Saturday, December 31, 2011

IW Blog: Befogging the Enemy: U.S. Officials as Human Pretzels

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Befogging the Enemy: U.S. Officials as Human Pretzels

by David J. Rusin • Dec 31, 2011 at 3:26 pm



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The most vexing video of 2011 may be this clip of Congressman Dan Lungren questioning Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Stockton on December 7. Though Stockton's evasiveness is in line with the government's history of not calling Islamism the enemy — recently exhibited by scrubbing FBI training materials and labeling the Fort Hood attack as "workplace violence" — his ability to twist himself into knots to avoid stating the obvious deserves special recognition:

Lungren: Secretary Stockton, are we at war with violent Islamist extremism?

Stockton: No, sir. We are at war with al-Qaeda, its affiliates —

Lungren: Okay, I understand that. My question is: is violent Islamist extremism at war with us?

Stockton: No, sir. We are being attacked by al-Qaeda and its allies.

Lungren: Is al-Qaeda — can it be described as being an exponent of violent Islamist extremism?

Stockton: They — al-Qaeda are murderers with an ideological agenda —

Lungren: No, I — that's not my question. That wasn't my question. My question was: is al-Qaeda acting out violent Islamist extremism?

Stockton: Al-Qaeda is a violent organization dedicated to overthrowing the values that we intend to advance.

After asking to hear the question again and receiving a cold stare, Stockton protested that the U.S. is not at war with Islam, which Lungren had never suggested, and said, "I don't believe it's helpful to frame our adversary as Islamic with any set of qualifiers." However, he did reluctantly admit that a serviceman identifying himself as a "soldier of Allah" could be a bad sign.

Evoking both laughter and horror, the exchange — which recalls a similar one with the attorney general bobbing and weaving in 2010 — does much to illustrate the absurdity of the speak-no-jihad routine. But what is its source? Does government refusal to "frame our adversary as Islamic with any set of qualifiers" indicate that awareness of Islamism and its perils is totally absent, or is the pussyfooting mostly just for show? Also, is the latter alternative tolerable?

Given the extensive data in the hands of U.S. security officials, the second option seems more likely: a degree of understanding exists, but public equivocation is employed for reasons that range from genuine, if misguided, strategic concerns to crass political calculations. Yet this is no cause for glee. Though preferable to abject ignorance, not being frank is problematic as well.

The conflict with radical Islam is fought not only by government-trained professionals in far-off lands. Violent jihad has targeted places like Little Rock and Times Square, while stealth jihad is ubiquitous. Ordinary citizens thus find themselves on the front lines and have a key role to play by looking out for potential terrorist activity and resisting nonviolent Islamists, but the feds appear determined to keep people too uninformed about the nature of the threat to be as useful as they otherwise could. Hence, even if U.S. leaders do have some grasp of Islamism, they fail Americans by not conveying basic knowledge of the enemy's ideology through untwisted words.

Related Topics: Censorship, Free Speech, Government, Multiculturalism, Police / FBI | David J. Rusin This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.

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U.S. Weighs Releasing Taliban Commander From Gitmo As Part Of Peace Talks

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 09:22 AM PST

The U.S. is considering a proposal to transfer a top Taliban commander out of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay as part of a potential step toward peace talks with the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. A senior U.S. official confirmed to Fox News that Mullah Mohammed Fazl is among the prisoners being considered for release. [...]

This story comes to us via Homeland Security - National Terror Alert. National Terror Alert is America's trusted source for homeland security news and information.

U.S. Weighs Releasing Taliban Commander From Gitmo As Part Of Peace Talks

From Planes To Trains – TSA Expands Spot Searches To Union Station

Posted: 30 Dec 2011 09:12 AM PST

In what has become a familiar sight at LAX and the rest of the nation’s airports will soon be coming to the city’s busiest train station. KNX 1070′s Pete Demetriou reports rail passengers have started seeing Transportation Security Administration on patrol at Union Station on a more frequent basis. As many as 25 VIPR (Visible [...]

This story comes to us via Homeland Security - National Terror Alert. National Terror Alert is America's trusted source for homeland security news and information.

From Planes To Trains – TSA Expands Spot Searches To Union Station




All-American Muslim stoops to a new low. The Hizb'Allah imam wasn't enough. The coerced conversion and banishment of the dog wasn't enough. Now they're going to school and admonish us about how Muslims were the real victims of 9/11.

TV show on Muslims takes on Sept. 11 attacks Associated Press December 29 (hat tip Philip)

NEW YORK (AP) - A television show about members of a Muslim community in Michigan is focusing what may be its second-to-last episode almost entirely on the conflicted feelings that its featured participants have about marking anniversaries of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Why might it be the second-to-last episode? Was it the media controversy? Or perhaps the boring story line? The coerced conversion to Islam? The banishment of the newly converted husband's dog? Or perhaps it was the Hezb'Allah-supporting (the same Hezb'Allah killing our CIA agents in Lebanon and Iran) Husham Alhusayni -- the main spiritual leader of the Karbala Center in Dearborn, who is featured in All-American Muslim. In the program, Hezbo-linked Alhusayni is seen presiding over marriages within Muslim families in Dearborn. (Read the whole ugly thing here).

The episode of TLC’s “All-American Muslim” airs Sunday (10 p.m. EST). The series attracted attention earlier this month when a conservative Christian group called on advertisers to boycott the series, calling it “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”

I do not recall such a media uproar over Media Matters and other Soros orgs' boycott of Beck. Or Rush. Or any program boycott. There was never such a media storm over the calls to boycott Israel products or for the divestment from Israel.

Two companies, the Lowe’s home improvement chain and travel planning website, announced they were pulling ads. TLC hasn’t said how many companies responded to the Florida Family Association’s call to stop sponsoring the show. The controversy prompted a backlash of people protesting against Lowe’s. Some new advertisers have signed on since then, TLC General Manager Amy Winter said Thursday.

Filming for the reality TV series took place during commemorations for the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Both TLC and the show’s characters, Muslims living in and around Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit at the heart of one of the largest Arab-American populations outside the Middle East, wanted to address the topic, Winter said.

“I’m very proud of it,” she said. “What you’ll see in there is a community with a range of emotions that they express over what was probably one of the most pivotal moments in our nation’s history.”

Mike Jaafar, a deputy sheriff who participated in a Sept. 11 memorial service at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, helped law enforcementprepare for any problems related to the anniversary. He choked up when recalling how police officers in New York City were killed as they tried to rescue people at the World Trade Center.

“You think about your guys who work for you, going into a building and not coming home,” he said.

Nawal Auode was a high school sophomore on Sept. 11, 2001, when her mother called to say she was picking her up at school. Her mother found out about the attacks as she was passing out flyers to advertise a day care center and a man spit at her and ordered her off his porch.

“It was the first time I realized that people looked at me as less American,” said Suehaila Amen. “As a person who was born and raised in this country, it was very difficult.”

If the Islamic community had been honest and patriotic after 9/11, instead of claiming to be the real victims and denying the key role that the quran's teachings of violence had in 9/11, Americans would be a lot less suspicious of them.

Auode said she dreads the anniversary of the attacks because of a sense that members of her community have to defend themselves for something they had nothing to do with.

That’s at the root of the biggest conflict in Sunday’s episode. One woman talks about how important it was to attend a Sept. 11 commemoration, but her adult-age children didn’t want to go.

One man, Bilal Amen, traveled to New York City to visit the Sept. 11 memorial because, he said, “I want to see the place that changed my life.”

Changed his life. What about the lives of all the people who were killed, and their families?

Another woman, Nina Bazzy, spoke angrily about the Sept. 11 terrorists and said they weren’t real Muslims because “a real Muslim would not do anything like that.” She said Osama bin Laden made life difficult for many Muslims in the United States.

“He ruined it for us,” Bazzy said. “He ruined it for our kids. He made us scared in our own homes.”

"He ruined it for us." For the Muslims. Not a word about how he ruined it for the 3,000 who were killed, or for their families. And "he made us scared in our own homes"? Of whom? Who is breaking into Muslims' homes? This is pure victimhood fantasy. No one is bothering innocent Muslims in the U.S.

“All-American Muslim” ends its eight-episode first season on Jan. 8. Its ratings are considered disappointing for TLC, and the attention caused by this month’s controversy didn’t improve them. Based on ratings alone, a second season would be considered unlikely. Working in its favor is TLC’s pride in a series that spotlights communities that many viewers aren’t familiar with.

Also working in its favor is that Islamic supremacists all over the country will charge TLC with "Islamophobia" if the show is canceled.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Eye on Iran: Iran-US Brinkmanship Over Oil Strait Worsens

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Top Stories

AFP: "A showdown between Iran and the United States over Tehran's threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to oil tankers worsened with warships from each side giving weight to an increasingly bellicose exchange of words. Iran's Revolutionary Guards rejected a warning that the US military would 'not tolerate' such a closure, saying they would act decisively 'to protect our vital interests.' State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday that Iran had exhibited 'irrational behavior' by threatening to close the strait. 'One can only guess that the international sanctions are beginning to feel the pinch, and that the ratcheting up of pressure, particularly on their oil sector, is pinching in a way that is causing them to lash out.'"

AFP: "Two American warships have crossed through the Strait of Hormuz without incident despite Iranian threats to close the strategic oil route, the US Navy said Thursday. The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay 'conducted a pre-planned, routine transit through the Strait of Hormuz' on Tuesday, said Fifth Fleet spokeswoman Lieutenant Rebecca Rebarich. The US military reported no friction with Iran's naval forces after Iranian leaders warned of possibly shutting down the vital strait if the West went ahead with more punitive sanctions over its suspect nuclear program. 'Our interaction with the regular Iranian Navy continues to be within the standards of maritime practice, well-known, routine and professional,' Rebarich said in an email from Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain."

WSJ: "Iran's central bank is preparing to file a motion in a New York federal court early next year to release nearly $2 billion of its frozen funds at Citigroup Inc.'s Citibank unit, according to attorneys for the Iranian bank. Tehran's action will mark the latest step in a widening legal struggle for control of the money. The assets were frozen in 2008 after a group of more than 1,000 victims of international terrorism sought the funds as partial payment for a $2.7 billion legal judgment made against Tehran for its alleged role in the 1983 bombing of a Marine Corps barracks in Beirut that killed 241 servicemen. A federal judge's decision to freeze the funds from the central bank, known as Bank Markazi, was the largest seizure of Iranian funds outside Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. The funds were deposited in Citibank by Luxembourg-based Clearstream Banking SA."

Iran Disclosure Project

Nuclear Program & Sanctions

Reuters: "Italy backs sanctions against Iran provided that crude oil imports by Eni relating to existing contracts are excluded, Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Thursday. Italian oil and gas group Eni has previously said it will not make any new investments in Iran and only intends to complete activities already under way. Iran has been paying back Eni for decade-old deals in the country with oil for years but Eni CEO Paolo Scaroni has said Eni is still owed nearly $2 billion."

Domestic Politics

AP: "The website of former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani has been blocked after an order from the government, his office confirmed Friday. Mohammad Hashemi, Rafsanjani's younger brother, told the semiofficial ISNA news agency Friday that a company providing services to the site told Rafsanjani's office that it was ordered to cut it off. 'The company providing services to Ayatollah Rafsanjani's site called and said they've been ordered to cut services to the site. Fifteen minutes later, the site was out of service,' ISNA quoted the brother as saying."

Foreign Affairs

Reuters: "The United States will sell $29.4 billion in fighter jets to Saudi Arabia in a deal the White House said would support more than 50,000 jobs and help reinforce regional security in the Gulf amid mounting tensions with Iran... Gregory Gause, a Saudi Arabia expert at the University of Vermont, said the announcement of the fighter jet sale was a signal that the United States wants to contain Iran's influence in the region, but would not produce any quick power shift."

Reuters: "Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun visited Iran for talks, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, during growing tensions over Tehran's threat to choke off Middle Eastern oil shipments in retaliation against proposed Western sanctions. In keeping with Beijing's public sensitivity over Iran -- a major oil supplier to China -- the ministry statement gave only opaque clues about what Zhai and his hosts discussed during his two-day visit that ended on Thursday. 'Both sides exchanged views on Sino-Iranian relations and regional issues,' said the brief announcement on the Chinese Foreign Ministry's website dated Thursday."

Opinion & Analysis

NYT Editorial Board: "Iran's threat to shut the Strait of Hormuz - one-fifth of the world's oil trade passes through there - if the United States and Europe press ahead with new sanctions is unacceptable. The Obama administration is right to signal, in deliberately moderated ways, that Washington will not back off if Tehran ever attempts to carry it out. A show of American naval force kept the strait open to oil tankers during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. A Fifth Fleet spokeswoman usefully reminded Iran this week that the Navy always stands 'ready to counter malevolent actions to ensure freedom of navigation.' Oil markets reacted calmly, at least for now, with no price spikes. Whether or not Tehran is bluffing (or trying to drive up oil prices), Washington will not back down and Europe should not. More than five years after the United Nations Security Council ordered it to stop, Iran is still enriching uranium and mastering other technologies that would allow it to build a nuclear weapon. According to the latest report from United Nations inspectors, Iran has created computer models of nuclear explosions, conducted experiments on nuclear triggers and completed advanced research on a warhead that could be delivered by a medium-range missile... Tehran's latest threat to block global oil shipping should leave no doubt about its recklessness and its contempt for international law. This is not a government any country should want to see acquire nuclear weapons."

Michael Rubin in NY Daily News: "Tension between the United States and Iran reached levels not seen in more than 20 years when, on Wednesday, Iranian military officials threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, the 34-mile wide channel through which more than one-third of the world's oil tanker traffic passes. Habibollah Sayyari, commander of Iran's navy, bragged that closing the Strait would be easier than drinking a glass of water. While the threat from a resurgent Iran is real, its bluster about closing the Strait is more diversion than danger. The waterway may be an economic chokehold, but it is also a vital passage for Iran's survival. The Islamic Republic is not only the world's third-largest exporter of oil. Because of decades of mismanagement, it is also a voracious consumer of imported gasoline: Iran must import 40% of the refined petroleum it needs not only to run its automobiles, but also to power its factories and extract oil. To close the Strait of Hormuz even for a day would do far more damage to the Iranian economy than it would to the West. The Islamic Republic's goal may still be more financial than military. Iran's economy is teetering. In the past nine months, Iran's currency has lost a third of its value against the dollar. Unemployment and inflation are both in the double digits. To keep afloat, Iran needs high oil prices. Should the price of oil fall below $80 per barrel, even the brutal Revolutionary Guards may not be able to maintain domestic stability for long. They know that by simply threatening tanker traffic, they can drive up the price of oil, adding hundreds of millions of dollars to their coffers. Should Tehran really want to strike a blow at the West, their target would not be the Strait. While Iranian small boats, mines and anti-ship missiles can harass international shipping, American firepower is overwhelming... The Iranian leadership knows that if they want to threaten international markets, the vulnerability is not by sea but rather on land. On Dec. 22, Iraq's deputy prime minister claimed that Iraq's oil exports had surpassed 3 million barrels per day. If Iranian-backed militias or saboteurs destroyed pipelines or Iraq's single Persian Gulf oil terminal, oil prices would skyrocket. Iraq's South Oil Company has taken no obvious contingencies to ward off the threat, and with the American withdrawal, Iraq's vulnerability has only increased. The crisis in the Strait may soon pass, but the real threat at the far end of the Persian Gulf remains."

Anthony Cordesman in CSIS: "There is nothing new about Iran's threat to close the Gulf, but it does need to be put in context. Iran is reshaping its military forces to steadily increase the threat to Gulf shipping and shipping in the Gulf of Oman, It also is gradually increasing its ability to operate in the Indian Ocean. This increase in Iranian capability is almost certainly not designed to take the form of a major war with the US and Southern Gulf states, which could result from any Iranian effort to truly close the Gulf. It does, however, give Iran the ability to carry out a wide range of much lower level attacks which could sharply raise the risk to Gulf shipping, and either reduce tanker traffic and shipping or sharply raise the insurance cost of such ship movements and put a different kind of pressure on the other Gulf states and world oil prices. Any such Iranian actions do not have to be tied in any way to predictable attacks at or near the Strait of Hormuz. They could occur anywhere in the Gulf and in the Gulf of Oman. Iran could deny many such forms of attack, claim rogue operations or that they were provoked by US or other Gulf country actions, or keep the level of such attacks so low that it would be difficult to respond with high levels of force and Iran could keep exporting its own oil. Moreover, Iran's growing long-range missile forces, and movement towards a nuclear weapons capability will give it an increasing capability to compensate for its aging and low capability regular naval and air forces with a far more threatening level of deterrence. It is also important to note that the current flow of oil and gas exports through the Gulf is critical to the global economy, as well as that of a US that must pay rising world oil prices in a crisis. The US Department of Energy projects that this global strategic dependence on the secure and steady flow of Gulf energy exports will increase steadily through 2035 - as far in the future as the Department makes projections. Equally important, the same US Department of Energy projections make it clear that the US will not achieve any meaningful improvement in energy independence through 2025, although it will make limited reductions in total imports and increases its own conventional and unconventional liquids production."

Eye on Iran is a periodic news summary from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eye on Iran is not intended as a comprehensive media clips summary but rather a selection of media elements with discreet analysis in a PDA friendly format. For more information please email

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons. UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.