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TODAY
Friday January 30th, 2015

"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
--Geoff Metctalf


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World & National     

Detainee swapped for Bergdahl suspected of militant activities

The U.S. military and intelligence community now suspect that one of the five Taliban detainees released from Guantanamo Bay in return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in May of last year has attempted to return to militant activity from his current location in Qatar by making contact with suspected Taliban associates in Afghanistan, multiple officials tell CNN.

The development has led to an ongoing debate inside the administration about whether there is a new threat from this man, and potentially the other four.

This is the first known suggestion that any of the detainees involved in the exchange may be trying to engage again in militant activity. It comes at a politically sensitive time as the administration has quickened the pace of prisoner release in an effort to encourage the closure of the Guantanamo, and the Army must decide in the coming weeks whether and how to punish Bergdahl for leaving his post.

Several U.S. officials across different agencies and branches of the U.S. government have confirmed key details to CNN. The White House referred CNN to the Pentagon.



Romney will not run for Presidenet in '16

After a three-week flirtation with a new campaign for the White House, Mitt Romney announced Friday that he will not seek the presidency in 2016.

"After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I've decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee," Romney told supporters on a conference call.

The exit of Romney, who was the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, comes after several of his former major donors and a veteran staffer in the early voting state of Iowa defected to support former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

ROMNEY JABS JEB ON WAY OUT...
PLANS DINNER WITH CHRISTIE -- TONIGHT!
CNN Airs Private Conference Call...
Text...
Alfalfa Club Intrigue...
MEDIA BOTCH...


David Kochel, Romney Iowa Strategist, Jumps to Bush
                


David Kochel, a Republican strategist based in Iowa who worked on both of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns, is joining Jeb Bush’s political action committee as a senior strategist and is in line to serve as Mr. Bush’s national campaign manager.

“David is one of the most talented state-based operatives in the nation and brings a different focus and different set of priorities to our effort to communicate Governor Bush’s focus on economic and social mobility,” said Sally Bradshaw, Mr. Bush’s longtime strategist.

The move to tap Mr. Kochel, who advised Mr. Romney for over six years, represents a shot across the bow of the 2012 Republican nominee, who is now considering a third bid for the White House.



Russia says nuclear arms to keep military edge over NATO, United States


Russia's top general said on Friday a strong nuclear arsenal will ensure military superiority over the West as Moscow forges ahead with a multi-billion dollar plan to modernize its forces by 2020.

Russia, facing a likely recession because of a fall in oil prices and sanctions over Ukraine, must deal with new forms of Western aggression, including economic confrontation, said Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov.

But despite the deep economic woes, he said the Russian military would receive more than 50 new intercontinental nuclear missiles this year.

"Support for our strategic nuclear forces to ensure their high military capability combined with ... growth of the military potential of the general forces will assure that (the United States and NATO) do not gain military superiority over our country," said Gerasimov.



Open Jihad Declared din Egypt Following State Dept Meeting
Muslim Brotherhood call for ‘long, uncompromising jihad’
                AP

The Muslim Brotherhood called for “a long, uncompromising jihad” in Egypt just days after a delegation of the Islamist group’s key leaders and allies met with the State Department, according to an official statement released this week.

Just days after a delegation that included two top Brotherhood leaders was hosted at the State Department, the organization released an official statement calling on its supporters to “prepare” for jihad, according to an independent translation of the statement first posted on Tuesday.



CIA Concealed 'Anti-US' Tirades By Chinese Leaders From American Public

A new book set to be released next week alleges that the CIA took steps to prevent anti-American tirades from Chinese Communist officials from being heard in America. The details are revealed in Michael Pillsbury's The Hundred-Year Marathon: China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower, which will be released next week.

"Most American officials ignored the anti-American signs altogether. Some of the anti-U.S. evidence was even suppressed," Pillsbury writes.
On a routine visit in the 1990s to the CIA translation center in Reston, Virginia, I asked a translator why so few examples of Chinese leaders’ anti-American tirades appeared in its reports. Almost all U.S. officials relied on translations from the center to follow what was on the Chinese leadership’s mind, because so few can actually read—and grasp the many crucial nuances of—the Chinese language.

“That’s easy,” she replied. “I have instructions not to translate nation- alistic stuff.”


Jordan, Japan Await News on Fate of IS Hostages

The fates of two Islamic State hostages -- a Japanese journalist and a Jordanian air force pilot -- remained unknown Friday, a day after the latest deadline passed for a prisoner swap.

Jordan's military said officials were working non-stop on the case of pilot Mu'ath al-Kasaesbeh, who was captured after his jet crashed in Syria last month.



Office puts biochips under staff's skin...

Want to gain entry to your office, get on a bus, or perhaps buy a sandwich? We're all getting used to swiping a card to do all these things. But at Epicenter, a new hi-tech office block in Sweden, they are trying a different approach - a chip under the skin.

Felicio de Costa, whose company is one of the tenants, arrives at the front door and holds his hand against it to gain entry. Inside he does the same thing to get into the office space he rents, and he can also wave his hand to operate the photocopier.

That's all because he has a tiny RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip, about the size of a grain of rice, implanted in his hand. Soon, others among the 700 people expected to occupy the complex will also be offered the chance to be chipped. Along with access to doors and photocopiers, they're promised further services in the longer run, including the ability to pay in the cafe with a touch of a hand.



Has Obama Launched a Political Campaign against Prime Minister Netanyahu

The Obama Administration’s actions towards Israel become more intolerable each day, carrying with their insults deeply damaging national security implications for our country.

Earlier this week, Americans opened the newspapers to discover that the Obama campaign team has deployed operatives, including 2012 Field Director Jeremy Bird, to Tel Aviv to try to unseat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu through an organization that receives taxpayer grants from the U.S. Department of State.

This follows a long string of hostile behavior that has only escalated with time.

In The Atlantic, “unnamed senior administration officials” have called Mr. Netanyahu a “chicken****” and bragged that it was now “too late” for him to take action to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons capability.



Senate GOP demands Obama turn over all communications with irs

Senate Republicans on Thursday asked President Obama to turn over all communications he and his aides have had with the IRS since 2010, hoping to find out whether the tax collection agency shared private taxpayer information with political operatives at the White House.

The request, made in a letter obtained by The Washington Times, is signed by Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch and all 13 other Republicans on the committee, and is addressed specifically to Mr. Obama, saying they want to see if his employees broke the law by acquiring or sharing private information.



Afghanistan's Taliban IS a terrorist organizatsion

Watching the White House press secretary, Josh Ernest, and his deputy, Eric Shultz, going through verbal jujitsu trying to explain why the Obama administration doesn’t consider the Afghanistan Taliban a terrorist organization is tortuous. Shultz started a firestorm when recently suggesting to the press it wasn’t a terror organization but merely an armed insurgency not as dangerous as ISIS. Ernest elaborated by claiming it didn’t have a global reach.

It may come as a surprise to them but the Afghan Taliban’s entire existence has been based on using terrorist tactics to subjugate and intimate local populations and it meets all of the U.S.-established criteria for a State Department designation as a terror group.




Saudis' insult to Michelle goes unchallenged by Obama

Barack Obama had a high old time in India and Saudi Arabia. The first lady, not so much. The trip was down hill after New Delhi. A good time in Saudi Arabia was not had by all.

India, a land of magic and mystery, put on a show just by being a strange and wondrous place. The president got to make some speeches and talk mostly about himself. At one stop an incredulous listener counted 118 mentions of Himself, the Big Fellow, in one 33-minute speech.

He had to cut his visit short, just as Michelle was enjoying herself, and hurry on to Saudi Arabia where she couldn’t, and where a man practicing his faith as he chooses risks leaving his head in the sand. The Saudi executioners put the Islamic State to shame. They beheaded 11 men and a woman in Chop Chop Square just before the Obamas arrived. The Saudis, like the men of the Islamic State, keep their beheading knives sharp; 87 men and women paid for infractions with their heads in 2014, and 10 have lost their heads already in the first 20 days of January. When beheading becomes an Olympic sport the Saudis aim to hog the gold.

The new king and his knights met the president and the first lady at the foot of the stairway of the big Boeing, all oily smiles for him and a few condescending nods for her. Several men in the greeting party, decked out in braid and sword as if they had just ridden in from a war in the desert, took Michelle’s hand as if it were a dead fish. Most of the knights wouldn’t touch it. With her head defiantly uncovered, she stood the ritual two paces behind the president, her hands clasped in front of her, with the expression on her face saying everything, her dignity under pressure testifying that being a woman was nothing to be ashamed of, either at home or in the desert. (Cheers for her).

It’s a rare man in the West who could abide such insult to his wife, but Mr. Obama soldiered on to the king’s palace for dinner and a discussion about what the United States, which have saved the royal Saudi bacon before, can do for the Saudi royals now, confronted as they are by Islamic terrorists of Iran, the Islamic State, and now Yemen. If the president said anything to the king about his war on women, there was no public mention of it.



Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.
GeneTrerally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.
The first award of the Medal of Honor was made March 25, 1863 to Private JACOB PARROTT.The last award of the Medal of Honor was made September 15, 2011 to Sergeant DAKOTA MEYER.

Since then there have been:  • 3458 recipients of the Medal of Honor.
    • Today there are 85 Living Recipients of the Medal of Honor.


BENAVIDEZ, ROY P.
Rank: Master Sergeant
Organization: U.S. Army
Company: Detachment B-56
Division: 5th Special Forces Group


 
BENAVIDEZ, ROY P.
 
Citation

Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P. Benavidez United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series of daring and extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft damage. Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75 meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team. Prior to reaching the team's position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team's position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining team members. As the enemy's fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the leader's body, Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men, reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the enemy's fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the wounded, he was clubbed from additional wounds to his head and arms before killing his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and to bring in the remaining wounded. Only then, in extremely serious condition from numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the extraction aircraft. Sergeant Benavidez' gallant choice to join voluntarily his comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.




From the Archives

American Fairness to a Fault — a Deadly One
Tuesday, 10 Nov 2009 02:28 PM

American’s tragic flaw is our unbridled fairness, which has been corrupted ever more by the cancer of political correctness to the point we put ourselves at risk rather than create even the perception of prejudice.

Sometime after the VOLAR (all volunteer) Army, the military veered from the “yes sir, yes sir, three bags full” blind adherence to all orders to the concept of refusing “unlawful orders” and that was ostensibly a good thing.

However, the uniformed services do not set or get to pick and choose foreign policy. The civilian leadership sets foreign policy, and the U.S. military enforces it — with a big, honking combined arms stick.

Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters has been one of the rare pundits with the courage to target the “culture of political correctness” in leadership of the military. In at least two interviews on Fox, Peters (correctly) blamed the culture of political correctness for the Army’s diffidence in taking action against Nidal Malik Hasan in the wake of knowledge of the problem.

Many mechanisms exist for dealing with matters of deep conscience — all without killing those one might think disagree with in principle.

However, it is not prejudice to discriminate based on threat facts in evidence. Refusal to act judiciously for fear of a tainted perception is just plain dumb.

Notwithstanding the articulated fears of the Army chief of staff and the secretary of Homeland Security, officials made an epic mistake in handling suspicions about Hasan. A mistake founded on political correctness and sustained by diffidence that cost the lives of innocents.

Reportedly, U.S. intelligence agencies were aware (months ago) that Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al-Qaida. He spoke openly to too many people about his angst and misdirected sympathies. He was apparently a poster child for suspicion, and the Army failed bigtime to intervene.

“It is not known whether the intelligence agencies informed the Army that one of its officers was seeking to connect with suspected al-Qaida figures," the officials said.

But you damnbetcha they SHOULD have done so.

Investigators want to know whether Hasan maintained contact with a radical mosque leader from Virginia, Anwar al Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen and runs a Web site that promotes jihad around the world against the United States.

In a recent blog posting titled "Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing," Awlaki calls Hasan a "hero" and a "man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people."

Increasingly we are told people who knew or worked with Hasan say he seemed to become gradually more radical in his condemnation of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Subordinates and superiors had a responsibility to flag the inappropriate rhetoric, and they apparently did not.

The fear to speak out is a symptom of the PC disease fueled by recriminations and implied threats of discrimination — a fear that indirectly resulted in mayhem.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman said, "If Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the U.S. Army has to have a zero tolerance," and despite the echo of shutting the barn door after the horse got out, he is right.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey Jr. is concerned that speculation about the religious beliefs of Hasan could “cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers.” He’s right, but such a backlash would be a direct result of the failure of command — not prejudice.

When confronted about whether he thought the Army “dropped the ball” in not responding to warning signs, Casey replied that the Army needs to be careful not to jump to conclusions based on early tidbits of information.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.-S.C., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., both of whom are veterans, took pains to say that Muslims have served honorably in the military and at risk to their lives.

“At the end of the day, this is not about his religion — the fact that this man was a Muslim,” Graham said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

But, hey, it is (kinda/sorta) about religion (when the FBI says 10 percent of American Mosques preach jihad) — at least from a risk analysis perspective.


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