Posted tagged ‘US Congress’

Congress to Pass Fresh Sanctions on North Korea as Nuke Threat Hits Critical Stage

May 3, 2017

Congress to Pass Fresh Sanctions on North Korea as Nuke Threat Hits Critical Stage, Washington Free Beacon, , May 3, 2017

This April 15, 2017 picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 16, 2017 shows Korean People’s Army (KPA) soldiers marching through Kim Il-Sung square during a military parade in Pyongyang marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung.THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Congress is expected to level fresh economic sanctions on North Korea this week as the threat of the hermit nation’s capability to strike the U.S. with a nuclear missile continues to escalate, according to conversations with members of the congressional leadership who told the Washington Free Beacon that the Kim Jong Un regime could have a nuclear weapon capable of striking the United States in “only a few years.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) confirmed that he has scheduled a vote in the House on new sanctions that will target North Korea’s slave labor trade and its shipping industry, which plays a central role in ferrying illicit arms and technology to and from the country. North Korea is a major supplier of nuclear technology on the black market, particularly to Iran, which has mimicked Pyongyang’s nuclear playbook.

The new sanctions come as congressional leaders debate how to handle North Korea’s growing nuclear threat, which went largely unaddressed by the former Obama administration.

North Korea is expected to perfect a nuclear missile capable of striking the U.S. homeland in about four years time, according to congressional sources.

“The North Korean threat is escalating—in about four years, experts estimate that North Korea will have the capability to reliably hit the continental United States with a nuclear weapon,” McCarthy told the Free Beacon. “America must use every tool at our disposal to keep our nation safe and preserve peace.”

McCarthy said that new sanctions are long overdue and can more easily win approval now that former President Barack Obama is out of office.

“This week, we will vote to increase sanctions on North Korea, targeting its shipping industry as well as those who employ North Korean slave labor abroad,” the lawmaker said. “The last administration’s long-practiced policy of strategic patience has made us less safe. We must increase the pressure on the Kim regime.”

In just the past year, North Korea has conducted two nuclear weapons tests and at least 26 ballistic missile flight tests.

The new sanctions, codified under the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act, has already garnered approval from the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is expected to easily pass when it comes before the full House for a vote. The bill will then be taken up for action by the Senate, which has an appetite for such a bill.

Lawmakers are moving forward with two other resolutions aimed at highlighting North Korea’s escalating nuclear progress.

One resolution formally condemns Pyongyang’s development of several intercontinental ballistic missiles, which violated multiple international laws on such behavior.

A second resolution requires the State Department to determine whether North Korea is a state sponsor of terrorism. Such a designation still has not been made, despite the country’s threatening behavior and multiple nuclear missile launches.

“It is not a matter of if, but when Kim Jong-Un will be brazen enough to attack one of our allies, or even the United States,” McCarthy said in a statement on the two resolutions. “We must be honest and forthright abroad, making clear that North Korea’s ballistic missile testing is unacceptable and that the Kim regime is worthy of sanctions as it is undoubtedly a state sponsor of terrorism.”

One senior congressional source who spoke to the Free Beacon about the issue said that the Obama administration’s policy of trying to wait out the threat has proven ineffective.

“The policy of strategic patience has allowed North Korea to charge full steam ahead in developing its nuclear program,” said the source, who requested anonymity to discuss congressional deliberations on the issue. “Doing nothing has only allowed North Korean provocations to increase. I think everyone recognizes that.”

“Now, North Korea is only a few years away from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear bomb,” the source said. “The best response is to increase pressure on the Kim regime, including with new sanctions, leaving all options on the table to preserve peace and end the threat of a nuclear North Korea.”

Boeing Trying to Sell Planes to Leading Official of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps

April 12, 2017

Boeing Trying to Sell Planes to Leading Official of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Washington Free Beacon, April 12, 2017

(Please see also, Airplane Sales to Iran Put Under Critical Review By Trump Admin. — DM)

The Boeing logo on the first Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane is pictured during its rollout for media at the Boeing factory in Renton, Washington on March 7, 2017. /  JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S airline manufacturer Boeing is coming under renewed criticism following disclosures that its latest deal with Iran is being inked with a senior regime official and leading member of the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has sponsored terrorism across the Middle East and is responsible for helping to kill U.S. soldiers.

Boeing’s latest deal—which the Washington Free Beacon first reported last week has been put under a critical review by the Trump administration—is being inked with Iran Aseman Airlines, which is owned and controlled by the state. The CEO of Aseman Airlines is Hossein Alaei, a “prominent and longtime member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” or IRGC, according to several members of Congress who are petitioning the Trump administration to cancel the sales.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) expressed concern that Boeing’s sale of around 60 new planes to Aseman Airlines will bolster the IRGC’s global terrorism operation and help the Iranian regime transport weapons and troops to conflict areas such as Syria.

The lawmakers called on the Trump administration to immediately suspend licenses permitting these sales and conduct a review of Iran’s effort to use commercial aircraft for illicit activities.

“Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, has systematically used commercial aircraft for illicit military purposes, including to transport troops, weapons, and cash to rogue regimes and terrorist groups around the world,” the lawmakers wrote. “The possibility that U.S.-manufactured aircraft could be used as tools of terror is absolutely unacceptable and should not be condoned by the U.S. government.”

Rubio and Roskam asked the administration to “suspend current and future licenses for aircraft sales to commercial Iranian airlines until your administration conducts a comprehensive review of their role in supporting Iran’s illicit activity.”

Instead of granting Boeing a license for these sales, the United States should take immediate steps to “revoke authorizations and re-impose sanctions on Iranian airlines found guilty of such support, and should bar U.S. companies from selling aircraft to Iran until the Iranian regime ceases using commercial airliners for illicit military purposes,” according to the letter.

The latest information about Boeing’s deal with Aseman Airlines and IRGC leader Alaei has only heightened concerns about the danger of the Trump administration approving the sales.

Alaei served as commander of the IRGC Navy until 1990. During that time, Alaei oversaw the harassment of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and efforts by the IRGC Navy to plant mines in international waters.

Alaei also served as the head of the IRGC’s general staff and a deputy minister of defense before assuming control of Iran’s Aviation Industries Organization, which is currently subject to U.S. sanctions.

Alaei serves as a lecturer at Iran’s Imam Hossein University, the IRGC’s national defense college, which also has been sanctioned by the United States.

“With his deep ties and service to the IRGC, Hossein Alaei’s position as CEO of Aseman therefore casts a dark shadow on the corporate ownership of and control over the airlines, and raises significant concerns that Iran Aseman Airlines is part of the IRGC’s economic empire and a tool used to support its malign activity abroad,” according to Rubio and Roskam.

Boeing also is pursuing deals with Iran Air, the country’s flagship carrier, and Mahan Air. Both have been sanctioned by the United States.

These carriers have been accused of using “commercial aircraft to transport weapons, troops and other tools of war to rogue regimes like the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al Assad, terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, and militant groups like the Houthi rebels in Yemen,” the lawmakers wrote.

Boeing could bolster Iran’s illicit activities and help the country revamp its aging fleet of planes, according to the lawmakers.

“There is no reason to believe Iran has ceased its malicious activity,” Rubio and Roskam wrote. “Compelling evidence indicates that commercial Iranian airliners remain pivotal in delivering military support to terrorist groups and dictatorships around the Middle East.”

“Iran’s commercial airlines have American blood on their hands,” they wrote.

Report: House Investigation of Susan Rice Scandal Expanding

April 12, 2017

Report: House Investigation of Susan Rice Scandal Expanding, PJ MediaDebra Heine, April 12, 2017

(Please see also, A Shoe Drops: Obama Administration Spied on Carter Page [Updated] — DM)

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Fox News reported Tuesday night that members of the House Intelligence Committee have expanded their investigation into the Susan Rice surveillance controversy.

Appearing on The O’Reilly Factor, investigative reporter Adam Housley said the following:

They’re looking into allegations where Americans including politicians have possibly been unmasked and had their information collected into the files, similar to what they did to the Trump team.

Housley also said that both the House and Senate investigations are being stonewalled:

They say the FBI is being very difficult. We’re told [investigators] just want to know about the unmasking. How frequent was this? Who was doing it? Why were they being unmasked?

Housley added:

[A Committee member says the FBI is] going to have to turn everything over or we’re not going to authorize the congressionally approved 702 program which allows them to do this in the first place. This investigation is full-blown.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, is up for reauthorization in 2017. The program surveils non-U.S. persons believed to be located outside the United States, incidentally sweeping up the communications of Americans as well, in order to acquire foreign intelligence.

O’Reilly asked Malia Zimmerman, an investigative reporter working with Housley, if the FBI was investigating the case. Zimmerman answered:

There’s a big question about the FBI’s role in this and there’s concern in the House about generally how the FBI is handling this case.

She added that FBI Director James Comey has yet to come back to the Hill to answer the 100 questions the House Intelligence Committee wants answered:

The FBI claims to be “preparing the information,” but it’s been four weeks, Bill.

O’Reilly suggested getting Attorney General Jeff Sessions involved, “because he’s Comey’s boss.”

Housley said they were making progress on the story, but because of the sensitive and classified nature of the information, it’s been difficult work.

Zimmerman added that some of the whistleblowers who have been talking to them may come forward and provide testimony to the House Intelligence Committee:

That would really start to expand this investigation even further.

Sisi, Trump, and the Politics of Designating the Muslim Brotherhood

April 6, 2017

Sisi, Trump, and the Politics of Designating the Muslim Brotherhood, National Review, Clifford Smith, April 6, 2017

President Trump welcomes Egyptian President El-Sisi to the White House, April 3, 2017. (Reuters photo: Carlos Barria)

Hopes that the Trump administration will designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization have hit rough waters, with anonymous officials citing concerns about diplomatic blowback and frayed relationships with Muslims at home and abroad. The leaks come on the eve of a historic visit to Washington by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a key Arab ally and devoted Muslim who is locked in a life-or-death struggle with the Brotherhood.

The irony is hard to miss, particularly given that Egypt and several other Arab countries have already designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

Whatever the truth behind the leaks, they underscore that the inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom — that the Brotherhood is “moderate” and so popular that designation would be seen as “a declaration of war against . . . Islam itself” — will not die as easily as many hoped.

This thinking is rooted in a failure to understand the difference between Islamists — a sizable but distinct minority of Muslims who adhere to a totalitarian religious ideology — and the moderate majority of Muslims, who are our friends and allies. President el-Sisi, who has publicly called out extremism to clerics in Egypt, understands this. After all, Egypt is not the only state in which the Brotherhood engaged in attempts to kill its way to power. It did the same in Syria in the early 1980s.

Despite the Brotherhood’s long history of bloodshed, claims that it is “moderate,” or opposes violence, are still prominent. While above-ground Brotherhood organizations use peaceful means when effective, they are “prepared to countenance violence . . . where gradualism is ineffective,” as a 2015 report by the British government noted with significant understatement.

Claims that designation will complicate U.S. relationships with certain Arab allies are overblown. While it is true that some allies, such as Jordan, have Muslim Brotherhood–affiliated parties represented in their parliaments, this is easy enough to finesse. Members of Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, have long served in Lebanon’s parliament, but American diplomats manage to avoid contact with them and still do business with the Lebanese.

Moreover, failure to designate the Brotherhood complicates some alliances. The Egyptian public has grown deeply suspicious of the U.S. government precisely because under Obama the U.S. came to be seen as overly sympathetic to the Brotherhood. When Senator Ted Cruz introduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terror Designation Act, many Egyptians saw it as a sign the U.S. may be waking from its long slumber. A tweet introducing the bill was the subject of a segment by popular Egyptian talk-show host Amr Adib and was retweeted 17,000+ times.

Domestically, in the wake of Trump’s admittedly troubling comments suggesting a “Muslim ban” during his presidential campaign last year, some fear that designation will fuel anti-Muslim bigotry and pave the way for “a legal assault on the institutions of American Muslim life.” After all, several organizations claiming to represent U.S. Muslims, particularly the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), have deep Muslim Brotherhood ties.

But groups such as CAIR are hardly “institutions of American Muslim life” — they’re just pretending to be. A 2011 Gallup poll found support for CAIR among U.S. Muslims to be just under 12 percent. Britain’s inquiry into the Brotherhood found that its activists in the U.K. “appear to be unable to generate any grassroots support.”

Frankly, however, if public support for CAIR were higher, that would be all the more reason to be concerned. Notwithstanding its carefully crafted public image, CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2007–09 Holy Land Foundation terror-finance case, and was blacklisted by the FBI as a result. Unfortunately, the Obama administration failed to aggressively continue an FBI investigation into CAIR after it conspired to fund terrorist-designated organization Hamas, the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, the United Arab Emirates has declared CAIR itself a terrorist organization.

Trump’s rhetorical excesses cannot be understood without recalling the Obama administration’s refusal to name the problem. Using euphemisms such as “violent extremism” and feigning puzzlement as to the motives of obvious jihadists made the administration’s rhetoric concerning terrorism a national joke. In both the U.S. and Europe, when elites insist that voters must believe them, rather than their own “lying eyes,” the voters turn sharply in the opposite direction. The cure for Trump’s rhetorical excesses is increased security, not denial.

Trump laid out a number of smart proposals on radical Islam during his campaign. His administration should now use President el-Sisi’s visit to move forward with these ideas. In particular, it should follow up designation of the Brotherhood with the formation of a congressionally authorized commission on radical Islam tasked with developing a strategy for winning the war against Islamic extremists and explaining the threat of Islamism to the American people. Both are badly needed. Wrongheaded conventional wisdom won’t keep Americans, or our Muslim allies, safe.

Airplane Sales to Iran Put Under Critical Review By Trump Admin

April 5, 2017

Airplane Sales to Iran Put Under Critical Review By Trump Admin, Washington Free Beacon, April 5, 2017

A picture taken on August 20, 2010 shows an Iranian flag fluttering at an undisclosed location in the Islamic republic next to a surface-to-surface Qiam-1 (Rising) missile which was test fired a day before Iran was due to launch its Russian-built first nuclear power plant. AFP PHOTO/VAHID REZA ALAEI (Photo credit should read VAHID REZA ALAEI/AFP/Getty Images)

The move represents a departure from the Obama administration’s policy, which promoted the sale of airplanes to Iran across the United States and Europe.

The review of these deals appears to be part of a larger ongoing review of the entire Iran nuclear deal, which is being undertaken by the White House. The Trump administration could move to reverse many of the promises made by the United States to Iran under the previous administration, including airplane sales and other concessions aimed at promoting business in Iran.

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The Trump administration is undertaking a critical review of Obama administration-era policies permitting the sale of American airplanes to Iran, which have been used in the past to ferry weapons to terrorists and conduct other illicit activities, according to U.S. officials familiar with the situation.

U.S. airline manufacturer Boeing announced on Tuesday that it had reached a memorandum of understanding with Iran guaranteeing the sale of up to 60 planes pending review by the Trump administration.

Sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon speculated the latest announcement, which was announced earlier in the day by Iran, could be meant to pressure U.S. officials to sign off on the deal.

While the newly installed administration had come under fire earlier this year for seeming to continue Obama-era policies meant to approve these sales, U.S. officials now tell the Free Beacon that all past and future deals are coming under review by the new administration as part of a larger assessment of the landmark Iran nuclear deal.

The review of sales between Boeing and Iran represent a first step to possibly canceling the deals, which have come under criticism by U.S. lawmakers and foreign policy experts who maintain the Islamic Republic will use the American aircraft to boost its air force and illicit weapons trade, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Free Beacon.

“Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC] will be reviewing aviation licensing as part of the National Security Council’s ongoing interagency review of the Iran deal,” a Treasury Department official told the Free Beacon.

The move represents a departure from the Obama administration’s policy, which promoted the sale of airplanes to Iran across the United States and Europe.

The review of these deals appears to be part of a larger ongoing review of the entire Iran nuclear deal, which is being undertaken by the White House. The Trump administration could move to reverse many of the promises made by the United States to Iran under the previous administration, including airplane sales and other concessions aimed at promoting business in Iran.

While the Treasury Department was unable to comment on specific licenses and ongoing determinations pursuant to the Boeing deal, officials pointed out that the latest announcement is not a final deal.

Any sale of planes by Boeing to Iran will be subject to review and require a license from the Treasury Department, officials said.

One senior White House official told the the Free Beacon that the most recent Boeing deal with Iran will be held for review along with the entire Iran nuclear deal.

“The review of existing Iran policy is ongoing–and this MOU will be part of that process,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak on record. “Obviously the administration wants American companies to get large contracts, but we have to put the of the American people first.”

Companies such as Boeing are still legally permitted to negotiate and enter into agreements with Iran as it relates to the sale of airplanes so long as the Iranian entities are not currently subject to U.S. sanctions.

However, the final sale of these planes requires specific consent from the Treasury Department.

The Obama administration had rushed to push through these types of sales before leaving office. President Donald Trump has advocated a tougher line and these sales could be nixed as a result of Iran’s ongoing support for terrorism across the Middle East.

One senior congressional source familiar with the situation told the Free Beacon that the Trump administration’s latest move should serve as a warning to Boeing.

“Treasury is finally committing to a full review of current licensing policies for aircraft sales to Iran,” the source said. “Boeing executives should be on notice: it’s not just this new request that they will need approval on, but the previous one for Iran Air as well.”

Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), a vocal opponent of the Boeing-Iran deal, told the Free Beacon that Boeing’s continued push to deal with Iran is “outrageous.”

“On the same day Bashar al-Assad’s Air Force dropped chemical weapons onto children, an American company announced its intent to sell airplanes to Assad’s patrons in Tehran,” Roskam said late Tuesday. “Iran continues to use commercial aircraft to support Assad’s atrocities in Syria and other terror proxies around the globe.”

Congress will continue its work to prevent the sale of planes to Iran, particularly in light of its ongoing use of civilian aircraft to ferry weapons and other illicit arms across the region.

“We will do everything within our power, and we hope the administration will do everything within its power, to prevent the sale of even more airplanes to state-owned companies in the Islamic Republic,” Roskam said.

Boeing has not backed off its commitment to these sales, despite fierce opposition in Capitol Hill and now in the White House.

One senior congressional adviser who has been working on the matter told the Free Beacon that Boeing’s aggressive lobbying campaign is beginning to backfire.

“Boeing has apparently calculated that their lobbying power can overcome the opposition of majorities in Congress and the American public, to say nothing of the Trump administration’s NSC and Treasury,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak on record.

“Maybe [Boeing is] right—though that’s not the mood on the Hill,” the source explained. “But banks will have to make a different calculation, since they don’t have the protection of the country’s most powerful lobbyists, and the Trump Treasury Department doesn’t fuck around with banks that facilitate Iranian terrorism, which is exactly what it means to give Iran airplanes. The fines would probably be in the billions.”

The Real Winner in the Russia Investigations Is Iran

March 31, 2017

The Real Winner in the Russia Investigations Is Iran, PJ MediaRoger L Simon, March 30, 2017

The best interests of the United States would be to woo Russia away from these maniacs — and we very well could have.  We are, at least for now, still the world’s biggest GNP and control a great deal of the global economy.  Greedy despots like Putin know that as well as anybody.  They may not feel good about it, but to some degree they might play with us.  And if they wanted to enough, if we sweetened the pot enough, they’d even disengage from the mullahs, leaving them with no ally of value, no substantial defender.

Trump — or some people close to him — may have had this in mind when they started speaking with the Russians way back in the Paleolithic Era of the transition days.  They’d have been fools not to.  They wouldn’t have been doing their duty to the United States or to the civilized world for that matter.

Now Trump or his people can no longer even consider making such inroads. They would be accused immediately of treason or something close. The possibility of separating the Russians from Iran has been destroyed by these investigations — first by the House, now by the Senate, and always by the media.

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While the Evil Party and the Stupid Party continue to bludgeon each other into extinction over whether Putin was manipulating our election, the real winner from our politicians’ current endless Russia-fixation is the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Sound like a stretch? Not at all. The reasons should be evident.

Russia is not rich. It currently ranks 12th  in overall GNP, about even with Australia, which has roughly one-seventh Russia’s population. It’s a dismal 47th in per capita GNP — unimpressive, to say the least, for the world’s largest country with immense natural resources spread over 11 time zones.

And things have not been looking up. Their population has been declining since 1991.  The price of oil — by far their largest export -0 is down.  Making matters worse, Donald Trump, allegedly Putin’s best friend, has opened the U.S. energy spigots, threatening to drive that price even lower. (Putin would have done a lot better with Hillary’s anti-fracking position, assuming that wasn’t a phony.)

Yes, they have a powerful nuclear arsenal with potent missiles to deliver them, but Russia needs friends, badly — especially to shore up its forces in the seemingly never-ending civil war in Syria. Enter Iran.  From Reuters Monday:

Iran’s president met Russia’s prime minister on Monday in a bid to develop a warming relationship that has been greatly strengthened by both sides’ involvement on the same side of the war in Syria.

Beginning a visit to Moscow, President Hassan Rouhani told Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: “I hope that a new turning-point in the development of our relations will be reached.”

Iranian arms purchases and Russian investment in the Iranian energy sector are likely talking points for Rouhani, less than two months before Iran’s May 19 presidential election.

Iranian media say he will discuss several economic agreements – potentially valuable prizes for the moderate leader [sic], who is keen to show his people that Iran is benefiting from its 2015 deal with world powers to rein back its nuclear programme in returning for an easing of international sanctions.

Aside from Reuters’ credulous nonsense that Rouhani is in any way moderate, where did all the mullahs’ new deal-making money come from in the first place?  Well, we know.  Iran, for reasons still unfathomable, received huge amounts — sometimes in cold, hard cash — from the Obama administration after the Iran deal and later apparently to preserve it. (The contents of that deal, unknown to all but a few, are what really deserve a congressional investigation, not the present kangaroo court.) What did the mullahs do with the cash? Help their impoverished citizens or buy $10 billion worth of modern weapons from the Russians? Well, we know that too. Obama’s deal helped create a match made in Hell.

And the worse part of this Hellish match is Iran, not Russia (although she’s no picnic).  Vladimir Putin is obviously a dictatorial plutocrat with massive ambitions, but he’s more or less sane.  The mullahs of Iran are also dictatorial plutocrats, but they’re not (sane).  Some of them believe absolutely delusional theories dreamed up in the seventh century and have set out to prove them true — in Iran, in Syria, in Yemen, in North Korea, in South America,  and on and on.  They are as crazy as ISIS and far more dangerous because they already have a large country from which to enact their imperialist/millennialist fantasies.

The best interests of the United States would be to woo Russia away from these maniacs — and we very well could have.  We are, at least for now, still the world’s biggest GNP and control a great deal of the global economy.  Greedy despots like Putin know that as well as anybody.  They may not feel good about it, but to some degree they might play with us.  And if they wanted to enough, if we sweetened the pot enough, they’d even disengage from the mullahs, leaving them with no ally of value, no substantial defender.

Trump — or some people close to him — may have had this in mind when they started speaking with the Russians way back in the Paleolithic Era of the transition days.  They’d have been fools not to.  They wouldn’t have been doing their duty to the United States or to the civilized world for that matter.

Now Trump or his people can no longer even consider making such inroads. They would be accused immediately of treason or something close. The possibility of separating the Russians from Iran has been destroyed by these investigations — first by the House, now by the Senate, and always by the media. They go on and on even though there has been no genuine evidence of collusion between the Trump team and the Russians. By now it’s like a bad mini-series that somehow wound its way onto your Netflix queue and you can’t get rid of it. Eventually, I suppose, someone, somewhere will be caught with his or her hand in the cookie jar.  It will be highly ambiguous and most likely for minor personal gain, but nevertheless he or she will will be endlessly excoriated in the press, ever anxious to prove themselves right.  But it will all be a meaningless waste of time in the end.

Meanwhile, Iran has won big.

Still, there has been one valuable piece of information to emerge from this pointless muddle.  Which leads me to a last question.  Who, in the final analysis, spied more on our government — Putin or Obama?  I bloviate. You decide.

Iran Faces Stricter Sanctions in Bipartisan House, Senate Bills

March 25, 2017

Iran Faces Stricter Sanctions in Bipartisan House, Senate Bills, Washington Free Beacon, March 25, 2017

Getty Images

Menendez told Reuters the bipartisan group “assiduously worked” to ensure the bill does not violate the Iranian nuclear pact enacted last year. The bill only applies to Iran’s non-nuclear activities.

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Legislation introduced Thursday in the House and Senate by a bipartisan group of lawmakers would hit Iran with tougher sanctions for the ongoing development of its ballistic missile program.

While Washington focused on the health care saga in the House, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), quietly introduced a new bill that would impose mandatory sanctions on individuals involved with Iran’s ballistic missile program.

The legislation would expand terrorism-related sanctions to include the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Tehran’s elite military force. The bill would codify sanctions announced by the Treasury Department last month that applied to anyone tied to Iran’s support for terrorism.

The bill has support from more than a dozen senators, including Democratic co-sponsors Ben Cardin (Md.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Bob Casey (Pa.), and Chris Coons (Del.). Republican backers include Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), James Risch (Idaho), and Dan Sullivan (Alaska).

Menendez told Reuters the bipartisan group “assiduously worked” to ensure the bill does not violate the Iranian nuclear pact enacted last year. The bill only applies to Iran’s non-nuclear activities.

The bill is expected to pass through the Senate given its broad support.

The chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce (R., Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), introduced a similar bill late Thursday in the lower chamber.

Like the Senate version, the House legislation would target individuals and entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile development, including foreign companies and banks.

A staffer with the House Foreign Affairs Committee told the Washington Free Beacon on Friday that the legislation’s strong bipartisan support would likely propel it to the House floor. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) are both cosponsoring the bill.

The staffer, who asked not to be named, said the bill was introduced in response to a recent committee hearing that detailed Tehran’s ongoing development of missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

“Under the cover of a deeply-flawed nuclear deal, Iran has accelerated its ballistic missile development,” Royce said in a statement Thursday. “These tests—carried out in defiance of the U.N. Security Council—are aimed at perfecting the delivery system for a nuclear warhead.”

Both bills were introduced ahead of the annual conference in D.C. by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which begins Sunday. Iran has not commented on the bills, but has said in the past that any U.S. sanctions are a violation of the nuclear agreement.

The White House said in February it was “putting Iran on notice” before unveiling sanctions against 25 entities and individuals in Iran who have ties to terrorist groups, including Hezbollah. The sanctions were in response to a Jan. 29 missile test by Iran. Tehran immediately threatened retaliation.

Trump Could Follow Clinton’s Hamas Order In Outlawing Muslim Brotherhood

January 27, 2017

Trump Could Follow Clinton’s Hamas Order In Outlawing Muslim Brotherhood, Counter JihadPaul Sperry, January 27, 2017

There is a quick and easy way to designate the Brotherhood as the terrorist organization that it is. Thank Bill Clinton.

Instead of waiting for a bill authorizing a Muslim Brotherhood designation to wend its way through Congress, the State Department could blacklist the Brotherhood directly. All it would take is President Trump signing an executive order.

That’s what happened in January 1995, when President Clinton issued an executive order making it illegal for US funds to support Hamas, following a bus bombing in Tel Aviv and other horrific acts of terrorism carried out by the Palestinian terrorist group. In turn, the State Department officially declared Hamas to be a terrorist organization, making it a felony to provide any material support to Hamas or its related charities and front organizations, and the Treasury Department ordered a freeze on all Hamas banking assets.

While the Muslim Brotherhood is outlawed in other countries, the US has not yet designated the group a terrorist entity or foreign threat, even though it has stated clearly that it supports violent jihad and is dedicated to replacing the US with an Islamic theocracy.

That is expected to change with this administration.

In testimony earlier this month, soon-to-be-confirmed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson lumped the Muslim Brotherhood in with terrorist groups ISIS, al-Qaida and Hezbollah. He suggested America’s first priority in dealing with global terrorism must be to first defeat ISIS, then al-Qaida, followed by the Muslim Brotherhood, in that order.

Tillerson stated at his Senate confirmation hearing: “The demise of ISIS would also allow us to increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and certain elements within Iran.”

Founded more than 80 years ago in Cairo, Egypt, where the “mother group” is based, the Muslim Brotherhood is a secretive Islamist society that gave birth to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and al-Qaida. In fact, it is the ideological catalyst behind the entire global jihadist movement now threatening the West, and its tentacles have reached deep inside the United States.

Before joining al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Anwar al-Awlaki and the Blind Sheik Omar Abdul-Rahman were all members of the Brotherhood, known in Arabic as al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun. Its credo is: “The Quran is our constitution, Jihad is our way, and death for the glory of Allah is our greatest ambition.” Through both violent and political means, the Brotherhood seeks to impose Sharia — the rule of Islamic law — on the West. It also seeks the overthrow of Middle Eastern nations it views as too secular or close to the West.

As a result of recent violent unrest fomented by the Brotherhood, several Arab nations — including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — have designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organization, with UAE adding the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations and other Brotherhood front organizations to the terrorist list. Russia has also outlawed the Brotherhood. US investigators have long sought to outlaw the group, complaining that Brotherhood-run mosques, charities and other elements show up in countless US terrorism cases, including the 9/11 attacks.

As former FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before the House Intelligence Committee in 2011, “I can say at the outset that elements of the Muslim Brotherhood both here and overseas have supported terrorism.”

“Its ultimate goal is the creation of a global Islamic State governed by Sharia law,” former federal prosecutor James T. Jacks asserted in a 2008 court filing linking US Brotherhood front groups to terrorism, including moderate-sounding groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America and the North American Islamic Trust.

“Muslim Brotherhood members first migrated to the United States in the 1960s, where they began their grassroots work on campuses through an organization called the Muslim Students Association,” Jacks explained. “By the mid-1980s, the US-Muslim Brotherhood had grown exponentially, established numerous front organizations, developed a solid hierarchical structure, and received direction from the International Muslim Brotherhood’s General Guide.”

“Hamas was established in 1987 as an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Jacks continued, further outlining the conspiracy. “In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the US-Muslim Brotherhood was controlled by Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood members,” including CAIR’s founders.

Since 9/11, several known US-Muslim Brotherhood leaders — including Sami al-Arian and Abdurahman Alamoudi — have been convicted of terrorist activities, with Alamoudi accused by the government of actively raising money for al-Qaida. Others, including CAIR founder Omar Ahmad, have been formally implicated by the government in major terrorism cases.

Some Brotherhood operatives have infiltrated US law enforcement and the military. Ali Mohamed, who emigrated from Egypt to spy for the Brotherhood in America, used his US Special Forces training to assist al-Qaida. Last decade, he pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy for his role in helping plan the al-Qaida bombings of the US embassies in Africa.

White House National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn says the Brotherhood has operated a terrorism-support network in America dating back to the first World Trade Center bombing. “We knew of close operational cooperation with the Muslim Brotherhood” in that 1993 attack, he wrote in his 2016 book, “The Field of Fight.”

A Brotherhood manifesto seized by FBI agents during a 2004 raid of a Brotherhood leader’s home in the Washington DC area revealed that the US branch of the Brotherhood seeks the destruction of the US system — “from within.” Chillingly, the document directs Brotherhood members to engage in subversive action against the US:

“The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

Investigators believe the Brotherhood conspiracy may involve a network of as many as 2,000 organizations working inside the US to support jihad and subvert the US government. Hard evidence links CAIR, ISNA and many other radical Islamist organizations masquerading as moderate groups — as well as some of the nation’s largest mosques — to this massive infrastructure financed and controlled by the Brotherhood.

Investigators call it an insurgency run by “terrorists in suits,” and the new White House, led by Flynn’s team, is said to want to shut the entire network down.

“It is no accident that radical Islamists in America are pushing very hard and very systematically to gain legal standing for Sharia, and to forbid any and all criticism of Islam,” Flynn said. “These are all steps toward creating an Islamic state right here at home. We have to thwart these efforts.”

 

Mexican Standoff

January 27, 2017

Mexican Standoff, Front Page MagazineMatthew Vadum, January 27, 2017

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Although left-wingers have been whipping themselves into a frenzy daily, characterizing President Trump’s approach to border security as monstrous and Hitlerian, Mexico’s approach to dealing with unwanted visitors on its soil is draconian compared to America’s.

Mexican law makes it a felony to be present without permission anywhere in that country. Political activism by illegals is forbidden. Those who use fake documents to enter Mexico are jailed or deported and those who assist them are also jailed.

Mexican immigration policy is based on Mexican self-interest. Only foreigners deemed useful to Mexico are allowed in “according to their possibilities of contributing to national progress.” Immigrants to Mexico must be able to support themselves and their dependents.

Foreigners may be denied entry to Mexico if their presence is thought to: disturb “the equilibrium of the national demographics”; be detrimental to “economic or national interests”; if they have violated Mexican laws; or if they are determined not to be “physically or mentally healthy.”

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Blasting President Donald Trump for his Twitter-based demands that Mexico free up the pesos needed to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, President Enrique Peña Nieto abruptly pulled out of a planned summit with Trump.

Answering Trump in kind, the Mexican head of state tweeted midday Thursday in Spanish, “We have informed the White House that I will not attend the working meeting planned for next Tuesday with @POTUS[.]”

The previous night Peña Nieto had reiterated his government’s opposition both to the wall and to his country paying for it. “I regret and reject the decision of the United States to continue building a wall that, far from uniting, divides us,” he tweeted according to an apparently reliable English translation.

In an unprecedented round of refreshingly transparent social media diplomacy, Trump, the master negotiator, published two tweets baiting his Mexican counterpart:

The U.S. has a 60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of NAFTA with massive numbers of jobs and companies lost. If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.

Peña Nieto, who is deeply unpopular in his homeland, accepted Trump’s invitation to withdraw from the Jan. 31 summit. He had come under intense pressure in his country to cancel the meeting.

And on Wednesday as Mexico’s foreign minister was reportedly in the White House trying to patch up relations between the two countries, Trump signed an executive order moving forward with construction of the wall.

A labor leader might say Trump was bargaining in bad faith but the Americans who elected him would more likely say the president is simply moving ahead with honoring his campaign pledge to build the wall as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration.

The executive order was sufficient to set at least the construction planning process in motion because a 2006 law supported at the time by Democrat Sens. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton was never repealed.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) voted for the legislation in 2006 but now finds that vote decidedly inconvenient in the current political climate.

A fortnight after the recent election he said he would oppose Trump’s plan to move forward with wall construction.

“We’re not going to help him build his wall,” Schumer told NBC’s Chuck Todd.

It needs to be noted that Schumer received a rough reception from the public on Inauguration Day. In what may very well foreshadow the tone of the new 115th Congress, Schumer was booed by members of the public during his speech at the inauguration ceremonies in which he subjected the National Mall audience to an otherwise patriotic lecture that he insisted on infusing with a touch of politically correct identity-politics cant.

“Whatever our race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity,” he said. “Whether we are immigrant or native-born. Whether we live with disabilities or do not. In wealth or in poverty, we are all exceptional in our commonly held, yet fierce devotion to our country.”

Other Democrats in Congress share Schumer’s political predicament. A slew of House members including Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), at the time in the House, are still there.

Among the Democrat senators still in the Senate who voted for the 2006 measure are Tom Carper (Del.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.).

“Democrats are solidly behind controlling the border, and we support the border fence,” Feinstein said at the time. “We’ve got to get tough on the border. There’s no question the border is a sieve.”

The 11-year-old law authorizes construction of 700 miles of fencing on the southern border, along with other security measures such as cameras and sensors.

When Democrats took over the subsequent Congress, an amendment to a 2008 spending measure stripped out a statutory provision mandating among other things that the barrier be made with double-layer fencing. Democrats got to pretend they supported building the border barrier but lacking funding, the wall was stalled.

But because the law authorizing the building of the wall is still on the books, Trump was able to move the process forward Obama-style with the stroke of a pen. Now he just needs Congress to appropriate the $12 billion in construction costs. He vows to make Mexico foot the bill and has proposed slapping tariffs on Mexican imports to cover the cost.

According to a Fox Business analysis:

Congress doesn’t have to pass a new law to begin construction, and can instead package the funds necessary into a massive spending bill Democrats would have a politically hard time opposing. Trump may get a head start on the process by diverting other funds congressional leaders have indicated are available for the project, ensuring a snafu over the spending bill doesn’t hinder prompt construction of the wall.

If Trump and Republicans follow through, a number of top Democrats will find they inadvertently handed Trump the border wall they now oppose. Their only option to block the construction would be to shut down the government over the matter by blocking the spending bill, a strategy they have consistently mocked and derided Republicans for using in the past.

Although left-wingers have been whipping themselves into a frenzy daily, characterizing President Trump’s approach to border security as monstrous and Hitlerian, Mexico’s approach to dealing with unwanted visitors on its soil is draconian compared to America’s.

Mexican law makes it a felony to be present without permission anywhere in that country. Political activism by illegals is forbidden. Those who use fake documents to enter Mexico are jailed or deported and those who assist them are also jailed.

Mexican immigration policy is based on Mexican self-interest. Only foreigners deemed useful to Mexico are allowed in “according to their possibilities of contributing to national progress.” Immigrants to Mexico must be able to support themselves and their dependents.

Foreigners may be denied entry to Mexico if their presence is thought to: disturb “the equilibrium of the national demographics”; be detrimental to “economic or national interests”; if they have violated Mexican laws; or if they are determined not to be “physically or mentally healthy.”

According to Discover the Networks:

Mexican guards at the Guatemalan border, the locale for most attempts at illegal entry, are notorious for the brutality of their treatment of would-be immigrants. The guards’ use of violence, rape, and extortion against those seeking to cross into Mexico has, in fact, managed the border so well that the country has only a minimal illegal-immigration problem.

In addition, Mexico deliberately undermines U.S. immigration laws.

The Mexican government provides “survival kits” and maps to those seeking to sneak into the U.S. A dozen years ago Mexico’s foreign ministry published a 32-page book called “The Guide for the Mexican Migrant,” that explained to would-be border jumpers how to evade U.S. law enforcement.

“This guide is intended to give you some practical advice that could be of use if you have made the difficult decision to seek new work opportunities outside your country,” the book reads. Comic book-style illustrations showed illegals wading into a river in order to steer clear of the U.S. Border Patrol.

The guidebook advised readers to “[t]ry to walk during times when the heat is not as intense[,]” and drink “[s]alt water [because it] helps you retain your body’s liquids.” It also provided sound sartorial advice: “Thick clothing increases your weight when wet, and this makes it difficult to swim or float.”

In a column last year, former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) explained why the government of Mexico encourages its citizens to move to the U.S. by any means possible.

Mexico sees Mexicans in the United States as strategic assets in every sense of that word. They are seen as extensions of the Mexican state and partners in Mexico’s plans.

Mexico amended its constitution to permit dual citizenship and to let Mexicans residing outside Mexico vote in Mexican elections, Tancredo wrote. It did this to increase the Mexican population within the U.S. Moreover, he wrote, it is Mexican government policy to treat “all Mexican-Americans as ‘Mexicans First’ and Americans second.” Children born to Mexican nationals in the U.S. are dual citizens of both countries at the time of their birth and qualify to vote in Mexican elections when they’re older.

These policies are not “mere expressions of Mexican pride,” according to Tancredo.

They are indications of a policy of planned interference in American domestic affairs. The policy of dual citizenship is only the visible tip of the iceberg of a strategic plan for active and overt involvement in American politics to advance Mexican government interests.

Anyone who thinks I am exaggerating should do a little research and listen to the words of Mexican leaders. For example, Vincente Fox, President of Mexico from 2000-2006, proclaimed from a Texas stage that Mexico believes any person of Mexican descent owes a loyalty to Mexico “unto the seventh generation.”

Mexican politicians also encourage settlement in “el Norte” because they don’t want to lose the $25 billion in hard currency that the millions of Mexicans in the U.S. who can’t find work in Mexico send in the form of cash remittances every year to their families in Mexico.

That motherlode of greenbacks, Tancredo observed, constitutes “30 percent of Mexico’s foreign investment, rivaling tourism in importance to the Mexican economy[.]”

Trump could choose to pay for the wall by imposing a tax on foreign remittances. That would be painless for most Americans and have the added bonus of removing the incentive for many illegal aliens from Mexico to stay here. And it would drive the already-enraged Left crazy and encourage its activists to take their protests against Trump to the next level of nuttiness. Such a move could cause a backlash that would likely advance Republican interests.

Meanwhile, President Trump’s vow to withhold federal funds from so-called sanctuary jurisdictions that harbor illegal aliens is already beginning to pay off.

Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez (R) yesterday ordered his county’s jailers to honor federal immigration detention requests, the Miami Herald reports.

Gimenez cited an executive order signed Wednesday by President Donald Trump that threatened to cut federal grants for any counties or cities that don’t cooperate fully with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Since 2013, Miami-Dade has refused to indefinitely detain inmates who are in the country illegally and wanted by ICE — not based on principle, but because the federal government doesn’t fully reimburse the county for the expense.

It looks like Trump wasn’t joking on the campaign trail when he claimed under his presidency, “We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning.”

After eight long years of Barack Obama, Americans desperately need to win.

CAIR: Cruz’s Muslim Brotherhood Bill Not About Terrorism

January 26, 2017

CAIR: Cruz’s Muslim Brotherhood Bill Not About Terrorism, Investigative Project on Terrorism, John Rossomando, January 26, 2017

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s bill seeking to classify the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group is discriminatory leaders of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) claimed at a press conference Wednesday.

“We believe it has little to do with national security or terrorism,” CAIR’s spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said.

He sees Cruz’s bill as part of a two-step strategy to designate the Muslim Brotherhood and attack groups and their leaders who “Islamophobes have falsely labeled as linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Hard evidence, however, links CAIR and other American Islamist groups to the Brotherhood.

A phone book introduced at 2008 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) Hamas fundraising trial revealed that CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad and fellow CAIR co-founder Omar Ahmad belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee. This committee came into existence as part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s plan to support Hamas in America.

U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis noted in a 2009 ruling that the HLF trial evidence provided “at least a prima facie case as to CAIR’s involvement in a conspiracy to support Hamas.”

Awad defended the Muslim Brotherhood at the press conference, saying it has been “part in parcel of the democratic process” that it believes in democracy. Banning it for ideological reasons “is nothing short of shooting ourselves in the foot as the biggest democracy or the strongest democracy in the world,” Awad said.

Cruz’s bill would direct the secretary of state to tell Congress whether the Muslim Brotherhood meets the criteria for designation as a foreign terrorist organization. President Trump reportedly is considering an executive order accomplishing the bill’s objectives.

CAIR also protested Trump’s proposed executive order curtailing immigration and visas from majority Muslim countries such as Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Iran. With the exception of Iran, all of these countries have barely functioning central governments and are in the midst of raging civil wars. It also contested President Trump’s order halting the processing of Syrian refugees and ordering the creation of safe zones inside Syria for them.

Awad cast the orders as anti-Muslim and bigoted.

“Never before in our country’s history have we purposely as a matter of policy imposed a ban on immigrants or refugees on the basis of religion or imposed a litmus test on those coming to this nation,” Awad said. “The orders will tarnish our image in the Muslim world, making us seem uncaring and hard-hearted.”

It’s not exactly without precedent. Early 20th century immigration laws barred those belonging to ideological subversives and polygamists from coming to the U.S. Ottoman authorities protested the latter for curtailing Muslim immigration to the United States.