Netanyahu Delivered Just What Obama Feared

Netanyahu Delivered Just What Obama Feared

Israel’s prime minister delivered a sober reminder of the risks of dealing with Iran—and painted Obama as naive in the process.

 Netanyahu was hailed in the House chamber like a conquering hero. The moment felt, well, presidential.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks about Iran during a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol. At the risk of further straining the relationship between Israel and the Obama administration, Netanyahu warned members of Congress against what he considers an ill-advised nuclear deal with Iran.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

March 3, 2015 Congressional Republicans haven’t had many victories in their lasting conflict with President Obama, but Tuesday brought one. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s somber, provocative speech to Congress checked all the boxes.

It called into question the efficacy of any deal the administration might strike with Iran over its nuclear program; it likely renewed momentum for another round of Iranian sanctions on the Hill; it positioned the GOP politically as the party more worried about Israeli security, and, despite the White House’s best efforts, made the president appear petty and churlish.

Obama, in an interview with Reuters, had dismissed the speech as a “distraction,” and aides made sure everyone knew he would be too busy to watch it. But if the president didn’t cast an eye at a TV, he might have been the only person in Washington not to. And that’s the problem.

For weeks, the White House has worked steadily to write the speech off as a thinly veiled Republican ploy to undermine the delicate negotiations with Iran. But network coverage treated it for what it was: the head of state of a critical ally delivering a controversial address on American soil. That served the interests of both House Speaker John Boehner, who was the impetus behind the speech, and Netanyahu, elevating both of them while key Democrats such as Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren stayed offstage.

 Netanyahu was hailed in the House chamber like a conquering hero. The moment felt, well, presidential. He smartly rose to the occasion by taking time to thank Obama’s various and sometimes under-publicized efforts on Israel’s behalf. “I will always be grateful to President Obama for that support,” he said.

Then, to little surprise, he quickly reminded Congress and the public at large of Iranian threats to annihilate Israel and kill its citizens. But beyond that, he painted a picture of a global, existential struggle against religious extremism using the kind of loaded language that Obama won’t touch. He said Iran is a regime “hijacked by religious zealots” who are on an ideological mission to wage “jihad.”

Netanyahu suggested that “Western diplomats”—such as Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, who is driving the talks—are naive and are being charmed and duped by feints toward a nuclear agreement. The Iranian regime will always be “an enemy” of America. “Don’t be fooled,” he said. He said Iran is no different than ISIS, even though Iranian forces are fighting now to free the Iraqi city of Tikrit. “The enemy of your enemy is your enemy,” he said.

In that context, Netanyahu argued that any deal struck by Obama and Kerry would fail to significantly slow Iran’s nuclear program and instead would “guarantee” that Tehran would obtain nuclear weapons. He profoundly disagreed with administration assessments on how soon Iran could build a bomb if it chose to break the compact with the United States and its allies. He was dismissive of Obama’s belief that it isn’t realistic to expect Iran to completely dismantle its program.

The potential deal, Netanyahu said, “does not block Iran’s path to the bomb. It paves Iran’s path to the bomb.”

He called on the West to keep sanctions in place until Iran shifts in tone and behavior. “If Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country,” he said. “This is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.” That prompted an ovation.

In short, Netanyahu accomplished everything Republicans wanted and the White House feared. Polls show that the American public is skeptical of Iran’s motives in striking a deal, and the Israeli prime minister stoked those suspicions. Obama has taken a large—and likely a legacy-defining—risk in advocating for the talks. And Netanyahu reminded the world of just how large a risk it is.

The president’s challenge in that regard just got tougher. And it doesn’t help that he didn’t bother to engage with Netanyahu at all. In the interview with Reuters, Obama clung to the notion that he didn’t want to affect the outcome of Israeli elections in two weeks, even as he suggested that Netanyahu’s judgment with regard to Iran couldn’t be trusted.

Yes, the speech to Congress was, at heart, a propaganda piece, one carefully orchestrated by Obama’s adversaries. But that didn’t make it any less effective. And it was one whose aftereffects this White House could be feeling for a long time.

‘Jihadi John’: Islamic State killer is identified as Londoner Mohammed Emwazi

‘Jihadi John’: Islamic State killer is identified as Londoner Mohammed Emwazi

The identity of Jihadi John is exposed and it proves that Obama is totally wrong about terrorism.  It does not spring from poverty, it is a imminent threat  and yes it is about Islam.  – Mario Murillo

 Jihadi John is exposed

February 26 at 9:45 AM

The world knows him as “Jihadi John,” the masked man with a British accent who has beheaded several hostages held by the Islamic State and who taunts audiences in videos circulated widely online.

But his real name, according to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming. He is believed to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined the Islamic State, the group whose barbarity he has come to symbolize.

“I have no doubt that Mohammed is Jihadi John,” said one of Emwazi’s close friends who identified him in an interview with The Washington Post. “He was like a brother to me. . . . I am sure it is him.”

A representative of a British human rights group who had been in contact with Emwazi before he left for Syria also said he believed Emwazi was Jihadi John, a moniker given to him by some of the hostages he once held.

“There was an extremely strong resemblance,” Asim Qureshi, research director at the rights group, CAGE, said when shown one of the videos and asked to confirm whether Emwazi could be “Jihadi John.”

“This is making me feel fairly certain that this is the same person,” Qureshi added.

Authorities have used a variety of investigative techniques, including voice analysis and interviews with former hostages, to try to identify Jihadi John. James B. Comey, the director of the FBI, said in September — only a month after the Briton was seen in a video killing American journalist James Foley — that officials believed they had succeeded.

Nevertheless, the identity of Jihadi John has remained shrouded in secrecy. Since Foley’s killing, he has appeared in a series of videos documenting the gruesome killings of other hostages, including four other Westerners, some of whom he personally beheaded.

In each, he is dressed in all black, a balaclava covering all but his eyes and the ridge of his nose. He wears a holster under his left arm.

A spokeswoman for the British Embassy in Washington said: “Our prime minister has been clear that we want all those who have committed murder on behalf of ISIL to face justice for the appalling acts carried out. There is an ongoing police investigation into the murder of hostages by ISIL in Syria. It is not appropriate for the government to comment on any part of it while this continues.” ISIL is another name for the Islamic State.

U.S. officials declined to comment for this report. Emwazi’s family declined a request for an interview, citing legal advice.

The Kuwaiti-born Emwazi, in his mid-20s, appears to have left little trail on social media or elsewhere online. Those who knew him say he was polite and had a penchant for wearing stylish clothes while adhering to the tenets of his Islamic faith. He had a beard and was mindful of making eye contact with women, friends said.

[Archives: The tactics of Islamic State beheadings]

He was raised in a middle-class neighborhood in London and on occasion prayed at a mosque in Greenwich.

The friends, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation, believe that Emwazi started to radicalize after a planned safari in Tanzania following his graduation from the University of Westminster.

Emwazi and two friends — a German convert to Islam named Omar and another man, Abu Talib — never made it on the trip. Once they landed in Dar es Salaam, in May 2009, they were detained by police and held overnight. It’s unclear whether the reason for the detention was made clear to the three, but they were eventually deported.

Emwazi flew to Amsterdam, where he claimed that an officer from MI5, Britain’s domestic security agency, accused him of trying to reach Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabab operates in the southern part of the country, according to e-mails that he sent to Qureshi and that were provided to The Post.

Emwazi denied the accusation and claimed that MI5 representatives had tried to recruit him. But a former hostage said Jihadi John was obsessed with Somalia and made his captives watch videos about al-Shabab, which is allied with al-Qaeda.

The episode was described in the Independent, a British newspaper, which identified Emwazi as Muhammad ibn Muazzam.

Emwazi and his friends were allowed to return to Britain, where he met with Qureshi in the fall of 2009 to discuss what had happened. “Mohammed was quite incensed by his treatment, that he had been very unfairly treated,” Qureshi said.

Shortly afterward, Emwazi decided to move to his birthplace, Kuwait, where he landed a job working for a computer company, according to the e-mails he wrote to Qureshi. He came back to London twice, the second time to finalize his wedding plans to a woman in Kuwait.

In June 2010, however, counterterrorism officials in Britain detained him again — this time fingerprinting him and searching his belongings. When he tried to fly back to Kuwait the next day, he was prevented from doing so.

“I had a job waiting for me and marriage to get started,” he wrote in a June 2010 e-mail to Qureshi. But now “I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London. A person imprisoned & controlled by security service men, stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace & country, Kuwait.”

Nearly four months later, when a court in New York sentenced Aafia Siddiqui, an al-Qaeda operative convicted for the attempted murder of U.S. personnel in Afghanistan, Emwazi expressed sympathy for her, saying he had “heard the upsetting news regarding our sister. . . . This should only keep us firmer towards fighting for freedom and justice!!!”

In the interview, Qureshi said he last heard from Emwazi in January 2012, when Emwazi sent him an e-mail seeking advice.

“This is a young man who was ready to exhaust every single kind of avenue within the machinery of the state to bring a change for his personal situation,” Qureshi said. In the end, he felt “actions were taken to criminalize him and he had no way to do something against these actions.”

Close friends of Emwazi’s also said his situation in London had made him desperate to leave the country. It’s unclear exactly when he reached Syria or how.

One friend said he believed Emwazi wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia to teach English in 2012 but was unsuccessful. Soon afterward, the friend said, he was gone.

“He was upset and wanted to start a life elsewhere,” one of the friends said. “He at some stage reached the point where he was really just trying to find another way to get out.”

Once in Syria, Emwazi contacted his family and at least one of his friends. It’s unclear what he told them about his activities there.

A former hostage who was debriefed by officials upon release said that Jihadi John was part of a team guarding Western captives at a prison in Idlib, Syria, in 2013. The hostages nicknamed the facility “the box.” Emwazi was joined by two other men with British accents, including one who was dubbed “George.” A former hostage said Emwazi participated in the waterboarding of four Western hostages.

Former hostages described George as the leader of the trio. Jihadi John, they said, was quiet and intelligent. “He was the most deliberate,” a former hostage said.

Beginning in early 2014, the hostages were moved to a prison in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital, where they were visited often by the trio. They appeared to have taken on more powerful roles within the Islamic State.

About the same time, Qureshi said, he sent an e-mail to Emwazi.

“I was wondering if you could send me your number,” he wrote. “Inshallah [God willing] it will be good to catch up.”

There was no response.

Goldman reported from Washington. Julie Tate in Washington and Griff Witte and Karla Adam in London contributed to this report.

The President Who Has Done the Most Damage.

Dennis Prager

The President Who Has Done the Most Damage.

By Dennis Prager – October 29, 2013

I have been broadcasting for 31 years and writing for longer than that. I do not recall ever saying on radio or in print that a president is doing lasting damage to our country. I did not like the presidencies of Jimmy Carter (the last Democrat I voted for) or Bill Clinton. Nor did I care for the “compassionate conservatism” of George W. Bush. In modern political parlance “compassionate” is a euphemism for ever-expanding government.

But I have never written or broadcast that our country was being seriously damaged by a president. So it is with great sadness that I write that President Barack Obama has done and continues to do major damage to America. The only question is whether this can ever be undone.

This is equally true domestically and internationally.

Domestically, his policies have gravely impacted the American economy.

He has overseen the weakest recovery from a recession in modern American history.

He has mired the country in unprecedented levels of debt: about $6.5 trillion dollars in five years (this after calling his predecessor “unpatriotic” for adding nearly $5 trillion in eight years).

He has fashioned a country in which more Americans now receive government aid — means-tested, let alone non-means tested — than work full-time.

He has no method of paying for this debt other than printing more money — thereby surreptitiously taxing everyone through inflation, including the poor he claims to be helping, and cheapening the dollar to the point that some countries are talking another reserve currency — and saddling the next generations with enormous debts.

With his 2,500-page Affordable Care Act, he has made it impossible for hundreds of thousands, soon millions, of Americans to keep their individual or employee-sponsored group health insurance; he has stymied American medical innovation with an utterly destructive tax on medical devices; and he has caused hundreds of thousands of workers to lose full-time jobs because of the health care costs imposed by Obamacare on employers.

His Internal Revenue Service used its unparalleled power to stymie political dissent. No one has been held accountable.

His ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, Libya. No one has been blamed. The only blame the Obama administration has leveled was on a video maker in California who had nothing to do with the assault.

In this president’s White House, the buck stops nowhere.

Among presidents in modern American history, he has also been a uniquely divisive force. It began with his forcing Obamacare through Congress — the only major legislation in American history to be passed with no votes from the opposition party.

Though he has had a unique opportunity to do so, he has not only not helped heal racial tensions, he has exacerbated them. His intrusions into the Trayvon Martin affair (“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon”) and into the confrontation between a white police officer and a black Harvard professor (the police “acted stupidly”) were unwarranted, irresponsible, demagogic and, most of all, divisive.

He should have been reassuring black Americans that America is in fact the least racist country in the world — something he should know as well anybody, having been raised only by whites and being the first black elected the leader of a white-majority nation. Instead, he echoed the inflammatory speech of professional race-baiters such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

He has also divided the country by economic class, using classic Marxist language against “the rich” and “corporate profits.”

Regarding America in the world, he has been, if possible, even more damaging. The United States is at its weakest, has fewer allies, and has less military and diplomatic influence than at any time since before World War I.

One wonders if there is a remaining ally nation that trusts him. And worse, no American enemy fears him. If you are a free movement (the democratic Iranian and Syrian oppositions) or a free country (Israel), you have little or no reason to believe that you have a steadfast ally in the United States.

Even non-democratic allies no longer trust America. Barack Obama has alienated our most important and longest standing Arab allies, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Both the anti-Muslim Brotherhood and the anti-Iran Arab states have lost respect for him.

And his complete withdrawal of American troops from Iraq has left that country with weekly bloodbaths.

Virtually nothing Barack Obama has done has left America or the world better since he became president. Nearly everything he has touched has been made worse.

He did, however, promise before the 2008 election that “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” That is the one promise he has kept.

Exclusive: Germany, Brazil Turn to U.N. to Restrain American Spies.

Posted By Colum Lynch, Shane Harris, John Hudson  Thursday, October 24, 2013 – 8:18 PM  Share

Brazil and Germany today joined forces to press for the adoption of a U.N. General Resolution that promotes the right of privacy on the internet, marking the first major international effort to restrain the National Security Agency’s intrusions into the online communications of foreigners, according to diplomatic sources familiar with the push.

The effort follows a German claim that the American spy agency may have tapped the private telephone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of other world leaders. It also comes about one month after Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff denounced NSA espionage against her country as “a breach of international law” in a General Assembly speech and proposed that the U.N. establish legal guidelines to prevent “cyberspace from being used as a weapon of war.”

Brazilian and German diplomats met in New York today with a small group of Latin American and European governments to consider a draft resolution that calls for expanding privacy rights contained in the International Covenant Civil and Political Rights to the online world. The draft does not refer to a flurry of American spying revelations that have caused a political uproar around the world, particularly in Brazil and German. But it was clear that the revelation provided the political momentum to trigger today’s move to the United Nations. The blowback from the NSA leaks continues to agonize U.S. diplomats and military officials concerned about America’s image abroad.

“This is an example of the very worst aspects of the Snowden disclosures,” a former defense official with deep experience in NATO, told The Cable, referring to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. “It will be very difficult for the US to dig out of this, although we will over time. The short term costs in credibility and trust are enormous.”

Although the U.N.’s ability to fundamentally constrain the NSA is nil, the mounting international uproar over U.S. surveillance has security experts fearful for the ramifications.

“The worst case scenario I think would be having our European allies saying they will no longer share signals intelligence because of a concern that our SigInt is being derived from mechanisms that violate their privacy rules,” said Ray Kimball, an army strategist with policy experience on European issues. He stressed that he was not speaking for the military.

Although the Germans have not indicated such a move is in the works, they do have a game plan for making their surveillance complaints heard. The International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights was written in 1966 and came into force in 1976, decades before the internet transformed the way people communicate around the world. A provision in the international covenant, Article 17, says “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honor and reputation.” It also states that “everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

“The covenant was formulated at a time when the internet didn’t exist,” said a diplomat familiar with the negotiations. “Everyone has the right to privacy and the goal is to this resolution is to apply those protections to online communications.”

Brazil and Germany are hoping to put the resolution to a vote in the U.N. General Assembly human rights committee later this year. The draft resolution, which has not been made public and which is still subject to negotiation among U.N. states, will seek to apply the those protections to online communications. “This is not just about spying,” said the diplomat. This is about ensuring that “privacy of citizens in their home states under their own home legislation.”

“It calls on countries to put an end to violations of that right,” the official said. “People have to be protected offline and online.”

Anyone who thinks this issue will only resonate in BrazilMexico, FranceItaly, and Germany — where the Snowden leaks recently revealed NSA datamining — isn’t paying attention.

According to the latest internal NSA memo leaked to The Guardian, the list of targeted nations is even longer, which could give this U.N. effort additional momentum.  The NSA monitored the communications of 35 unnamed “world leaders,” whose phone numbers were given to the intelligence agency by a U.S. government official, according to the report. The agency has been collecting phone numbers, email addresses, and residential addresses of foreign officials from the people in the U.S. government who are in touch with them. The U.S. official, who is not named, personally handed over 200 phone numbers about the people he or she was in touch with.

It’s hardly a secret, or a surprise, that the NSA spies on foreign governments, including those friendly to the United States. Two former intelligence officials told The Cable that contact information like this is a regular source of intelligence for the NSA. And the memo acknowledges that the agency looks for officials’ contact information in open sources, such as the Internet.

But the revelation that U.S. officials are facilitating spying on the people they do business with to this extent has created the impetus for U.N. action, a first-of-its kind development.

“There’s a mixture of hypocrisy and feigned outrage along with real objections here,” said a former senior intelligence official. “I don’t know where the line is. The idea that political leaders are out of bounds for foreign intelligence is amusing. But on the other hand this business about trusting allies is a big thing. My guess is there’s a real annoyance here” on the part of foreign allies.

Merkel was so outraged by the news that her phone had been monitored that she called President Obama to discuss it. The White House issued a carefully worded statement, assuring that the German leader’s phone would not be tapped now or in the future, but not saying whether it had been.

It’s not clear whether the NSA is still collecting information from the address books of U.S. officials. The memo was written in 2006. But at least at the time, such collection was a regular occurrence.

“From time to time, SID [the agency’s signals intelligence directorate] is offered access to the personal contact databases of U.S. officials,” the memo states. It doesn’t specify who those officials are, or where in the government they work. But, the memo goes on to say, the information provided by the one U.S. official was sufficiently helpful that the agency decided to go around asking for more such contacts from the NSA’s “supported customers,” which include the Departments of Defense and State, as well as the White House. (None of them are listed by name in the memo.)

“These numbers have provided lead information to other numbers,” the memo states. In the case of the one U.S. officials, the 200 numbers included 43 that previously weren’t on the NSA’s radar.

“This success leads S2 [part of the signals intelligence directorate] to wonder if there are NSA liaisons whose supported customers may be willing to share” their contacts, as well. “S2 welcomes such information!”

Apparently, though, success was measured not so much in secrets learned but just in having the data itself. The memo acknowledges that analysts “have noted little reported intelligence from these particular numbers, which appear not to be used for sensitive discussions.”

From this we might conclude that NSA’s targets are not fools. Why would anyone in the senior ranks of a government or military have sensitive conversations or discuss classified information over the phone number or email on his business card? But, the NSA seems to have concluded, what could it hurt to find out?

Time will tell. In a statement, a spokesperson for Merkel said she told Obama that tapping her phone would represent a “grave breach of trust” between the two allies. “She made clear that she views such practices, if proven true, as completely unacceptable and condemns them unequivocally.”

With the latest news from the U.N., it appears the U.S. might be in store for more than just a slap on the wrist.