The Truth Begins To Leak Out

Fox News posted an article today about an interview former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel published Friday in Foreign Policy. The interview provided some insight into some of the decisions made in the Obama Administration during Secretary Hagel’s tenure.

The article reports:

The interview with Foreign Policy comes nearly a year after his acrimonious exit from the Obama administration. Still smarting from the circumstances of his departure, Hagel told Foreign Policy that the White House tried to “destroy” him even after he resigned.

The interview explored the tensions between Hagel and others on Obama’s team, but offered particularly revealing details about the backstory to the president’s decision backing off his “red line” with Assad.

The former Pentagon chief said that decision in 2013 dealt a big blow to U.S. credibility.

“Whether it was the right decision or not, history will determine that,” Hagel told Foreign Policy. “There’s no question in my mind that it hurt the credibility of the president’s word when this occurred.”

While it is well-known that Obama chose not to go forward with any military action against Assad in 2013 despite drawing that line – and instead pursued a diplomatic path to have Assad hand over his chemical weapons stockpile – Hagel described the military option as robust up until the moment Obama nixed it.

It will be interesting to see what papers will be made public when the Obama Administration opens its library. This administration has behaved like political thugs. They have politicized the justice department, the internal revenue, and anything else they touched. They have created a racial divide that has not existed in this country since the 1950’s. It will be interesting to see how transparent they will be with their internal records.

This Is The Way To Respond To A Terrorist Attack

ABC News is reporting today that French jets have begun bombing ISIS targets in eastern Syria.

The article reports:

The French Ministry of Defense said it targeted a command post and a terrorist training camp, dropping 20 bombs on ISIS’s de facto capital in Raqqa, Syria. The first target included a command post, jihadist recruiting center and a weapons warehouse, the ministry said.

Ten fighter jets were launched simultaneously from Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. The operation was coordinated with the U.S. military.

Several people in France and Belgium have been detained by the police in connection with the terrorists attacks in Paris. Authorities believe that at least ten people were involved in the attack or its planning.

The article reports a rather troubling statistic:

More than 500 Belgian nationals have left to fight in Syria, according to a Belgian database. Belgium has provided the most foreign fighters in Syria, per capita, of any European country.

In September of 2014, The Daily Beast reported:

On Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told CNN more than 100 Americans have pledged themselves to the group that declared itself a Caliphate in June after conquering Iraq’s second-largest city. Hagel added, “There may be more, we don’t know.” On Thursday, a Pentagon spokesman walked back Hagel’s remarks, saying the United States believes there are “maybe a dozen” Americans who have joined ISIS.

…(In an appearance on Meet the Press this weekend, Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said that hundreds of Americans were affiliated with the group.)

The problem for the U.S. intelligence community in part is that Syria itself is a bit of a black hole. Syria remains what’s known as a “denied area” for U.S. intelligence agencies, meaning any military or intelligence officer that operates inside Syria does so at great risk of being killed or captured.

I don’t know how many Americans have joined ISIS, but one is too many. We need to agree as a country as to what to do with these men if and when they return. Otherwise we will find ourselves in the same situation as Paris.

More Prisoner Releases From Guantanamo

Fox News posted an article today about the Obama Administration’s plans to transfer more prisoners out of Guantanamo in the coming weeks.

I believe that the story at Fox News buried the headline, which I believe is included in this paragraph:

The transfers come shortly after the announcement of the resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was criticized by administration officials who spoke to The Wall Street Journal for moving too slowly to certify detainees for release.

Senior officials at the White House are impatient as the president’s term in office draws nearer to its end with the promise of the closure of Guantanamo unfulfilled, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In February 2012, The Hill posted an article about a report issued by the House Armed Service Committee’s Oversight and Investigations subcommittee that stated 27 percent of detainees released from Guantanamo Bay could be reengaging in terrorist activities.

The article reports:

The report found that “the Bush and Obama administrations, in reaction to domestic political pressures, a desire to earn goodwill abroad, and in an attempt to advance strategic national security goals, sought to ‘release’ or ‘transfer’ GITMO detainees elsewhere.”

“The key is making sure we don’t allow detainees to areas where they rejoin the battle,” Wittman said. “The analysis of the policy cuts across both administrations, making sure the process is such that these detainees are not returning to the battlefield and seeking to harm Americans, seeking to kill Americans.”

Democrats said the GOP’s report ignored the national security value of closing Guantanamo down.

The prison “is a black eye for our on nation abroad, serving as a powerful recruiting tool for terrorists,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services panel.

Does anyone really believe that Guantanamo is responsible for the increasing amount of terrorists? ISIS is recruiting in the United States on the basis of their victories in Iraq–not Guantanamo. Unfortunately, the one thing that the terrorist mind understands is power–if you show weakness, you lose. Closing Guantanamo would be the ultimate victory for terrorists and would encourage them to believe they have defeated the Western world. If President Obama closes Guantanamo, he will put Americans at a higher risk of future terror attacks–both from the prisoners released from Guantanamo and from radicalized American Muslims who see the closing as a sign that they are winning. Hopefully Congress can prevent the release of any more terrorists.

About That Flexibility

America seems to have forgotten who her friends are and who her enemies are. On March 26, 2012, major news sources reported that President Obama had told outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev he will have “more flexibility” to deal with contentious issues like missile defense after the U.S. presidential election. That remark was caught by an open mike. Well, it seems as if that flexibility has arrived.

Saturday’s New York Times reported that the United States has effectively canceled the final phase of a Europe-based missile defense system that was fiercely opposed by Russia and cited repeatedly by the Kremlin as a major obstacle to cooperation on nuclear arms reductions and other issues. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made the announcement. Those resources will be shifted to America to provide missile interceptors in response to recent threats made by North Korea. It is a good thing that we are protecting America, but I do wonder about the wisdom of leaving allies out in the cold with nothing but our broken promises.

The New York Times couches this as a good thing for our relationship with Russia and states that the Polish government is not all that upset about it. Regardless, we have broken a promise to an ally in order to please a government that does not represent freedom and is not an ally of America. I question the wisdom of that decision.

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Being Forced To Vote While Being Denied The Necessary Information

One of the objections in the confirmation battle of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense is that there is a lot of missing information in the papers he has submitted to Congress. Actually, the blank spaces in that information could be easily cleared up by a search of Chuck Hagel’s archive at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Today’s Weekly Standard is reporting that the University has decided to keep the archive sealed because not everything there has been processed.

The article reports:

“Chuck Hagel’s record in the Senate is well documented in the public domain,” says Hagel spokesman Marie Harf in an emailed statement.

“Given his extraordinary disclosures to date, which surpass the threshold applied to nominees, there is no need to make this archived material public.”

The man is being considered for Secretary of Defense–we need to know everything about him except his shoe size!

The article contains this very interesting bit of information:

But university officials yesterday indicated that if Hagel himself were to grant this reporter access to the archives, his request would be granted.

I can’t help but wonder exactly what is being hidden.

Form 86

Andrew C. McCarthy posted an article today at The Corner at the National Review about the confirmation hearing for Chuck Hagel. The mainstream media is doing a pretty consistent job of criticizing Senator Ted Cruz for his questioning of Senator Hagel–even going so far as to call up their favorite slander–McCarthyism.

The article reports:

Cruz made much of the fact that, in connection with his nomination to be secretary of defense, Hagel refused to disclose to the committee all compensation he has received in excess of $5,000 over the last five years, the point being to probe Hagel’s connections to foreign governments and their agents — Hagel already being known to have troublesome ties to outfits like the National Iranian American Council, which is the Islamo-fascist Iranian regime’s pom-pom squad.

The article goes on to report that Form 86, a lengthy questionnaire candidates for any governmental national security position have to fill out, has to be filled out for much less important jobs than Secretary of Defense.

The article reports:

Have a look at the form (here), and in particular at pages 59–83. It is a searching inquiry into every conceivable aspect of the candidate’s connections to and financial entanglements with foreign countries and their agents — and that’s only after similarly exacting questions earlier in the form about the candidate’s family connections to foreign countries and their agents (a topic we discussed back when Democrats, as well as some leading Republicans like Senator John McCain, were making similarly ridiculous “McCarthyism” allegations about inquiries into the Islamist connections of Huma Abedin, top adviser to former Secretary of State Clinton).

The Senate’s job is to advise and consent. They are supposed to ask the hard questions. Unfortunately, they rarely do, that’s why Ted Cruz is being accused of everything except murder (give them time!).

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It Wasn’t Historic–It Wasn’t Even Close

The title of the story in yesterday’s Washington Times reads, “Chuck Hagel makes history as first to be blocked from Defense.” Well, not so fast.

The Washington Post archives report:

U.S. Senate confirmation of a president’s Cabinet nomination of a former U.S. senator is usually pro forma. But the treatment of George Bush’s pick for secretary of defense, ex-Texas senator John Tower, was anything but standard.

After five grueling weeks of testimony, debate, and rumor-mongering, Tower’s nomination was defeated in March 1989 by a mostly party-line vote. Accusations of extensive womanizing and heavy drinking filled the airwaves and newspapers, supplementing more traditional charges of conflict-of-interest in Tower’s previous work for defense contractors.

Many media organizations unquestionably let their standards slip, with unproven allegations receiving equal weight with legitimate commentary. By the time of the final Senate vote, Tower felt compelled to make a humiliating public pledge on national television to abstain from drinking if confirmed, on pain of resignation if he broke his promise. (the italics are mine)

There is definitely a double standard here. The charges against Tower were a mixture of proven and unproven. The filibuster of Senator Hagel is the result of his refusal to release financial records and transcripts of his speeches, combined with a desire of the Senate to find out the truth about Benghazi.

The article at the Washington Times reports:

GOP senators said they are delaying the confirmation in order to have more time to study Mr. Hagel’s record and to obtain more information on the White House’s handling of the September attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a matter on which they accuse the administration of stonewalling or providing wrong information. Republicans expect they will green-light him later this month after the chamber returns from a weeklong vacation.

It is generally thought that Senator Hagel will be confirmed. Considering some of his speeches, some of his financial backers, and some of his comments on various aspects of the war on terrorism, that is unfortunate.

We do need to remember, however, that Senator Hagel is not the first Presidential appointee to have a bumpy road to confirmation or not to be confirmed. The press needs a history lesson.

For more information on some of the antics of the media regarding the Senator Hagel nomination, see this Washington Free Beacon article posted today.Enhanced by Zemanta

A Major Question About The Hagel Nomination

There has been some reluctance on the part of Senator Hagel to reveal his financial supporters. There have been two recent articles at Breitbart.com regarding those supporters–one on Thursday by Ben Shapiro and one on Thursday by Joel B. Pollak.

The article by Mr. Pollak states that some of the financial supporters of Senator Hagel are very friendly to Hamas. One of Senator Hagel’s supporters is former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri.

Mr. Pollak reports:

Hariri, whose father Rafik Hariri was assassinated (likely by the Hezbollah terror group) in 2005, inherited his family fortune and emerged as a Sunni Muslim leader in Lebanon’s fractured ethnic-religious mosaic. He served as prime minister from late 2009 until early 2011, when Hezbollah’s political wing withdrew from his government amid controversy over its involvement in his father’s death. He now lives outside Lebanon in self-imposed exile.

The Hariri family has supported the Atlantic Council, a think tank Hagel chairs, and provided the funding for the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, which was launched in 2011 with Vice President Joe Biden in attendance. The Hariri Center’s stated purpose is to “promote innovative policies to advance economic and political liberalization, sustainable conflict resolution, and greater regional and international integration.”

Hariri is thought to be connected to Syrian opposition groups, even though as prime minister he attempted to improve relations with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. He is well-regarded by Western supporters–a fact that his local opponents sometimes use against him. Accusations–likely false, and probably planted by opponents–have even circulated that he is working with the Israel Defense Force to train anti-Hezbollah soldiers in Jordan.

Yet even the liberal-minded Hariri has expressed open hostility towards Israel, and has been at pains to show his support for Hamas, the predominantly Sunni Palestinian terror group that controls the Gaza Strip.

Ben Shapiro reports:

On Thursday, Senate sources told Breitbart News exclusively that they have been informed that one of the reasons that President Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has not turned over requested documents on his sources of foreign funding is that one of the names listed is a group purportedly called “Friends of Hamas.”

Yesterday, 25 senators sent a letter to Hagel demanding information on his foreign funding. Hagel has refused all such requests, prompting the senators to state, “in the judgment of the undersigned, a Committee vote on your nomination should not occur unless and until you provide the requested information.”

Generally I believe that a President should be allowed to choose his own cabinet, but until the questions regarding Senator Hagel’s overseas friends are answered, I think this nomination should be put on hold.

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Confirmation Hearing For Chuck Hagel

This story is based on two articles–one posted by Paul Mirengoff at Power Line today and one posted at the Los Angeles Times today. Both articles were reporting on the Senate confirmation hearings of former Senator Chuck Hagel.

The headline on the Los Angeles Times article is “Chuck Hagel, an antiwar secretary of Defense.” That is an interesting statement.

The article at Power Line reports:

First, Cruz (Senator Ted Cruz) played excerpts from a tape of Hagel’s 2009 appearance on al Jazeera, in which a caller suggested that Israel had committed war crimes. In responding to the question, Hagel did not dispute the caller’’s statement. Cruz also pointed to statement by Hagel that Israel had engaged in “the sickening slaughter” of Hezbollah, which sounds a bit like war crimes.

The American friendship with Israel goes back to 1948 when Israel became a nation. To accuse Israel of slaughter when Hezbollah routinely lobs rockets into civilian Israeli population centers is simply not factual. Senator Hagel may represent the President’s views on Israel, but those views are not good for either America or Israel.

The Power Line article further reported:

Next, Cruz played an excerpt from the same interview in which the al Jazeera host read a reader e-mail claiming that the United States has served as the world’’s “bully.” This time Hagel not only failed to take exception and stick up for his country, he said on al Jazeera he found some merit in the claim, calling it “a good observation” (the Washington Post report linked to above fails to report this fact).

To me, this is the problem with the nomination. Traditionally America has acted as a policeman in the world–coming to the aid of people when democracy was in danger. We have not played that role under President Obama–we have supported a revolution in Egypt that has led to a government that is anything but democratic and we refused to help the green revolution in Iran.

I suspect Senator Hagel will be confirmed. Unless there is some major scandal associated with a President’s cabinet nominee, I believe the candidate should be confirmed. Elections have consequences. President Obama was legally elected. Unfortunately, I think the cabinet appointments of Senator Kerry as Secretary of State and Senator Hagel as Secretary of Defense will hurt America in the long run.

Does The President Get His Choices Of Cabinet Members ?

There are a number of questionable nominations for Cabinet posts at this time–Chuck Hagel has a questionable record on Israel, John Brennan has made some interesting statements regarding jihad, and Jack Lew was either lying or totally wrong in his statements regarding the economy while he was director of the Office of Management and Budget. Either way, Jack Lew is a questionable choice for Treasury Secretary.

John Hinderaker at Power Line reminds us of Mr. Lew’s testimony before Congress less than two years ago. In describing President Obama’s budget proposals, Mr. Lew stated:

Our budget will get us, over the next several years, to the point where we can look the American people in the eye and say we’re not adding to the debt anymore; we’re spending money that we have each year, and then we can work on bringing down our national debt.

The article further reports:

In fact, President Obama’s budget added at least $600 billion to the deficit every year, even on the rosy assumptions that it incorporated, which is why no member of Congress would vote for it. Lew was just making it up, deliberately lying to the American people. He also claimed that the reason the Democratic Senate hadn’t adopted a budget is that it was being filibustered by Republicans. This falsehood was repeated multiple times on national television…

Can’t we do better than this?

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The Washington Post Opinion On Chuck Hagel For Defense Secretary

Yesterday the Washington Post posted an editorial about the expected nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. The Washington Post editorial board opposes the nomination.

The editorial states:

…Mr. Hagel’s stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term — and place him near the fringe of the Senate that would be asked to confirm him.

The article explains that Mr. Hagel does not seem to be as concerned about the Defense Department sequester as current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. When interviewed by the Financial Times, Mr. Hagel stated, “The Defense Department, I think in many ways, has been bloated, so I think the Pentagon needs to be pared down.” There is a difference between cutting waste and undermining the country’s defense.

The editorial reminds us:

Mr. Hagel was similarly isolated in his views about Iran during his time in the Senate. He repeatedly voted against sanctions, opposing even those aimed at the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which at the time was orchestrating devastating bomb attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq. Mr. Hagel argued that direct negotiations, rather than sanctions, were the best means to alter Iran’s behavior. The Obama administration offered diplomacy but has turned to tough sanctions as the only way to compel Iran to negotiate seriously.

At some point, even President Obama began to realize that negotiations were a tool that Iran was using to buy time to complete their nuclear program.

The article concludes:

What’s certain is that Mr. Obama has available other possible nominees who are considerably closer to the mainstream and to the president’s first-term policies. Former undersecretary of defense Michèle Flournoy, for example, is a seasoned policymaker who understands how to manage the Pentagon bureaucracy and where responsible cuts can be made. She would bring welcome diversity as the nation’s first female defense secretary.

Mr. Hagel is an honorable man who served the country with distinction as a soldier in Vietnam and who was respected by his fellow senators. But Mr. Obama could make a better choice for defense secretary.

For once I agree with the editorial board of the Washington Post.

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