An impeachment process in search of a crime 3

Rep. Devin Nunes truthfully accuses the lying accusers at the start of the impeachment enquiry, which is the latest move in the Democrats’ evil plot to overthrow the elected president:

Posted under corruption, Crime, Russia, Ukraine, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, November 13, 2019

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The growing power of the fourth branch of government 1

The growing dominance of the federal government over the states has obscured more fundamental changes within the federal government itself: It is not just bigger, it is dangerously off kilter. Our carefully constructed system of checks and balances is being negated by the rise of a fourth branch, an administrative state of sprawling departments and agencies that govern with increasing autonomy and decreasing transparency.

We take these extracts from an article in the Washington Post by Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University. If he is right, America is being governed by a bureaucracy accountable to no other branch of government or to the people. The rule of the bureaucrats is arbitrary and tyrannical.

For much of our nation’s history, the federal government was quite small. In 1790, it had just 1,000 nonmilitary workers. In 1962, there were 2,515,000 federal employees. Today, we have 2,840,000 federal workers in 15 departments, 69 agencies and 383 nonmilitary sub-agencies.

This exponential growth has led to increasing power and independence for agencies. The shift of authority has been staggering. The fourth branch now has a larger practical impact on the lives of citizens than all the other branches combined.

The rise of the fourth branch has been at the expense of Congress’s lawmaking authority. In fact, the vast majority of “laws” governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats. One study found that in 2007, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations.

This rulemaking comes with little accountability. It’s often impossible to know, absent a major scandal, whom to blame for rules that are abusive or nonsensical. Of course, agencies owe their creation and underlying legal authority to Congress, and Congress holds the purse strings. But Capitol Hill’s relatively small staff is incapable of exerting oversight on more than a small percentage of agency actions. And the threat of cutting funds is a blunt instrument to control a massive administrative state — like running a locomotive with an on/off switch.

The autonomy was magnified when the Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that agencies are entitled to heavy deference in their interpretations of laws. The court went even further this past week, ruling that agencies should get the same heavy deference in determining their own jurisdictions — a power that was previously believed to rest with Congress. In his dissent in Arlington v. FCC, Chief Justice John Roberts warned: “It would be a bit much to describe the result as ‘the very definition of tyranny,’ but the danger posed by the growing power of the administrative state cannot be dismissed.”

The judiciary, too, has seen its authority diminished by the rise of the fourth branch. Under Article III of the Constitution, citizens facing charges and fines are entitled to due process in our court system. As the number of federal regulations increased, however, Congress decided to relieve the judiciary of most regulatory cases and create administrative courts tied to individual agencies. The result is that a citizen is 10 times more likely to be tried by an agency than by an actual court. In a given year, federal judges conduct roughly 95,000 adjudicatory proceedings, including trials, while federal agencies complete more than 939,000.

These agency proceedings are often mockeries of due process, with one-sided presumptions and procedural rules favoring the agency. And agencies increasingly seem to chafe at being denied their judicial authority. … A 50-year-old technology consultant … charged with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure when he stripped at Portland International Airport last year in protest of invasive security measures by the Transportation Security Administration, … was cleared by a federal judge who ruled that his stripping was a form of free speech, … but was pulled [by the TSA] into its own agency courts under administrative charges.

The rise of the fourth branch has occurred alongside an unprecedented increase in presidential powers — from the power to determine when to go to war to the power to decide when it’s reasonable to vaporize a U.S. citizen in a drone strike. In this new order, information is jealously guarded and transparency has declined sharply. That trend, in turn, has given the fourth branch even greater insularity and independence. When Congress tries to respond to cases of agency abuse, it often finds officials walled off by claims of expanding executive privilege.

But while the agencies can sometimes be protected by the president, they can also protect themselves from him. Their power is independent of the president just as it is, in practice, independent of Congress and the judiciary.

Of course, federal agencies officially report to the White House under the umbrella of the executive branch. But in practice, the agencies have evolved into largely independent entities over which the president has very limited control. Only 1 percent of federal positions are filled by political appointees, as opposed to career officials, and on average appointees serve only two years. At an individual level, career officials are insulated from political pressure by civil service rules. There are also entire agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — that are protected from White House interference.

Some agencies have gone so far as to refuse to comply with presidential orders. For example, in 1992 President George H.W. Bush ordered the U.S. Postal Service to withdraw a lawsuit against the Postal Rate Commission, and he threatened to sack members of the Postal Service’s Board of Governors who denied him. The courts ruled in favor of the independence of the agency.

Only “a small percentage of agency matters… rise to the level of presidential notice”. The rest remain “the sole concern of agency discretion”. For instance, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Department of the Interior (DOI) force people into poverty by depriving them of their land or their water or their jobs in order to preserve some animal, bird or fish instead, there seems to be no recourse to any higher authority for the human victims to appeal to for arbitration. (See for example our post The environmentalists’ tyrannical drive against civilization, January 19, 2013.)

The marginalization Congress feels is magnified for citizens, who are routinely pulled into the vortex of an administrative state that allows little challenge or appeal. The IRS scandal is the rare case in which internal agency priorities are forced into the public eye. Most of the time, such internal policies are hidden from public view and congressional oversight. While public participation in the promulgation of new regulations is allowed, and often required, the process is generally perfunctory and dismissive.

Professor Turley speaks of “the new regulatory age“, in which –

Presidents and Congress can still change the government’s priorities, but the agencies effectively run the show based on their interpretations and discretion.

The importance of this development, he stresses, cannot be overestimated. It is a huge, momentous change in the US system of government.

The rise of this fourth branch represents perhaps the single greatest change in our system of government since the founding.

And he ends with a warning:

We cannot long protect liberty if our leaders continue to act like mere bystanders to the work of government.

Does the independent power of the bureaucracies mean that President Obama is off the hook for the scandals of Benghazi, the IRS targeting of conservative groups applying for tax exempt status, the Department of Justice secretly investigating journalists? That he could have done nothing much about them one way or the other even if he’d wanted to?

If so, is that why the Washington Post published Professor Turley’s article?

Interesting questions, but of passing concern.

What matters is that Americans are no longer living in the free democratic republic they think they are.

Obama’s abasement of America 1

China is one of the worst, possibly the worst regime on earth. Under Mao tens of millions were starved to death, more millions committed suicide, and hundreds of millions were deliberately murdered – many more than the 70 million calculated, because for decades most newborn baby girls were killed. China still allows no free speech, no free press, no freedom of assembly. Torture is routine in its prisons and gulags. Its citizens are imprisoned without trial. In any case trials are travesties of justice. The government’s entire business is to protect itself against the people. In sum, China is an evil Communist dictatorship. The dictators are wholly without moral compunction.

In very bad faith these monsters accuse America of “violations of human rights”.  Obviously this is chutzpah writ very large indeed. The Chinese cite crime levels in the US as if common crime were the result of government policy. They cite measures of defense, such as those taken under the Patriot Act, as if they were morally illegitimate.  (See the accusations below in our post, Seeing ourselves as others see us.) The contrast between the governmental system of the United States, designed to protect the people from tyranny, and the Communist system designed to tyrannize over the people, could not be greater.

It is true that the present administration of the United States has a dictatorial inclination, so much so that we often allude to Obama as “the dictator”. We don’t doubt that he is a collectivist by temperament and training. We would not be astonished to learn that he thinks the Chinese system of government is better than the one set up by the framers of the United States Constitution. While he is in power he can do a lot of damage – has done much already – but he will not destroy American freedom. The people will not let him.

He himself does not value individual liberty. He has absorbed a distorted version of American history from his Marxist parents, mentors, teachers, and associates.

And so he has his legates confess what he sees as America’s political sins to – the Communist dictators of China!  In what amounts to a form of apology, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner tarred his own country with guilt and shame – and then boasted that had done so.

It was not even enough that Obama’s envoy should  express repentance for the accusations China made; in addition he threw in one that the Chinese had not mentioned. He condemned a perfectly constitutional and morally defensible law recently made in Arizona to protect itself from massive illegal immigration. (Posner has probably not even read the law. Neither Attorney General Eric Holder nor  Homeland Security head, Janet Napolitano, has read it, by their own admission!)

Obama has done dreadful harm to his country: crippling its economy, putting it into unfathomable debt, appeasing the Islamic bloc while it is at war with Islam, and simultaneously  antagonizing its traditional allies. But of all that he has done, abasing the nation he leads before the blood-soaked  despots of Communist China is surely the most despicable.

A tale of Parrot and falcons 0

…. and Osama bin Laden.

It seems that bin Laden is not in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan, but in Iran. And it is possible he is being held captive there.

Ken Timmerman tells the story:

A new documentary film premiering at the prestigious Tribeca film festival in New York this week presents stunning new evidence that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is living in Iran, where the Iranian regime is sheltering him. 

The film, “Feathered Cocaine,” began as a simple documentary of the illicit trade in hunting falcons to Middle East desert sheikhs. But as filmmakers Thorkell (Keli) Hardarson and Örn Marino Arnarson delved deeper into their subject, they discovered a dark underworld in which terrorism and falcon smuggling met with astonishing regularity.

In March 2008, the filmmakers ventured into Afghanistan and the former Soviet republics along with Alan Parrot, the head of the Union for the Conservation of Raptors, a conservationist group that seeks to protect wild falcons, to interview a falcon smuggler they code-named “T-2.”

For three days, the team waited in a mountain village while the smuggler kept them under surveillance from afar. Satisfied that they hadn’t been followed, he granted them a 55-minute interview — only if they agreed to disguise his voice and his appearance. …

“T-2” told the filmmakers that he met bin Laden by chance in late November 2004 at a falcon-hunting camp in northeastern Iran.

“I met him five times after 2004,” he said. “The last time we met was in October 2007. Every time, it was in Iran.”  …

“Feathered Cocaine” includes excerpts from the footage with “T-2,” as well as interviews with lawyer John Loftus, former CIA clandestine officer Bob Baer, and others, including this reporter and former Washington Post reporter and terrorism expert Steve Coll.

Loftus revealed that “T-2” provided the filmmakers with the specific frequencies of small transmitters bin Laden had strapped to the backs of his hunting falcons so he could find them if they failed to return to base. Loftus said the CIA could use that information to track bin Laden and capture him, and that he offered it to the director of the Central Intelligence Agency and to the heads of other U.S. intelligence agencies at the request of the filmmakers, with no response. 

Last year, they approached “Rewards for Justice,” the State Department office that is offering a $50 million reward for information leading to bin Laden’s capture, but never received any acknowledgement of their information.

Speaking to a packed house after the Tribeca premier on Friday, Parrot was asked to speculate about why “T-2” agreed to talk to the filmmakers, because the details surely would allow bin Laden to guess his identity.

“I believe that bin Laden wanted ‘T-2’ to send a message through us,” Parrot said. “He wanted the world to know that he was in Iran, but that he couldn’t leave.”

In the movie, Parrot said the Iranian regime is giving bin Laden “a long leash” but is holding his family hostage in Tehran in the event bin Laden revealed his relationship to them. “This was confirmed by one of bin Laden’s sons last year,” Parrot said.

Omar bin Laden, who married a British woman and broke with his father before the 9/11 attacks, revealed in December 2009 that seven of his siblings were living in Tehran and seeking to leave the country.

The story of American-born falconer Alan Howell Parrot lies at the center of this extraordinary tale and lends it credibility. Parrot began breeding falcons and selling them to the king of Saudi Arabia and then to the president of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) in the late 1970s, and was a frequent guest at their royal palaces and elaborate hunting camps in the wilds of southern Afghanistan.

In the late 1990s, so was renegade Saudi financier Osama bin Laden. Parrot described the royal hunting camps “al-Qaida’s board room,” because they gave bin Laden the opportunity to spend weeks of quality time with wealthy backers from the U.A.E. and other gulf states.

Parrot alleges that bin Laden’s royal backers transferred “hundreds of millions of dollars” in cash to him during these hunting expeditions, as well as military equipment and off-road vehicles. The movie includes footage of a U.A.E. military C-130 transport plane landing at a makeshift airstrip in western Pakistan to deliver equipment to the hunting camps.

“I see bin Laden as a falcon smuggler,” Parrot states in the film, “and in that capacity I went after him. All the locals in Kandahar hated bin Laden because he stole all the falcons.”

If only that had been his worst crime!

Osama bin Laden could have been eliminated at one of those camps. The CIA was for doing it, but President Clinton decided against it.

After al-Qaida blew up two U.S. embassies in Africa in July 1998, the CIA also began hunting for bin Laden in earnest. Local agents in Afghanistan spotted him at a royal hunting camp near Kandahar in February 1999, according to an account that appeared in the final report of the 9/11 Commission.

CIA Director George Tenet asked the White House for permission to launch a cruise missile strike on the camp on Feb. 8, 1999, but soon ran into interference from an unusual source: Richard Clarke, the top counter-terrorism adviser to President Clinton.

As the 9/11 Commission report concluded, “policymakers were concerned about the danger that a strike would kill an Emirati prince or other senior officials who might be with bin Laden or close by,” so they called off the strike.

On March 7, 1999, Richard Clarke called Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the U.A.E. defense minister, to “express his concerns about possible associations between Emirati officials and bin Laden,” the 9/11 Commission report states.

It is not clear whether Clarke told Mohammed that U.S. intelligence had evidence that U.A.E. officials were with bin Laden in Afghanistan, but after the call, bin Laden and his patrons quickly dispersed and the camps were dismantled.

Clarke claims the CIA approved the tip-off call. However, former CIA official John Mayer III told the commission it was “almost impossible” for the CIA to have approved Clarke’s move.

“When the former bin Laden unit chief found out about Clarke’s call, he questioned CIA officials, who denied having given such a clearance,” the report states. “Imagery confirmed that, less than a week after Clarke’s phone call, the camp was hurriedly dismantled and the site was deserted.”

Clear and present danger 0

Jennifer Rubin writes that Obama’s nuclear summit is not serious, since he will not address the truly serious nuclear threat – Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

The nuclear summit is underway in Washington, D.C. An air of unreality pervades because the greatest nuclear threat of our time goes unaddressed. At times, the degree to which Obama evades the Iranian issue is jaw-dropping. This report explains:

“The central focus of this nuclear summit is the fact that the single biggest threat to U.S. security — both short term, medium term and long term — would be the possibility of a terrorist organization obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Obama said Sunday afternoon. “If there was ever a detonation in New York City, or London, or Johannesburg, the ramifications economically, politically and from a security perspective would be devastating. And we know that organizations like al-Qaeda are in the process of trying to secure a nuclear weapon — a weapon of mass destruction that they have no compunction at using.”

Actually, the single greatest threat — and the most likely means for a terrorist organization to possibly obtain a nuclear weapon — is the mullahs’ nuclear program. About that, the president offers the moral power of example (i.e., our own disarmament) and watered-down sanctions.

She is right, of course.

But this report indicates that material to make “dirty” bombs is already in the hands of terrorists:

Five people suffering serious burns were hospitalized in West New Delhi this week from contact with radioactive material in a Delhi scrap market identified as Cobalt-60 which may be used for making a dirty bomb. Indian police cordoned off the 200 market stores and sealed nearby establishments up to a one-kilometer radius. Scrap dealer Deepak Jain and his helpers lost consciousness when they cut a piece of scrap metal. A white fluid oozed out causing the burns, Jain’s hair fell out and within minutes his skin turned black. His workers suffered and nausea.

All five are battling for their lives in hospital, setting off a security scare in the Indian capital, with prime minister Manmohan Singh briefed on the incident before leaving for Washington to attend the nuclear security summit which opened Monday, April 12.

Nuclear scientists from the Baba Atomic Research Center and Narora Atomic Power Plant identified the material and are working around the clock to investigate its source. …

Cobalt-60 is used in radiotherapy for treating cancer and welding steel. A US report last year recommended monitoring this material along with Caesium-137, Strontium-90 and Plutonium to effectively counter nuclear terrorism. Unlike a nuclear bomb, a dirty bomb does not involve nuclear fission and can be used like a conventional weapon.

India has been warning that Pakistan’s nuclear facilities are in danger of falling into the hands of the Taliban:

The day before the conference, the Indian prime minister met Obama and tackled him about Pakistan’s inaction against Muslim terrorists and exhorted him to jointly combat terror emanating from Pakistan as the most dangerous source of potential nuclear terror… Indian leaders as well as their military and intelligence advisers have repeatedly warned Washington that al Qaeda and Taliban were moving in on Pakistan’s nuclear facilities through their deep penetration of Pakistan’s intelligence service and may soon be in position to take over. …

As the “posture” Obama is taking with regard to nuclear deterrence is apparently proving more frightening than reassuring to Americans, what does the  State Department and the Pentagon have to say to dispel those fears?

Jennifer Rubin continues:

Neither Obama’s credibility nor America’s deterrent capability was enhanced by either the START treaty or the Nuclear Posture Review. So [Secretary of State} Hillary Clinton and [Defense Secretary] Robert Gates took to the airwaves Sunday to assure us that the Obami really weren’t doing great damage to our national security. Hillary seemed to fudge on the “no nuclear response to a NPT signatory’s attack” when she tried to bluster her way through her interview on Face the Nation:

SCHIEFFER: Are non-nuclear weapons so good now, Madam Secretary, that we don’t have to rely on nuclear weapons anymore?

CLINTON: We rely on both, Bob. And I think that’s the point that Secretary Gates is making. We’ve maintained a strong, robust nuclear deterrent as set forth in the nuclear posture review. But we have also in this administration moved toward a global strike capability to enhance our conventional response.

And we have an enormous amount of firepower conventionally. And it is also clear that this is putting everybody on notice. We don’t want more countries to go down the path that North Korea and Iran are. And some countries might have gotten the wrong idea if they looked at those two over the last years. And so we want to be very clear. We will not use nuclear weapons in retaliation if you do not have nuclear weapons and are in compliance with the NPT.

But we leave ourselves a lot of room for contingencies. If we can prove that a biological attack originated in a country that attacked us, then all bets are off, if these countries have gone to that extent. So we want to deal with the nuclear threat first and foremost, because that’s the one that we face right today.

All bets are off? Well, the nuclear option is, if we believe the Nuclear Posture Review. But maybe it doesn’t say what we mean. Or maybe it’s getting increasingly hard to figure out whether we are serious about deterring rogue states or not. Indeed, the administration is increasingly flighty and obtuse, making it hard to parse the often inconsistent rhetoric. Iran’s nuclear bomb would be unacceptable, but maybe we can’t do anything about it. The greatest threat is a terrorist organization with a nuclear bomb, but we’re increasingly lackadaisical about denying one to the most active state sponsor of Islamic terrorists. We aren’t going to retaliate against an NPT signatory after a devastating chemical or biological attack, but who knows.

If there is any rhyme or reason to this, it no doubt eludes both friends and foes. It does, however, convince many that this president doesn’t really appreciate how to project American strength and keep our adversaries at bay. The summit, therefore, promises not only to be irrelevant but also counterproductive to our national-security interests.

The cloud of knowing 5

Traces of some very abstruse reasoning emerge tantalizingly from the Cloud of Knowing – the thinkers who influence current US foreign policy. Secretive ends are being pursued. Can we discern what they are, or guess what they might be, from the clues dropped by the press?

The Washington Post reports:

American foreign policy is handicapped by a narrow, ill-informed and “uncompromising Western secularism” that feeds religious extremism, threatens traditional cultures and fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights, according to a two-year study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

So, according to a body that calls itself the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, secularism “feeds” religious extremism. Presumably that means it nourishes it, energizes it, makes it stronger than it would otherwise be.

Now how could it do that? Does it drive the religious mad by simply being non-religious? And if so, is it to blame for that, or are the religious perhaps over-reacting?

Wait. It’s not any old secularism that is guilty of annoying the religious; it is specifically Western secularism. Other sorts – if there are sorts of secularism – are not bad, or not as bad.

Why? Apparently because Western secularism, in contrast to, say, Eastern secularism if it exists, is “uncompromising”. But how should not-being-religious compromise? Should it be a little bit religious? If so, how much? And would it then still be secularism?

One may begin to suspect that here is another formulation of the now familiar accusation from the left that the West has only itself to blame for being attacked by religious extremists – aka Muslim terrorists – because it is not Muslim. Or is that leaping too quickly to an as yet unwarranted conclusion?

Let’s proceed cautiously. As well as “feeding” religious extremism, this Western secularism also “threatens traditional cultures”. How? Does it proselytize non-belief? Not that anyone’s heard. Does it try to force non-belief on believers? Again, no, not noticeably. Then does its mere existence raise questions that endanger the belief of “traditional cultures” – in which case what would the Chicago Council on Global Affairs have it do to lift the threat from those intimidated folk?

Wait again – the list of accusations against this dangerous force called secularism is not yet exhausted. It also “fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights”.

Which groups would those be – could we have some names, please? And why can they only carry out their noble mission if they are encouraged?

Answers to these questions cannot be found in the Washington Post story.

What it does tell us is that it took this body two years to reach its conclusion. So we  should not brush it off as nonsense: in two years it is possible to go very deeply into grievances.

What’s more, the conclusion requires, and will elicit, action by the government of the United States.

The council’s 32-member task force, which included former government officials and scholars representing all major faiths, delivered its report to the White House on Tuesday. The report warns of a serious “capabilities gap” and recommends that President Obama make religion “an integral part of our foreign policy”. 

A serious capabilities gap? Not a mere pothole in the diplomatic road to perfect global accord? And it could be filled in by – what exactly? A state religion? No – that could not be the recommendation of 32 officials and scholars representing all major faiths.

Just a generalized religiosity then?

But how is religion, whether specific or a mere aura of sanctity assumed by the State Department, going to improve American foreign policy, soothe the extremists of foreign creeds, reassure traditional cultures,  and stiffen the backbone of groups (presumably different from the religious extremists) intent on virtuously promoting peace  and human rights?

We are not told, and can only hope that the Chicago Council’s report to the White House provides answers to these difficult questions.

Thomas Wright, the council’s executive director of studies, said task force members met Tuesday with Joshua DuBois, head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and State Department officials. “They were very receptive, and they said that there is a lot of overlap between the task force’s report and the work they have been doing on this same issue,” Wright said.

Something is already being done by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to make religion in some way an integral part of US foreign policy? It would be most interesting to know what exactly.

DuBois declined to comment on the report but wrote on his White House blog Tuesday: “The Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership and the National Security Staff are working with agencies across government to analyze the ways the U.S. government engages key non-governmental actors, including religious institutions, around the globe.”

Ah! He’s not being exact, but there’s a clue in here somewhere.

The Chicago Council isn’t as influential as the Council on Foreign Relations or some other Washington-based think tanks, but it does have a long-standing relationship with the president. Obama spoke to the council once as a state senator and twice as a U.S. senator, including his first major foreign policy speech as a presidential candidate in April 2007.

It could depend on his sympathy then, with whatever it is they want done.

Michelle Obama is on the council’s board.

Again, ah!

Now we learn that the problem, however obcure it may seem to the public, has been troubling smart people for quite some time.

American foreign policy’s “God gap” has been noted in recent years by others, including former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright.

Well, she has been associated with a few faiths in her time – Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism. So perhaps she would be especially aware of a shortage of religious belief in the State Department. Could have struck her forcibly when she assumed office.

“It’s a hot topic,” said Chris Seiple [read something very politically correct that he’s written here], president of the Institute for Global Engagement in Arlington County and a Council on Foreign Relations member. “It’s the elephant in the room. You’re taught not to talk about religion and politics, but the bummer is that it’s at the nexus of national security. The truth is the academy has been run by secular fundamentalists for a long time, people who believe religion is not a legitimate component of realpolitik.

Come now, politics can hardly be avoided by a Council of Foreign Relations. But you say that religion is “the elephant in the room”? And it is “at the nexus of national security” ?

The Chicago Council’s task force was led by R. Scott Appleby of the University of Notre Dame and Richard Cizik of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.

Who is Richard Cizik, and what is the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good? According to Newsweek he was the Washington lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals for nearly 30 years, and then, towards the end of 2008, he announced “the formation of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, a group devoted to developing Christian responses to global and political issues such as environmentalism, nuclear disarmament, human rights, and dialogue with the Muslim world”.

Hmm.

“Religion,” the task force says, “is pivotal to the fate” of such nations as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria and Yemen, all vital to U.S. national and global security.

So the particular religion they have in mind is Islam?

Not necessarily … don’t jump to conclusions …  it could also be  .. hmmm-mmm … Hinduism and …  Christianity and … who knows what?:

“Despite a world abuzz with religious fervor,” the task force says, “the U.S. government has been slow to respond effectively to situations where religion plays a global role.” Those include the growing influence of Pentecostalism in Latin America, evangelical Christianity in Africa and religious minorities in the Far East.

All of which feel threatened by Western secularism? Are crying out for it to compromise a little?

But okay, mostly Islam:

U.S. officials have made efforts to address the God gap, especially in dealings with Islamic nations and groups. The CIA established an office of political Islam in the mid-1980s. … During the second Bush administration, the Defense Department rewrote the Army’s counterinsurgency manual to take account of cultural factors, including religion.

Could that have had something to do with the shooting of soldiers by an “extremist” Muslim officer at Fort Hood? Just wondering.

The Obama administration has stepped up the government’s outreach to a wider range of religious groups and individuals overseas

… even, say, the Dalai Lama if he’ll use the back door …

…  trying to connect with people beyond governments, said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Very hush-hush stuff this.

The effort, he said, is more deliberate than in the past: “This issue has senior-level attention.”

He noted that Obama appointed a special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference …

The envoy being a Muslim and a terrorist sympathizer [see our post The trusted envoy, February 20, 2010], and the Organization of the Islamic Conference being a major instrument of the Ummah for the conquest of the non-Muslim world, chiefly by methods of “soft jihad” in Europe.

… and created a new Muslim outreach position in the State Department. In the past year, he said, embassies in Muslim-majority countries have held hundreds of meetings with a broad range of people not involved in government.

Huh? Muslim-majority countries have had hundreds of meetings with individual people not involved with government? What people? Why? To what end? How does the government know about them?

Whatever was going on with that, it was apparently too “episodic and uncoordinated”. Now there must be something more programmatic, more official, more formal, more defined, and definitely involving government:

To end the “episodic and uncoordinated nature of U.S. engagement of religion in the world,” the task force recommended:

— Adding religion to the training and continuing education of all foreign service officers, diplomats and other key diplomatic, military and economic officials. …

— Empowering government departments and agencies to engage local and regional religious communities where they are central players in the promotion of human rights and peace, as well as the delivery of health care and other forms of assistance.

Leaving aside the code words “human rights” and “peace” which in such a context as this usually mean “leftism” and “Islam” – diplomats, and military and even economic officials should deliver health care?

But here comes the stunner. (Remember that “clarify” in diplomatic talk always means “take it back and say something more to our liking”.)

— Address and clarify the role of religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy.

Cizik said some parts of the world — the Middle East, China, Russia and India, for example — are particularly sensitive to the U.S. government’s emphasis on religious freedom and see it as a form of imperialism.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IS A FORM OF IMPERIALISM?

We give up. Such nuanced thought is beyond our grasp.

A powerful lunch 0

Here’s Hillary Clinton’s cunning plan for saving the world from a nuclear-armed Iran:

First, convince the Saudis that the Revolutionary Guards are effectively taking over the government of Iran and so turning the country into a military dictatorship.

Next, persuade the duly frightened Saudis, who’ll want urgently to stop this development, to threaten China over oil supplies.

Then, a thoroughly cowed China will agree to support sanctions against Iran.

Finally, sanctions supported by China will stop Iran becoming a nuclear-armed power.

Yeah, sure, that will do it. No ordinary diplomacy this; this is smart power.

Yet the Saudis, it seems, are not keen to play their part in the brilliant scheme.

The Washington Post reports:

Iran is increasingly acquiring the attributes of a “military dictatorship,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asserted repeatedly Monday, pointing to how the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has grabbed ever-larger chunks of the country’s economic, military and political life.

Clinton’s statements … were clearly a calculated effort to stir the waters in the administration’s stalled effort to win support for new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

Clinton appeared to be trying both to sound the alarm within Iran about the Guard’s increased influence — perhaps hoping to drive a wedge between the Guard and the rest of the political elite — and to sow doubts about the nature of Iran in nations that are wary of additional sanctions, such as China and Brazil. …

U.S. officials have said they plan to target the sanctions at the Guard, which is heavily involved in Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs, because such tactics would damage the nation’s power structure while in theory not affecting many ordinary Iranians. Clinton suggested that the sanctions being contemplated are also designed to thwart the growth of the Guard’s role in Iran’s internal political dynamics.

“That is how we see it,” Clinton [said]. “We see that the government of Iran, the Supreme leader, the president, the parliament is being supplanted and that Iran is moving toward a military dictatorship.” …

Although the Obama administration has repeatedly said it does not seek to meddle in Iranian politics, Clinton suggested that Iran’s elected leaders — long at odds with the United States — needed to take action. She said the current political climate is “a far cry from the Islamic republic that had elections and different points of view within the leadership circle.”

At a news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, she said she hoped “that this is not a permanent change but that the religious and political leaders of Iran act to take back the authority which they should be exercising on behalf of the people.”

Similarly, she told reporters that “the civilian leadership is either preoccupied with its internal political situation or is ceding ground to the Revolutionary Guard” as it tries to contend with opposition protests. She said that whether the country changes course “depends on whether the clerical and political leadership begin to reassert themselves.”

And if they did, everything would be different? They’d give up the nuclear program? Stop threatening the destruction of Israel? Become firm allies of the United States? They’ve given clear evidence, have they, that this is how they’re thinking, these clerical and political leaders, the mullahs and Ahmadinejad? They’ve shown themselves to be trustworthy authorities exercising power ‘on behalf of the people’?

Anyway, King Abdullah gave Hillary a jolly good lunch.

Clinton spent 5 1/2 hours at Abdullah’s desert compound, about 60 miles northeast of the capital, Riyadh. After an opulent lunch, they spoke for nearly four hours on a range of issues, including Afghanistan, Yemen and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Iran dominated the discussion.

A key roadblock to robust sanctions is China, which has deep economic and energy ties to Iran. The Obama administration has pressed Saudi Arabia, China’s top oil supplier, to put pressure on Beijing. Iran is China’s No. 3 supplier of oil.

After the talks, Saud [al-Faisal] appeared lukewarm about the effectiveness of sanctions. “They may work” in the long term, but the Saudis are anxious in the short term because they “are closer to threat,” he said…. [H]e was sure that China took its role as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council “very seriously” and that “they need no suggestion from Saudi Arabia to do what they ought to do.”

So perhaps the plan won’t work after all.

To sum up, Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration are achieving nothing, getting nowhere with Iran.

In fact, so feeble are the efforts they’re making, observers might wonder if Obama really wants to stop Iran becoming a nuclear power.

Whatever is she doing? 0

Has anything been heard from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lately?

Has she nothing to say about al-Qaeda in Nigeria apparently plotting to blow up a plane over Detroit?

What about the incident in Israel when the driver of a car carrying US diplomats tried to run over an Israeli border guard?

Why did the diplomats refuse to show their identification papers?

And why did a US consulate car try to transport a Palestinian woman without permits between Jerusalem and the West Bank?

The identification of American diplomats from the consulate at IDF checkpoints has been a major sticking point for several years.In January 2008, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria filed complaints with the Foreign Ministry after both US Security Coordinator Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton and then-consul-general Jacob Walles refused to roll down their windows or open their car doors and show identification papers at a checkpoint.

However, Israel’s ire reached a new level after an incident on November 13 in which a five-car convoy of consulate vehicles with diplomatic plates arrived at the Gilboa crossing.

According to a detailed official Israel Police description of the incident obtained exclusively by The Jerusalem Post, the drivers refused to identify themselves or open a window or door. The drivers, according to the report, purposely blocked the crossing, tried running over one of the Israeli security guards stationed there and made indecent gestures at female guards.

The entire incident was documented by cameras at the crossing.

Following the incident, the head of the police’s Security Department, Lt.-Cmdr. Meir Ben-Yishai, convened a meeting on November 18 at police headquarters inJerusalem with the regional security officer at the consulate, Tim Laas. Also present were officials from the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, and the regional security officer at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, Dan Power… [read more here]

Are these diplomats acting under orders? Whose? And why such orders?

Is it true that the US now recognizes East Jerusalem as the ‘capital of Palestine’, while refusing to recognize the city as the capital of Israel?

Why is a person known to have terrorist connections granted a multiple-entry US visa?

Please tell us, Mrs Clinton.

Truth slips out 4

In an article by the admirable John Bolton (read it all here) about the release of al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber, we find this :

The state department said on Friday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton worked “for weeks and months” to persuade Britain not to release the murderer.

As we have learnt that foreign offices, which are dedicated to promoting the interests of foreigners, are very unlikely to tell the truth, we do not believe that Hillary Clinton did anything of the kind.

But we do believe the implication of what the State Department is claiming without apparently realizing what they’re saying: that the release  of al-Megrahi was under discussion for ‘weeks and months’, and that Hillary Clinton knew about it and may have been party to the secret negotiations.