Obama Admin Approved Arms For Libyan Rebels Ended Up Going to Militants

Evidence has surfaced that weapons approved by the Obama administration, for rebels in Libya, ended up in the hands of Islamic militants. C.I.A. officers in Libya during the tumult of the rebellion, provided little oversight of the arms shipments and within weeks of endorsing Qatar’s plan to send weapons there in spring 2011, there were reports that they were going to Islamic militant groups. Weapons were also shipped from the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar, a tiny nation whose natural gas reserves have made it enormously wealthy, for years has tried to expand its influence in the Arab world. Since 2011, with dictatorships in the Middle East and North Africa coming under siege, Qatar has given arms and money to various opposition and militant groups, chiefly Sunni Islamists, in hopes of cementing alliances with the new governments.

“To do this right, you have to have on-the-ground intelligence and you have to have experience,” said Vali Nasr, a former State Department adviser. “If you rely on a country that doesn’t have those things, you are really flying blind. When you have an intermediary, you are going to lose control.”

Mahmoud Jibril, then the prime minister of the Libyan transitional government, expressed frustration to administration officials that the United States was allowing Qatar to arm extremist groups opposed to the new leadership, according to several anonymous American officials. The administration has never determined where all of the weapons went inside Libya, officials said.

Some of the machine guns, automatic rifles, and ammunition are believed to have gone to militants with ties to Al Qaeda in Mali while several American and foreign officials and arms traders say some of the weapons have ended up in Syria.

The United Arab Emirates first asked the Obama administration for permission to ship American built weapons, supplied to the UAE, during the early months of the Libyan uprising. The administration instead urged the emirates to ship weapons to Libya that could not be traced to the United States.

“The U.A.E. was asking for clearance to send U.S. weapons,” said one former official. “We told them it’s O.K. to ship other weapons.”

“Nobody knew exactly who they were,” said one former defense official. The Qataris are “supposedly good allies, but the Islamists they support are not in our interest.”

No evidence has yet surfaced that any weapons went to Ansar al-Shariah, an extremist group blamed for the Benghazi attack.

 

Under Obama Only 13% of Drone Strikes Killed Leaders of Taliban or Al Qaeda

Obama administration officials often speak about how drone strikes target suspected terrorists plotting against the U.S., but according to the New York Times the U.S. has shifted away from that. Instead, it now often targets enemies of allied governments in countries such as Yemen and Pakistan. From the Times:

[F]or at least two years in Pakistan, partly because of the C.I.A.’s success in decimating Al Qaeda’s top ranks, most strikes have been directed at militants whose main battle is with the Pakistani authorities or who fight with the Taliban against American troops in Afghanistan.

In Yemen, some strikes apparently launched by the United States killed militants who were preparing to attack Yemeni military forces. Some of those killed were wearing suicide vests, according to Yemeni news reports.

Justin Elliott of propublica.org conducted an interview with  Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations on the issue of the ever expanding U.S. drone war:

 

You were quoted over the weekend arguing that the U.S., with the campaign of drone strikes, is acting as the “counterinsurgency air force of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.” How did you come to this conclusion?

Under the Obama administration, officials have argued that the drone strikes are only hitting operational Al Qaeda leaders or people who posed significant and imminent threats to the U.S. homeland. If you actually look at the vast majority of people who have been targeted by the United States, that’s not who they are.

There are a couple pieces of data showing this. Peter Bergen of the New America Foundation has done estimates on who among those killed could be considered “militant leaders” — either of the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, or Al Qaeda. Under the Bush administration, about 30 percent of those killed could be considered militant leaders. Under Obama, that figure is only 13 percent.

Most of the people who are killed don’t have as their objective to strike the U.S. homeland. Most of the people who are killed by drones want to impose some degree of sharia law where they live, they want to fight a defensive jihad against security service and the central government, or they want to unseat what they perceive as an apostate regime that rules their country.

Why does this distinction matter so much?

This is a huge outstanding dilemma. Is the primary purpose of the drone attacks counter-terrorism, or is it counter-insurgency? If it’s counter-insurgency, that is a very different mission, and you have to rethink the justifications and rethink what the ultimate goal is of using lethal force.

There was a February article in the New York Times reporting that the goal of U.S. policy in Yemen was to kill about two dozen Al Qaeda leaders. There’s been about 50 drone strikes in Yemen since that article. Meanwhile, according to U.S. government statements, the size of AQAP has grown from “several hundred” to “a few thousand members.” So the question is, who is actually being targeted, and how does this further U.S. counterterrorism objectives?

Read more here.

U.S. Ambassador Susan E. Rice Owns Stake in Companies That Have Done Business with Iran

New questions are being raised over the possible nomination of Ambassador Rice to secretary of state due to the stakes her and her husband own in companies that have recently done business with Iran. In 2010, the U.N. Security Council approved sanctions on Iran, developed by Rice, which were described by diplomats as one of the toughest sanctions efforts in the the history of the organization.

The companies in question are global conglomerates and some have stopped doing business with Iran in order to comply with international sanctions. One of the biggest of Rice’s holdings, between $50,000 and $100,000,according to a disclosure statement for 2011, is Royal Dutch Shell. The international oil giant stopped buying crude oil from Iran early this year. Rice and her husband also own between $15,000 and $50,000 of stock in ENI, an Italian international oil company. ENI says that it no longer does business with Iran, but it has been granted a waiver from sanctions to allow it to collect oil as payment for about $1 billion Iran owes the company from earlier business deals. The company had been purchasing crude oil and developing natural gas fields.

“With respect to Iran, Ambassador Rice worked to impose the toughest U.N. sanctions regime ever on Iran for its continued failure to live up to its obligations,” said Rice’s spokeswoman, Erin Pelton. “Iran is more isolated than it has ever been and facing the toughest economic pressure ever mustered.”

Rice is one of the richest members of the Obama Cabinet. She and her husband, Ian Cameron, were worth between $23.5 million and $43.5 million in 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Her late father was a World Bank director and governor of the Federal Reserve.

 

 

Pentagon Admits to Not Having a Death Cert., Autopsy Report or DNA ID Test Result for Bin Laden

Newly released heavily redacted emails obtained by the Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act has shed new light on the May 1, 2011 Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in his secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The internal emails sent among U.S. military officers indicate that no sailors aboard the USS Carl Vinson witnessed Bin Laden’s burial at sea and that only a small group of the ship’s leadership was even informed of the event.

“Traditional procedures for Islamic burial was followed,” a May 2nd email from Rear Adm. Charles Gaouette reads. “The deceased’s body was washed (ablution) then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased’s body slid into the sea.”

The Obama administration promised to be one of, if not the most transparent administration ever but when it comes to details surrounding the killing of Bin Laden they have been incredibly secretive. In a response to separate requests from the AP for information about the mission, the Defense Department said in March that it could not locate any photographs or video taken during the raid or any pictures or video showing Bin Laden’s body. It also said it could not find any images of Bin Laden’s body on the Vinson. Meanwhile the Pentagon says it can not find any death certificate, autopsy report or results of DNA identification tests for Bin Laden, or even any pre-raid materials discussing government plans to dispose of Bin Laden’s body if he were killed.

The CIA, which ran the Bin Laden raid and has special legal authority to keep information from ever being made public, has not responded to the AP’s request for records about the mission.

So if you have any questions as to how the government could conduct a military assault on a secret compound, kill and bury at sea the most wanted terrorist on earth without any video or pictures taken during the raid or any pictures or video of his dead body being dumped in the ocean or any death certificate, autopsy report or evidence of DNA identification please keep them to yourself. Just trust your government. They would never lie to you, would they!?

 

FEMA Ignoring Small Town Ravaged by Tornadoes?

In April of 2011 tornadoes struck Cordova, Alabama killing 250 people while destroying thousands of homes and businesses. A year and a half later the town still looks like the disaster happened yesterday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency promised the small town, which has a population of just over 2,000, that it would provide the monies needed to demolish the damaged buildings, but after waiting for a year and a half, city residents are growing increasingly frustrated with the broken glass littering the streets, roofless buildings barely still standing, and the downtown area sealed off by a chain-link fence because it is considered unsafe. The tornadoes left behind $1 billion in damages.

FEMA has made numerous requests for documentation of the damage, but has still not provided the necessary funds. Cordova officials are asking for an estimated $933,000 to demolish the structures.

It’s very frustrating,” Mayor Drew Gilbert told the Associated Press. “You would think it’s been touched and seen now by everyone who needs to touch and seen it.”

Elizabeth Brown, preservation officer for the Alabama Historical Commission, said FEMA has never provided information as to when they would begin the much-needed demolition process of the ruined buildings.

FEMA officials told the AP that they are still gathering details about the damage before providing the money, which is a time-consuming process.

“This project involves demolition of multiple historically significant structures and requires that FEMA consider all pertinent environmental and historic preservation laws before funding the project,” the agency said.

FEMA’s procrastination has taken a huge toll on the local economy and employment opportunities. The damage wiped out businesses, leaving few available jobs for residents. Only schools, one bank, a pharmacy and a health clinic are open for employment. The town’s only grocery store was destroyed by the twisters, but unless the skeleton buildings are demolished, no new structures can replace them.

FEMA recently told city officials that their review of the city will be finished by Jan. 4, according to Cordova Fire Chief Dean Harbison, but funding for the demolition likely won’t be granted until the two-year anniversary of the tornado strike passes.

Our entire economy is gone, and it’s like they’re just doing nothing,” Mayor Gilbert said.

Meanwhile, FEMA announced Monday that it has provided $500 million to disaster areas ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, 10 percent of which went to individuals and families in Staten Island. The death toll due to the Alabama tornadoes was more than twice the death toll due to Sandy, but residents in this small town said they felt forgotten just a few weeks after the disaster. Cordova officials have asked for less than $1 million, but it may take them many more months before FEMA hands it over.

Libyan Security Chief Assassinated in Benghazi

Colonel Farag al-Dersi, Benghazi’s chief of security, was killed by three gunmen in the same eastern Libyan city where US ambassador Chris Stevens and three fellow diplomats died after the US consulate was overrun this past September 11th. The Libyan security chief led an anti-militia crackdown in the wake of the attack.

There has been a string of killings and car bombings in the city, most of which targeted officials who had high-profile roles in the former administration of Muammar Gaddafi.  Libya’s new cabinet, which was sworn-in last week, is facing a vast security vacuum. Police and army functions remain distributed among a patchwork of militias.

The assassination of Dersi also highlights the lack of progress made in catching the killers of Stevens, who died when the consulate was stormed and set ablaze by several dozen militiamen. Libya has yet to give details of any investigation into the death of what was the first killing of a US ambassador since 1979, or bring any suspects to trial.

 

FEMA Employee Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $143,000

Fifty-six-year-old Sheila Ann Howard entered a guilty plea to the charge of embezzling $143,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. She faces a maximum of 10 years in prison  and a fine of $250,000 at her sentencing scheduled to take place on Feb. 1.

Between December 2009 and March 2011, Howard used her position at the agency to process 28 fraudulent payment claims in the names of 18 former FEMA employees and one current employee, depositing the payments in four bank accounts she controlled.

According to prosecutors the former employees were not aware of the scheme or of Howard’s use of their personal information.

An investigation began after one of the employees was mailed a tax form indicating she had been paid more than $9,000 by FEMA in 2010 for leave compensation, even though she had left the agency in 2009.

Authorities looked into the payments and found that they had been processed by Howard and deposited into a bank account on which she was the primary account holder. The employee whose name the payments were made under was listed as a secondary account holder, but had no knowledge of the account, prosecutors said.

 

 

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