Trivial Pursuit By The Press Corps

We have a quickly changing international situation brewing with the seizure of ships by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. Decisions made in the White House could have major consequences in the lives of all Americans. Hopefully the right decisions will be made, but the situation is worth everyone’s attention. But I guess the Press Corps has other things on its mind.

Yesterday The Washington Examiner reported that shortly after receiving news that two tankers had been seized by the Iranians, the President was talking to the Press Corps.

The article reports:

President Trump was asked if he was “in favor of banning plastic straws” by a reporter on Friday afternoon, just a short time after an Iranian provocation in the Strait of Hormuz.

“Are you in favor of banning plastic straws?” a reporter asked the president outside the White House.

“I do think we have bigger problems than plastic straws. You know, it’s interesting about plastic straws. So you have a little straw, but what about the plates, the wrappers, and everything else that are much bigger and they’re made of the same material? So the straws are interesting, everybody focuses on the straws, there’s a lot of other things to focus on. It’s an interesting question.”

Evidently there was some context for the question:

“Trump Straws” went on sale on the Trump campaign website on Thursday. The 10-pack of reusable red straws are laser engraved with “Trump” on them, and the description reads, “Liberal paper straws don’t work. STAND WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP and buy your pack of recyclable straws today.”

I don’t know whether I would have been so gracious as to answer the question. It seems as if the Press Corps is playing Trivial Pursuit and ignoring the major news around them.

Unfortunately This Is Going To Require A Response

Fox News is reporting today that two tankers flying British flags have been seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz.

The article reports:

Fox News has learned that a second Liberian tanker operated by a British company was also seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and was seen on maritime tracking services making a turn, headed towards Iran.

President Trump said Friday that Iran is “nothing but trouble” and that “we heard one, we heard two,” tankers were seized.

Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz earlier Friday amid growing tensions in the region.

The Stena Impero, which has a crew of 23 onboard, “was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters,” Stena Bulk, the shipping company that owns the vessel, said in a statement. “We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran.”

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces, in a statement on their website, say the ship was seized for “non-compliance with international maritime laws and regulations” and is being brought to an unnamed Iranian port, according to the Associated Press.

Websites tracking the ship’s path show it turning sharply in the direction of Iran’s Qeshm Island, instead of its intended destination of Saudi Arabia.

“We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf,” a U.K. government spokesperson told Fox News.

In July 2018 Reuters posted the following:

With a third of the world’s sea-borne oil passing through it every day, the Strait of Hormuz is a strategic artery linking Middle East crude producers to key markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond.

That dynamic has changed slightly due to the fact that America now exports more crude oil than they import. The countries that will be hurt by problems in the Strait of Hormuz will be Europe, India, and China. I am sure that America will be willing to help Europe, Russia will also increase her oil production. The price of oil will rise sharply, but it is doubtful that the Strait will remain closed.

The latest report that I have heard is that there are actually three tankers that have been seized. This is an international problem and should be handled by the international community in unison.

This Shouldn’t Surprise Anyone

Yesterday One America News reported that the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani warned European partners in its faltering nuclear deal on Wednesday that Tehran will increase its enrichment of uranium to “any amount that we want” beginning on Sunday, putting pressure on them to offer a way around intense U.S. sanctions targeting the country.

This is called nuclear blackmail. It is the technique that Iran would have used when the limits on their uranium production ended as provided in the nuclear treaty. First of all, does anyone actually believe that Iran was following the rules of the treaty to begin with? Note that the treaty did not allow inspections of all probable uranium enrichment sites.

The article reports:

The hike will put the country above the limits set by the 2015 nuclear deal made with six major world powers. President Trump pulled out that deal, saying the country was showing no intention of abiding by the agreement.

Earlier this week, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani teased their latest move, threatening to violate the terms of the 2015 agreement.

“We will increase the cap to whatever level we deem is essential for us and to a level that we need, you must also know that if you do not fulfill all your obligations to us under the agreement and in the agreed time frame, then from July 7th the nuclear reactor will return to its previous activity,” Rouhani said.

Iranian state media said, the Ayotollah regime will officially make the announcement on Sunday.

The only way to end the danger of the Iranian quest to be a nuclear power is to increase the sanctions to the point where there is a change of leadership in Iran. Many of the Iranians who thought they were fighting for freedom in 1978 were very disillusioned by the government that followed the revolution. A free Iran would be considerably less dangerous to the world than the current totalitarian Islamic state.

The Unraveling Continues

Yesterday John Solomon posted an article at The Hill about a Russian billionaire named Oleg Deripaska.

The article reports:

The oligarch who once controlled Russia’s largest aluminum empire has been an international man of intrigue in the now-completed and disproven Trump collusion investigation.

Deripaska was a disaffected former business client of Donald Trump’s fallen campaign chairman Paul Manafort. He also was a legal research client of Trump-hating, Clinton-aiding British spy Christopher Steele. In his spare time, he was an occasional friendly cooperator with the FBI and its fired deputy director, Andrew McCabe.

During his interview with John Solomon, Deripaska talked about being interviewed by the FBI and stating the following:

“I told them straightforward, ‘Look, I am not a friend with him [Manafort]. Apparently not, because I started a court case [against him] six or nine months before … . But since I’m Russian I would be very surprised that anyone from Russia would try to approach him for any reason, and wouldn’t come and ask me my opinion,’ ” he said, recounting exactly what he says he told the FBI agents that day.

“I told them straightforward, I just don’t believe that he would represent any Russian interest. And knowing what he’s doing on Ukraine for the last, what, seven or eight years.”

The article explains why this is important:

OK, so why should you care if a Russian denied Trump campaign collusion with Russia during the election?

First, Deripaska wasn’t just any Russian. He was closely aligned with Putin and had been helpful to the FBI as far back as 2009. So he had earned some trust with the agents.

Most importantly, Deripaska’s interview with the FBI reportedly was never provided by Team Mueller to Manafort’s lawyers, even though it was potential proof of innocence, according to Manafort defense lawyer Kevin Downing. Manafort, initially investigated for collusion, was convicted on tax and lobbying violations unrelated to the Russia case.

That omission opens a possible door for appeal for what is known as a Brady violation, for hiding exculpatory information from a defendant.

“Recent revelations by The Hill prove that the Office of Special Counsel’s (OSC) claim that they had a legitimate basis to include Paul Manafort in an investigation of potential collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government is false,” Downing told me. “The failure to disclose this information to Manafort, the courts, or the public reaffirms that the OSC did not have a legitimate basis to investigate Manafort, and may prove that the OSC had no legitimate basis to investigate potential collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government.”

The article then explains why Deripaska is trusted by the FBI:

Deripaska confirmed a story I reported last year from FBI sources that he spent more than $20 million of his own money between 2009 and 2011 on a private rescue operation to free Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent captured in Iran in 2007 while on a CIA mission.

…Deripaska said his privately funded rescue team came very close to a deal with the Iranian captors to secure Levinson’s release but he was told by his FBI handlers that the deal ran into difficulties at Hillary Clinton’s State Department and was scuttled. “I heard that some Russian ‘hand,’ or whatever you call people who are expert on the Russians at the State Department, [said], ‘We just don’t want to owe anything to this guy,’ ” Deripaska told me, adding that he never expected any U.S. favors for his personal efforts to free Levinson.

Asked if he thought the former FBI agent is alive, some dozen years later, Deripaska answered: “I don’t think so.” He pointed out that if Levinson had been alive, he likely would have come home in 2016, after the Obama administration struck a nuclear deal with Iran.

Deripaska said he is continuing to investigate what really happened at State with Levinson, as he tries to fight the sanctions levied against him in 2018. His company, Rusal, has been removed from the sanctions list.

The article concludes:

Throughout the interview, it was clear Deripaska chose his words in English carefully. But there was one word he offered only twice — once in response to the Steele dossier’s allegations of Trump-Russia collusion, and the other time to respond to the allegations used to sanction him. “Balderdash,” he insisted.

Now it’s time for Team Mueller to answer the same questions.

I wonder why the State Department would have blocked the return of Levinson. Is it possible that he might have said things that would have scuttled the Iran deal?

The Appropriate Response And The Slanting Of The Story

Yesterday John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line Blog about the warfare of the future. In the article Mr. Hinderaker mentions that according to The New York Times, Russia and China are working on the technology of hypersonic weapons. These weapons would render our missile defense systems useless.

The article also mentions President Trump’s response to the Iranian attacks on oil tankers:

Cyber warfare is almost old hat by comparison. The Associated Press (AP) says that President Trump ordered cyber attacks on Iran in place of actual bombings:

U.S. military cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems on Thursday as President Donald Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran’s downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, U.S. officials said Saturday.

The article then illustrates how the Associated Press can spin a story by quoting the AP’s reporting on the President’s response:

“This is not a remote war (anymore),” said Sergio Caltagirone, vice president of threat intelligence at Dragos Inc. “This is one where Iranians could quote unquote bring the war home to the United States.”

Caltagirone said as nations increase their abilities to engage offensively in cyberspace, the ability of the United States to pick a fight internationally and have that fight stay out of the United States physically is increasingly reduced.

Note that the AP accuses the United States of picking a fight internationally.

The article concludes:

Did the U.S. pick a fight here? I thought Iran did that, by bombing tankers in international waters and shooting down an American drone. But for the AP, like many other American liberals, anything other than Obama-style supine acquiescence constitutes picking a fight.

Well said, sir.

Moving Cautiously In A Time Of Crisis

Breitbart is reporting today that President Trump called off a military strike on Iran last night at the last minute. The strike would have been in retaliation for Iran’s shooting down of an unmanned drone.

The President is right to exercise caution here. The younger generation of Iranians are not happy about the way the Mullahs are running the country. The younger generation would very much like to westernize Iran. They tend to be pro-American. For America to launch an attack (justified or unjustified) might change that dynamic. That dynamic is what will eventually bring down the Mullahs.

The article reports:

President Donald Trump confirmed Friday he pulled back a military strike on Iran after he learned the number of possible casualties.

“We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on three different sights (sic),” Trump revealed on Twitter. The attack was planned in retaliation for Iran shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone on Thursday in international waters.

Trump said prior to the strikes he was told by a general the casualties could be up to 150 people.

“Ten minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” he wrote.

Trump added that he was in “no hurry” for additional military conflicts with Iran but warned them against obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The president recalled the recent history of the United States relationship with Iran noting that former President Barack Obama “made a desperate and terrible deal” that included over a billion in cash.

“Iran was in big trouble and he bailed them out,” Trump said. “Gave them a free path to Nuclear Weapons, and SOON.”

The president added that Iran continued to shout “Death to America” despite the deal, which he terminated as president.

“They are a much weakened nation today than at the beginning of my Presidency, when they were causing major problems throughout the Middle East,” Trump said. “Now they are Bust!”

There needs to be a response to the continuing aggression of Iran. However, that response does not have to be immediate and it does not have to involve civilian casualties.

How Should We Deal With Iran?

On Friday, Bret Stephens posted a column in The New York Times about the recent aggressive actions taken by Iran against international shipping. Bret Stephens is not a supporter of President Trump, but in this instance, his views seem to be in line with the policies of the Trump administration.

The column notes:

On April 14, 1988, the U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts, a frigate, hit an Iranian naval mine while sailing in the Persian Gulf. The explosion injured 10 of her crew and nearly sank the ship. Four days later, the U.S. Navy destroyed half the Iranian fleet in a matter of hours. Iran did not molest the Navy or international shipping for many years thereafter.

Now that’s changed. Iran’s piratical regime is back yet again to its piratical ways.

Or so it seems, based on a detailed timeline of Thursday’s attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman provided by the U.S. Central Command, including a surveillance video of one of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boats removing an unexploded limpet mine from the hull of one of the damaged tankers.

The column notes that the evidence points to Iran as behind the recent attacks:

In this case, however, the evidence against Iran is compelling. CentCom’s account notes that “a U.S. aircraft observed an IRGC Hendijan class patrol boat and multiple IRGC fast attack craft/fast inshore attack craft (FAC/FIAC) in the vicinity of the M/T Altair,” one of the damaged tankers. The Iranian boats are familiar to the U.S. Navy after decades of observing them at close range. And staging deniable attacks that fall just below the threshold of open warfare on the U.S. is an Iranian specialty.

So what do we do now?

The column concludes:

It can’t be the usual Trumpian cycle of bluster and concession. Neither can it be the liberal counsel of feckless condemnation followed by inaction. Firing on unarmed ships in international waters is a direct assault on the rules-based international order in which liberals claim to believe. To allow it to go unpunished isn’t an option.

What is appropriate is a new set of rules — with swift consequences if Iran chooses to break them. The Trump administration ought to declare new rules of engagement to allow the Navy to engage and destroy Iranian ships or fast boats that harass or threaten any ship, military or commercial, operating in international waters. If Tehran fails to comply, the U.S. should threaten to sink any Iranian naval ship that leaves port.

If after that Iran still fails to comply, we would be right to sink its navy, in port or at sea. The world cannot tolerate freelance Somali pirates. Much less should it tolerate a pirate state seeking to hold the global economy hostage through multiplying acts of economic terrorism.

Nobody wants a war with Iran. But not wanting a war does not mean remaining supine in the face of its outrages. We sank Iran’s navy before. Tehran should be put on notice that we are prepared and able to do it again.

Sometimes you simply have to stand up to a bully in order to correct his behavior.

An Entirely Predictable Outcome

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article today about some recent statements by top Iranian leaders.

The article reports:

Top Iranian leaders issued a series of warnings on Tuesday, telling world leaders it is on the brink of restarting a significant portion of its most contested nuclear work, including the enrichment of uranium to prohibited levels that could be used as part of a weapons program.

With tensions mounting between the United States and Iran following a bevy on new sanctions issued by the Trump administration, Iranian leaders warned their counterparts in Europe that the country will begin to enrich uranium—the key component in a nuclear weapon—to levels needed for weapons research.

Iran also will begin to stockpile low-enriched uranium instead of shipping it out of the country, as it had been doing under the nuclear agreement. The Islamic Republic also will stop exporting its heavy water reserves, a nuclear byproduct that can provide a plutonium-based pathway to a weapon.

Both of these moves are enflaming global tension surrounding Iran’s nuclear program, which the country has used to receive billions in sanctions relief and cash windfalls as a result of the Obama administration’s accord. Iranian leaders insist that if Europe does not reject the new U.S. sanctions and help Tehran bypass them, they will stop adhering the nuclear deal, which several European counties are still party to.

Does anyone actually believe that Iran suspended its nuclear program while the treaty was in effect?

The article concludes:

Iran also is seeking to have its international oil trade restored.

The Trump administration, after a protracted inter-agency fight, decided last month to stop issuing sanctions waivers to several countries purchasing large amounts of Iranian crude oil. The removal of these waivers effectively killed Iran’s oil trade.

Keivan Khosravi, a spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said all banking and oil rights must be immediately restored or Tehran will continue with efforts to ramp up prohibited nuclear work.

“As the honorable president declared, concurrent with the SNSC statement, Iran will continue subsequent and staged steps to stop nuclear deal undertakings based on the UNSC statement until the status quo of its oil sales and banking transactions return to the conditions that prevailed before the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal,” Khosravi wrote in a memo published Tuesday by Iran’s state-controlled press.

Translated loosely, this means that the sanctions are working and we need to leave them in place. If Iran does ramp up its nuclear program, we need another computer virus to slow it down. The reactor sites are hidden too deep underground to be bombed successfully, but an electronic attack on their computers and power grid would probably slow them down for a few years at least. The answer to the problem of a nuclear Iran is an Iran not controlled by the mullahs. That is a possibility as the younger generation tends to lean toward western ideas, but those that make those tendencies known wind up in prison or dead. Iran needs another revolution. The sanctions and the economic hardship they cause make that revolution a possibility.

One thing I believe we need to consider is a lesson learned in recent years about setting up democracies in places that do not understand freedom. It seems that in order to create a free county, you need brave men of integrity willing to lead a revolution and fight for freedom for all people. You can’t come in and just plant a democracy. Planting a democracy is somewhat like helping a baby chick hatch–the baby chick needs the hatching process to gain the strength to survive. If you help a baby chick hatch, it will not survive. It seems that in recent years we have learned that democracies have the same problem–they have to do their own hatching. When the work is done for them, the wrong leaders rise and the people gain new despots–they don’t gain freedom.

The Golan Heights

On March 21st The New York Post reported that President Trump called for the US to recognize Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights, the 700-square-mile northern plateau that Israel captured from Syria in the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981, although the territorial claim was never acknowledged by the international community. The Golan Heights is strategic to the survival of Israel geographically.

In an article from December 2016, The U.K. Daily Mail reported on a strange event in the Golan Heights.

The article reports:

A huge cloud of dust and rain blew up along the border between Israel and ISIS last week, sparking online claims that it was a biblical storm.

Four days after ISIS fighters attacked an Israeli patrol in the Golan Heights, a plateau in Syria which the Jewish state has occupied since 1967, the bizarre meteorological phenomenon suddenly appeared. 

Eyewitnesses said the storm seemed to stop at the boundary and be unable to enter the Golan Heights, which tower above the rest of Syria.

Footage of the dust barrier was uploaded onto Facebook by Israel News Online

They wrote: ‘A weather phenomenon occurred at 8am Thursday on the other side of the Syrian border, in the same place where ISIS attacked Israel.

This strange storm of what appears to be dust, cloud and rain did NOT cross the border fence into Israel. It sat like a barrier between ISIS and Israel.’

Underneath Deborah Van Dam posted: ‘Absolutely the divine intervention of God protecting Israel. Amen!’

This is the picture (taken from the U.K. Daily Mail):

This is a map showing the location (taken from the U.K. Daily Mail):

The Golan Heights is strategic because it is high ground that overlooks Israel. It is part of what protects Israel from rocket fire or invasion from Syria. Because Syria has become a satellite of Iran, it also protects Israel from Iranian forces working in Syria.

The Bible says that he who blesses Israel will be blessed and he who curses Israel will be cursed. History bears that out. By moving the Israeli embassy and acknowledging Israel’s possession of the Golan Heights, President Trump is blessing Israel.

 

Imagine If You Will…

“Imagine if you will…” was the opening line of a television series “The Twilight Zone” which ran from 1959 to 1964. Rod Sterling was the host, narrator, and producer.

On January 20th, Victor Davis Hanson posted an article at American Greatness titled, “Should the FBI Run the Country?” The article reminded me of the opening to “The Twilight Zone” in that is imagines the scenario of the FBI running the country. I strongly suggest that you follow the link to read the entire article, but I will provide a few highlights here.

The article states:

During the campaign (2008), unfounded rumors had swirled about the rookie Obama that he might ease sanctions on Iran, distance the United States from Israel, and alienate the moderate Arab regimes, such as the Gulf monarchies and Egypt.

Stories also abounded that the Los Angeles Times had suppressed the release of a supposedly explosive “Khalidi tape,” in which Obama purportedly thanked the radical Rashid Khalidi for schooling him on the Middle East and correcting his earlier biases and blind spots, while praising the Palestinian activist for his support for armed resistance against Israel.

Even more gossip circulated that photos existed of a smiling Barack Obama with Louis Farrakhan, the Black Muslim extremist and radical pro-Gaddafi patron, who in the past had praised Adolf Hitler and reminded the Jews again about the finality of being sent to the ovens. (A photo of a smiling Obama and Farrakhan did emerge, but mysteriously only after President Obama left office).

Imagine that all these tales in 2008 might have supposedly “worried” Bush lame-duck and pro-McCain U.S. intelligence officials, who informally met to discuss possible ways of gleaning more information about this still mostly unknown but scary Obama candidacy.

The article continues:

But most importantly, imagine that McCain’s opposition researchers had apprised the FBI of accusations (unproven, of course) that Obama had improperly set up a private back-channel envoy to Iran in 2008. Supposedly, Obama was trying secretly to reassure the theocracy (then the object of Bush Administration and allied efforts to ratchet up pressures to prevent its acquisition of nuclear weapons) of better treatment to come. The conspiratorial accusation would imply that if Iran held off Bush Administration pressures, Tehran might soon find a more conducive atmosphere from an incoming Obama Administration.

Additional rumors of similar Logan Act “violations” would also swirl about Obama campaign efforts to convince the Iraqis not to seal a forces agreement with the departing Bush Administration.

Further, conceive that at least one top Bush Justice Department deputy had a spouse working on the McCain opposition dossier on Obama, and that the same official had helped to circulate its scandalous anti-Obama contents around government circles.

In this scenario, also picture that the anti-Obama FBI soon might have claimed that the Obama Iran mission story might have been not only an apparent violation of the Logan Act but also part of possible larger “conspiratorial” efforts to undermine current Bush Administration policies. And given Obama’s campaign rhetoric of downplaying the threats posed by Iran to the United States, and the likelihood he would reverse long-standing U.S. opposition to the theocracy, the FBI decided on its own in July 2008 that Obama himself posed a grave threat to national security.

More importantly, the FBI, by its director’s own later admission, would have conjectured that McCain was the likelier stronger candidate and thus would win the election, given his far greater experience than that of the novice Obama. And therefore, the FBI director further assumed he could conduct investigations against a presidential candidate on the theory that a defeated Obama would have no knowledge of its wayward investigatory surveillance, and that a soon-to-be President McCain would have no desire to air such skullduggery.

I am sure you can see where this is going.

The article concludes:

Obama, in our thought experiment, would have charged that the role of the Bush-era FBI, CIA, DOJ, and special counsel’s team had become part of a “resistance” to delegitimize his presidency. Indeed, Obama charged that conservative interests had long wanted to abort his presidency by fueling past efforts to subvert the Electoral College in 2008, to invoke the Logan Act, the 25th Amendment, and the Emoluments Clause (based on rumors of negotiating lucrative post-presidential book and media contracts by leveraging his presidential tenure), as well as introducing articles of impeachment.

Celebrity talk of injuring Obama and his family would be daily events. Actor Robert De Niro talked of smashing Obama’s face, while Peter Fonda dreamed of caging his children. Johnny Depp alluded to assassination. It soon became a sick celebrity game to discover whether the president should be blown up, whipped, shot, burned, punched, or hanged.

Imagine that if all that had happened. Would the FBI, CIA, or FISA courts still exist in their current form? Would the media have any credibility? Would celebrities still be celebrities? Would there ever again be a special counsel? Would we still have a country?

Hopefully by now many Americans have awakened to the government abuses involved in surveillance of the Trump campaign, appointment of the Special Counsel, arrests of people associated with President Trump for things not related to any of what the Special Counsel is supposed to be investigating, and inappropriate use of force to arrest a 60-something-year-old man with a deaf wife. No wonder the FBI and DOJ are fighting so hard to prevent the truth of their abuses of power during the Obama administration from being revealed.

The Death Of An American Hero

Yesterday NPR reported that Tony Mendez, the man behind the 1980 rescue of six American diplomats trapped in Iran by the Iranian revolution, has died. The six diplomats were hidden by the Canadian Embassy until the CIA was able to smuggle them out of the country. The story was the basis for the movie “Argo.” The full story was not really told until the movie was released in 2012.

The article at NPR reports:

Tony Mendez became a legend inside the CIA with his daring 1980 rescue of six American diplomats who were given shelter by the Canadian Embassy in Tehran after the U.S. Embassy had been stormed by Iranian revolutionaries.

But the “Canadian Caper” remained classified for nearly two decades, and Mendez didn’t receive full acclaim until the Oscar-winning movie Argo, came out in 2012, with Ben Affleck portraying him.

Mendez, who was 78 and had Parkinson’s disease, died Saturday at an assisted living facility in Frederick, Md., outside Washington, according to the International Spy Museum, where Mendez was a founding board member.

“He was a legendary intelligence officer,” said the museum’s Executive Director Chris Costa.

The movie tells the story of how Tony Mendez posed as a film director with a crew scouting locations in Iran for a movie. He then gave the diplomats phony identities as part of his crew and smuggled them out of the country as his film crew. The crew flew out on a commercial airline. It is an amazing movie, and Mr. Mendez deserves a tremendous amount of credit for pulling off the scam. He was a true American hero.

This Is Not Good News For The Middle East

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting today that the U. S. has confirmed that Iran has successfully fired a nuclear-capable missile. Great.

The article reports:

Senior U.S. officials confirmed early Monday that Iran has successfully test-fired multiple nuclear-capable missiles in violation of United Nations restrictions on such activity, drawing a fierce reaction from the Trump administration, which will pressure European leaders this week to take immediate action aimed at countering Iran’s latest military moves.

Refuting Iranian claims that its illicit missile tests are defensive in nature, Trump administration Iran envoy Brian Hook vowed tough reprisals for Iran’s most recent missile tests, which are among the most provocative in recent memory.

“Iran has launched missiles that are capable of carrying multiple warheads, including a nuclear weapon,” Hook confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon while talking to reporters aboard Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s airplane en route to Brussels for NATO meetings.

The Iranian ballistic missile test comes on the heels of new evidence unearthed by the United States tying Tehran to the proliferation of advanced weaponry and missiles across the Middle East, including in Yemen, where Iranian-backed rebels continue to attack a Saudi coalition seeking to stem the violence.

The article concludes:

The administration is hoping to convince European allies to move forward with new sanctions as reprisal for the missile tests, a position many of these allies are hesitant to adopt. As Washington, D.C., moves forward with a bevy of new sanctions on Iran, some European allies have continued to balk the U.S. administration, seeking avenues to preserve the nuclear pact and ensure economic ties with Tehran remain open.

“We would like to see the European Union move sanctions that target Iran’s missile program,” Hook told reporters.

“Just a few days ago, we unveiled new evidence of Iran’s missile proliferation,” Hook explained. “Three days later, they test launched another medium range ballistic missile”.

“We have been warning the world for some time that we are accumulating risk of a regional conflict if we do not deter Iran’s missile testing and proliferation,” he said. “Iran is on the wrong track and our campaign of maximum economic pressure is designed to starve the regime of the revenue it needs to test missiles and proliferate missiles, support terrorism, conduct cyber attacks, [and] conduct acts of maritime aggression.”

What the Trump administration is not considering here is that Europe is economically dependent on trade with Iran. Until European leaders see Iranian missiles actually heading in their direction, they will not be willing to put any sort of sanctions on Iran. It needs to be done, but our European allies (?) are not willing to pay the necessary price.

Why The Iran Deal Needed To Be Scrapped

Reuters is reporting today that France has seized Iranian assets belonging to Iran’s intelligence services in response to a June plot to attack an exiled Iranian opposition group’s rally outside Paris. Make no mistake–the money Iran got in the Iran deal is being used to fund terrorism around the world. If European countries choose to ignore the sanctions America has put on Iran, they do so at their own risk. The Muslim population of Europe can easily be mobilized and paid by Iran to create havoc in Europe.

The article reports:

The hardening of relations between Paris and Tehran could have deep consequences for Iran, coming at a time when Rouhani’s government is looking to European capitals to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal after the United States pulled out.

“An attempted attack in Villepinte was foiled on June 30. An incident of such gravity on our national territory could not go unpunished,” said a joint statement by the foreign, interior and economy ministries.

Asked for reaction, a spokesman at the Iranian Embassy in Paris replied simply: “Hello. Thank you.” There was no immediate response to the French move from Tehran.

The plot targeted a meeting of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) outside the French capital. U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and several former European and Arab ministers attended the rally.

It unraveled after an Iranian diplomat accredited in Austria was arrested in Germany and two other individuals in possession of explosives were detained in Belgium.

The article concludes:

Paris has also suspended nominating a new ambassador to Iran and not responded to Tehran nominations for diplomatic positions in France.

The deterioration of relations with France could have wider implications for Iran.

France has been one of the strongest advocates of salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Tehran agree to curbs on its nuclear program in return for a lifting of economic sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has said it expects renewed sanctions to impact the Iranian economy hard.

The answer to Iran as a terrorist state is regime change. Increasing the economic pressure on the current regime through sanctions could bring that to pass. For further information on the Iranian revolution and the goals of the government that took control in 1979, I recommend reading A Time to Betray by Reza Kahlili. The book tells the story of a man who believed that the revolution would bring freedom to Iran and thus supported it, only to be disillusioned later and work undercover as an American spy. It’s a great read.

Unfortunately This Is Actually Plausable

The Washington Times posted an opinion piece today about President Obama. The title of the opinion piece is “America really did have a Manchurian Candidate in the White House.” The piece lists some of the actions of the Obama administration that weakened America and caused discord around the world.

The piece notes:

After returning from a tour of some of the war zones in the Middle East — which ended with the Free Iran Gathering 2018 in Paris — I am struck by the realization that America really did have a Manchurian Candidate in The White House for eight years. If you look at the evidence, there really is no other conclusion. The calamitous consequences of the Obama presidency will be felt for the foreseeable future.

In the short year and a half that President Trump has been in office, he has put in place policy that has mitigated the damage that President Obama inflicted on our national security and on our allies. The speed with which Trump has been able to turn things around points to the diabolical depths the Obama administration went to in order to undermine our national strength and way of life. All Trump had to do was stop doing things that hurt America; America could then take care of itself. The results are plain as day. However, it will take decades for the Obama damage to be completely undone. The deviousness of the Obama sedition runs deep.

Some examples cited were the support of an Egyptian President with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the ousting of Moammar Gadhafi, who had given up his nuclear weapons, the premature withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, and the Iran treaty. Any one of these policies could be viewed individually as bad judgment, but when you look at all of these decisions together, there is a pattern. All of these policy decisions weakened America and made the world less safe. It is extremely doubtful that was simply a coincidence.

Please follow the link above to read the entire piece.

What A Difference A President Makes

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial today about recent events in Iran. The editorial highlights the difference between the way the Obama administration handled protests and the Trump administration is handling protestors.

The editorial states:

In recent days, headlines such as “In Iran, revolution is starting in the bazaar,” “Clashes Continue in Iran for Third Day After Grand Bazaar Merchant Protest,” and “Tehran’s Grand Bazaar Shut Down As Economic Protests Spread,” have run in global media, with little apparent notice.

It’s a big deal. A very big deal.

The 39-year-old dictatorship of the Mullahs in Tehran may be on the verge of dissolving, as Trump imposes new, stiff sanctions on Iran’s economy and Iran’s currency, the rial, plunges sharply, prices soar and the economy collapses. Average Iranians are losing faith in the government and taking to the streets.

In dealing with Iran, it is important to remember the demographics of the country. A large segment of their population was killed during the Iran/Iraq War between 1980 and 1988. The current profile of the Iranian population is 24.1 percent under the age of 15, 70.1 percent between 15 and 64 years old, and 5 percent of the population 65+. That means that the twenty year olds who participated in the Iranian revolution now comprise 5 percent of the population.

According to unc.edu:

A scholarly article based on the records of the Veteran and Martyrs Affairs Foundation, a government agency, recently counted 183,623 Iranian deaths as a result of the war.

To put that into perspective, Iran had a population of 80.9 million people in 2017.

The majority of the population has grown up in a very restrictive culture and  does not necessarily supported the rule of the mullahs. The current economic struggles have only exacerbated the discontent of the majority of young Iranians.

The editorial states:

Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, its central meeting place and business center, has been filled with tens of thousands of angry protesters nearly every day. Yet, the media are paying little attention. Neither are average citizens in the West. But it bears close watching.

Some chant anti-government slogans, including “The enemy is here. They (the regime) lie that it is the U.S.” Not lost on average Iranians is the fact that, as Najmeh Bozorgmehr writes in the Financial Times, “The bazaar played a crucial role in the 1979 Islamic revolution when traders joined forces with the clergy to overthrow Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.”

Is history repeating itself?

If so, this will remake the entire Mideast. Without the fundamentalists in power, Iran will almost certainly begin modernizing both its economy and its culture. Moreover, the nuclear weapons program that is at the heart of western discontent with Iran could be dismantled.

Last time, the U.S. sat and watched, not giving its ally, the Shah, any support. This time is different.

The U.S. Treasury under President Trump has already begun to revoke licenses, according to the Associated Press, that let U.S.-controlled foreign companies sell commercial jet parts and oilfield gear to Iran. It also bans sale of Iran’s famous carpets, pistachios and caviar in the U.S., major exports for the financially troubled nation.

This follows Trump’s decision in May to pull out of President Obama’s so-called Iran nuclear agreement. That deal didn’t halt work on a nuclear weapon; it merely postponed an Iranian nuke by 10 years.

Despite criticism from Britain, China, Russia, Germany, France and the European Union, Trump held fast. Angry rhetoric notwithstanding, foreign banks have fallen into line, fearing sanctions from the U.S. Two-thirds of all global trade is conducted in dollars. As sanctions bite and its oil industry struggles, Iran’s mullahs are short on cash.

By these moves, Trump has empowered the people taking to the streets in Tehran and elsewhere. The last time this happened, during Iran’s 2009 “Green Revolution,” by comparison, President Obama did nothing. Indeed, within years, Obama had signed a Neville-Chamberlain-style appeasement deal Iran’s leaders. Disgracefully, it basically gave them a sure path to a nuclear bomb.

This protest is important. It could eventually change the face of the Middle East.

The Role Of Iran In 9/11

Yesterday The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about the role of Iran in the September 11 terror attack on America.

The article reports:

Iranian officials, in a first, have admitted to facilitating the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. by secretly aiding the free travel of al Qaeda operatives who eventually went on to fly commercial airliners into the Twin Towers in New York City, according to new remarks from a senior Iranian official.

Mohammad-Javad Larijani, an international affairs assistant in the Iran’s judiciary, disclosed in Farsi-language remarks broadcast on Iran’s state-controlled television that Iranian intelligence officials secretly helped provide the al Qaeda attackers with passage and gave them refuge in the Islamic Republic, according to an English translation published by Al Arabiya.

“Our government agreed not to stamp the passports of some of them because they were on transit flights for two hours, and they were resuming their flights without having their passports stamped. However their movements were under the complete supervision of the Iranian intelligence,” Larijani was quoted as saying.

The remarks represent the first time senior Iranian officials have publicly admitted to aiding al Qaeda and playing a direct role in facilitating the 9/11 attacks.

This is really not a surprise–Iran and Saudi Arabia have often been cited as the two major financiers of terrorism. It is truly unfortunate that as part of the Iran nuclear deal, America paid Iran $400 million in cash which has been used to further the cause of terrorism around the world. The argument can be made that the money was simply Iran’s frozen assets in America (with interest), but the fact remains that the money has been and will be used to fund terrorism and weapons to be used against American soldiers.

Funding Terrorism Because You Don’t Think You Will Get Caught

Iran is known to be one of the major suppliers for weapons and terrorists around the world. The IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices) American troops encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan generally originated in Iran. This is not a country that we want to give a lot of money to–the  money doesn’t go to the people–it goes to the military and to fund terrorism. So what in the world was President Obama thinking when he made a deal with Iran that gave them a boatload of money? It gets worse.

The Washington Times posted an article today about an attempt by President Obama to give Tehran access to American banks to convert the large amount of money Iran received after the nuclear agreement into American dollars.

The article reports:

The Obama administration — despite repeatedly assuring Congress that Iran would remain barred from the U.S. financial system — secretly mobilized to give Tehran access to American banks to convert the windfall of cash it received from sanctions relief under the 2015 nuclear deal into dollars, an investigative report by the Senate has revealed.

A copy of the report, obtained by The Washington Times, outlines how Obama-era State and Treasury Department officials discreetly issued a special license for the conversion to a major Omani bank and unsuccessfully pressured two U.S. banks to partake in the transaction, all while misleading lawmakers about the activities.

The document, compiled by the Senate’s Republican-led chief investigative subcommittee, began circulating Tuesday, just as the Trump administration issued its harshest warnings to date to foreign governments and companies to avoid doing business with Iran or find themselves in the crosshairs of Washington’s reimposition of sanctions as part of Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

The article explains that Congress was not informed of what was going on–in fact they were lied to:

The Senate Homeland Security Committee’s permanent subcommittee on investigations probe contends that the Obama administration went out of its way to keep U.S. lawmakers in the dark about calculated and secretive efforts to give Tehran a back channel to the international financial system and to U.S. banks, facilitating a massive U.S. currency conversion worth billions of dollars.

“Senior U.S. government officials repeatedly testified to Congress that Iranian access to the U.S. financial system was not on the table or part of any deal,” according to a draft copy of the document obtained by The Times. “Despite these claims, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, at the direction of the U.S. State Department, granted a specific license that authorized a conversion of Iranian assets worth billions of U.S. dollars using the U.S. financial system.

“Even after the specific license was issued, U.S. government officials maintained in congressional testimony that Iran would not be granted access to the U.S. financial system,” the report said.

The article concludes:

Mr. Portman said in a statement Tuesday night that “the Obama administration misled the American people and Congress because they were desperate to get a deal with Iran.”

“Despite claims both before and after the Iran deal was completed that the U.S. financial system would remain off limits, the Obama administration issued a specific license allowing Iran to convert billions of dollars in assets using the U.S. financial system,” Mr. Portman said. “The only reason this transaction wasn’t executed was because two U.S. banks refused, even though the administration asked them to help convert the money.”

Such sanctions, he added, “are a vital foreign policy tool, and the U.S. government should never work to actively undermine their enforcement or effectiveness.”

Thank God our banks had more integrity than President Obama.

This Could Really Be Interesting

The Gateway Pundit posted an article yesterday about a recent statement by Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari. Hossein Jaberi Ansari has told Western officials that if they do not pressure President Trump to reconsider withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear deal, he will release the names of the people who were bribed to pass the deal.

The article includes two recent tweets:

This is truly a get-out-the-popcorn moment.

Details On The Iranian Nuclear Program

On Wednesday, Bill Gertz posted an article at The Washington Times which provided some of the details on the Iranian nuclear program. The information presented by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was truly an intelligence coup. Secretary of State (and Former CIA Director) Mike Pompeo noted that much of the information Israel had obtained was new to the United States.

The article reported:

An Israeli government PowerPoint briefing on the documents showed Iran moved the files in 2017 to a secret warehouse in an industrial area of southern Tehran called Shorabad. Inside the warehouse were numerous safes protecting some 55,000 pages of documents in binders, and 183 CDs containing 50,000 more digital files.

An Israeli official told reporters the daring operation by Mossad agents to steal the documents was carried out on Jan. 31, and included Iranians discovering the break-in as it was happening. The Iranians flew a drone aircraft into Israeli airspace 11 days after the document raid, possibly in response to the operation.

 The document cache was so large, Israeli agents were unable to bring all the files out. The storage facility and the materials in it were among the Tehran government’s most closely guarded secrets and Iranian authorities were alarmed that warehouse was discovered and sacked.

The documents reveal Iran’s nuclear arms program was called “Project Amad” and operated from 1999 to 2003.

An Iranian presentation in Farsi revealed in the Israeli presentation said that the goal of Project Amad was to “design, produce and test” nuclear weapons. Under the plan, the Iranians were to build five warheads with yields of 10 kilotons that would be designed “for integration on a missile.”

That is not a peaceful nuclear program to provide energy for Iran (as was claimed by Iran).

The section of the article dealing with Iran concludes:

The Israeli presentation included documents showing that Iran deceived the International Atomic Energy Agency in its final report on Iran’s past and present nuclear program that was required as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. The documents show that — contrary to Iran’s denial to the IAEA of a coordinate arms program and denying the existence of Project Amad — Iran in fact carried out a coordinated nuclear weapons programs.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week the documents obtained by the Israelis from Iran were “authentic.” He called the documents that are being reviewed by U.S. intelligence agencies an “arsenal of knowledge.”

“It’s not just in the minds of people whom they have. It’s the actual calculations that they’ve done, the blueprints, the measurements,” he said.

The Pentagon’s latest nuclear posture review said the Iran nuclear deal has constrained Tehran’s arms program, “many of the agreement’s restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program will end by 2031.”

“In addition, Iran retains the technological capability and much of the capacity necessary to develop a nuclear weapon within one year of a decision to do so,” the posture review said.

On May 10, 2016, I wrote an article about the role that Ben Rhodes had played in securing positive public opinion about the Iran deal. The deal was seriously flawed from the beginning. I am not sure that it can be changed in any way that would make the world safer from Iranian nuclear weapons. If it can’t be changed, it needs to be scrapped. At that point someone needs to pinpoint all locations of the Iranian nuclear program and make them disappear.

Continuing His Unbroken Record Of Getting Foreign Policy Wrong

Thank God John Kerry is no longer Secretary of State. The Gateway Pundit reported today that former Secretary of State John Kerry secretly met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to discuss the Iranian nuclear treaty.

John Kerry released the following tweet about the agreement:

Every detail PM Netanyahu presented yesterday was every reason the world came together to apply years of sanctions and negotiate the Iran nuclear agreement – because the threat was real and had to be stopped. It’s working! That’s why Israeli security experts are speaking out… Read their unprecedented letter in its entirety here: https://goo.gl/QQwB5k . Everything that PM Netanyahu laid out was exactly why we needed this agreement. It’s worth remembering that the early 2000’s – when his evidence comes from – was the period where the world had no visibility into Iran’s program. More and more centrifuges were spinning each month and the world wasn’t united like it is now: https://europeanmpsforjcpoa.com … There was no negotiation – and all of that changed with JCPOA. Blow up the deal and you’re back there tomorrow!

The Boston Globe reports the following:

Kerry also met last month with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and he’s been on the phone with top European Union official Federica Mogherini, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal the private meetings. Kerry has also met with French President Emmanuel Macron in both Paris and New York, conversing over the details of sanctions and regional nuclear threats in both French and English.

Would someone please tell John Kerry that he is no longer Secretary of State and has no business interfering in American foreign policy.

Purposely Returning A Woman To A Dangerous Situation

CBN News posted an article today about Aideen Strandsson, who is awaiting deportation from Sweden to Iran. Sweden has turned down her request for asylum. Ms. Strandsson is a Christian and would face rape and prison time if she is returned to Iran. Hungary has offered her asylum, but Sweden was not willing to let her go to Hungary.

The article reports:

Aideen Strandsson came to Sweden from Iran in 2014 on a work visa and adopted a Swedish last name. She Left Islam and became a Christian in Iran after seeing a video of Muslims stoning a woman to death and then having a dream about Jesus.

When she arrived in Sweden, she requested a public baptism.

Strandsson said, “I wanted to be baptized in public because I want to say I am free, I am Christian and I wanted everyone to know about that.”

Which means the Islamic government of Iran knows. And because she starred in films and a TV series in Iran, it makes her an even bigger target if she is sent back.

In July of last year, CBN News reported:

At the same time Sweden is deporting Christians to Muslim nations where they face prison, torture and death, it is giving new identities to ISIS fighters who have returned from Syria and Iraq.
 
An investigation by the Swedish newspaper Expressen found that 150 ISIS terrorists are being protected by the Swedish government so that locals don’t find out that they were jihadists.
Today’s CBN News article provides the information to contact the Swedish embassy about this matter. I don’t know how much good that will do, but it is worth a try.
Meanwhile, could someone please explain how allowing former ISIS members asylum and not granting Christians asylum makes sense? Which is more likely to be a threat to the peace of your country?

 

Iran

Just a small comment on the Iranian protests. The people are protesting for many reasons, but some of them are economic–the price of food has skyrocketed, and people are hungry. They are also protesting the amount of money going to Hezbollah, Syria, Lebanon, etc. that the mullahs are sending in the hope of eventually setting up their Islamic caliphate. The money we gave Iran after the Iranian nuclear deal did not go to the people of the country–it went for military and terrorism purposes. That really isn’t a surprise, but we need to learn from that experience. It is time to use wisdom in our foreign aid–giving people money does not make people like us. If they hate us to begin with, why are we paying them to hate us? We need to remember that much of the hatred that is directed toward America is the result of dictators and tyrants using America as a scapegoat to blame for the problems in their countries. Some of the hatred is simply jealousy. America has been blessed as a nation. We need to appreciate what we have and share it where appropriate. A friend of mine from another country once told me that he was amazed at the generosity of Americans–we are among the first there to help after a disaster. We need to continue to help where help is needed, but we need to be more careful about how we distribute our foreign aid. Let’s help the people who align with us–not give money to countries that will use it against us.

Does The United Nations Support Freedom?

One America News posted an article today stating that the U.N. Security Council is set to meet Friday to discuss the ongoing protests in Iran.

The article reports:

Security Council members are divided on the matter with several powers calling for non-interference with what they see as an internal Iranian issue.

U.S. policymakers have shown rare unity on the matter with hawks among both the Democrats and mainstream Republicans embracing the Iranian protest movement.

However, while the Washington establishment is favoring the regime change strategy, it has shown little concern with the loss of human lives in Iran.

Experts don’t expect Friday’s U.N. Security Council meeting to produce major results as its permanent members are concerned with either supporting the Islamic revolution or changing the regime, rather than the well-being of the Iranian people.

One of the problems with asking the United Nations for help for the Iranian people is the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a 57-member group with 56 members also being voting members of the United Nations.  The organisation states that it is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony.” The OIC supports Sharia Law and would very much be in agreement with the mullahs rather than the people of Iran.

It would be very surprising to see anything come out of the United Nations in support of the Iranian people demonstrating for freedom.

Some Policies Are Simply A Bad Idea

Baltimore, Maryland, has had a rough year. After riots followed the death of Freddie Gray in April 2015, the Black Lives Matter movement insisted that the police be withdrawn from predominately black neighborhoods. It turns out that was not the solution. Yesterday Breitbart reported on the results.

The article reports:

Since the riots, police morale has collapsed, and city officials began planning a lighter police footprint in response to complaints of residents and protest leaders.

But now, black leaders are blaming cops for the spiraling murder rate, saying that the police pullback has put them in danger.

The Rev. Kinji Scott, a Baltimore activist, is blaming city hall for leaving the neighborhoods unprotected.

“We wanted the police there,” Scott insisted. “We wanted them engaged in the community. We didn’t want them beating the hell out of us, we didn’t want that.”

Scott and others are now pressuring the city to bring police back in as a deterrent to the soaring crime rate.

Despite the loud proclamations from BLM activists that the police are the problem, Scott and his fellow activists are now claiming that they never wanted police to go away.

This is an example of trying to have it both ways. During the protests in Baltimore, protestors wore t-shirts saying, “Disarm the police.” The police were a convenient scapegoat to blame for the problems in black neighborhoods. People much wiser than I have stated that one of the first things than can be done to reduce the crime rates in black neighborhoods is to bring fathers back into families. Children of all races who are raised in families with their two biological parents are much less likely to get involved in gangs and illegal activity. We need to fix the family and then improve the education in black neighborhoods. That is a goal all of us can work toward.

The article concludes:

The reverend’s claims also seem to fly in the face of a list of 19 demands issued by protesters in 2015, one of which demanded that police be barred from entering certain buildings or parts of neighborhoods they had designated as “safe” from police. Clearly, the protesters wanted police removed from Baltimore’s neighborhoods. But now that they’ve gotten their wish, community leaders have suddenly realized what a bad idea such a pullback is.

The police are a force for good. There are occasional exceptions, but they are rare. Generally speaking, where there is a police presence, there is less crime. The recent events in Baltimore illustrate that.