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George W. Bush Bashes Obama on Middle East

George W. Bush Bashes Obama on Middle East

By
<p>Hold the applause.</p>  Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

In a closed-door meeting with Jewish Donors Saturday night, former President George W. Bush delivered his harshest public criticisms to date against his successor on foreign policy, saying that President Barack Obama is being naïve about Iran and the pending nuclear deal and losing the war against the Islamic State.

One attendee at the Republican Jewish Coalition session, held at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas with owner Sheldon Adelson in attendance, transcribed large portions of Bush’s remarks. The former president, who rarely ever criticizes Obama in public, at first remarked that the idea of re-entering the political arena was something he didn’t want to do. He then proceeded to explain why Obama, in his view, was placing the U.S. in “retreat” around the world. He also said Obama was misreading Iran’s intentions while relaxing sanctions on Tehran too easily.

According to the attendee’s transcription, Bush noted that Iran has a new president, Hassan Rouhani. “He’s smooth,” Bush said. “And you’ve got to ask yourself, is there a new policy or did they just change the spokesman?”

Bush said that Obama’s plan to lift sanctions on Iran with a promise that they could snap back in place at any time was not plausible. He also said the deal would be bad for American national security in the long term: “You think the Middle East is chaotic now? Imagine what it looks like for our grandchildren. That’s how Americans should view the deal.”

Bush then went into a detailed criticism of Obama’s policies in fighting the Islamic State and dealing with the chaos in Iraq. On Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops in Iraq at the end of 2011, he quoted Senator Lindsey Graham calling it a “strategic blunder.” Bush signed an agreement with the Iraqi government to withdraw those troops, but the idea had been to negotiate a new status of forces agreement to keep U.S. forces there past 2011. The Obama administration tried and failed to negotiate such an agreement.

Bush said he views the rise of the Islamic State as al-Qaeda’s “second act” and that they may have changed the name but that murdering innocents is still the favored tactic. He defended his own administration’s handling of terrorism, noting that the terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed to killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was captured on his watch: “Just remember the guy who slit Danny Pearl’s throat is in Gitmo, and now they’re doing it on TV.”

Obama promised to degrade and destroy Islamic State’s forces but then didn’t develop a strategy to complete the mission, Bush said. He said that if you have a military goal and you mean it, “you call in your military and say ‘What’s your plan?’ ” He indirectly touted his own decision to surge troops to Iraq in 2007, by saying, “When the plan wasn’t working in Iraq, we changed.”

“In order to be an effective president … when you say something you have to mean it,” he said. “You gotta kill em.”

Bush told several anecdotes about his old friend and rival Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bush recalled that Putin met his dog Barney at the White House and then later, when Bush went to Moscow, Putin showed him his dog and remarked that he was “bigger stronger and faster than Barney.” For Bush, that behavior showed him that Putin didn’t think in “win-win” terms.

Bush also remarked that Putin was rich, divorced his wife and loves power. Putin’s domestic popularity comes from his control of Russian media, according to Bush. “Hell, I’d be popular, too, if I owned NBC news,” he said.

Regarding his brother Jeb’s potential run for the presidency, Bush acknowledged that he was a political liability for Jeb, that the Bush name can be used against him, and that American’s don’t like dynasties. He also said that foreign policy is going to be especially important in the presidential campaign and that the test for Republicans running will be who has got the “courage” to resist isolationist tendencies.

Regarding Hillary Clinton, Bush said it will be crucial how she plays her relationship with the president. She will eventually have to choose between running on the Obama administration’s policies or running against them. If she defends them, she’s admitting failure, he said, but if she doesn’t she’s blaming the president.

For George W. Bush, the remarks in Vegas showed he has little respect for how the current president is running the world. He also revealed that he takes little responsibility for the policies that he put in place that contributed to the current state of affairs.

George W. Bush Bashes Obama on Middle East

George W. Bush Bashes Obama on Middle East

By
<p>Hold the applause.</p>  Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

In a closed-door meeting with Jewish Donors Saturday night, former President George W. Bush delivered his harshest public criticisms to date against his successor on foreign policy, saying that President Barack Obama is being naïve about Iran and the pending nuclear deal and losing the war against the Islamic State.

One attendee at the Republican Jewish Coalition session, held at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas with owner Sheldon Adelson in attendance, transcribed large portions of Bush’s remarks. The former president, who rarely ever criticizes Obama in public, at first remarked that the idea of re-entering the political arena was something he didn’t want to do. He then proceeded to explain why Obama, in his view, was placing the U.S. in “retreat” around the world. He also said Obama was misreading Iran’s intentions while relaxing sanctions on Tehran too easily.

According to the attendee’s transcription, Bush noted that Iran has a new president, Hassan Rouhani. “He’s smooth,” Bush said. “And you’ve got to ask yourself, is there a new policy or did they just change the spokesman?”

Bush said that Obama’s plan to lift sanctions on Iran with a promise that they could snap back in place at any time was not plausible. He also said the deal would be bad for American national security in the long term: “You think the Middle East is chaotic now? Imagine what it looks like for our grandchildren. That’s how Americans should view the deal.”

Bush then went into a detailed criticism of Obama’s policies in fighting the Islamic State and dealing with the chaos in Iraq. On Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops in Iraq at the end of 2011, he quoted Senator Lindsey Graham calling it a “strategic blunder.” Bush signed an agreement with the Iraqi government to withdraw those troops, but the idea had been to negotiate a new status of forces agreement to keep U.S. forces there past 2011. The Obama administration tried and failed to negotiate such an agreement.

Bush said he views the rise of the Islamic State as al-Qaeda’s “second act” and that they may have changed the name but that murdering innocents is still the favored tactic. He defended his own administration’s handling of terrorism, noting that the terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed to killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was captured on his watch: “Just remember the guy who slit Danny Pearl’s throat is in Gitmo, and now they’re doing it on TV.”

Obama promised to degrade and destroy Islamic State’s forces but then didn’t develop a strategy to complete the mission, Bush said. He said that if you have a military goal and you mean it, “you call in your military and say ‘What’s your plan?’ ” He indirectly touted his own decision to surge troops to Iraq in 2007, by saying, “When the plan wasn’t working in Iraq, we changed.”

“In order to be an effective president … when you say something you have to mean it,” he said. “You gotta kill em.”

Bush told several anecdotes about his old friend and rival Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bush recalled that Putin met his dog Barney at the White House and then later, when Bush went to Moscow, Putin showed him his dog and remarked that he was “bigger stronger and faster than Barney.” For Bush, that behavior showed him that Putin didn’t think in “win-win” terms.

Bush also remarked that Putin was rich, divorced his wife and loves power. Putin’s domestic popularity comes from his control of Russian media, according to Bush. “Hell, I’d be popular, too, if I owned NBC news,” he said.

Regarding his brother Jeb’s potential run for the presidency, Bush acknowledged that he was a political liability for Jeb, that the Bush name can be used against him, and that American’s don’t like dynasties. He also said that foreign policy is going to be especially important in the presidential campaign and that the test for Republicans running will be who has got the “courage” to resist isolationist tendencies.

Regarding Hillary Clinton, Bush said it will be crucial how she plays her relationship with the president. She will eventually have to choose between running on the Obama administration’s policies or running against them. If she defends them, she’s admitting failure, he said, but if she doesn’t she’s blaming the president.

For George W. Bush, the remarks in Vegas showed he has little respect for how the current president is running the world. He also revealed that he takes little responsibility for the policies that he put in place that contributed to the current state of affairs.

FBI probes possible ISIS-inspired threat in US, Mainly CA

FBI probes possible ISIS-inspired threat in US, Mainly CA

ISIS Tweet: We Are Coming to America
ISIS Tweet: We Are Coming to America

The FBI is investigating a possible ISIS-inspired terrorist threat in the United States, law enforcement officials said Saturday.

The investigation originated from intercepted chatter and other intelligence information that led officials to believe a possible plot could be in the works, the officials said.

No arrests have been made. It’s not clear whether the threat is real or aspirational.

The exact nature of the threat couldn’t be learned. One official said it focused on parts of California where officials stepped up security, a U.S. official said.

The Transportation Security Administration alerted local law enforcement agencies that are responsible for external security around airports, but officials said the possible threat is not necessarily aviation-related.

Some cities around the United States have increased their security as a precaution.

A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson declined Saturday to talk about specifics, but spoke about security measures in general.

“Over the last few months, we have made a number of security adjustments, including enhanced screening at select overseas airports and increasing random searches of passengers and carry-on luggage on flights inbound to the U.S., reflecting an evolving threat picture,” the spokesman said.

He said the DHS added layers of security to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. ETSA is an online application system to screen travelers before they are allow to board an airplane or ship bound for the United States.

In February, a more visible law enforcement presence was put in place at federal facilities, he said.

“The department has conducted significant outreach efforts … with state and local law enforcement partners regarding these trends and engaging in a series of meetings and events with local community leaders across the country to counter violent extremism,” he said.

Homeland Security steps up screening of aviation employees

Homeland Security steps up screening of aviation employees

By KATHRYN A. WOLFE

A TSA agent is shown. | Getty

The Department of Homeland Security tightened screening requirements for airport and airline employees today, following a three-month review triggered by allegations of gun-smuggling by airline employees last year.

The changes mean that all airport and airline employees traveling as passengers will have to go through TSA security screening. Aviation workers will also have to submit to a “fingerprint-based criminal history records check” every two years, until TSA can create a real-time system for criminal background checks.

In addition, airports will have to reduce the number of ways to access secure areas to an “operational minimum.” Aviation employees will also be screened more often, including randomly throughout the workday.

Two Senate Democrats were quick to praise the action. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the new steps a “prompt response and a significant first step,” but also said “more is needed.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee that oversees the TSA, said it’s a “decent first step. But we need to continue to look at the long-term picture and see how we can broaden this in a cost-effective way.”

This additional screening won’t be “100 percent physical,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement, because it would “not completely eliminate potential risks, but would divert critical resources from other critical security functions to mitigate other risks.”

In the gun-smuggling case, authorities said four men including a Delta Air Lines baggage handler were able to smuggle guns from Atlanta to New York on board airplanes, including getting the guns through security. One of the defendants was traveling using the “Buddy Pass” privileges of his mother, a retired Delta gate agent, ABC News reported at the time.

US Warship Headed To Yemen Waters To Block Iran Weapons

US Warship Headed To Yemen Waters To Block Iran Weapons

By  Lolita C. Baldor, AP

A helicopter takes off from a Jinggangshan warship to search the waters suspected to be the site of the missing Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.   STRINGER/CHINA/REUTERS
A helicopter takes off from a warship.

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a stepped-up response to Iranian backing of Shiite rebels in Yemen, the Navy aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is steaming toward the waters off Yemen to beef up security and join other American ships that are prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels.

The deployment comes after a U.N. Security Council resolution approved last week imposed an arms embargo on leaders of the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels. The resolution passed in a 14-0 vote with Russia abstaining.

Navy officials said Monday that the Roosevelt was moving through the Arabian Sea. A massive ship that carries F/A-18 fighter jets, the Roosevelt is seen more of a deterrent and show of force in the region.

The U.S. Navy has been beefing up its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Arabian Sea in response to reports that a convoy of about eight Iranian ships is heading toward Yemen and possibly carrying arms for the Houthis. Navy officials said there are about nine U.S. warships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ship movement on the record.

Saudi Arabia and several of its allies, mainly Gulf Arab countries, have been trying to drive back the rebels, who seized the capital of Sanaa in September and have overrun many other northern provinces with the help of security forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The U.S. supports the Saudi campaign.

Western governments and Sunni Arab countries say the Houthis get their arms from Iran. Tehran and the rebels deny that, although the Islamic Republic has provided political and humanitarian support to the Shiite group.

The U.S. has been providing logistical and intelligence support to the Saudi coalition launching airstrikes against the Houthis. That air campaign is now in its fourth week, and the U.S. has also begun refueling coalition aircraft involved in the conflict.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest would not comment specifically on any Navy movements in Yemeni waters, but said the U.S. has concerns about Iran’s “continued support for the Houthis.

“We have seen evidence that the Iranians are supplying weapons and other armed support to the Houthis in Yemen. That support will only contribute to greater violence in that country. These are exactly the kind of destabilizing activities that we have in mind when we raise concerns about Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East.”

He said, “The Iranians are acutely aware of our concerns for their continued support of the Houthis by sending them large shipments of weapons.”

The expanded U.S. Navy activity in the region comes at a sensitive time, as the U.S. and six world powers have reached a framework deal with Iran to control its nuclear program. Since the preliminary deal with reached on April 2, Iran and the U.S. have been disputing the details of the deal. And on Monday, a lawyer for Tehran-based Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian said Tehran had charged Rezaian with espionage and three other crimes. The Obama administration dismisses the charges as “absurd.”

The U.S. Navy generally conducts consensual boardings of ships when needed, including to combat piracy around Africa and the region. So far, however, U.S. naval personnel have not boarded any Iranian vessels since the Yemen conflict began.

Officials said it’s too soon to speculate on what the Navy ships may do as the Iranian convoy approaches, including whether Iran would consent to a boarding request, and what actions the Navy would take if its request was refused.

Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has been pushed to the brink of collapse by ground fighting and the Saudi-led airstrikes in support of current President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia. Observers say the fighting in the strategic Mideast nation is taking on the appearance of a proxy war between Iran, the Shiite powerhouse backing the Houthis, and Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia.

Alabama Young Woman Leaves Family To Join ISIS

Alabama Young Woman Leaves Family To Join ISIS

By Martin Swant, AP

Muslim woman

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A spokesman for a Muslim couple in Alabama says their 20-year-old daughter fled a Birmingham suburb to join Islamic State militants in Syria after being recruited on the Internet.

Attorney Hassan Shibly spoke at a Birmingham mosque on Monday on behalf of the parents of the young woman, whom he identified only as Hoda.

Shibly said Hoda left in November after being “brainwashed” for an undetermined length of time. He says the woman’s actions go against the family’s wishes and against the teachings of Islam.

The spokesman added that Hoda’s family has been in contact with U.S. law enforcement and government officials since she disappeared.

Members of the Birmingham Muslim community were meeting on Monday evening to discuss how to protect other children from the influence of militants.

Iran marks Army Day with cries of ‘Death to Israel, US’

Iran marks Army Day with cries of ‘Death to Israel, US’

Military parade near Tehran features truck carrying banner calling for destruction of Jewish state; Rouhani sets out ‘strategy of deterrence’

BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF AND AP

Iran parade military guard

Iran on Saturday marked Army Day with a military parade featuring new weapons systems, as well as a truck carrying a massive banner reading “Death to Israel.”

A televised broadcast of the parade was punctuated by repeated cries of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

“If Israel makes a mistake,” the announcer on Iran television said during the broadcast, as heavy trucks carrying armored personnel carriers rolled past, “those in Tel Aviv and Haifa will not sleep at night, not one person.”

Broadcast on national television, military brass and political leaders, foremost President Hassan Rouhani, attended the procession south of the capital Tehran, which showcased the country’s military technologies.

Among the weapons systems paraded past dignitaries was a domestically produced version of the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile, the Bavar 373.

Speaking at the event, Rouhani said Iran was adopting “a strategy of deterrence in order to prepare for peace and security in Iran and the Middle East.”

“Our method of action is defense and not offense,” he said.

Russia announced earlier this week that it would supply the S-300s to Iran shortly, having delayed delivery for several years. The announcement prompted bitter protests from Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned President Vladimir Putin, in vain, to ask him to cancel the deal.

Israel fears the S-300s would complicate any military intervention as a last resort to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive. It also fears Iran could supply the missile defense systems to Syria or Hezbollah, diluting Israel’s air supremacy over Syria and Lebanon.

On Friday, President Barack Obama said he was surprised the Russians had held back from going through with the deal for as long as they had.

Rouhani also harshly criticized Saudi Arabia Saturday, warning that the Saudi royal family in Riyadh will harvest the hatred it is sowing in Yemen through its airstrike campaign.

Since March 26, the Saudi-led coalition has been attacking Shiite rebels known as Houthis and allied fighters loyal to Yemen’s ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Iran supports the rebels but denies providing any military support.

“What does bombing the innocent … Yemeni people mean? What goals are you pursuing? Will killing children bring power to you? You planted the seeds of hatred in this region and you will see the response sooner or later,” Rouhani said. “Don’t bomb children, elderly men and women in Yemen. Attacking the oppressed will bring disgrace … for the aggressors.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already called the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen “genocide” and a “major crime.”

Iran has presented a four-point plan to end the conflict that includes humanitarian aid, dialogue and the formation of a broad-based Yemeni unity government after a proposed cease-fire was already rejected by Saudi Arabia.

Rouhani also accused Saudi Arabia of providing weapons and funding to terrorist groups in the Middle East.

“What does providing financial assistance and weapons to terrorists in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq mean,” he asked.

Iran is supporting both Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Iraqi government in its fight against Sunni Muslim extremists, including the Islamic State group. Tehran says Saudi Arabia and several other Middle East governments support the Islamic State group.

Prominent lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who heads the parliamentary national security and foreign policy committees, predicted that Saudi Arabia will find itself trapped in the Yemeni “quagmire.”

“We are so sorry that today Saudi Arabia and (its allies) have placed themselves in a quagmire and leaving it will definitely not be an easy task,” he told reporters Saturday.

ISIS supporters post cartoon video depicting Obama beheading

ISIS supporters post cartoon video depicting Obama beheading

‘Mom! Dad! Jihadi John is going to slaughter me!’ president says before he is killed in animated video

BY JUSTIN JALIL

A frame of a cartoon produced by the Islamic State depicting the beheading of US President Barack Obama. (screen capture: MEMRI)
A frame of a cartoon produced by the Islamic State depicting the beheading of US President Barack Obama. (screen capture: MEMRI)

Affiliates of the Islamic State group have released an animated video depicting a jihadist beheading US President Barack Obama.

The clip, which was uploaded and translated on Saturday by MEMRI, a US-based Middle Eastern media watchdog group, begins with the words “Message to America,” followed by a scene portraying the American president on his knees and crying profusely.

The president’s head is seen held by “Jihadi John” — the British citizen infamous for his role in videos showing the grisly executions of Western citizens captured by the terrorist group — who slaps the American president on the head, calling him a “mule” in Arabic.

“This knife has been craving Obama’s stinky blood and today Allah gave us the power to capture the mule of the Jews,” the executioner says, slapping the president once again and demanding he speak.

“Mom! Dad! Jihadi John is going to slaughter me! Save me!” Obama says in Arabic before the cartoon depicts the jihadist severing the neck of the American commander-in-chief.

Here’s the video (graphic):

The two-minute clip concludes with Obama waking up from a nap in his office, which bears little to no resemblance to the Oval Office of the White House, sobbing over what is assumed to be a bad dream.

The Islamic State regularly threatens the United States and Obama for their perceived interference in the Muslim world; in the execution videos of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid worker Peter Kassig, the executioner called out the American president, asserting that the cessation of US-led airstrikes against the terrorist group was the sole action that could save America.

New ISIS Video Calls for Attacks on the American Homeland, Promises Another 9/11

New ISIS Video Calls for Attacks on the American Homeland, Promises Another 9/11

At this juncture I would note the New York Times’ front page article on December 29 that described how America’s top war fighters, namely Special Operations Command, freely admit that they don’t understand the ideology driving ISIS and other Islamic terror groups:

WASHINGTON — Maj. Gen. Michael K. Nagata, commander of American Special Operations forces in the Middle East, sought help this summer in solving an urgent problem for the American military: What makes the Islamic State so dangerous?

Trying to decipher this complex enemy — a hybrid terrorist organization and a conventional army — is such a conundrum that General Nagata assembled an unofficial brain trust outside the traditional realms of expertise within the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies, in search of fresh ideas and inspiration. Business professors, for example, are examining the Islamic State’s marketing and branding strategies.

“We do not understand the movement, and until we do, we are not going to defeat it,” he said, according to the confidential minutes of a conference call he held with the experts. “We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.”

General Nagata’s frustration is shared by other American officials. Even as President Obama and his top civilian and military aides express growing confidence that Iraqi troops backed by allied airstrikes have blunted the Islamic State’s momentum on the ground in Iraq and undermined its base of support in Syria, other officials acknowledge they have barely made a dent in the larger, longer-term campaign to kill the ideology that animates the terrorist movement.

You can call in all the marketing executives and Harvard academics all you like, but when the Obama administration — meaning the entire U.S. government – as a matter of established policy refuses to acknowledge the ideology and intentions that our enemy publishes IN ENGLISH in the form of videos, audio recordings and magazines, and actively prohibits anyone in a government department or agency from discussing or speaking about said ideology, you really are beyond hope. And so is America.