in a discursive speech Monday evening, blasted Secretary of State John Kerry and attacked the left for creating an “identity crisis” that he charged has undermined American strength and fostered terrorism around the world.

And he drew a connection between U.S. foreign policy and domestic culture, arguing that “in recent years, there has been far too much institutionalization of grievance and victimhood.”

The Australian-born media mogul, a naturalized U.S. citizen, also touched on the Republican presidential primary, which he said “has articulated a deep distaste for the slow descent of our country.”

“Before delivering my modest message,” Murdoch joked at the outset of his address accepting the Hudson Institute’s Global Leadership Award, “I feel obliged to alert college students, progressive academics and all other deeply sensitive souls that these words may contain phrases and ideas that challenge your prejudices — in other words, I formally declare this room an ‘unsafe space.’”

After a few words of praise for former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who had just introduced him to the hawkish think-tank crowd, Murdoch quickly pivoted to a sweeping indictment of U.S. foreign policy under Barack Obama, though he did not mention the president by name.

“For a U.S. secretary of state to suggest that Islamic terrorists had a ‘rationale’ in slaughtering journalists is one of the low points of recent Western diplomacy and it is indicative of a serious malaise,” Murdoch said, referring to Kerry’s recent mangled attempt to draw a distinction between the assault on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the more recent Paris attacks. “For America to be embarrassed by its exceptionalism is itself exceptional and absolutely unacceptable.” (Kerry quickly walked back those comments, remarking the next day that “such atrocities can never be rationalized, and we can never allow them to be rationalized.”)

Read more:

Posted on

How bad is the Iran deal? Let’s count the ways

Irasn Nuke Deal

By Amir Taheri

September 5, 2015 | 1:28pm

A fatwa that doesn’t exist, a wish list that no one signed, a resolution that contradicts the wish list, a protocol that no one has seen…

These are the elements with which President Obama claims he has concocted a strategy to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions and stop it exporting murder and mayhem.

Supposedly issued by Iran’s “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei, the fatwa declares nuclear weapons as “illicit” (haram) in Islam.

Obama cites it as “proof” that Iran does not intend to build a bomb. The president has never said he has seen the fatwa, which, in any case, would have no legal or religious weight.

However, those who refer to the fatwa, including some mullahs, always credit Obama as the source of their information. In the 18th century, Mullah Sadra liked to say that “you will see only if you believe.” He has a disciple in Obama.

Posted on

Iran Nuke Deal : A Bad Deal for the U.S. and its Allies

Scott_Garrett_took2_a_break_from_DC_theridgewood blog

Jul 28, 2015
Congressmen Scott Garrett

After 20 months of negotiations, this week President Obama announced a nuclear arms deal that will give Iran sanctions relief and a path to obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The Iranian regime has done nothing to prove that it has earned the trust or respect of the international community and should not be rewarded with sanctions relief. This deal will only further destabilize an increasingly volatile region.

President Obama asks for this deal to be judged on its original goal and its merits. But it should be judged on the ability to keep weapons out of the hands of a regime that is both a sponsor of terrorism and an enemy of the United States and its allies.

By that standard, it fails horribly.

One of the most imperative aspects of a deal is the ability to verify that Iran is fulfilling its end of the agreement. The president may claim that this deal “is not based on trust; it is built on verification,” but this is not reflected in the actual provisions of the deal. The president himself has stated that a deal must allow for inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) anytime, anywhere.  Yet this deal fails to live up to the president’s own standards. Instead it allows Iran to object to inspections and dispute the inspections in front of a resolution panel— a process that can take up to 24 days. This is hardly the spontaneous inspection that will ensure compliance.

Under this deal, Iran is not required to fully dismantle existing bomb making technology. Rather, Iran is allowed to continue its enrichment capabilities. But that becomes almost irrelevant when you consider that in ten short years the United States and its allies will have little ability to ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons. After a decade, the limits on Iran’s nuclear activities will begin to sunset.

In recent years Iran has involved itself in both regional and sectarian conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. By lifting the sanctions, billions of dollars in frozen assets will be freed up, and Iran will be rewarded for its bad behavior.

Due to provisions included in the eleventh hour of negotiations, this deal lifts the arms embargo after just five years, and after eight years the restrictions on ballistic missile transfer will be lifted. This will no doubt benefit Russia, who stands to make considerable money by providing missile technology to Iran. The reality for the US and its allies is that lifting this embargo will allow Iran to further support bad actors and terrorism in the region.

President Obama claims that if Iran violates the deal the sanctions will snap back into place. This just isn’t reality. Snapping back the sanctions—as the president claims he will do—will take an act of the same international body that worked on the agreement. It will be out of the hands of this or any other White House.

So where are we now?

Unfortunately, due to a bill that passed in May without my support, Congress’ ability to stop this deal from being implemented is greatly diminished. Instead of requiring a majority of Congress to approve the treaty, the so-called Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 turns the Constitution on its head and requires Congress to block a treaty. Knowing this, President Obama has already issued a veto threat if Congress tries to block this deal.

Even if Iran abides by all of the provisions in this deal, in 15 years they will be able to proliferate weapons grade nuclear materials and possess ballistic missiles. By implementing this agreement, we will not make the world a safer place; we will essentially start a countdown until this terrorist regime has nuclear weapons.

This is not a political issue; this is an issue of national security for the United States and for our allies around the world. Over the span of the negotiations, 367 Members of Congress from both parties have called upon the president expressing the standards that a final deal must achieve. Yet this deal fails to achieve these standards.

The administration consistently said that a bad deal is worse than no deal, yet it delivered this terrible agreement to the American people. As I’ve said since the beginning of these negotiations, any agreement that allows Iran to acquire, build, or proliferate nuclear weapons—now or in the future—is a threat to the United States and its allies.

Posted on

Kerry Dumb as a box of Rocks : Iran leader’s vow to defy US ‘very disturbing’ if it’s policy


By Jesse Byrnes – 07/21/15 11:42 AM EDT

Secretary of State John Kerry said this week that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s vow to defy U.S. policies in the Middle East despite a deal over it’s nuclear program is “very disturbing.”

“I don’t know how to interpret it at this point in time, except to take it at face value, that that’s his policy,” Kerry said in an interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television posted Tuesday.

“But I do know that often comments are made publicly and things can evolve that are different. If it is the policy, it’s very disturbing, it’s very troubling, and we’ll have to wait and see,” Kerry added.

In a fiery speech over the weekend, the Iranian leader said an international accord between the U.S. and a handful of powers with Iran would not change Tehran’s relations with an “arrogant” America.

“American interests and politics in the region are 180 degrees different to ours,” he said in the televised address, according to NBC News.

“Whether the deal is approved or disapproved, we will never stop supporting our friends in the region and the people of Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon,” he added.

President Obama said during a lengthy press conference last week that the deal lifting sanctions on Iran in exchange for new limits on its nuclear program did not change the fact that Iran sponsors terrorism.

Posted on

Netanyahu: Iran deal a ‘historic mistake for the entire world’


Surrender is not diplomacy 

US sellout 
By Julian Hattem – 07/14/15 08:30 AM EDT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scolding negotiators in the U.S. and around the world for agreeing to what he is calling a terrible deal that has only empowered Iran.

“Judging by the initial reports that have emerged, one can now reach the conclusion that this agreement is a historic mistake for the entire world,” Netanyahu said at the start of a meeting with the Dutch foreign minister on Tuesday, shortly after a deal was announced from Vienna.

“Whenever there is a readiness to make a deal at any cost, this is the result.”

“In every area that was supposed to prevent Iran from gaining the capacity to arm itself with nuclear weapons, far-reaching concessions were made,” he added. “In addition, Iran will receive hundreds of billions of dollars which it can use as a means to fuel its terror machine, its aggression and its expansionism in the Middle East and around the world.”

Netanyahu seemed to aim his ire at Washington, where President Obama is already hailing the historic deal as a triumph for global peace.

“It is impossible to prevent an agreement where those negotiating it are willing to make more and more concessions to those who during the talks are chanting ‘Death to America,’” Netanyahu said. “We knew very well that the desire to sign an agreement was stronger than anything else, so we did not promise to prevent an agreement.”

Posted on

Diplomats: Iran announcement planned Today


Jul 12, 4:25 PM (ET)


VIENNA (AP) — Negotiators at the Iran nuclear talks plan to announce Monday that they’ve reached a historic deal capping nearly a decade of diplomacy that would curb the country’s atomic program in return for sanctions relief, two diplomats told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The envoys said a provisional agreement may be reached even earlier — by late Sunday. But they cautioned that final details of the pact were still being worked out. Once it is complete, a formal, final agreement would be open to review by officials in the capitals of Iran and the six world powers at the talks, they said.

Senior U.S. and Iranian officials suggested, however, there might not be enough time to reach a deal by the end of Sunday and that the drafting of documents could bleed into Monday.

All of the officials, who are at the talks in Vienna, demanded anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly.

(AP) Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, talks to journalist from a…
Full Image
“We are working hard, but a deal tonight is simply logistically impossible,” the Iranian official said, noting that the agreement will run roughly 100 pages.

The senior U.S. official declined to speculate as to the timing of any agreement or announcement but said “major issues remain to be resolved.”

Despite the caution, the negotiators appeared to be on the cusp of an agreement.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who on Thursday had threatened to walk away from the negotiations, said Sunday that “a few tough things” remain in the way but added “we’re getting to some real decisions.”

En route to Mass at Vienna’s gothic St. Stephens Cathedral, Kerry said twice he was “hopeful” after a “very good meeting” Saturday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had Muslim services Friday. The two met again early Saturday evening.

(AP) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walks in the garden of Coburg where closed-door…
Full Image
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also was cautiously optimistic, telling reporters Sunday: “I hope that we are finally entering the last phase of this negotiation.”

In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said an agreement was close, but not quite done, describing the negotiations as “still steps away from reaching the intended peak.”

Posted on

Bolton calls Iran deal ‘unprecedented’ surrender



Bolton calls Iran deal ‘unprecedented’ surrender
March 14, 2015, 11:18 am
By Mark Hensch

Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton said Saturday that President Obama is negotiating “an unprecedented act of surrender” with Iran in discussions over its nuclear weapons program.

“This deal is fundamentally flawed,” Bolton said at the South Carolina National Security Action Summit in West Columbia, S.C. “There really is no deal I’d trust Iran with. It is a regime determined to have nuclear weapons and this deal will give it to them.”

The Obama administration is hoping Iran will slow or stop its nuclear armaments research in exchange for removing economic sanctions. Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia are aiding U.S. efforts to bargain with Iran. The two sides will resume talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, next week.

Controversy erupted over an open letterRepublicans sent Iran’s leadership Monday. It vowed Congress can void any deal it finds unsatisfying and was signed by 47 GOP senators.

Posted on

Menendez and Kerry spar over context of war resolution



Menendez and Kerry spar over context of war resolution

By Max Pizarro | 03/11/15 10:00am

Against the backdrop of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-N.J.) squiring Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu into the U.S. Capitol to slap at President Barack Obama and a subsequent leaking of an alleged corruption indictment against Menendez, New Jersey’s senior senator and Obama’s chief diplomat this morning sparred over the President’s request for a Congressional authorization for use of force.

Appearing in his role as ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez told Secretary of State John Kerry that he wants hard answers on the conditions of an Authorization for use of Military Force to combat the ISIS terrorist group.

“I look forward to getting some answers from our witnesses that will allow us to move forward in writing and passing an authorization,” said Menendez. “But, we need to know what combat operations may be undertaken by U.S. troops on the ground in Syria and Iraq. We need to know whether associated forces that come under this agreement could include forces affiliated with ISIL in Libya, Nigeria or elsewhere. We need to know whether a new Administration could revert to relying on 2001 AUMF in three years if this AUMF, if passed, were to expire and we need to know how long we expect to be there and what our exit strategy will be.  What metrics will indicate success or tell us it’s time to bring troops home?”

Menendez pointedly noted his opposition in the House of Representatives to the 2001 war resolution that mired the United States in Iraq. Kerry, then a U.S. Senator, backed that war resolution 14 years ago.

Posted on

Kerry’s Diplomacy Falls Short to End Gaza Fighting


Kerry’s Diplomacy Falls Short to End Gaza Fighting
By Sangwon Yoon and Terry Atlas Jul 27, 2014 8:04 PM ET

July 28 (Bloomberg) — Phil Mattingly reports on U.S. foreign policy and Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent global crises diplomatic efforts. Mattingly speaks on “Bloomberg Surveillance.” (Source: Bloomberg)

It took U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry five days in the Middle East to negotiate a 12-hour pause in the bloody fighting between Hamas and Israel.

Prospects for extending that humanitarian halt in the Gaza war had evaporated by the time Kerry landed in Washington shortly after midnight yesterday following a sleep-deprived week in which he served as a round-the-clock, Cairo-based diplomatic call center for Israel, Egypt and intermediaries to Hamas.

While Kerry said his effort was vital “for the sake of thousands of innocent families whose lives have been shaken and destroyed by this conflict,” trying to broker an end to the fighting may have been a long shot from the start.

Posted on

Kerry to testify on Benghazi


Kerry to testify on Benghazi
By Justin Sink

Secretary of State John Kerry has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee about the terror attack in Benghazi after being subpoenaed by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the State Department announced Friday.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Kerry had sent a letter to Issa informing him that he would appear before the panel, but that existing diplomatic responsibilities would prevent him from testifying on May 29, the date requested by the chairman.

Kerry said he would be willing to testify on either June 12 or June 20.

The letter also indicated that the State Department believes that, if Kerry appeared before the Oversight panel, he would not need to testify before a recently created select House committee also investigating the Benghazi attacks.

“We have been clear that we’re willing to work with the committee, despite the fact that the Benghazi oversight has been consolidated under the select committee,” Harf said Friday.

“We believe the secretary’s appearance before HOGR [House Oversight and Government Reform] will eliminate any need for the secretary to appear a second time before the select committee,” she added.

Issa has demanded that Kerry appear before the Oversight panel to discuss recently released emails highlighting the role the White House had a in preparing then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to appear in TV interviews in the days after the attack.

Read more:

Posted on

John Kerry: Russia has until Monday to reverse course in Ukraine


John Kerry: Russia has until Monday to reverse course in Ukraine

Secretary of State John Kerry pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday,…

Secretary of State John Kerry warned of serious repercussions forRussia on Monday if last-ditch talks over the weekend to resolve the crisis in Ukraine failed to persuade Moscow to soften its stance.

Kerry will travel to London for a Friday meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ahead of a Sunday referendum vote in theCrimea region to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.

U.S. and European officials argue that Moscow is orchestrating the referendum and waging an intimidation campaign with thousands of Russian troops controlling the region. If Russian-backed lawmakers in Crimea go through with the Sunday referendum, Kerry said the U.S. and its European allies will not recognize it as legitimate under international law.