Friday March 27th 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     

Harry Reid Says He Won't Seek Re-Election
                

Senator Harry Reid, the tough tactician who has led Senate Democrats since 2005, will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to a three-decade congressional career that culminated with his push of President Obama’s ambitious agenda against fierce Republican resistance.

Mr. Reid, 75, who suffered serious eye and facial injuries in a Jan. 1 exercise accident at his Las Vegas home, said he had been contemplating retiring from the Senate for months. He said his decision was not attributable either to the accident or to his demotion to minority leader after Democrats lost the majority in November’s midterm elections.

“I understand this place,” Mr. Reid said. “I have quite a bit of power as minority leader.”



U.S. Caves to Key Iranian Demands as Nuke Deal comes Together
Limited options for Congress as Obama seeks to bypass lawmakers
         AP Photo

The Obama administration is giving in to Iranian demands about the scope of its nuclear program as negotiators work to finalize a framework agreement in the coming days, according to sources familiar with the administration’s position in the negotiations.

U.S. negotiators are said to have given up ground on demands that Iran be forced to disclose the full range of its nuclear activities at the outset of a nuclear deal, a concession experts say would gut the verification the Obama administration has vowed would stand as the crux of a deal with Iran.

Until recently, the Obama administration had maintained that it would guarantee oversight on Tehran’s program well into the future, and that it would take the necessary steps to ensure that oversight would be effective. The issue has now emerged as a key sticking point in the talks.
Western powers 'have withdrawn from positions'...
Iran allowed to run nuke centrifuges at underground bunker...
Impervious to air attack...
Deal Sunday?
Obama Declassifies Secret Document Revealing Israel Program...
Unprecedented move...
Breach...
Mideast 'free fall'...
BIBI ALARMED...


White House unveils plan to fight antibiotic-resistant germs

The White House on Friday announced a five-year plan to fight the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria amid fears that once-treatable germs could become deadly.

Repeated exposure to antibiotics can lead germs to become resistant to the drugs, so that they are no longer effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that drug-resistant bacteria cause 23,000 deaths and 2 million illnesses each year in the United States.



Obama Administration on the Defensive Over Middle East Chaos
       Image: Obama Administration on the Defensive Over Middle East Chaos

Six years ago, an optimistic, newly elected President Barack Obama had a vision of stabilizing the Middle East, but the region's rapid deterioration is leaving administration officials to defend the policies it'd once hoped would bring a measure of control to an often out-of-control part of the world.

"If there's one lesson this administration has learned, from President Obama's 2009 Cairo speech through the Arab Spring, it's that when it comes to this region, nothing happens in a linear way — and precious little is actually about us, which is a hard reality to accept," a senior State Department official told Politico.

Republicans were quick Thursday, though, to blame the latest crisis, the bombing of Iran-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its allies, on Obama and his policies.



Turkey could provide logistical support to Yemen operation

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country could provide logistical support to the Saudi Arabia-led operation in Yemen.

Separately, Erdogan has lashed out at Iran, accusing it of trying to "dominate the region."

Erdogan told France 24 television in an interview Thursday that Turkey was providing the Saudi-led mission with "our political support and if needed, we could provide ... logistical support."



Indianapolis looks to limit 'religious freedom' damage


The reviews are in.

From institutions such as the NCAA to major employers such as Eli Lilly and Co. to the city's Republican mayor, Indiana's new "religious freedom" law is almost universally loathed by Indianapolis' political and economic elite.

But what can the city do about it?



Senate Republicans defend lbalanced budgete: Dems see fodder

Republicans defended their balanced budget and Democrats walked away with dozens of votes they think can be used against the GOP in upcoming elections as the Senate passed a blueprint Friday morning to govern spending and provide a path for repealing Obamacare.

Along the way, the Senate voted to rein in the Common Core education standards, to ban the government from assessing a carbon tax and to prepare new sanctions against Iran should that nation violate a future nuclear arms deal, as lawmakers debated into the night.

The balanced-budget plan was approved in a 52-46 vote in the early morning hours.



Barack Obama's love bomb offensive

President Obama says Rudy Giuliani was wrong. He does, too, love America. That’s good enough for me. He says he’s a Christian, despite his constant love bombs for Islam, and if that’s good enough for God it’s good enough for me, too. Conversations between believers and the Almighty are confidential, and have yet to be cracked by the National Security Agency (but we can be sure they’re working on it).

The president loves our allies, too. He sent the bust of Winston Churchill back to London, whence it came, only because it was cluttering up the Oval Office and getting rid of it had nothing to do with memories of snubs and affronts his Kenyan father passed down to him (though Churchill was an unrepentant colonialist). The president dearly loves Old Blighty.

He loves la belle France, too, and if it hadn’t interfered with a golf date — a good tee time on a good course on a sunny day must not be wasted — he would have hurried to France to march in step with other heads of the states of the West to pay honor to the slain of the radical Islamic shootouts in Paris.


 
Was a CIA disinformation expert part of a rogue intel operation?


The Benghazi Select Committee, chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, has formally requested that Hillary Clinton turn over the private server she used to keep under her control all of her communications while secretary of state. That assumes that the server hasn’t been reduced to subatomic particles by now.

Thankfully, the server isn’t the only route to getting to the central reasons why Mrs. Clinton kept total control of all of her communications. Mr. Gowdy may also subpoena actual human beings to testify under oath, including two shadowy figures who may, in fact, hold a key to the story.

Last week this column asked, “Was Hillary Clinton running her own rogue intelligence operation?” It suggested that while secretary, Mrs. Clinton may have been given highly sensitive national security information by the Clintons’ longtime political hatchet man, Sidney Blumenthal. In 2013, the Romanian hacker Guccifer had allegedly breached Mr. Blumenthal’s email account, revealing what Guccifer claimed was a series of emails from Mr. Blumenthal to Mrs. Clinton’s private account concerning global hot spots.



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.