Posts by Olivier Knox
Olivier Knox at Yahoo 1 mth ago
A senior House of Representatives Democrat said Tuesday that the White House’s description of supposed progress in the war against the Islamic State should ring “alarm bells,” and called the fall of the city of Ramadi to the extremists “a very serious and significant setback.”
“I don’t think we’re losing the war, but I don’t think we’re making tremendous progress either,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor.
The California Democrat had been asked about White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz’s recitation last week of the number of U.S. and partner airstrikes to counter a reporter’s question about whether the Islamic State is winning.
“I wouldn’t use the metrics of the number of sorties or bombs dropped or anything, and to the degree you hear administration officials use those metrics, alarm bells should be going off,” Schiff cautioned.
“We have to really delve behind the numbers,” said Schiff, who warned that the conflict was on a “long and hard and not a straight-line path.”
Olivier Knox at Yahoo 2 mths ago
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps ships intercepted a Marshall Islands-flagged commercial cargo vessel in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, forcing it “further into Iranian waters,” the Pentagon said. Multiple U.S. government sources said there were no Americans aboard the Maersk Tigris.
Several Iranian patrol craft intercepted the Tigris at 5:05 a.m. eastern time as it traveled “on an internationally recognized maritime route,” according to a statement from the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“The IRGCN contacted the vessel and directed the Maersk Tigris’ master to divert further into Iranian Waters. The master initially declined and one of the IRGCN patrol craft fired shots across the Maersk Tigris’ bow. The master then complied and diverted under escort by the IRGCN vessels,” according to the statement.
In response to a distress call, the U.S. Navy ordered the USS Farragut, an Arleigh Burke Class Guided Missile Destroyer, “to proceed at best speed to the nearest location of the Maersk Tigris,” while reconnaissance aircraft kept track of the diverted vessel, according to the statement.
A bipartisan group of retired politicians, former military commanders, diplomats, business leaders and political scientists is pushing the commission that controls presidential debates to drop a requirement that, they argue, unfairly excludes qualified independent candidates.
“We believe the current rule requiring non-major party candidates to average over 15% in five polls taken just days before the debates does not meet the governing legal standard and is harmful to our democracy,” the group, which calls itself Change The Rule, wrote to the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) in January. “Because the current rule affords independent candidates no chance to get into the debates, it dissuades men and women with extraordinary records of service to this country from running for President.” It did not list any specific potential candidates.
The commission wrote back in February, saying it would take the group’s viewpoint into account as it reviews its criteria for eligibility ahead of the 2016 election. Change The Rule said in a statement released Tuesday that it was taking its campaign public because of CPD’s “tepid” response.
" There are now reports that your administration is contemplating taking an agreement, or aspects of it, to the United Nations Security Council for a vote," Corker said in a letter to Obama.
" Enabling the United Nations to consider an agreement or portions of it, while simultaneously threatening to veto legislation that would enable Congress to do the same, is a direct affront to the American people and seeks to undermine Congress’s appropriate role, " he said in the letter, which was made public by his office.
Corker is the main author of legislation aimed at giving Congress an up-or-down vote on any accord that results from the negotiations. The White House has threatened to veto the measure, which currently does not have enough support to overcome the president's rejection.
The State Department has declined to specify how any agreement would be implemented.
But Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said this week in a response to Republican opponents of the negotiations that the council would back any accord.
Hillary Clinton broke her silence Tuesday on the scandal surrounding her use of a private, nongovernmental email address while she served as secretary of state, saying that it was "a matter of convenience," that she "thought it would be easier to carry just one device" and that it was allowed under the rules of the State Department.
"Looking back, it would have been better if I had simply used a second email account and carried a second phone," Clinton said in a brief press conference at the United Nations after delivering a speech on women’s rights. "I thought using one device would be simpler, and obviously it hasn't worked out that way."
The "vast majority" of her emails, Clinton said, were work-related, sent to "government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department."
Officials there said that Clinton provided some 55,000 pages of documents — a fraction of what exists and a statistic that reveals little about what she shared, what she withheld and why.
Obama “did, over the course of his first several years in office, trade emails with the secretary of state,” Earnest said. “I would not describe the number of emails as large, but they did have the occasion to email one another.”
Obama told CBS in an interview broadcast over the weekend that he found out that Clinton had set up and maintained a private system that she used for official business “the same time everybody else learned it through news reports.”
“The point that the president was making is not that he didn’t know Secretary Clinton’s email address — he did,” Earnest said. “But he was not aware of the details of how that email address and that server had been set up, or how Secretary Clinton and her team were planning to comply with the Federal Records Act.”
That information, first disclosed by the New York Times, has raised questions about whether Clinton’s messages to other senior officials were secure and whether she used the arrangement to withhold messages that would normally be archived for potential future public release.
Earnest said that any messages to or from Obama’s email address would be archived under the Presidential Records Act.
The decision came in the face of stiff opposition from Senate Democrats who signed on to the bill but said they would oppose it if it came up before a late-March deadline for the United States and five world powers to reach an agreement with Tehran. Their stance ensured that the legislation would fail to advance in a test vote that had been expected on Tuesday.
“The Senate will turn next to the anti-human-trafficking legislation while Democrats decide whether or not they believe they and Congress as a whole should be able to review and vote on any deal the president cuts with the leaders of Iran,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said by email.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the measure’s principal author, welcomed McConnell’s decision as a stepping stone to building a veto-proof majority in support of the proposal.
“I greatly appreciate the majority leader’s commitment to getting the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act across the finish line by allowing the vote to occur at a time when we will more likely generate a veto-proof majority,” Corker said in a statement.
Congressional hawks who favor sending U.S. ground troops to fight the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria got a boost on Wednesday from a new poll that found Americans favor doing so by a lopsided 2-to-1 edge.
The Quinnipiac University assessment, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points, confirmed a public opinion trend since late last year showing that Americans are increasingly turning in favor of ground combat after months of Islamic State videos showing the group’s atrocities in agonizing detail, including the beheadings of U.S. nationals.
The poll comes as a trio of top officials — Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey — are scheduled to face questions about President Barack Obama’s war plans from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a March 11 hearing.
The Quinnipiac poll found that that Americans favor congressional approval of the AUMF by a 64-to-23 percent edge.
At the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month, Obama suggested people get off of their “high horse,” reminding his audience that the West had its own history of “terrible deeds” in the name of religion, including the Crusades, the Inquisition and slavery. The remarks touched off a predictable firestorm, and his critics pounced.
“There’s a set of words, it’s almost as if they’re given a card — a do-not-speak card,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R.-Texas) said last week at the conservative Center for Security Policy think thank. “The words ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ do not come out of the president’s mouth. The word ‘jihad’ does not come out of the president’s mouth. And that is dangerous.”
The verbal onslaught is coming mostly, but not entirely, from Republicans.
“You look at the vast majority of terrorist attacks that are being committed around the world, there's one common element here and it is this radical Islamist ideology,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D.-Hawaii), an Iraq combat veteran, told CNN. “This war cannot be won, this enemy and threat cannot be defeated unless we understand what’s driving them, what is their ideology.”
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