Friday December 12th, 2014

"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     

Government Stays Open As Congress Advances Poison-Pill Spending Bill
                

At least Democrats will have eggnog to wash down the poison pills they swallowed on Thursday as the House narrowly passed a government funding bill that will let Congress go home early for Christmas, and give Wall Street a fresh gift.

The House barely passed the inelegantly named "cromnibus" appropriations bill after President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) were forced into an unlikely alliance against rebellions from both parties, primarily led by the "Elizabeth Warren wing" and House Democrats.

The bill, which passed 219 to 206, will keep the government running until next September. But only 57 Democrats voted for the bill, and 67 Republicans broke ranks with their party to oppose it.
GOPer accuses leadership of breaking promise to kill bill...
First Lady's Lunch Program Funded...
PALIN: 'Stinks to high heaven'...


Ex-CIA director defends methods


Former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden on Thursday defended revelations from Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats that the agency used rectal rehydration on detainees.

“These were medical procedures,” Hayden said during a tense interview on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper." He added that the method was used because detainees were dehydrated, and that giving them intravenous fluids with needles would be dangerous.

The Intelligence Committee report, released Tuesday, detailed a slew of abuses by CIA interrogators on prisoners, including one that involved detainees' food being blended and “rectally infused.” The report says the practice was used on at least five detainees, including two of the most infamous, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah.

     'Torture Memo' Author Yoo: I Was Never Asked to Testify
     NYT: CIA Wanted US-like Jails for Terror Suspects
     Ex-FBI Chief Freeh: Senate Democrats Have 9/11 Amnesia
     Rich Lowry: Feinstein's Report Devoid of 'Fair-Minded Inquiry'



CIA's John Rizzo: Pelosi Briefed Before Bush on Terror Techniques

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was briefed early on about the CIA's enhanced interrogation procedures, despite her claims to the contrary, said former CIA Acting General Counsel John Rizzo.

Pelosi was in the group of officials who were told about the program even before George Tenet, the former director of the CIA, briefed former President George W. Bush, he said Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."



Senate Takes Up $1.1T Funding Bill
              

It's now up to the Senate to pass a huge $1.1 trillion spending bill to keep the government running, but not before a battle between old school veterans and new breed freshmen such as tea partier Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren, a liberal with a national following.

The smart money's on old school types such as Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

The measure passed the House on Thursday after a day of drama but by a relatively comfortable 219-206 vote. The vote came after GOP leaders sent the House into a seven-hour recess to give the White House time to lobby Democrats angry that the measure weakens rules on trading risky financial products known as derivatives and allows wealthy donors to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into political parties.



London, many UK flights grounded

A computer outage is affecting air traffic control in London, threatening to snarl hundreds of flights and tens of thousands of passengers in one of the world's busiest airspaces.

In a statement issued at 10:49 a.m. ET, British air traffic control provider NATS said: "Airspace is open. We're restricting traffic volumes in accordance with capability we currently have in our system."



Maureen Dowd Promised to Show Sony Exec's Husband Column Before Publication
The end result: kudos at the studio and an email to Dowd after it published saying, “you’re amazing.”

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd promised to show Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal’s husband, Bernard Weinraub, — a former Times reporter — a version of a column featuring Pascal before publication.

The end result was a column that painted Pascal in such a good light that she engaged in a round of mutual adulation with Dowd over email after its publication. It also scored Pascal points back at the studio, with Sony’s then-communications-chief calling the column “impressive.”



Al Sharpton Was WH Guest 61 Times Since '09

Not everyone gets to drop in at the presidential residence for a chat with President Barack Obama, but the White House welcome mat most definitely has been out for one frequent visitor — the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Since 2009, Sharpton has visited the White House no fewer than 61 times, reports the National Review, citing the White House visitor log, which "illustrates the extraordinary access Sharpton has had to the president and his top advisers."

Many of the visits were for official events, such as the Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement and the jobs bill signing in 2010.



Hackers Sent Sony Employees a Terrifying New Message

The hackers might still have access to Sony systems

A hacker group calling itself the “Guardians of Peace,” or #GOP, sent an ominous new warning to Sony Pictures Entertainment employees on Thursday, causing the scary message to flash upon computer screens.

An unnamed individual familiar with the situation told TheWrap that several Sony employees received the message and most felt “disturbed.” Another source said the threat promised to do more damage if the #GOP’s demands aren’t met.



The CIA and the lack of political morality

Efficiency was once a precious American virtue. America is great because America is good, in the words once credited to Alexis de Tocqueville, and when America is no longer good it will no longer be great. Whether he actually said them or not, the words are true.

That goes double for the virtue of efficiency. America is great because it works. When it becomes as inefficient as much of the rest of the world, America won’t any longer work. And then what?

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/dec/11/wes-pruden-indicting-cia-puts-america-at-risk/#ixzz3LhpBfivc



Islamic extremists incapable of understanding or respecting other views

Violence in the name of religion is a world-wide phenomenon. Extremism fueling bloodshed is a daily occurrence. And for every act of intolerance and inhumanity, a new foundation, based on good will to mankind, bubbles to the surface. The intention is always admirable: “Understanding,” “interaction” and “mutual respect” are the foundational words of these organizations.

Clearly there is a purpose and, as clearly, the progenitors mean well. These are invariably good people on a mission that is more than likely doomed to fail. Why am I a cynic?



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.