The Ghost Of The Obama Administration

Breitbart posted an article today about trade agreements between the United States and Qatar. It seems that there are air trade agreements that Qatar is violating. Those violations were allowed under the Obama administration. Qatar would like to see those violations continue under the Trump administration.

The article reports:

Open Skies agreements are executive agreements, similar to treaties, between the United States and other nations regarding international air travel, designed to foster free-market competition and a level playing field for international flights. From trade, to commerce, to tourism, Open Skies requires each participating country to provide non-preferential access to their airspace, and requires airline companies to compete against each other to in terms of offerings, quality of service, and low prices, without government subsidies.

Breitbart News has previously reported on several Arab nations that were violating their Open Skies agreements with the United States, illegally subsidizing three Persian Gulf carriers. The Obama administration did nothing, and a group of NeverTrumpers tried to convince President Trump to do nothing as well.

President Trump’s team had other ideas. In January 2018, the Department of State announced a deal with Qatar to end violations involving Qatar Airways, and in May 2018, Secretary Mike Pompeo announced a deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) addressing the remaining airlines, Etihad Airways, and Emirates Airline. These were hailed as significant victories for American workers and the president’s America First agenda.

But it appears there may still be trouble with Qatar. And someone from the Obama administration has been implicated, apparently operating behind the scenes.

In late April of this year, the CEOs of all three of the top U.S. airline companies – American, Delta, and United – published an open letter to President Trump as an ad in the New York Times and New York Post, entitled, “President Trump: Please enforce our trade agreements to support U.S. airline workers.”

The article then goes on to explain the involvement of someone from the Obama administration in this matter:

Then three other airline companies – FedEx, Jetblue, and Atlas Air – sent a letter defending Qatar to Pompeo and also Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. The April 16 letter pushes back against “false claims” and touts the need “to set the record straight.”

However, according to materials Breitbart News reviewed, it looks like someone forgot to remove the metadata from the document, showing who wrote the document. Because the metadata shows the letter sent by FedEx, JetBlue, and Atlas Air was actually written by Jenny Rosenberg.

Rosenberg is a lobbyist. But she formerly served as assistant administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and at another time served as acting assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation – both stints during the Obama administration.

In other words, unless this document is a complete forgery or one of the CEOs’ personal secretaries happens to be named Jenny Rosenberg, an Obama White House political appointee is ghostwriting letters trying to persuade President Trump to ignore purported trade violations.

When the CEOs of American companies are asking the president to stand up for American companies against foreign interests who are undercutting American workers, someone who formerly held “senior executive positions” – that is how her company webpage biography puts it – to advance Barack Obama’s policy priorities is seeking to influence the President Trump’s White House, trying to persuade the current president that what is happening is consistent with his America First agenda, and that his Cabinet should ignore claims to the contrary.

If you are going to do something dishonest, it is wise not to leave your electronic fingerprints on it.

The Truth Is Slowly Coming Out

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi was a horrible crime. It should not have happened. However, some of the misleading reporting of the event is now coming to light. The first thing to remember when viewing this crime is that alliances in the Middle East are complex, sometimes illogical, and often hidden. All three of these elements play a role in this crime.

Breitbart posted an article by John Hayward on Wednesday with the title, “Hayward: Washington Post Admits Khashoggi Let Qatar ‘Draft Material’ for Columns.”

Breitbart reports:

The new Post article conceded that Khashoggi was a political activist and admitted his writing may have been “shaped” by the government of Qatar, including an executive linked to that government “drafting material” for Khashoggi’s columns.

Before diving into the Washington Post’s revelations, it is sadly necessary to restate for the record that nothing disclosed in the piece justifies his murder by Saudi agents at the consulate in Istanbul in October. Being honest about who Khashoggi was, and taking a closer look at connections he preferred to keep secret, is not the same thing as blithely accepting his murder.

The Washington Post reported on December 22:

Among Khashoggi’s friends in the United States were individuals with real or imagined affiliations with the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood, and an Islamic advocacy organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, regarded warily for its support of the public uprisings of the Arab Spring. Khashoggi cultivated ties with senior officials in the Turkish government, also viewed with deep distrust by the rulers in Saudi Arabia.

After leaving the kingdom, Khashoggi sought to secure funding and support for an assortment of ideas that probably would have riled Middle East monarchs, including plans to create an organization that would publicly rank Arab nations each year by how they performed against basic metrics of freedom and democracy.

Perhaps most problematic for Khashoggi were his connections to an organization funded by Saudi Arabia’s regional nemesis, Qatar. Text messages between Khashoggi and an executive at Qatar Foundation International show that the executive, Maggie Mitchell Salem, at times shaped the columns he submitted to The Washington Post, proposing topics, drafting material and prodding him to take a harder line against the Saudi government. Khashoggi also appears to have relied on a researcher and translator affiliated with the organization, which promotes Arabic-language education in the United States.

Breitbart further reports:

Reaboi (David Reaboi at Security Studies Group) found it shocking the Washington Post would suddenly disclose these details and complicate the Khashoggi narrative unless the paper was trying to get out in front of even more damaging revelations to come.

“Rumors have floated inside the Beltway about the contents of Khashoggi’s text messages and, potentially, evidence of wire transfers from Qatar found at his residences in Turkey and in Virginia,” he noted.

To me, the following paragraphs are the most important in the Breitbart article:

If carefully chosen facts, heavily promoted narratives, and strategic falsehoods are the artillery of information warfare, then suppressed details are its stealth fighters and commando squads. Reaboi found the Saudis incredibly clumsy and perhaps breathtakingly arrogant to go radio-silent for a few days after Khashoggi’s death and leave the information warfare battlefield wide open for Turkey and Qatar, which effortlessly seized control of the Western media narrative.

Turkey effectively controlled the entire Western media apparatus with strategic leaks about the case, with some wild stories “confirmed” by anonymous Arab officials Reaboi suspects of being Qatari.

The story behind the death of Khashoggi may continue to unfold.

Changing Alliances In The Middle East

The Washington Post is reporting today that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain have announced that they will cut air, sea and land links with Qatar, which hosts a forward base for the U.S. military’s Central Command and is home to the widely watched Al Jazeera network.

The article reports:

Some other countries later joined the four-nation bloc in cutting ties with Qatar, which is also the venue for the 2022 World Cup.

The feud — the most serious in decades among some the region’s most key Western allies — has been simmering for years as Qatar increasingly flexed its political muscle across the region, including backing the Muslim Brotherhood.

Qatar’s outreach often raised conflict with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of whom have sought to exert their own influence across the Arab world.

CBN News reported today:

“[Qatar] embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and al Qaeda, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly,” Saudi’s state news agency SPA wrote.

…For years, Doha has been a strong backer of Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood ruling the Gaza Strip, and the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.

The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 in Ismailia, Egypt, is often referred to as the “father” of today’s Islamic terror movements.

In 2014, after a turbulent year under long-time Muslim Brotherhood devotee Mohammed Morsi, Egyptians overwhelmingly elected former military chief Fattah Abdel el-Sisi as president.

Slowly, el-Sisi began to address Egypt’s dire economic straits while simultaneously routing Islamic terror cells embedded in the Sinai Peninsula, which had flourished during Morsi’s short-lived term in office.

Egypt, the Arab’s world’s largest country, is 80 percent Muslim, but the population rejected the Morsi administration’s efforts to impose stricter Islamic lifestyle on the country.

There is a certain amount of irony here. Evidently, Qatar has backed the wrong group of terrorists. Saudi Arabia is the home of Wahhabism, a militant form of Islam that gave us the men who attacked America on 9/11. However, our alliance with Saudi Arabia is based on the fact that they are willing to fight ISIS and that they have supported the trading of oil in American dollars. The Saudis are also very actively working behind the scenes to prevent America from becoming energy independent and ruining the monopoly that OPEC has held for so long. If you look at the funding of some of the environmental groups that have opposed drilling in various places and various pipelines, you will find Saudi money.

At any rate, President Trump has had a major impact on relationships in the Middle East. It will be interesting to see in the future is these new alliances work to curtail the funding and activities of terrorists.

An Example Of What Happens When A Terrorist Is Tried In A Civilian Court

On Tuesday, Andrew McCarthy posted an article at National Review Online about the release of Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri from an American prison. Al-Marri was in a federal prison after being convicted of terrorism.

The article reports:

Al-Marri is an al-Qaeda operative who was planted as a “sleeper” in the United States by Khalid Sheikh Mohamed to await instructions on carrying out a second wave of attacks after the 9/11 atrocities – against water reservoirs, the New York Stock Exchange, U.S. military academies, and other targets. The Justice Department quietly sprung him on Friday so he could return to his native Qatar, a country the administration regards as a crucial counterterrorism ally . . . and a country that is notorious for providing material support to jihadists.

Al-Marri served six years for plotting terror attacks against Americans. I am sure America soldiers (or American civilians if he crosses our southern border illegally) will meet al-Marri again. Our Justice Department is not protecting us from a convicted terrorist.

The article explains how this all happened:

Prior Justice Department practice required prosecutors to charge the most severe, readily provable offense. And in 1996, to ensure that this practice would result in sentences of death or life imprisonment for terrorists, Congress — with significant encouragement from the Clinton Justice Department (in its pre-Holder days) — overhauled federal counterterrorism law.

…In stark departure from prior Justice Department practice, Holder permitted al-Marri to plead guilty to providing material support for terrorism. The material-support offense is generally reserved for non-terrorist sympathizers who facilitate the jihad but are unlikely to carry out atrocities themselves. It is a significantly less serious charge than the crimes — the acts of war — that Marri had actually committed, such as full-fledged membership in the al-Qaeda conspiracy to kill Americans, as well as conspiracies to use weapons of mass destruction.

Because of Holder’s abandonment of past DOJ practice, al-Marri was looking at a maximum sentence of 15 years. Had the Justice Department filed appropriate charges and taken the case to trial, the 43-year-old al-Marri would have been looking at a life sentence.

At the time of his conviction, al-Marri admitted that he was doing research into cyanide compounds as part of his terrorist training. He also admitted that an almanac recovered in his residence was bookmarked at pages showing dams, waterways, and tunnels in the United States, consistent with al-Qaeda planning for the use of cyanide gases. This man was not simply providing material support for terrorists–he was planning on being one.

The article concludes:

Reading the Obama Justice Department’s signals, Judge Michael M. Mihm sentenced al-Marri to a mere eight years’ imprisonment. I thus predicted that he would be released “in six years or so.” That’s what happened. He’s back in Qatar, with plenty of jihad left in him.

Please follow the link to the article to read the entire story. Now that he is free, this man could do some serious damage to American soldiers and American civilians.

It Just Gets Worse

Yahoo News has posted an article today reporting that the five terrorists that were released from Guantanamo to Qatar have been moved to a residential community and will be allowed to move freely around the country. There is a one-year ban imposed on the terrorists that will theoretically prevent them from traveling outside the country. How long will it be before they make internet contact with their friends and resume terrorists activities?

The article reports:

Following the deal under which freed the last American soldier held in Afghanistan was freed, concerns have been expressed by some U.S. intelligence officials and congressional advisers over the role of the Gulf Arab state as a bridge between Washington and the world of radical Islam.

The Gulf official said the Taliban men, who have been granted Qatari residency permits, will not be treated like prisoners while in Doha and no U.S. officials will be involved in monitoring their movement while in the country.

“Under the deal they have to stay in Qatar for a year and then they will be allowed to travel outside the country… They can go back to Afghanistan if they want to,” the official said.

The more we learn about this deal, the worse it gets.

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Asking The Foxes To Help Protect The Henhouse

CNS News reported today that the Obama Administration will ask the Global Counterterrorism Forum to consider allowing Israel to contribute to its forum–not become a member–but to contribute. It is interesting to note that more than a third of the forum members are Islamic nations.

The article reports:

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Friday that the administration has “succeeded and agreed with our partners” in the Global Counterterrorism Forum to include the issue (allowing Israel to contribute) as a formal item on the agenda for a GCTF ministerial meeting in the United Arab Emirates.

Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are included as members of the forum.

Please read the article at CNS News for further details. The obvious questions is, “Why are we participating in this forum that excludes Israel when all we really need to do is ask Israel (the most successful country in the world in dealing with terrorism) how to deal with the problem?”

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Sometimes There Are No Good Guys In The Fight

On Sunday The New York Times posted an article about the people attempting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and the arms being supplied to them.

The article reports:

The United States is not sending arms directly to the Syrian opposition. Instead, it is providing intelligence and other support for shipments of secondhand light weapons like rifles and grenades into Syria, mainly orchestrated from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The reports indicate that the shipments organized from Qatar, in particular, are largely going to hard-line Islamists.

The concern is that the rebels in Syria are another part of the “Arab Spring.” So far the Arab Spring has not brought freedom, but sharia law.

The article further states:

American officials have been trying to understand why hard-line Islamists have received the lion’s share of the arms shipped to the Syrian opposition through the shadowy pipeline with roots in Qatar, and, to a lesser degree, Saudi Arabia. The officials, voicing frustration, say there is no central clearinghouse for the shipments, and no effective way of vetting the groups that ultimately receive them.

Evidently some of the rebels are planning ahead. The article reports:

Late last month in the Turkish border town of Antakya, at least two men who had recently been in Syria said they had seen Islamist rebels buying weapons in large quantities and then burying them in caches, to be used after the collapse of the Assad government. But it was impossible to verify these accounts, and other rebels derided the reports as wildly implausible.

It seems to me that when we are not sure who the good guys are in the fight, we need to stay out of it. My heart goes out to the innocent civilians in Syria, but it seems to me that supplying arms to anyone will simply result in more people being killed. Assad is a horrible dictator, but there are no guarantees that a government that replaces him will be any better.

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Our Schizophrenic Policy In Afghanistan

Members of the Afghan national army stand in f...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday the Washington Times reported that the Taliban is opening a liaison office in Qatar as a step in negotiating peace in Afghanistan. The only problem with the peace talks that will be held in Qatar is that the negotiations totally shut out Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government. Shades of Czechoslovakia in 1938.

Leaving aside any opinion on negotiating with the Taliban, what is the history of success of treaties that were not negotiated with the leaders of the countries they involved?

The article reports:

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Tuesday that the office in Qatar will conduct negotiations only with the “international community.”

“There are two essential sides in the current situation in the country that has been ongoing for the past 10 years. One is the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the other side is the United States of America and their foreign allies,” Mr. Mujahid said in an e-mailed statement, according to the Associated Press.

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan refers to the country’s name under Taliban rule

As a person with a family member who did two tours in Afghanistan, I can’t even find the words to express how disgusted I am with the fact that President Obama is abandoning the country and leaving it in the hands of the people who gave us 9/11. It may be time to leave Afghanistan, but we should at least include the Afghanistan government in the negotiations.

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