Posts tagged "War On Terror"

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 

America must move off a permanent war footing.
Obama at #SOTU2014. 


Bachmann: Obama funding Al-Qaeda proves ‘we are in God’s End Times’

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) falsely claimed over the weekend that President Barack Obama was “paying to give arms to terrorists including Al-Qaeda,” which she warned was a signed that “we are in God’s End Times.”

Speaking to the Christian radio show Understanding the Times on Saturday, the Minnesota Republican incorrectly stated that “President Obama waived a ban on arming terrorists in order to allow weapons to go to the Syrian opposition.”

“Your listeners, U.S. taxpayers, are now paying to give arms to terrorists including Al-Qaeda,” she told host Jan Markell.

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One year ago today, on September 11, 2012, a U.S. diplomatic outpost and Central Intelligence Agency annex were attacked by extremists in Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, U.S. foreign service officer Sean Smith, and two security personnel, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALS.

While the Obama administration had been successful in degrading the capabilities of core-al Qaeda — or the terror organization’s centralized version that was responsible for the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington — the tragedy reminded Americans and U.S. allies that the threat from like-minded extremists was still alive and well.

Instead of joining to unite the country in the face of this terrible tragedy, Republicans, at first led by then-GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and later Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), turned the Benghazi attacks into a political fiasco, searching far and near for a way to hang the blame on President Obama and with the aim of damaging his political stature at the least, or at most, bringing down members of his national security team or even ultimately his presidency.

But the long, drawn-out campaign to bring down Obama turned up nothing. Everything conservatives and Republicans held up as evidence of malfeasance on the part of the Obama administration’s handling of Benghazi and its aftermath was later discredited by either facts or logic. The right’s biggest achievement throughout this whole Benghazi mess was keeping Susan Rice, who was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the time of the attacks, from being nominated as Secretary of State. But even that campaign — led by McCain — seemed to backfire as Rice is now Obama’s National Security Adviser, a position with arguably more influence on the President’s foreign policy thinking.

Media Matters has a run-down of the some of the top Benghazi myths. And throughout the GOP’s Benghazi witch-hunt, ThinkProgress has been compiling a timeline of the key events — from Romney’s first baseless attacks on Obama, the faux-scandal surrounding the infamous “talking points” delivered by then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, McCain’s smear campaign, and highlights of how all the GOP-led attacks on Obama were eventually fully debunked. On January 23, during a Senate hearing on Benghazi, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scolded Republicans for politicizing Benghazi, and in this instance, for focusing on whether a protest over an anti-Muslim video sparked the attacks:

CLINTON: With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans! Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans?! What difference at this point does it make?! It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.

We have updated the timeline which can be viewed here.

Conservatives aren’t done with Benghazi. Fox News, Tea Party types and a dwindling number of Republican hangers on in Congress keep trying to pin Obama down with something. But they’ll never find anything nefarious. Benghazi is not the next Watergate. Nor will President Obama be impeached over the matter. “The whole thing defies logic,” an exacerbated Obama said in May. “And the fact that this keeps on getting churned out, frankly, has a lot to do with political motivations.

“We dishonor [the four Americans killed in Benghazi] when we turn things like this into a political circus,” Obama added. “What happened was tragic. It was carried out by extremists inside of Libya. We are out there trying to hunt down the folks who carried this out, and we are trying to make sure that we fix the system so that it doesn’t happen again.”

h/t: Ben Armbruster at Think Progress Security


Tea party-backed Representatives Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Steve King (R-IA) on Saturday held a press conference in Egypt to thank the country’s military for overthrowing the elected government, and at one point even seemed to suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood had been behind the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

Missile strikes against Syria could be launched “as early as Thursday,” senior U.S. officials said Tuesday as the White House intensified its push toward an international response to the suspected use of chemical weapons.

The “three days” of strikes would be limited in scope, and aimed at sending a message to Syria’s President Bashar Assad rather than degrading his military capabilities, U.S. officials told NBC News.

News on the possible timescale for military action followed another round of telephone diplomacy by President Barack Obama and his administration.

Obama held discussions with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and French President Francois Hollande on Monday, while Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in addition to political leaders in Britain, France, Jordan Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

British Prime Minister David Cameron recalled his country’s Parliament from vacation on Tuesday and said lawmakers would vote Thursday on a proposal for action.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the BBC that the U.S. military was” ready to go” with any action ordered by the White House.


Some U.S. allies, most notably Britain, have signaled that a quick, limited military strike on Syria could take place without U.N. Security Council approval. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that such a move would be “a very grave violation of international law.”

China also said an attack on Syria would be “dangerous and irresponsible.”

“It is imperative that the United States and like-minded countries refrain from hasty armed invention and let the U.N. play its due part in determining how to act,” the state-run Xinhua news agency said Tuesday.


(via AFA Radio host Bryan Fischer: “Obama Was Photoshopped Into Bin Laden Raid Situation Room Photo”| Right Wing Watch)

We are not sure what is going on over at the American Family Association but for the last week or so, Bryan Fischer has been coming up with some stuff that is crazy, even by his standards. 

And that trend continues as today, on his radio broadcast, Fischer shared his theory that President Obama had been photoshopped into the iconic photo of the situation room taken during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

As Fischer sees it, Obama wanted to be nowhere near the room while the raid took place in case anything went wrong.  But once it was a success, he had himself photoshopped into the photo:


Americans want the U.S. to keep out of Syria conflictMost Americans do not want the United States to intervene in Syria’s civil war even if the government there uses chemical weapons, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Wednesday, in a clear message to the White House as it considers how to respond to the worsening crisis.

Only 10 percent of those surveyed in the online poll said the United States should become involved in the fighting. Sixty-one percent opposed getting involved.

The figure favoring intervention rose to 27 percent when respondents were asked what the United States should do if President Bashar al-Assad’s forces used chemical weapons. Forty-four percent would be opposed.

“Particularly given Afghanistan and the 10th anniversary of Iraq, there is just not an appetite for intervention,” said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

The rebellion against Assad’s government has resulted in 70,000 dead and created more than 1.2 million refugees since it erupted in 2011.

Continue reading about the Syrian civil war and American sentiment.

Photo: a Syrian boy plays with an AK-47 rifle owned by his father. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

President Obama said on Tuesday that his he still believes that the Guantánamo Bay prison does not serve American security interests and said that his administration will try again to close Gitmo.

“It is not a surprise to me that we’ve got problems in Guantánamo,” Obama said when asked during a White House press conference about the ongoing hunger strike crisis there. “I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantánamo is not necessary to keep America safe,” he added, pledging to take another shot at closing Gitmo:

OBAMA: It needs to be closed. Now Congress determined that they would not let us close it and despite the fact that there are a number of folks who are in Guantánamo who the courts have said could be returned to their country origin or potentially a third country. I’m going to go back at this. I’ve asked my team to review everything that’s currently being done in Guantánamo, everything that we can do administratively and I’m going to reengage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that’s in the best interests of the American people. And it’s not sustainable.

Obama signed an executive order in January 2009 vowing to close Gitmo within one year but largely because of congressional intransigence, the facility remains open today, housing 166 inmates, of whom 100 are currently on hunger strike. The State Department reassigned the special envoy for closing Gitmo in January and Obama did not reappoint anyone to fill the position.

However, the Obama administration does have some room to maneuver. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) recently urged the White House to take steps to repatriate some of the 56 Yemeni detainees who are cleared for release. The U.S. halted the Yemeni process after it was learned that militants in the country trained the so-called underwear bomber in 2009; but new Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s eagerness to take on al-Qaeda could calm recidivism fears.

Of the 100 Gitmo detainees on hunger strike, 21 are being force-fed, a process that the American Medical Association and a bipartisan detainee expert task force have condemned.

h/t: Ben Armbruster at Think Progress Security

On August 5, 2012, just before 10:30 in the morning, Wade Michael Page pulled up outside the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc., took out his semi-automatic handgun and started killing worshipers. An Army veteran and an avid bass player in a neo-Nazi rock band, Page killed two Sikhs outside the house of worship and then made his way inside. There, he reloaded and killed four more, including the president of the temple who was shot while trying to tackle Page. Three more were critically wounded in the massacre.

When local police descended, Page opened fire and shot one officer nearly ten times. When the authorities returned fire and shot Page in the stomach, he took his 9mm pistol, pointed it at his own head, and pulled the trigger.

According to acquaintances, the 40-year-old killer hated blacks, Indians, Native Americans and Hispanics (he called non-whites “dirt people”), and was interested in joining the Ku Klux Klan. Immersed in the world of white power music, Page’s band rehearsed in front of a Nazi flag.

Note that back in August 2012, Fox News didn’t care very much about Wade Page and the wild gun shootout he unleashed in an act of domestic terror in the Milwaukee suburb, nor did Fox suggest the event was connected to a larger, more sinister terror trend. In fact, in the days that followed the gun massacre, there were just two passing references to Page during Fox’s primetime, one from Bill O’Reilly and one from Greta Van Susteren. No guests were asked to discuss the temple shooting, and after one day the story was completely forgotten.

In one rare occasion when the conversation did turn to Page’s motivations, Fox’s opinion hosts were quick to criticize the notion that he was a far-right extremist. (He clearly was.) On The Five, after co-host Bob Beckel referred to Page as “right-wing skinhead,” he was quickly shouted down by his colleagues. Co-host Andrea Tantaros stressed that the killing was an isolated event that didn’t have any larger implications. “How do you stop a lunatic?” she asked. “This is not a political issue.”

Fox’s guarded response to an extremist’s killing spree was striking, considering that in the wake of the Boston Marathon bomb attack Fox News has gone all in (again) with its war on Islam as the channel fights its latest bigoted chapter in the War on Terror. It’s striking as Fox tries to blame a larger community for the act of two madmen because it’s the same Fox News that often can’t find time to even comment, let alone report, on what’s become regular, and often deadly, right-wing extremist attacks in America.

From neo-Nazi killers like Page, to a string of abortion clinic bombings, as well as bloody assaults on law enforcement from anti-government insurrectionists, acts of right-wing extreme violence continue to terrorize victims in the U.S. (“Fifty-six percent of domestic terrorist attacks and plots in the U.S. since 1995 have been perpetrated by right-wing extremists.”) But Fox News is not concerned. And Fox News does not try to affix collective blame.

It’s clear that Fox is only interested in covering and hyping a single part of the War on Terror; the part that targets Muslims and lets Fox wallow in stereotypes. The part that lets Fox accuse Obama of being “soft” on Islamic terrorists and perhaps sharing a radical allegiance. The part that lets Fox advocate for bugging mosques and eliminating other Constitutional rights, and lets it unleash a collection of anti-Islam crusaders onto the cable airwaves.

Most importantly, Fox covers a War on Terror that lets it uniformly blame Muslims.

Keep in mind though, there’s been no reported evidence that anyone in the Cambridge, Mass., Muslim community knew about, condoned or helped plan the bombing perpetrated by Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. In fact, it’s possible the bomber brothers told nobody of their plan because local Muslims would have reported them to the police, the way a local imam tipped off Canadian officials who made arrests this week and thwarted an alleged rail bombing plot. (And the way local Muslims in Virginia and New York have helped prevent terror plots.)

Fox’s ugly religious attacks represent a brazen display of bigotry and bullying. The hypocrisy is that Fox News routinely downplays acts of political, and religious, violence from far-right extremists, while making sure not to condemn those indirectly associated with them.

Such acts have been legion. During a robust period of political violence last decade, women’s health clinics were attacked in January, May, and September 2003, January and July 2004, January, May, and July 2005, as well as May and December 2007, according to the National Abortion Federation.

Then in 2009, five clinics in Florida were the target of acid attacks.

More recently, two antiabortion firebombings occurred in 2011. And last year a woman’s health clinic in Wisconsin was damaged when a homemade bomb was set off on the building’s windowsill.

Of course, in May 2009, antiabortion extremist Scott Roeder shot and killed Dr. George Tiller while he attended church in Wichita, Kan.

And then there are the right-wing hate extremists who have plotted attacks against the government and minorities. Below is a partial list of attacks, or planned attacks, unleashed by radicals in recent years. The descriptions are taken from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 2012 report, “Terror From the Right: Plots, Conspiracies and Racist Rampages Since Oklahoma City.”

h/t: AlterNet

Chechnya is a region in the large isthmus between the Black and Caspian Seas north of the Georgia and Armenia in the North Caucuses Mountains. It can be said to stand on the gate between east and west, with Russia to the north and Iran and Turkey only several hundred miles south. Most ethnic Chechens, by far the largest ethnic group, adhere to Sunni Islam. Ethnic Russians, mostly of transplanted Cossack origin, are predominantly Orthodox Christians. The region is also home to other smaller populations of eastern Caucuses peoples. Chechnya was part of the Ottoman Empire and then the Persian Empire until the early 19th century when it was ceded to Russia following their victory in the Russo-Persian War in 1813.

Chechnya has been host to conflict for centuries because of its strategic position between Russia and far eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire and the Middle or Near East. It sits atop the natural barrier of the Caucuses Mountains between two seas. Chechnya has been the site of many instances of brutal ethnic and religious oppression by the Ottomans, Persians, Russian Empire, the USSR, and the Russian Republic, as well as by regional separatist or independence leaders, in an effort to control or keep hold of the region. As a result, inhabitants are quite divided between political, ethnic, and religious allegiances. Roughly speaking, Chechnya has a history similar to regions such as Bosnia and Kosovo, which are subject to much the same tensions.

Chechnya has been fighting on-and-off for independence from Russia for over 200 years. It was briefly independent following the Russian Revolution in 1921. Following the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1940, Chechnya again declared independence until Stalin re-established control in 1944, followed by a brutal purge and mass Siberian deportations. The years following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 were particularly violent as many Chechen groups fought again for independence from the Russian Republic, though the region has been under firm Russian control since 1999. However, this control has led some Chechen separatist groups to turn to terrorism.

Since 1999, Chechnya-linked groups have been involved in at least a dozen terror attacks, the majority of which have taken place in or been aimed at Russia. A Chechen group seized a grade school in Beslan, Russia in 2004, resulting in the deaths of 330 hostages, most of them children. In 2008, Chechen rebels took 130 hostages in a movie theatre in Moscow, all of whom died along with their captors following a botched rescue attempt by Russian security forces. In 2010, two female suicide bombers killed 39 in an attack at a train station near the Moscow headquarters of the FSB, Russia’s main intelligence agency.

There is evidence that some Chechen separatist groups may have links to Al-Qaeda. Many ethnic Chechen fighters fought alongside the mujahedeen, including Osama Bin Laden, in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Chechens also fought alongside the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan against the U.S. and Northern Alliance fighters in 2001. The Taliban government was one of the few in the world to recognize Chechen independence. Russia has claimed it holds direct evidence of links between Chechen rebels and Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Many question this link and cite it as a ploy to ensure the west sees Chechen rebels as terrorists and the west elicits no resistance in return from Russia when it pursues its own terrorists elsewhere.

The U.S. government lists the Islamic Independent Peacekeeping Brigade as a source for funding for Islamist Chechan rebels and has ties to Al-Qaeda. America also lists the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment and Riyadus-Salikhin Brigade of Chechen Martyrs as terror groups.

As hunger strikes at the detention center at Guantánamo Bay increasingly become a human rights concern, a new exhaustive report from a group of bipartisan former officials, and medical and legal experts declares that U.S. treatment of detainees after September 11, 2001 constituted torture.

The 577-page report comes out of more than two years of research, interviews, investigation, and analysis. It was led by staunch Republican Asa Hutchinson, who told the New York Times, “This has not been an easy inquiry for me, because I know many of the players … But I just think we learn from history.”

The report issues a series of unanimous recommendations. However, there was one point on which they could not reach consensus: whether or not the detention center should be closed. They repeatedly lamented the lack of declassified government information, and suggested that more access might enable them to reach a conclusion on that question. Below are seven key findings from the report.

1. U.S. forces used interrogation techniques that constitute torture, and many more constituted “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” — both violations of international treaty obligations. Techniques included sleep deprivation, stress positions, nudity, sensory deprivation, and threatening detainees with dogs. During a press conference today, former Ambassador Thomas Pickering lamented: “I spent my life as a diplomat and spent a good part of that life trying to importune other governments to life up to the rule of law. I was chagrined, embarrassed and in many ways felt undermined.

2. The nation’s most senior officials bear responsibility for “allowing and contributing to the spread of illegal interrogation techniques.” The report explains: “The most important element may have been to declare that the Geneva Conventions, a venerable instrument for ensuring humane treatment in time of war, did not apply to Al Qaeda and Taliban captives in Afghanistan or Guantánamo. The administration never specified what rules would apply instead. The other major factor was President Bush’s authorization of brutal techniques by the CIA for selected detainees.” The CIA also created its own detention and interrogation facilities in several other locations.

3. There is no compelling evidence that illegal torture techniques were effective. In fact, it is likely that torture techniques are less effective, since they often compel false confessions, and distinguishing what is useful from what is misleading is difficult at best.

4. Lawyers in President Bush’s Office of Legal Counsel repeatedly gave wrong advice that authorized illegal and torturous interrogation techniques. In doing so, they willfully ignored the advice of those in other departments with substantial expertise and “ did not properly serve their clients: the president the American people.

5. The United States violated its international legal obligations in capturing individuals and transferring them to another country for interrogation without legal process. From the Report: “After September 11, 2001, the extraordinary rendition program consisted of individuals being captured in one part of the world and transferred extrajudicially to another location for the purpose of interrogation rather than legal process. The U.N. officials involved did not notify the detainees’ families of their whereabouts, or provide the detainees with legal representation in any locations operated by the CIA as ‘black sites’ or for proxy detention. What’s more, the commission found that U.S. officials committed torture at these black sites, and that suspects were more likely than not to be tortured in the detaining countries, in spite of diplomatic assurances to the contrary.

6. Forced feeding techniques used on hunger strikers are a form of torture and must end. While the commission sympathizes with the U.S. interest in preventing inmate suicides, it calls for physicians to oversee this invasive and painful process, and to determine the competence of the detainees — man of whom have now lost hope that they will ever see legal process — to make their own decisions.

7. The U.S. government should not invoke the state-secrets privilege to block lawsuits seeking internationally recognized relief for torture. The Convention Against Torture requires states to ensure that the legal system contains an adequate means for torture redress; ours does not when every lawsuit is blocked by government claims of immunity without an opportunity for the judge to review, in secret, the information the government claims must remain secret.

Although commissioners did not come to a consensus on how to handle prisoners indefinitely detained at Guantánamo,  those who called for the detention center’s closure said detainees should get a trial either in U.S. courts or in a military commission with equivalent rights to the U.S. system. In recent weeks, increasing signs have emerged that the legal process for detainees who are getting a trial is not even close to living up to American values, with defendants’ legal files disappearing, and new evidence that intelligence officials were spying on confidential lawyer-client conversations.