White House urges Senate to hold off on new Iran sanctions. Why? Now is the time to ratchet up the pressure.

whitehouseThe Obama administration is moving to pressure Congress not to pass new sanctions on Iran. But the question is, “Why?” Now is precisely the time to ratchet up the pressure on Iran, whose economy is staggering due to the combined impact of the international sanctions that have been imposed in recent years.

Iran is dangerously close to reaching breakout capacity to build nuclear weapons. Iran has finally come to the negotiating table. But time appears to be running out. If the regime in Tehran has any interest in cutting a genuine deal to truly give up its uranium enrichment program (which I personally doubt, but would love to see) in return for a lifting of the sanctions, wonderful. If they don’t, war could come. So Iran should be sent a clear message via more sanctions that the world is not about to be beguiled by their “charm offensive.”

Let’s be praying for a major breakthrough, and praying for the Lord to give wisdom to U.S. and Israeli leaders on how best to proceed. Meanwhile, let’s keep praying for the persecuted Christians inside Iran, and praying that the Lord opens the eyes of many more Iranians — including within the regime — to come to faith in Jesus Christ.

“Vice President Joe Biden led a high-powered delegation to Capitol Hill on Thursday to try to persuade US lawmakers to hold off on any more sanctions against Iran and let delicate diplomatic talks over Tehran’s nuclear program unfold,” reports Ynet News. “President Barak Obama is convinced that there is the potential for an international deal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon but worries that congressional pressure for additional sanctions could complicate negotiations.”

“Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew held a closed-door session with Senate Democratic leaders and Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Banking Committee to update them on major power talks with Iran,” notes Ynet. “A new round of negotiations is set for next week in Geneva. An official in Biden’s office said the administration’s message was that there may come a point when more sanctions are needed, but now may not be the best time for Congress to act. But the appeal to wait is a tough sell in Congress, which tends to take a harder line on Iran than the administration. Several lawmakers said after the meeting they had not been convinced, and that fresh sanctions are needed to discourage Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.”

“I’m not ready to commit” to further delay, Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of the Banking Committee, told reporters.

“Republican Senator Mark Kirk, who strongly opposes any move to hold off on sanctions, said that if the banking committee delays its vote, he would seek to add more Iran sanctions to a defense authorization bill that could come to the Senate floor in November,” Ynet reports.

Joel C. Rosenberg’s Blog

Pressure Builds on Boehner Over Benghazi

Guest post by Cliff Kincaid

Informed speculation mounted at Monday’s Accuracy in Media conference, which officially launched the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, that House Speaker John Boehner’s opposition to a Watergate-style congressional committee to investigate Benghazi stems from his knowledge of arms shipments to al-Qaeda terrorists in Libya and Syria.

The al-Qaeda terrorist attack on the American diplomatic mission at Benghazi, in Libya, on September 11, 2012, resulted in the deaths of four Americans, who were left to die, rather than be rescued, and has been called by some the “Benghazi Betrayal.”

The dead were U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, American diplomat Sean Smith, and State Department security officers Glen Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods.

Coming just eight weeks before the 2012 presidential election, the Obama administration falsely blamed the attack on a spontaneous reaction to a video critical of Islam, rather than blaming it on al Qaeda.

Charles Woods spoke with emotion at the AIM conference about the loss of his son and asked for people not only to press for answers as to what really happened at Benghazi, but to pray for the country.

Christopher Farrell, Director of Investigations and Research for Judicial Watch, said at the conference that Obama’s lies and distortions about the attack are designed to obscure the central truth that the administration was arming al Qaeda.

“That’s what they don’t want broadcast or printed anywhere,” he said.

As incredible as it sounds, former CIA officer Clare Lopez said support for al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other Islamists groups has become the official foreign policy of the United States under Obama. She said the policy has been on display in Libya, Egypt, Syria, and the United Nations, through the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says about Benghazi: “For the past year, this administration has failed to provide sufficient answers, fully comply with subpoenas, and make available relevant individuals to provide testimony. In short, this administration hasn’t been upfront with the American people or this Congress. Republicans will not stop until we get to the truth. We will press forward with our investigation until we have answers, full accountability, and justice.”

However, he opposes the proposal (H.Res. 36) to create a bipartisan House Select Committee to fully investigate the attack and the cover-up. Introduced by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), the proposal has 175 co-sponsors.

Several speakers at the CCB conference agreed that being exposed as knowledgeable about the Obama administration’s secret operations in advance of the Benghazi disaster could be extremely embarrassing to House Speaker Boehner and may explain his opposition to Rep. Wolf’s legislative proposal.

Boehner is a member of the so-called “gang of eight” in Congress, members secretly briefed by the administration on top-secret intelligence operations.

Investigative journalist Kenneth Timmerman, who is writing a book on Benghazi, said, “Did they get briefed? Were they briefed on this arms trafficking operation out of Benghazi to the Syrian rebels or were they not briefed? And if they were briefed, is that perhaps a reason why they don’t want a special committee, because in fact they knew about this operation and did nothing to stop it?”

Rep. Wolf spoke to the conference and encouraged the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, under the direction of AIM Editor Roger Aronoff, to get to the bottom of what happened. Members of this commission spoke at the all-day affair and vowed to continue to press for answers from the administration and Speaker Boehner.

Larry Ward, political director of Special Operations Speaks, engaged in an exchange with Rep. Wolf about whether a discharge petition introduced by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) is needed to force a vote on Wolf’s H.Res. 36. Ward doubted that Boehner would ever agree to the creation of a special panel to investigate Benghazi.

“If four members of Obama’s personal staff had been killed there would rightfully have been a full investigation and congressional hearings. But not one perpetrator has been brought to justice and requests for witnesses and information have been blocked,” Stockman has said.

Timmerman told Wolf that he had been informed by a member of the Republican Party in the House that Boehner has twice refused to say, when questioned about it, whether he was briefed on arms smuggling through Benghazi into Syria.

Wolf said he didn’t know whether Boehner was briefed or not and whether that would be a reason for his opposition to H.Res. 36. “But it really shouldn’t be a reason,” he said.

While the destination of the weapons is a legitimate concern, Wolf said, “most of what we have been trying to find out” goes beyond those matters and involves questions such as who in the administration gave the order to “stand down” and not rescue the Americans under fire from the terrorists. After the attack, Obama flew off to Las Vegas for a political fundraiser.

Another key question, Wolf said, is why the false cover story of the video causing the attack at Benghazi was repeatedly disseminated by the administration, including by Obama himself in a speech to the U.N.

Asked to comment on the possibility that “blackmail material,” as a result of being briefed on the Benghazi operations, could be used against Boehner, Wolf said, “I’m not going to comment on that. I don’t know that. That’s why I’m glad you’re looking at it. That’s why we need a select committee.”

Former CIA officer Kevin Shipp, another speaker at the conference, said it was clear to him that Boehner was “in on it” and is protecting the Obama administration from a major scandal involving potential violations of domestic and international law.

“What an ingenious trap,” Shipp said. “Come here, gang of eight, come here Mr. Boehner. Let me brief you on a program that we think is really going to be something. And they brief them and get their approval and they don’t understand the full scope of what the operation is doing. And then they find out later and it’s like, ‘oh, oh.’ They don’t want this coming out either.”

He added, “Why would Boehner not want this [the select committee] to happen, unless there was some personal or political damage that he will suffer if it does come out?”

Retired Major General Paul E. Vallely told this writer in an interview that he hopes that Boehner “hasn’t been compromised in some way” by the Obama administration because of his reported knowledge of arms transfers through Benghazi.

Another speaker, Retired Admiral James Lyons, said he believes arms smuggling to al Qaeda is an impeachable offense, and that Benghazi may have been part of a larger plot involving the Muslim Brotherhood and the planned release of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, known in the United States as “The Blind Sheikh,” from U.S. prison. As part of this alleged conspiracy, Lyons said, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was supposed to have been kidnapped, not killed, and then exchanged for Abdel-Rahman, the terrorist mastermind behind the World Trade Center 1993 bombings.

Although most of the speakers wanted to focus on Benghazi exclusively, the subject of Syria kept coming up, as the weapons shipments at the center of the scandal were described as moving into Syria, with the support of such countries as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.

In Syria, Timmerman said, the same policy of arming al Qaeda is on display. Obama is arming “the worst of the worst” among the terrorist groups, he said.

He also said he was told by a senior Republican member of Congress who examined the administration’s “intelligence” about an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime, that it was “manufactured” data, and that U.S. military intelligence agencies had not accepted the claims. The intelligence was “doctored,” he said.

Despite accepting the Russian proposal to dismantle Assad’s chemical weapons program, Obama has not ruled out using military force against Syria.

Timmerman said Christians in Syria fear the overthrow of the Assad regime—which is repressive but at least respects their religious liberties—while another regime might result in their being slaughtered by the jihadists supported by Obama.

“They’re already begun to attack Christian villages and to murder Christians, to behead Christians, to threaten Christians to leave Syria,” he said.

The AIM conference was attacked in print by Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, who is always on guard against scandals that could sink Obama, and the Media Matters group, which exists to protect the Democratic Party and its leaders from press scrutiny. They insisted that only the lunatic fringe is concerned about the Obama administration secretly arming terrorists and getting Americans killed in the process.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org

Doug Ross @ Journal

Feds Visit Family Who Googled Backpacks & Pressure Cookers…But the NSA Isn’t Watching You


Be careful what you Google….you never know when it might get you a visit from the  federal anti-terrorism task force, despite the government’s claims that information about average Americans is not being analyzed.

What shows up in your search history?  I just checked mine.

In the past week I  have looked up…

  • Pressure canning recipes
  • Guard llamas
  • Where to buy organic fertilizer
  • Wildfires on the West Coast
  • A new crochet stitch
  • A newly discovered antibiotic that is effective against anthrax
  • Healing time for concussions
  • The favorite color of Louie from One Direction

If you put all these things together, does it put together a picture of a terrorist, bent on destruction, or just a newbie homesteader who is also interested in current events and has a tween daughter?

Well, with the algorithms the government is using, those searches might not look so innocent.

Michelle Catalano and her husband were the targets of a visit by federal officials based on nothing more than their Google history.  While the NSA is fervently denying that they are collecting information on average citizens, an early morning knock on the door of this family’s home says otherwise.

Catalano, a writer, told the story on her blog:

Little did we know our seemingly innocent, if curious to a fault, Googling of certain things was creating a perfect storm of terrorism profiling. Because somewhere out there, someone was watching. Someone whose job it is to piece together the things people do on the internet raised the red flag when they saw our search history.

Most of it was innocent enough. I had researched pressure cookers. My husband was looking for a backpack. And maybe in another time those two things together would have seemed innocuous, but we are in “these times” now. And in these times, when things like the Boston bombing happen, you spend a lot of time on the internet reading about it and, if you are my exceedingly curious news junkie of a twenty-ear-old son, you click a lot of links when you read the myriad of stories. You might just read a CNN piece about how bomb making instructions are readily available on the internet and you will in all probability, if you are that kid, click the link provided…

…What happened was this: At about 9:00 am, my husband, who happened to be home yesterday, was sitting in the living room with our two dogs when he heard a couple of cars pull up outside. He looked out the window and saw three black SUVs in front of our house; two at the curb in front and one pulled up behind my husband’s Jeep in the driveway, as if to block him from leaving.

Six gentleman in casual clothes emerged from the vehicles and spread out as they walked toward the house, two toward the backyard on one side, two on the other side, two toward the front door….

…“Are you [name redacted]?” one asked while glancing at a clipboard. He affirmed that was indeed him, and was asked if they could come in. Sure, he said.

They asked if they could search the house, though it turned out to be just a cursory search. They walked around the living room, studied the books on the shelf (nope, no bomb making books, no Anarchist Cookbook), looked at all our pictures, glanced into our bedroom, pet our dogs. They asked if they could go in my son’s bedroom but when my husband said my son was sleeping in there, they let it be.

Meanwhile, they were peppering my husband with questions. Where is he from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked. Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? My husband said no, my wife uses it to make quinoa. What the hell is quinoa, they asked.

They searched the backyard. They walked around the garage, as much as one could walk around a garage strewn with yardworking equipment and various junk. They went back in the house and asked more questions.

Have you ever looked up how to make a pressure cooker bomb? My husband, ever the oppositional kind, asked them if they themselves weren’t curious as to how a pressure cooker bomb works, if they ever looked it up. Two of them admitted they did…

…They mentioned that they do this about 100 times a week. And that 99 of those visits turn out to be nothing.

Do you wonder what would have happened to the Catalanos if they’d refused to answer questions, as is their right under the Constitution?  What if they had denied entry when the feds had asked to do a casual inspection of their home, which is also their right?  What if the husband had asked, with his morning cup of coffee in hand, “Do you have a warrant?”  I strongly suspect that if they had chosen to stand up for their rights, the intimidating visit would have gotten a whole lot worse.

When every thing you do is recorded, analyzed, and judged, you are not truly free.  No matter how independent you think you are, someone, somewhere is watching you in a manner so creepy and so intent that no fiction writer has ever captured the full extent of it in even the most gripping spy novel.

Many people are careful, not joining social networks, using proxy servers, and using search engines that are supposed to be private. But with the recent release of information from Edward Snowden, I would be willing to bet that isn’t enough to keep your internet comings and goings out from under the microscope of the NSA.  In fact, those things might make you seem even more suspicious.

These algorithms are designed to “prove” the guilt of anyone that the federal government wants to target.  Back in the 1500s, Cardinal Richelieu knew the truth of this when he said, “If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.”

What kind of world do we live in when you are always watched?  When doing things openly makes you a suspect but the pursuit of privacy also makes you a suspect?

Well, don’t worry…they’re doing this for your own good.

Do you feel any safer now?

photo courtesy of AltMedia Daily

SHTF Plan – When It Hits The Fan, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You