Friday, July 25, 2014

The problem is that bureaucrats don't want to work that hard. There's no incentive.

Paul Ryan: ‘Let’s Customize Aid To The Person’s Need’


BY: 
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) described his anti-poverty plan to MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, calling for a targeted approach to government aid, which would implement local management to tailor aid to individual needs.
“Each person has a different, unique circumstance and need, yet the federal government treats it all the same,” said Ryan. “So the vision here is, let’s customize aid to the person’s need to focus on getting them from where they are to where they want to be, which is a good job and a good career.”
Ryan’s plan would encourage each state to develop its own particular aid strategy, which would then have to be approved by the federal government in order to qualify for funding. It would also require a third party to monitor the program’s results.
Ryan said the “ideal” way for a state to target poverty would be to mimic private services like Catholic Charities.
“Maybe she needs more child care and transportation, maybe this person needs more skills training and education,” Ryan offered as hypothetical examples of targeted aid.
“If the status quo would be working, I’d be supporting it,” Ryan added. “It’s not. We have the highest poverty rates in a generation, yet we’re spending unprecedented dollars on these programs. So let’s take those dollars and spend it more effectively to actually focus on results, outcomes, getting people actually out of poverty and customizing benefit to each person’s particular needs.”

The corrupt underbelly of the parasitic non profits that live off the government teat.

Posted By Chuck Ross 

A Texas-based organization that has been awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts by the Obama administration to house illegal immigrant children not only lobbied the federal government, but also failed to properly disclose the activity.
After The Daily Caller inquired about its lobbying disclosures, BCFS, a San Antonio-based nonprofit, now says it may correct its tax forms to properly disclose its lobbying expenditures.
The Obama administration, through the Department of Health and Human Services, has tapped BCFS, formerly known as Baptist Child & Family Services, to provide security and other services to unaccompanied children at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, and Ft. Sill army base near Lawton, Okla.
BCFS has become the largest provider of such services for the child immigrants, who are part of a massive influx of mostly Central Americans that has put the Obama administration on its heels. (RELATED: Obama Evades Murrieta Protests Over Border Breakdown)
The administration expects 90,000 unaccompanied children to be apprehended at the U.S. border by the end of the fiscal year, more than triple last year’s total. (RELATED: Obama Offers Mini-Amnesty To 200,000 Kids By 2016)
HHS has given BCFS $280 million in federal contracts for its services so far this year. Nearly all of that — $270 million — has been given for services for unaccompanied children. HHS has given BCFS $458 million in total, according to the Tracking Accountability in Government Grants System.
According to the Senate lobbying database, BCFS is the only organization that provides residential services directly for unaccompanied children that has spent money on lobbying.
Since 2006, BCFS has spent $210,000, according to a database maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics.
In 2008, Congress passed an anti-trafficking law that requires the Department of Homeland Security to turn unaccompanied children from countries that do not border the U.S. over to the care of HHS. HHS then houses the children until they can be placed with relatives or sponsors while awaiting deportation proceedings.
In 2011, BCFS paid Madison Policy Group $20,000 to “advocate the continued appropriation levels for child welfare programs under HHS — Administration for Children & Families, including the Unaccompanied Alien Children account.”
BCFS paid Washington D.C. lobbying powerhouse Williams & Jensen $190,000 in total in 2006, 2007 and 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The lobbying was split between Congress and various agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS and HHS.
“BCFS has contracted with outside government relations firms; like many non-profits do,” BCFS spokeswoman Krista Piferrer told TheDC.
But a deeper analysis conducted by TheDC found inconsistencies in BCFS’s lobby expenditure reporting on its tax forms.
In response to the primary section of BCFS’s IRS 990 forms which asks whether organizations spent money on lobbying, the organization checked “No” in every year in which it lobbied.
Piferrer — a former spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry — explained, saying that the lobbying expenses were instead reported in the statement of functional expenses. The claim was partially true. The organization did not report some of the lobbying expenses in that section during the years they were incurred. But on its 2011 and 2012 tax forms, it reported around $190,000 in lobbying expenditures even though records show it did not spend that amount on lobbying during those years.
Piferrer said that in previous years, BCFS reported lobbying expenses under the “professional fees” line-item. However, such fees usually include legal fees and not lobbying expenses.
Pressed on the issue, Piferrer said, “We’re going to reach out to our private tax firm to review and consider amending [the tax form].”
TheDC’s request to further discuss BCFS’s finances with the organization’s financial department was not answered.
BCFS has emerged as the leading non-governmental organization working on the child immigration crisis. Kevin Dinnin, its CEO, recently met with President Obama, Gov. Perry, and other officials to discuss “faith-based” approaches to handling the crisis.
BCFS — when it was known as Baptist Child & Family Services — provided services in a number of emergency efforts, including following the aftermath of an earthquake in Haiti and the relocation of 555 members of a West Texas polygamist compound in 2008.
The organization first came to national attention during the latest immigration wave earlier this month when Fox News reported that the BCFS’s security personnel were threatening to arrest medical staff if they discussed the contagion threat at Lackland Air Force Base. BCFS personnel were also reportedly calling themselves “Brown Shirts” because of the tan T-shirts they wear.
The organization also decided to withdraw from a plan to spend $50 million to renovate a south Texas hotel to use as housing for unaccompanied children.
BCFS has benefited greatly from HHS programs to aid unaccompanied children. In fiscal year 2008, BCFS received $1.8 million in HHS funds. By 2009, HHS gave BCFS $7.8 million, mostly for new shelter programs for unaccompanied children.
The organization received $64 million from HHS in 2012, $61 million in 2013 and $280 million so far in 2014.
Dinnin’s income has increased along the way. In the 2006 tax year — which ended in Aug. 2007 — Dinnin was paid $184,000. In 2012 he was paid $397,000.

Palestinians cynical use of the term civilian casualties should be taken as propaganda. See the photos of these so called civilians shooting at the IDF.

       Ceasefire aim as Gaza deaths top 800


Follow link to see photos of Palestinians shooting at IDF.  What do you notice? That the Palestinians are not uniformed and when they are killed they will be called civilian casualties by those who hate Israel.

Proving some stereotypes are justifiable.

Underwear bomber plot failed because he 'wore same pants for two weeks'

US official says terror plot failed because bomber did not change his undergarments for two weeks and soiled the explosives.

Obamacare tax

New IRS Form Proves Obama Lied About Individual Mandate Tax

On Thursday the IRS released a slew of draft 2014 tax forms. The new draft Form 1040 shows a new surtax line has been created for the payment of the individual mandate surtax – see line 61 of the 1040:

President Obama has repeatedly denied that the surtax is in fact actually a tax. The most prominent example was a heated exchange on ABC’s This Week in Sept. 2009, when George Stephanopoulos confronted Obama with a dictionary:
STEPHANOPOULOS: I -- I don't think I'm making it up. Merriam Webster's Dictionary: Tax -- "a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes."
OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam's Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you're stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn't have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean what...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no, but...
OBAMA: ...what you're saying is...
STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.
OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I'm taking over every sector of the economy. You know that.
Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we're going to have an individual mandate or not, but...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it's a tax increase?
OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion. [Transcript]


It was always obvious that the penalty for not complying with Obamacare’s individual mandate was just another surtax:
  • The surtax is collected by, and enforced by, the IRS.
  • As shown by the newly released draft Form 1040, the surtax is paid as part of normal income tax filing by taxpayers.
  • The individual mandate surtax was written into tax law itself by the Obamacare statute.
  • Revenues derived from the individual mandate surtax have always been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as tax revenue.

Famously, Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out that the individual mandate surtax is in fact a tax. However, that does not compel conservatives to agree that Obamacare’s individual mandate is Constitutional. The same decision declared the individual mandate unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. Conservatives can accept that this surtax is a tax increase without accepting the constitutionality of the individual mandate.
The Obamacare individual mandate non-compliance surtax is one of at least seven Obamacare taxes that violate the President’s “firm pledge” not to raise any tax on any American making less than $250,000 per year. Thorough documentation of Obama’s promise can be found here.


Read more: http://www.atr.org/new-irs-form-proves-obama-lied-about-individual-mandate-tax#ixzz38V7C1N1L
Follow us: @taxreformer on Twitter

Tomb of Jonah destroyed by Islamists.

Video Shows ISIS Blowing Up Iraq's Tomb of Jonah

The Atlantic Wire 
Militant group ISIS blew up Iraq's tomb of the Prophet Jonah in Mosul on Thursday, civil defense officials told CNN.
The holy site, located inside a Sunni mosque, is supposed to be the burial place of the prophet, a key figure in Islamic and Judeo-Christian traditions. ISIS, which has been claiming cities across Iraq and Syria, has threatened to destroy any shrine it deems un-Islamic.
An amateur video of the explosion below has appeared on YouTube:
According to a report from the Agence France Press, ISIS detonated the explosion remotely, taking an hour to to rig the shrine with explosives after ushering locals away and closing the roads leading to the site. "They first stopped people from praying in it, they fixed explosive charges around and inside it and then blew it up in front of a large gathering of people," an anonymous witness told the AFP.
ISIS has been tearing down holy sites throughout the past month, including several other Sunni holy sites in Mosul and seven Shiite ones in the city of Tal Afar, reported Human Rights Watch.
The same day the tomb of Jonah fell, meanwhile, Iraqi lawmakers elected Fuad Masum to be the country's new president, a selection the U.S. praised and said would move the country in the right direction amid the conflict.
"They agreed on the importance of forming a new Iraqi government as quickly as possible and working to arrive at an agreed-upon road map for governance," the White House said in a statement on Vice President Joe Biden's congratulatory call to Masum. "President Masum expressed the importance of restoring trust and confidence among all of Iraq's communities and continuing to rebuild Iraq's relations in the region."

Islamists show their barbarism

'Bucket full of heads any1 in aus want some organs please dont be shy to ask': Smirking Australian terrorist poses with decapitated heads in sickening pictures posted online


  • Khaled Sharrouf posted the pictures on Twitter on Friday 
  • His friend Mohamed Elomar is seen holding up severed heads 
  • Both men fled Australia for Syria in December last year
  • They are fighting for terror group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
  • Sharrouf has been taunting Australian police on social media

With sunglasses tucked into his shirt, an Australian terrorist smiles as he holds up two decapitated heads for the camera in Syria. 
Sydney born boxer Mohamed Elomar casually poses with the severed heads in photos posted on Twitter by his friend, convicted terrorist Khaled Sharrouf. 
Another image, uploaded on Friday, shows the heads of alleged Syrian solders being impaled on metal railings. 
Scroll down for video
Disgusting: Mohamed Elomar, who is believed to have left Australia last year to fight in Syria, is shown holding up the decapitated heads of two men
Disgusting: Mohamed Elomar, who is believed to have left Australia last year to fight in Syria, is shown holding up the decapitated heads of two men
Like something out of the 18th century, the heads were left on show in a sickening display that aims to cause terror and fear.
The photos were uploaded by terrorist Khaled Sharrouf, alongside disgusting tweets such as 'bucket full of heads any1 in aus want some organs please dont be shy to ask I would love to assist u with body parts [sic]'.
His disturbing rant continued 'few more heads how lovely bludy amazing stuff abuhafs u keep cutting those infidel throats but the last 1 is mine! [sic]' 


Real massacres.

MASSACRE IN YARMOUK

Yarmouk was home to the largest Palestinian refugee community in the country before the conflict began. 180,000 Palestinian civilians called it home. Now only 20,000 remain. Food and medical supplies are routinely denied entry and starvation is one of the three main causes of death. Recently, in the Jarabulus area, 22 people were killed and thrown into the streets to instill fear in the population. Some of them were children.
Amnesty International has called for the immediate lifting of the siege, the cessation of shelling and other indiscriminate attacks, and for humanitarian agencies to have unfettered access to the area. The disproportional attacks on civilians must end.
Down with Israel? Not quite. Yarmouk and Jarabulus are in Syria.
In fact, many in that country are decrying the lack of attention to their plight and the fact that images and videos often go viral only when they are falsely presented as being from Gaza. Marc Lynch, the Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies at GWU, put it succinctly when he said, “It must be so awkward having to check whether the dead child is from Gaza or Syria before deciding whether to be morally outraged.”
So to those condemning Israel: Are you pro-Palestinian, or are you really just anti-Israel? Many of you purportedly care so much when you really care so little. As Leon Wieseltier of the New Republiconce wrote: It is easier “not to dive deep into the substance of anything. It is less immediately satisfying than cursing and linking.”
My Twitter and Facebook feeds would have me believe that the only noteworthy military conflict in the world today is that between Israel and Hamas. Either many of you care about war only when it involves a Jew holding a gun, or you are woefully unaware of what else is going on in the world. In case it is the latter, and I sincerely hope it is, here is a (very) partial list of the death tolls from other ongoing conflicts. In no particular order:
Mexico: ~80,000
Nigeria: ~5,000
South Sudan: ~10,000.
Gaza: ~600
This is not to say that your attention and sympathies should be dictated by casualty counts. All civilian deaths are tragic. Moreover, such figures tell us nothing about the moral standing of the warring parties, especially not in the case of the asymmetric warfare that Hamas is waging. After all, the United States lost about 450,000 lives fighting in World War II while the Nazis lost over seven million, yet I would wager that none of you think the Nazis held the moral high ground. At least I hope so. The twisted logic and moral relativism of some of the posts I have been reading make me wonder.
What these figures do show is that while all war contains tragedy, including the one in Gaza and Israel, only deaths connected to Jewsseem to evoke the cries we have been hearing over the number of dead in Gaza, which pales in comparison to other conflicts and is largely due to Hamas’ grotesque tactics. While there are few of you whom I would accuse as individuals of holding animosity toward Jews, there are many of you who are participating in a global, collective media assault on Israel that is indeed suggestive of something much darker.
I am not asking you not to care. On the contrary, I am hoping that you all start to care more – about the many problems in the world. Then, perhaps going forward your condemnation of Israel could be – let’s see, how should I put this – more proportional.

cognitive dissonance as practiced by Michelle Obama

Irony alert: Michelle bemoans money in politics, asks donors for ‘big, fat check’


First lady Michelle Obama on Thursday night urged Democrats to “dig deep” into their pockets and “write a big fat check” before the midterm elections, but minutes later complained of too much money in politics.
Speaking at a party fundraiser in Chicago, Mrs. Obama said Democrats must triumph in the November contests if President Obama is to make progress on his agenda during the final two years of his term.

She also blasted special interest groups that funnel money to Republicans.
“So, yeah, there’s too much money in politics. There’s special interests that have too much influence. But they had all that money and all that influence back in 2008 and 2012 and we still won those elections,” she said.
Mrs. Obama then urged fellow Democrats to add even more money to the political system.
“There is something you can do right now today to make a difference, and that is to write a big, fat check. I kid you not,” she said. “I’m going to be honest with you. That’s what we need you to do right now. We need you to write the biggest, fattest check that you can possibly write.”


Thursday, July 24, 2014

A moment of judicial sanity. But, it will make Code Pink and Dennis Rodman unhappy

Judge finds North Korea, Iran liable for missile damages

 — A federal judge on Wednesday found North Korea and Iran liable for damages caused by a series of missile attacks on Israel in 2006.
The two countries are liable because they “provided material support and assistance to the Hezbollah terrorists who fired the rockets at Israel,” U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth concluded. A special master will now be assigned to determine the amount of damages that will be assessed; collecting the money owed, of course, will be a different matter.
In his 18-page decision, Lamberth said “there can be no doubt that North Korea and Iran provided material support” to Hezbollah.
“North Korea provided Hezbollah with advanced weapons, expert advice and construction assistance in hiding these weapons in underground bunkers, and training in utilizing these weapons and bunkers to cause terrorist rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population,” Lamberth wrote, “and Iran financed North Korea’s assistance and helped transport weapons to Hezbollah.”
Indeed, Lamberth’s decision in a case first filed on behalf of Chaim Kaplan and other survivors and family members in 2009 is a primer, of sorts, on the linkages between Iran, North Korea and Hezbollah.
“Hezbollah members began travelling to North Korea for specialist instruction as early as the late
1980s,” Lamberth noted. “Hezbollah General-Secretary Hassan Nasrallah himself visited North Korea for training purposes during this time.”
Lamberth added that Among other noted Hezbollah members who underwent training in North Korea was Mustafa Badreddine, who served as the movement’s counter-espionage chief in the 2006 war, as well as the head of Hezbollah’s security and intelligence service.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/07/23/234223/judge-finds-north-korea-iran-liable.html#storylink=cpy

Obtuse?

Hillary Clinton stands by 'Russian reset' in face of recent events

The Palestinians cry "Give us cement so we can build our homes but here is where it goes

Israel surprised by number, sophistication of Gaza tunnels

  • tunnel2 copy.jpg
    The Israeli Defense Forces were surprised by the number of tunnels under the Gaza border. (Courtesy: IDF)
While rockets and mortar fly through the sky in Gaza and southern Israel, the focus of the Jewish state's military is underground, on the warren of tunnels they say allow Hamas operatives to move freely in and out of the Palestinian territory committing acts of terror.
Pictures released by the Israel Defense Forces show tunnels, some primitive and others sophisticated enough to include walls and ladders, running under the border from the Hamas-controlled district before they were intentionally destroyed. More than 60 access shafts leading to 28 tunnels have been uncovered since Israel's ground operation -- dubbed Operation Protective Edge -- began on July 8.
“An IDF force uncovered a terror access shaft in Gaza in which were weapons, maps and IDF uniforms, all intended for the execution of terror attacks against Israel,” said an IDF statement. “In addition, an IDF force attacked several militants emerging from a tunnel opening in the southern Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of the ground operation more than 60 access shafts leading to some 28 tunnels have been uncovered.”
“This can be dealt with diplomatically or militarily - now it's being done militarily with a lot of success.”
- Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said shutting down the tunnels is critical to security in Israel.
“We've been busy with the tunnels for a long time -- in the last year we have discovered four in our territory," Ya’alon said. "This can be dealt with diplomatically or militarily -- now it's being done militarily with a lot of success.”
IDF officials initially expected that most of the tunnels would be destroyed within days, but once on the ground learned there were more than intelligence sources knew. And on Tuesday, a U.S. intelligence source revealed that American satellite imagery had suggested that as many as 60 tunnels might have been built underneath Gaza.
The maze of tunnels and access shafts appears to weave its way throughout much of the Gaza Strip. Access points are reportedly found in homes, mosques, public buildings, and more. In the last week, two discoveries of missile caches have been found in UNRWA schools that most likely arrived via tunnel.
“UNRWA strongly condemns the group or groups responsible for placing the weapons in one of its installations” wrote Christopher Gunness, director of advocacy and strategic relations for UNRWA. Today, UN chief Ban Ki-Moon revealed his dismay at learning that at least one of the two caches has “disappeared” after being handed over by UNRWA to unidentified persons.
“The rockets were passed on to the government authorities in Gaza, which is Hamas," a senior Israeli official told the Times of Israel. "In other words, UNRWA handed to Hamas rockets that could well be shot at Israel.”

The tunnels vary in length, height and width, but some are well-constructed using concrete blocks. Some have electricity feeds and sewage channels, suggesting they are designed for terrorists to remain inside for long periods, possibly days at a time. The materials used to construct the tunnels appear most likely to have been diverted by Hamas from the building materials allowed into Gaza by Israel for civilian construction.
On Monday, an attempt by a force of terrorists dressed in mock Israeli Army uniforms was thwarted after they emerged into the night and were involved in a firefight with an IDF unit. Ten would-be attackers were killed, along with four Israeli soldiers.
Israelis close to the border are living in fear that at any moment a tunnel delivering well-trained and merciless terrorists could emerge within their community, or even within the very boundaries of their own house or garden. Should Hamas or Islamic Jihad succeed in emerging undiscovered from one of these tunnels, there could be carnage on a massive scale.
Paul Alster is an Israel-based journalist who can be followed on Twitter @paul_alster and at www.paulalster.com

The people calling for opening the gates to Gaza are simply calling for the destruction of Israel. Now rather then later. Of course these poor people of Gaza would never use the opportunity to smuggle missiles  or other implements of war through them, right?

Does anyone remember why Gaza was given autonomy? It was to show that land for peace was the way forward. How's that working out?



The question is did he do nothing in an effort to strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood?

US and Islamic State: ‘We did see this coming’

 — Like the rest of the world, the U.S. government appeared to have been taken aback last month when Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, fell to an offensive by jihadis of the Islamic State that triggered the collapse of five Iraqi army divisions and carried the extremists to the threshold of Baghdad.
A review of the record shows, however, that the Obama administration wasn’t surprised at all.
In congressional testimony as far back as November, U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials made clear that the United States had been closely tracking the al Qaida spinoff since 2012, when it enlarged its operations from Iraq to civil war-torn Syria, seized an oil-rich province there and signed up thousands of foreign fighters who’d infiltrated Syria through NATO ally Turkey.
The testimony, which received little news media attention at the time, also showed that Obama administration officials were well aware of the group’s declared intention to turn its Syrian sanctuary into a springboard from which it would send men and materiel back into Iraq and unleash waves of suicide bombings there. And they knew that the Iraqi security forces couldn’t handle it.
The group’s operations “are calculated, coordinated and part of a strategic campaign led by its Syria-based leader, Abu Bakr al Baghadi,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk told a House committee on Feb. 5, four months before fighting broke out in Mosul. “The campaign has a stated objective to cause the collapse of the Iraqi state and carve out a zone of governing control in western regions of Iraq and Syria.”
The testimony raises an obvious question: If the Obama administration had such early warning of the Islamic State’s ambitions, why, nearly two months after the fall of Mosul, is it still assessing what steps, if any, to take to halt the advance of Islamist extremists who threaten U.S. allies in the region and have vowed to attack Americans?
In fresh testimony before Congress this week, McGurkrevealed that the administration knew three days in advance that the attack on Mosul was coming. He acknowledged that the Islamic State is no longer just a regional terrorist organization but a “full-blown” army that now controls nearly 50 percent of Iraq and more than one-third of Syria. Its fighters have turned back some of the best-trained Iraqi units trying to retake key cities, while in Syria, it’s seized nearly all that country’s oil and natural gas fields and is pushing the Syrian military from its last outposts in the country’s east.
“What started as a crisis in Syria has become a regional disaster with serious global implications,” Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday.
Yet Defense Department officials say they might not complete work on proposed options for U.S. actions until the middle of August, a lifetime in a region where every day brings word of another town or village falling to the Islamic State. Some lawmakers and experts say the delay borders on diplomatic malpractice.
“We did see this coming,” said Royce, adding that Iraqi officials and some diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad began urging the administration in August 2013 to launch U.S. drone strikes against Islamic State bases near Iraq’s border with Syria.
“This was a very clear case in which the U.S. knew what was going on but followed a policy of deliberate neglect,” said Vali Nasr, the dean of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a former State Department adviser on the Middle East.
“This miscalculation essentially has helped realize the worst nightmare for this administration, an administration that prided itself on its counterterrorism strategy,” said Nasr. “It is now presiding over the resurgence of a nightmare of extremism and terrorism.”
Administration officials deny the charges of inaction. U.S. policy, they contend, was aimed at helping the Iraqi government deal with the growing threat.
“That was also the desire of the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government wanted to act on its own with our assistance,” McGurk told Congress this week. He insisted that Baghdad didn’t formally request U.S. airstrikes until May.
The situation, however, was far beyond the Iraqi government’s ability to cope.
One complicating factor was the administration’s approach to Syria and the uprising there to topple President Bashar Assad, a goal President Barack Obama adopted as America’s own in an August 2011 statement that said Assad had lost all legitimacy to rule and must go.
Some experts argue that Obama committed a key error in 2012 by rejecting calls from top national security aides, lawmakers and others to train and arm a moderate rebel force to fight Assad.
Obama administration officials say that rejection was based on a variety of concerns, including that weapons passed to moderate rebels might end up in the hands of more radical elements such as the Nusra Front, an al Qaida affiliate that by mid-2012 had taken the lead in many of the anti-Assad movement’s major victories.
But without a well-armed moderate force, the battlefield was left open to increasing jihadi influence, others respond.
“This crisis was allowed to fester and get worse in many ways due to inaction against Assad and ISIS,” said Phillip Smyth, a Middle East researcher at the University of Maryland.
A review of the record shows, however, that support for the anti-Assad movement also hampered U.S. action to quash the Islamic State, which until earlier this year rebels considered an ally in the push to topple Assad.
In testimony in November, McGurk said that one of the reasons the United States had not granted Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s request for assistance against the Islamic State was Maliki’s refusal to close Iraqi airspace to Iranian planes flying arms to Assad’s military.
While Maliki’s fears about the Islamic State “are legitimate,” McGurk said then, “it’s equally legitimate to question Iraq’s independence given Iran’s ongoing use of Iraqi airspace to resupply the Assad regime.”
In another misstep, some experts said, the Obama administration appears to have turned a blind eye as U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and others provided arms and money that allowed Islamist groups to hijack the Assad opposition and ultimately provide Baghdadi with a secure patch in Syria from which he eventually would send men and weapons back into Iraq.
Smyth disputed that idea in part, noting that the Islamic State was largely self-sufficient financially, although the influx of foreign fighters provided a crucial boost to its manpower.
What is indisputable, Smyth said, is that the White House became immobilized by the complexity of the crisis: Having declared that Assad had to go, it found that there was no opposition group that didn’t have some ties to jihadists, and actively backing the rebels would put the United States on the same side as al Qaida.
“When you have a policy that was paralyzed by a number of different things, the result is a confused policy,” he said.
On Iraq, meanwhile, the public testimony shows that the administration moved slowly to respond to the rising Islamic State threat. One complication: Doing so would have put the United States effectively on the same side as Iran, the main regional ally of Baghdad and Damascus.
Maliki, whose Shiite Muslim majority dominated Iraq’s government, formally sought stepped-up U.S. military and counterterrorism assistance in October 2013. But he had been asking privately for help much earlier.
One such appeal came after a March 4, 2013, attack inside Iraq by Islamic State forces on Iraqi army troops who were escorting back to the border dozens of Syrian soldiers who’d fled into Iraq to escape an attack on their post by anti-Assad rebels. While still inside Iraq, their buses drove into bombs and gunfire. At least 49 Syrians and 14 Iraqis died. It was one of the first documented instances of the Islamic State coordinating attacks on both sides of the border.
Ali al Mousawi, Maliki’s spokesman, called then for the United States to immediately give priority to arming Iraq with weapons that the country already had requested so that it could fend off any future incidents.
“We need equipment as fast as it was delivered to Turkey,” Mousawi said, referring to the deployment of Patriot anti-missile batteries by the United States and several NATO allies after Syrian missiles landed in Turkish territory.
“They managed to install the Patriot systems within two weeks. We need something like that,” he told McClatchy the day after the incident.
Instead, the White House stuck with a policy that tried to make use of the crisis to pressure Maliki into replicating the U.S. success late in the 2003-2011 occupation of enlisting Sunni tribes to help fight al Qaida’s Iraqi affiliate, which eventually became the Islamic State.
“We made it clear to Maliki and other Iraqi leaders that the fight against terrorists and militias will require a holistic – security, political, economic – approach,” McGurk told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Nov. 13 in describing talks held with the Iraqi leader during a visit he’d made to Washington a week earlier.
The approach called for Maliki to be more accommodating to his Sunni Muslim political rivals. The administration called on Maliki to end a harsh crackdown on Iraq’s Sunni Muslim minority, restore their political rights and provide salaries and other benefits to Sunni tribes that agreed to fight the Islamic State. Maliki failed to make good on numerous assurances that he’d comply.
Washington also had other priorities: trying to mediate a feud between Maliki and Kurdish leaders over oil revenues, boost the country’s petroleum industry and promote ties between Iraq and its Arab neighbors.
It was only after Islamic State assaults in December on the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi that the administration began stepping up military aid to Baghdad. It sent unarmed spy drones and 75 Hellfire missiles – which had to be dropped from propeller-driven passenger planes – for use against Islamic State bases in western Iraq.
And the United States has yet to deliver helicopter gunships and F-16 jet fighters that Iraq already had purchased. It also dragged its feet on Baghdad’s request for U.S. military advisers, some 300 of whom were dispatched only after Mosul fell.
While there are many reasons for the Obama administration’s failure to tackle the rise of the Islamic State earlier, lacking intelligence is not among them.
By early 2013, U.S. intelligence agencies began delivering more than a dozen top-secret high-level reports, known as strategic warnings, to senior administration officials detailing the danger posed by the Islamic State’s rise, said a senior U.S. intelligence official. The reports also covered the threat to Europe and the United States from the return of thousands of battle-hardened foreign fighters, including dozens of Americans, who’d fought to topple Assad.
Intelligence analysts well into this year “continued to provide strategic warning of (the) increasing threat to Iraq’s stability . . . the increasing difficulties Iraq’s security forces faced . . . and the political strains that were contributing to Iraq’s declining stability,” said the senior U.S. intelligence official, who requested anonymity in order to discuss the sensitive issue.
On Feb. 11, Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in public that the Islamic State “probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.”
Flynn warned then that Iraqi forces were “unable to stem rising violence in part because they lack mature intelligence, logistics and other capabilities.” They also “lack cohesion, are undermanned, and are poorly trained, equipped and supplied,” leaving them “vulnerable to terrorist attack, infiltration and corruption,” he said.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said his committee had been regularly briefed on both Syria and Iraq.
“I do not think it was an intelligence failure. I think that we got the information we needed to have,” he said recently when asked his assessment of the developments in the region. “I don’t feel like I could lay responsibility at the feet of the intelligence community for not seeing this coming, because they were aware of the growing risk.”
Iraqis protest treatment of Mosul's minority Christians
Arbil (Iraq) (AFP) - Hundreds of people demonstrated Thursday in Arbil, capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, to condemn the forced displacement of Iraqi Christians and call for their protection....


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