Posts tagged "Foreign Policy"

crooksandliars:

Sen. King Has Had It With Torture-lover Dick Cheney, Offers To Waterboard Him 'Hundreds' Of Times

Dick Cheney has defended torture techniques so many times that a frustrated U.S. senator has finally offered to waterboard the former vice president.

"The accusations are not true," Cheney told college television station ATV last week. “Some people called it torture. It wasn’t torture.”

"If I would have to do it all over again, I would," he insisted. "The results speak for themselves.”

A report that has been completed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, however, has found that the CIA misled the government and misstated the effectiveness of the so-called enhanced interrogation program. The report concluded that the CIA lied when it said it had gotten “otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives.”

Sen. Angus King, who is on the intelligence committee, (I-ME) reacted to Cheney’s comments during a Sunday appearance on MSNBC.

"I was stunned to hear that quote from Vice President Cheney," King explained. "If he doesn’t think that was torture, I would invite him anywhere in the United States to sit in a waterboard and go through what those people went through, one of them a hundred and plus-odd times."

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Steven Seagal favors Putin over Obama and says he may emigrate to Russia (via Raw Story )

Action movie star Steven Seagal said in an interview with the Moscow Times that he is in favor of Russia’s military action in Crimea and that he may someday emigrate to the former Soviet Union. According to Atlantic magazine’s The Wire blog, Seagal…

As Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) woos young voters ahead of an expected 2016 presidential bid, it’s become conventional wisdom among many Beltway pundits that Paul could broaden the GOP’s appeal with his ostensibly tolerant views on social issues - never mind that that this narrative is completely divorced from Paul’s traditional conservative positions on such topics.

Paul’s effort to win over Millennials and other constituencies historically suspicious of the GOP came to the fore with his March 19 speech at the University of California, Berkeley, where Paul condemned government surveillance programs as a threat to privacy.

The chattering class proclaimed that the speech was emblematic of Paul’s appeal as an unconventional, "intriguing" Republican. And despite Paul’s conservative stances on issues like marriage equality, reproductive choice, and creationism, many media outlets have also pointed to Paul as the kind of candidate who could help move the GOP away from its hardline social positions. It’s a narrative that even some of Paul’s conservative critics have come to accept, as Charles Krauthammer showed when he called Paul "very much a liberal on social issues."

A look at media coverage of Paul helps explain where Krauthammer got that notion.

  • A March 26 Wall Street Journal analysis of Millennials’ political loyalties pointed to “the unorthodox Mr. Paul” as someone who “may have a wider lane than most other Republican candidates when it comes to appealing to the young.” Besides his anti-interventionist foreign policy and anti-surveillance views, the Journal cited Paul’s “more libertarian social views,” even though it failed to provide a single example of a social issue on which Paul has bucked conservative orthodoxy.
  • NPR, in a write-up on the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), examined fissures within the GOP coalition on issues like marriage equality. The piece suggested that Paul was the candidate of those “more tolerant of same-sex marriage.”
  • Writing for Politico Magazine, Kevin D. Williamson asserted that “Paul’s libertarianism is intended to offer a little something for everybody … spending cuts for the Republican base, legal relief for potheads, a presidential pat on the head for gay people.”
  • RealClearPolitics’ Scott Conroy heralds Paul’s “efforts to court young people holding progressive social views,” while passively stating that Paul “largely” shares his father’s conservative stances on reproductive choice and marriage equality.
  • Proclaiming Paul the GOP frontrunner for 2016, The Atlantic's Peter Beinart argued that “[o]n issues from NSA surveillance to drug legalization to gay marriage, the GOP is moving in his direction.”

Except the GOP long ago arrived at Paul’s position on marriage equality - unequivocal opposition. To be sure, Paul opposes a federal marriage amendment and has urged the GOP, for strategic reasons, not to emphasize social issues. But he remains a steadfast supporter of state marriage equality bans, recently condemning as “illegitimate" a Kentucky court ruling against the state’s marriage ban  and reaffirming "the historic and religious definition of marriage."

As for RealClearPolitics’ statement that Paul “largely” agrees with his father on social issues - there’s no “largely” about it. According to his chief of staff, Paul opposes abortion in all instances except “to save the life of the mother.” While Paul’s office skirts the question of whether he supports exceptions for rape or incest, he’s on the record opposing such exceptions. And Paul doesn’t just oppose marriage equality. He has taken to anti-gay extremist Bryan Fischer’s radio show to discuss the topic, and in remarks he later said were a joke, Paul has compared same-sex marriage with polygamy and bestiality.

On other hot-button issues, Paul’s rhetoric dovetails with that of other conservatives. Under the Obama administration, Paul charges, U.S. taxpayers are funding an international "war on Christianity." Speaking before the Christian Homeschool Educators of Kentucky in 2010, Paul appealed to young-earth creationists, refusing to say how old he believes the earth is.

The media’s facts-be-damned references to Paul’s supposed unorthodoxy on social issues is symptomatic of a larger failure of political journalism. Mentions of his purported social libertarianism almost uniformly come in the context of speculation on the 2016 horse race - how Paul can position himself as an electable candidate, how he could puncture the Democratic coalition. What’s lost is a meaningful discussion of his positions on actual issues.

h/t: Luke Brinker at MMFA

mediamattersforamerica 

crooksandliars:

Laura Ingraham Uses Crimea Invasion To Call For U.S. Border Control

Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham on Sunday used the Russian invasion of Crimea to say that the United States should be focusing on stopping undocumented immigrants from coming across its border.

During a Fox News panel discussion on Crimea that included former deputy Pentagon chief Paul Wolfowitz, Ingraham began by blasting the Iraq war, which he helped to orchestrate.

"Upwards or two trillion dollars in Iraq, right? We don’t have a lot to show for it," she said. "We are stumbling still in Afghanistan. The American people — we can talk about, we can do this and we can do that [to stop Russia]. And I understand that, I really do."

"But we have a country right now where people look around and say, why do we only care about borders and sovereignty when they’re other countries’ borders and sovereignty?" the frequent Fox News guest host added. "Why is it that we’re obsessed about that, but in our country, we have a middle class completely flat-lining, we have economic opportunity dwindling?"

Ingraham noted that she had supported the “military adventurism” in Iraq, but people now wanted to know, “Where’s the bang for the buck?”

"You can’t do this in the rearview mirror," Wolfowitz insisted.

"You got to learn from the past, Paul," Ingraham interrupted.

"One of the things to learn from the past, including the past of the 1930s, is if you don’t deter these sort of moves early, when you can do it without military force, you end up in wars," Wolfowitz replied. "And that’s what we’re trying to avoid here."

She’s wrong as usual. 

See Also: BREAKING: President Obama decides NOT to use military action against Russia - JPC

h/t: Carrie Dann at NBCNews.com 

thepoliticalfreakshow:

1. On March 16, over 95 percent of voters in Crimea backed a plan to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

On March 16, over 95 percent of voters in Crimea backed a plan to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
Thomas Peter / Reuters

2. The referendum followed months of protests that forced out Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin president. Putin is expected to reveal Russia’s plan for Crimea in a speech before a special session of parliament on Tuesday.

The referendum followed months of protests that forced out Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin president . Putin is expected to reveal Russia's plan for Crimea in a speech before a special session of parliament on Tuesday.
Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters

3. Now, there is growing unrest in the east of Ukraine, which also has close ties to Russia and counts many Russian-speakers among its residents. There is increasing talk of the possibility of a Russian invasion. How did we get here?

Now, there is growing unrest in the east of Ukraine, which also has close ties to Russia and counts many Russian-speakers among its residents. There is increasing talk of the possibility of a Russian invasion. How did we get here?
Stringer / Reuters

4. Back on March 1, one week after Yanukovych fled Kiev, Vladimir Putin announced his intention to send troops to the Crimean peninsula, a semi-autonomous region of Ukraine.

Back on March 1, one week after Yanukovych fled Kiev, Vladimir Putin announced his intention to send troops to the Crimean peninsula, a semi-autonomous region of Ukraine.
Baz Ratner / Reuters

The war powers that Putin got from Russia’s upper house of parliament extended to all of Ukraine. The day before, Crimea saw the rise of a new provincial government that refused to accept the new government in Kiev.

5. Russian officials repeatedly argued the need to defend Russian-speakers in Crimea and the rest of Ukraine from anti-Russia attacks. Many Ukrainians condemned the move as an “invasion” and dismissed claims of attacks.

Russian officials repeatedly argued the need to defend Russian-speakers in Crimea and the rest of Ukraine from anti-Russia attacks. Many Ukrainians condemned the move as an "invasion" and dismissed claims of attacks.
Ria Novosti / Reuters

6. Many in predominately Russian-speaking Crimea identify strongly with Russia. Crimea houses Russia’s Black Sea fleet, making it both of symbolic and military importance for Russia.

Many in predominately Russian-speaking Crimea identify strongly with Russia. Crimea houses Russia's Black Sea fleet, making it both of symbolic and military importance for Russia.
Saharrr/Saharrr

The majority of Crimeans are ethnically Russian, retaining strong cultural, familial, linguistic, and political ties to Moscow. Soviet Russia gave Ukraine the region of Crimea in 1954, which Ukraine then retained after the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, counter to Russian opposition.

7. Troops with no identifiable markings, who first appeared days before in Crimea, increased their street presence. Putin and others denied the official presence of Russian troops and called the soldiers local “self-defense” units.

Troops with no identifiable markings, who first appeared days before in Crimea, increased their street presence. Putin and others denied the official presence of Russian troops and called the soldiers local "self-defense" units.
Stringer / Reuters

8. These unmarked soldiers — who Ukraine claimed were sent by Russia — now had control over key government buildings and the airport in Crimea.

These unmarked soldiers — who Ukraine claimed were sent by Russia — now had control over key government buildings and the airport in Crimea.
Baz Ratner / Reuters

9. By March 2, an estimated 16,000 Russian troops were in Crimea, surrounding Ukrainian military bases. Ukraine ordered its armed forces on full alert and saidRussia had “effectively declared war.”

By March 2, an estimated 16,000 Russian troops were in Crimea, surrounding Ukrainian military bases. Ukraine ordered its armed forces on full alert and said Russia had “effectively declared war.”
The Associated Press

10. Western condemnation poured in, with the U.S. and EU threatening political and economic sanctions against Russia for effectively annexing Crimea in violation of international agreements.

Western condemnation poured in, with the U.S. and EU threatening political and economic sanctions against Russia for effectively annexing Crimea in violation of international agreements.
Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters

11. On March 3, the White House offered $1 billion in aid to support Ukraine’s interim government to hold fair elections, implement economic reform, combat corruption, and withstand “politically motivated trade actions by Russia.”

On March 3, the White House offered $1 billion in aid to support Ukraine’s interim government to hold fair elections, implement economic reform, combat corruption, and withstand "politically motivated trade actions by Russia.”
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Russia often uses its vast gas resources – the Russian gas giant Gazprom supplies controls nearly one-fifth of the world’s gas reserves – as political leverage in the region. Russia supplies Ukraine with more than half of its gas annually, while around 80% of the gas Russia exports to Europe first passes through Ukraine. Russia repeatedly fought “gas wars” with Ukraine, threatening to cut subsidies to maintain power in Ukraine’s political future.

12. The next day, Putin gave his first remarks on Ukraine since ordering troops into Crimea. In a defiant speech from Moscow, he affirmed the Kremlin’s right to use all options in Ukraine, but adding “there is no reason yet” to use military force.

The next day, Putin gave his first remarks on Ukraine since ordering troops into Crimea. In a defiant speech from Moscow, he affirmed the Kremlin’s right to use all options in Ukraine, but adding “there is no reason yet” to use military force.
Stringer / Reuters

13. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev the same day to meet with Ukraine’s interim government. He reiterated support for a diplomatic solution and condemned Russia’s “act of aggression.”

Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev the same day to meet with Ukraine’s interim government. He reiterated support for a diplomatic solution and condemned Russia’s “act of aggression."
Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters

14. On March 6, Obama announced an expected set of sanctions against Russia, including visa bans and an executive order against Russian officials “who are most directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine.”

On March 6, Obama announced an expected set of sanctions against Russia , including visa bans and an executive order against Russian officials "who are most directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine.”
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

15. The threats did little to deter Russia. Most in Crimea supported a return to Russian control. But Crimea’s minority Muslim population, the Tatars, came out against Russia’s intervention.

The threats did little to deter Russia. Most in Crimea supported a return to Russian control. But Crimea’s minority Muslim population, the Tatars , came out against Russia’s intervention.
Sergei L. Loiko/Los Angeles Times / MCT

16. As the referendum neared, violent clashes broke out across the east, where ties to Russia are strongest. In Odessa, Donetsk, and Kharkiv, pro-Russia crowds captured administrative buildings and called for autonomy from Kiev.

As the referendum neared, violent clashes broke out across the east, where ties to Russia are strongest. In Odessa, Donetsk, and Kharkiv, pro-Russia crowds captured administrative buildings and called for autonomy from Kiev.
AP Photo/Sergei Vaganov

17. On March 13, protests in Donetsk turned deadly. Some claimed pro-Russian activists had provoked the violence, in hopes of bolstering Russia’s claim that it needed to intervene in order to protect Russian-speakers and return calm.

On March 13, protests in Donetsk turned deadly . Some claimed pro-Russian activists had provoked the violence, in hopes of bolstering Russia’s claim that it needed to intervene in order to protect Russian-speakers and return calm.
Stringer / Reuters

18. On March 14, Kerry met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in London. The talks did not go well.

On March 14, Kerry met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in London. The talks did not go well.
Pool / Reuters

19. Lavrov said after the meeting that Russia had no plans to “invade” Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry also issued a statement that same day saying Russia “reserved the right” to protect its “countrymen” in Ukraine.

Lavrov said after the meeting that Russia had no plans to "invade" Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry also issued a statement that same day saying Russia "reserved the right" to protect its "countrymen" in Ukraine.
Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters

20. With ever more talk of war, tens of thousands of Muscovites rallied against Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. It was the largest anti-Putin protest in two years. In east Ukraine, another two pro-Ukrainian activists died as clashes escalated.

With ever more talk of war, tens of thousands of Muscovites rallied against Russia's intervention in Ukraine. It was the largest anti-Putin protest in two years. In east Ukraine, another two pro-Ukrainian activists died as clashes escalated.
Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

21. On March 17, Obama issued a new executive order imposing fresh sanctions and visa bans on 11 Russians and Ukrainians, including seven high-ranking Russian government officials, for their role in the Crimea referendum and Ukraine escalation.

On March 17, Obama issued a new executive order imposing fresh sanctions and visa bans on 11 Russians and Ukrainians, including seven high-ranking Russian government officials, for their role in the Crimea referendum and Ukraine escalation.
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

A White House official called them the most “comprehensive” sanctions on Russia since the end of the Cold War. The European Union also put sanctions on 21 officials involved with Crimea’s breakaway efforts.

22. Crimea’s referendum is over — but pro- and anti-Russia activists continue to clash in Ukraine’s east, as Russian troops and armored vehicles amass along the border. In Kiev, many worry that region may be the new flashpoint.

Crimea's referendum is over — but pro- and anti-Russia activists continue to clash in Ukraine's east, as Russian troops and armored vehicles amass along the border. In Kiev, many worry that region may be the new flashpoint.
Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters

Source: Miriam Berger for Buzzfeed

Fox News “Medical A-Team” member Dr. Keith Ablow attributed Russian president Valdimir Putin’s decision to invade Crimea in part “to the psychology of Barack Obama.” 

In a March 11 FoxNews.com column, Ablow claimed that Putin’s motivations should not be dismissed as those of a “simple thug,” but rather that “Putin’s psychology is being directly fueled by that of President Barack Obama.” Ablow criticized Obama as unwilling to assert both personal and nationalistic power, arguing that “Barack Obama apparently believes he was placed on this earth to be the most powerful person he can be, in order to restrain America in the expression of its power.”

Ablow went on to imply that Obama’s domestic policy was the catalyst for Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine:

How then could Vladimir Putin fail to notice the remarkable presence on the world stage of an American counterpart (Barack Obama) who is as interested as he is in disempowering the United States? How could he fail to act on the remarkable symmetry of such a moment in history? To not test the possibility that God intends him to be the instrument of a new world order, based on Russia’s manifest destiny, would be contrary to every fiber in his being.

To go further, I do not believe that Vladimir Putin would miss the fact that Barack Obama has imperiled the notion of individual autonomy (by seeking to disarm Americans, by seeking to make Americans dependent on unemployment checks and food stamps and by making it officially impossible to choose how to spend your own money, via the Affordable Care Act). Since giving each individual the right to power is not the goal of this American President, why would Putin believe that taking power from others would be opposed vigorously by this President’s Administration?

Ablow concluded that “If Crimea becomes part of Russia or all of Ukraine does,” Putin and Obama’s psychology will share the blame equally.

h/t: Sophia Tesfaye at MMFA

stinkyjr:

Truth…

h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW

thepoliticalfreakshow:

The US conceded on Sunday that Moscow had “complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula” and announced that the secretary of state, John Kerry, will fly to Kiev in an attempt to halt a further Russian advance into Ukraine.

Senior US officials dismissed claims that Washington is incapable of exerting influence on the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, but were forced to admit that Crimea had been successfully invaded by 6,000 airborne and ground troops in what could be the start of a wider invasion.

“They are flying in reinforcements and they are settling in,” one senior official said. Another senior official said: “Russian forces now have complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula.”

On Monday, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said he had discussed Ukraine with his Chinese counterpart and their views coincided on the situation there.

Lavrov said in a statement that the two veto-wielding UN security council members would stay in close contact on the issue. 

Meanwhile, Ukrainian border guards reported a buildup of armoured vehicles near a ferry port on the Russian side of the Kerch Channel – a narrow sea channel dividing Russia and the Ukraine. A statement from the guard spokesperson said Russian ships had also been moving in and around the city of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea fleet has a base, and that Russian forces had blocked telephone services in some areas.

Although President Barack Obama’s administration called for Putin to withdraw troops to Russian military bases on the peninsula, its objective appeared to have shifted to using political and economic threats to prevent any further military incursion.

One senior official said the major decision facing Putin was whether to “continue to escalate troop movements into other parts of Ukraine”.

“We’ve already seen the intervention in Crimea,” the official said. “It would be even further destabilising to expand that intervention into eastern Ukraine.”

The official added: “Our bottom line is they had to pull back from what they’ve already done, go back into their bases in Crimea. We’ll be watching very, very carefully of course and will be very, very concerned if we saw further escalation into eastern Ukraine.”

Kerry will fly to Kiev on Tuesday, to meet Ukraine’s new government and display “strong support for Ukrainian sovereignty”, a state department official said. However, in Washington there were mounting questions, particularly from Republican opponents of the administration, about the influence Kerry and other officials have over Moscow.

Kerry, Obama and other senior officials spent the last 24 hours frantically attempting to rally an international coalition of countries to condemn Moscow over the Crimea invasion, and commit to economic sanctions in order to prevent a further advance into other pro-Russian parts of Ukraine.

Obama spoke by phone with the British prime minister, David Cameron, Polish president Bronisław Komorowski and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.

“We are concerned as we watch this situation that the Russians have badly miscalculated,” one of the senior officials said. “There is a very fierce and proud tradition in Ukraine of defending their sovereignty and territorial integrity. So far Ukraine has showed, and Ukrainians individually have showed, marked restraint … but the longer this situation goes on, the more delicate it becomes.”

Earlier on Sunday, Kerry told CBS leading western nations were prepared to enact economic sanctions against Russia over what he called an “incredible act of aggression”.

“You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext,” Kerry said. “It is really a stunning, wilful choice by President Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is in violation of its international obligations.”

Asked how the US and its allies might respond, Kerry stressed the economic harm that could befall Russia if it continued its occupation of Crimea, but repeatedly said “all options” were under consideration.

However, in a conference call with reporters later on Sunday, three senior US administration officials made clear that the “menu” of options before the White House does not include military action.

“Frankly, our goal is to uphold the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, not to have a military escalation,” one of the officials said. “I don’t think we’re focused right now on the notion of some US military intervention. I don’t think that would be an effective way to de-escalate the situation.”

During the call, which last almost an hour, the officials said they were looking to provide Russia with “off-ramps” that would enable Putin to reverse his course, and were applying pressure through a broad international coalition that had agreed to to ostracise Moscow.

That process has begun with major powers pulling out of preparatory meetings ahead of the G8 summit which is due to be hosted in Sochi in June, as well as the cancellation of other trade-related meetings with Russia planned for this week. In effect, Russia is being threatened with expulsion from the G8 group of countries, unless it withdraws from Ukraine.

That will quickly escalate to possible sanctions, including potential visa and banking restrictions targeting Russians close to Putin. Currently, the US is reviewing “all of our economic and trade cooperation with the Russian Federation”, one official said, and all 28 members of Nato were planning to sign up to a single statement, strongly condemning Moscow.

Obama Putin phone callPresident Barack Obama talks on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photograph: The White House/Getty Images

“He [Putin] is not going to have a Sochi G8, he may not even remain in the G8 if this continues,” Kerry told NBC earlier in the day. “He may find himself with asset freezes, on Russian business, American business may pull back, there may be a further tumble of the ruble.”

The Obama administration is also working with the European Union and International Monetary Fund to fast-track a package of financial aid and loans, in order to shore-up Ukraine’s economy.

The officials argued that Russia had miscalculated by invading Ukraine and effectively conquering the Crimean peninsula. What US officials described as the Russian “intervention” was likely to bolster “the people of Ukraine’s desire to reorient towards Europe”, an official said.

Another senior official said: “When it comes to soft power, the power of attraction, Vladimir Putin has no game. So he’s left with hard power and it’s a very dangerous game to play.”

However, the senior officials sounded flustered as they struggled with accusations from reporters that Obama had shown himself to be powerless in the face of Russian aggression.

On Friday, Obama made a forceful public address, warning Putin that there would be “costs” if Russia intervened in Ukraine. On Saturday he spent 90 minutes on the phone with the Russian leader, ultimately failing to dissuade him from taking military action.

Asked if Obama had a “credibility problem”, one senior official replied: “The premise of your question is he [Putin] is strong and [the] president of the United States is weak. He [Putin] is not acting from a position of strength right now.”

The official added: “You’re seeing the ability of the United States to bring with us … the rest of the G7 countries, the rest of Nato, and frankly the large majority of the world in condemning this action.”

h/t: Lara Jakes at AP, via Huffington Post

The right-wing scare machine’s been lying to the American people about Benghazi, likely as an effort to smear Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and by proxy, all Democrats leading up to 2016. 

h/t: Leslie Salzillo at Daily Kos 

From the 01.28.2014 edition of FNC’s The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson:

h/t: TPM