Editor’s Note – As if the tone of incivility were not bad enough in DC, and America endures the zero tolerance on kids with toy guns or a Pop-Tart gets chewed into the form of a gun, leave it to the Obama Administration to make threats to its agents if they leak information
Not just any threat – threats of facing firing squads are in their training manuals should an agent leak sensitive secrets.
Sacrebleu! ATF threatens French-style firing squad for agents who leak secrets
After months of anguished debate over mass shootings, gun control and Second Amendment rights, the Justice Department finds itself on the defensive after a training manual surfaced that suggests federal agents could face a firing squad for leaking government secrets.
A photo in the online manual for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — complete with a photo of a turn-of-the-century firing squad — was obtained by The Washington Times from a concerned federal law enforcement official, and it immediately drew protests from watchdogs who said it showed a lack of sensitivity to gun violence and the continuing hostile environment toward whistleblowers.
Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, said the DOJ has forgotten about the protections of the First Amendment, which covers leaks to the media, and that the photo could scare its employees into self-censorship.
The photo “would have a chilling affect on legitimate speech. And some of the rhetoric used against whistleblowers could be construed as inciting to violence because they’ve turned up the rhetoric,” Mr. Kohn said.
Justice Department officials said the photo was included as a joke and that they were unaware it was viewed as offensive by agents. They plan to remove the entry, but not until the government shutdown is ended and federal officials return to work, said Richard Marianos, the special agent in charge of the Washington division of ATF.
The photo was embedded in the annual Introduction to National Security Information online course for the ATF, the main federal law enforcement agency investigating gun violence and illegal gun trafficking.
“During many years of law enforcement experience, I can attest to the fact that law enforcement personnel often use gallows humor as a release from the grim realities of the profession,” he said.
But watchdogs raised immediate concerned that the image may have an unintended chilling effect on DOJ employees, as the agency has often been criticized for its handling of whistleblowers.
While the DOJ may be making light of a serious policy, Mr. Kohnsaid the photo was hypocritical, unconstitutional and unprofessional.
“The government leaks information all the time and they get away with it,” Mr. Kohn said. “They don’t go after leaks that they support. The government leaks, and when it is officially condoned they do not investigate or prosecute.”
A major incident that Mr. Kohn referenced was the case of former U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino, who was removed from his position in Michigan by the DOJ after the DOJ leaked negative information about him.
“It significantly harmed his reputation, turned out not to be true, and we filed a privacy act lawsuit in 2003 and we are still fighting with the Justice Department to try to find out who the source of that leak was,” Mr. Kohn said. “They have used well over $1 million of taxpayer resources to cover up a DOJ employee who violated the law when he leaked information to defame a whistleblower and that’s one of the biggest problems with this whole campaign against leaks.”
Mr. Kohn said the DOJ has forgotten about the protections of the First Amendment, which covers leaks to the media. There is also Supreme Court precedent in the case of Pickering v. Board of Education which established the constitutional right of public employees to provide information to the news media, he said.
“This is a campaign to silence and intimidate whistleblowers and what is the most troubling part of this aggressive campaign, is that the justice department has completely ignored the first amendment,” Mr. Kohn said.
A law enforcement official told The Washington Times that the training materials were assembled for ATF and that the photo appears on a slide deck that was put together by contractors in 2007. The photo has been included in the manual since March 2008.
ATF will be reviewing the materials in the training documents. It’s the latest controversy for the law enforcement agency, which has suffered significant repercussions from the ill-conceived Fast and Furious operation that knowingly allowed semiautomatic weapons to flow across the U.S. border and into Mexico’s violent drug wars.
Editor’s Note – Eventually, every story about leaks keeps ending up back at the White House itself. Why, because everything they do has a political goal in mind, especially when they need to ‘spike’ another football.
As we have been saying for years now, the current administration is the team that will say and do anything to achieve an end. Not only do they ‘spike the football’, repeatedly, they conflate the event to be solely as a result of their prowess. Allies be damned, sources get burned, methods are exposed, and it matters little, unless it sullies their image. This applies to all things domestic as well.
The Constitution and our nation-of-laws are just something to avoid, circumvent, or just ignore. If that cannot be achieved, they create or contrive some loophole, set up a list of talking points, couch it in some greater good, and then release their minions and sycophants to the talking head circuit.
Meanwhile, they turn the tables on their detractors and accuse everyone else of the same thing. Then the willing media echos these talking points, forgets to do any investigative journalism, or simply ignores the issue.
In classified cyberwar against Iran, trail of Stuxnet leak leads to White House
The information in the 2012 book by chief Washington correspondent David E. Sanger has been the subject of a yearlong Justice Department criminal investigation: The FBI is hunting for those who leaked details to Mr. Sanger about a U.S.-Israeli covert cyberoperation to infect Iran’s nuclear facilities with a debilitating computer worm known as Stuxnet.
A New York Times story adapted from the book, “Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power,” quotes participants in secret White House meetings discussing plans to unleash Stuxnet on Iran.
The scores of State Department emails from the fall of 2011 to the spring of 2012 do not reveal which officials told Mr. Sanger, but they do show an atmosphere of cooperation within the administration for a book generally favorable toward, but not uncritical of, President Obama. For example:
“I’m getting a bit concerned about the pace of our interviews — or lack of pace, to be more precise — for the book,” Mr. Sanger said in an email Oct. 30, 2011, to Michael Hammer, a senior State Department public affairs official. “The White House is steaming away; I’ve seen [National Security Adviser Thomas E.] Donilon many times and a raft of people below. Doing well at the Pentagon. But on the list I sent you starting on Sept. 12 we’ve scheduled nothing, and chapters are getting into final form.”
Mr. Sanger’s book debuted in June 2012 and brought an immediate call from Republicans to investigate the leaks. They charged that administration officials jeopardized an ongoing secret cyberattack by tipping off Iran’s hard-line Islamic regime about war plans.
They also charged that Obama aides were leaking sensitive materials on other issues, such as the Navy SEAL-CIA raid to kill Osama bin Laden, to burnish Mr. Obama’s credentials as commander in chief as the 2012 election approached.
The nonprofit Freedom Watch acquired the State Department emails via a Freedom of Information Act request filed days after the book was published. Larry Klayman, its director, said State at first had told him it did not have any documents. He then filed suit in federal court.
A State Department spokesman did not respond to emails from The Washington Times requesting comment.
In one email, a public affairs official said Mr. Sanger wanted to discuss “Cybersecurity — particularly if there’s a legal framework being developed on the offensive side.” Stuxnet would be an example of an offensive cyberweapon.
Mr. Sanger’s nudging seemed to do the trick. Over the next several months, Mr. Hammer, the senior public affairs official, arranged interviews with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and a roster of senior aides.
In December 2011, Mr. Hammer sent an email summarizing Mr. Sanger’s reporting and reproducing a story from the previous month headlined “America’s Deadly Dynamics with Iran,” which reported on the Stuxnet computer worm.
It is not unusual for authors to request and sometimes win access to administration officials. Mr. Sanger’s access, however, is notable in that its subsequent disclosures prompted an FBI investigation in which agents have interviewed government officials.
The worm on the loose
Mr. Sanger wrote a June 1, 2012, article on Stuxnet that was adapted from his book, which debuted later that week. In the story, he quoted “participants” in White House meetings on whether to continue attacking Iran with Stuxnet, which somehow had broken free into the Internet.
“At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s ‘escape,’ Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised,” the story said.
“Should we shut this thing down?” Mr. Obama asked, according to members of the president’s national security team who were in the room.”
Republicans said those passages alone are evidence that Obama aides broke the law by publicly disclosing a covert program.
With the story and book in print, State Department public affairs on June 7 sent to department officials a transcript of a floor speech delivered by Sen. John McCain that week. The Arizona Republican accused the administration of deliberately leaking secrets to portray Mr. Obama as a “strong leader on national security issues” in an election year.
“What price did the administration apparently pay to proliferate such a presidential persona highly valued in an election year?” he said. “Access. Access to senior administration officials who appear to have served as anonymous sources divulging extremely sensitive military and intelligence information and operations.”
‘Drones and cyber’
Citing the book, Mr. McCain said: “The administration officials discussed a most highly classified operation that is both highly classified and still ongoing, an operation that was clearly one of the most tightly held national security secrets in our country until now.”
Asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on June 3, 2012, whether the administration leaked to him to bolster the president’s image, Mr. Sanger said:
“I spent a year working the story from the bottom up, and then went to the administration and told them what I had. Then they had to make some decisions about how much they wanted to talk about it.
“All that you read about this being deliberate leaks out of the White House wasn’t my experience. Maybe it is in other cases,” he said. “I’m sure the political side of the White House probably likes reading about the president acting with drones and cyber and so forth. National security side has got very mixed emotions about it because these are classified programs.”
Said Mr. McCain: “I don’t know how one could draw any conclusion but that senior members of this administration in the national security arena have either leaked or confirmed information of the most highly classified and sensitive nature.”
On June 5, The New York Times published a review of the Sanger book by Thomas Ricks, an author and former reporter for The Washington Post.
“Mr. Sanger clearly has enjoyed great access to senior White House officials, most notably to Thomas Donilon, the national security adviser,” Mr. Ricks wrote. “Mr. Donilon, in effect, is the hero of the book, as well as the commenter of record on events. He leads the team that goes to Israel and spends ‘five hours wading through the intelligence in the basement of the prime minister’s residence.’”
Three days later, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced that he had appointed two U.S. attorneys to investigate leaks, including the Stuxnet disclosures.
“Any suggestion that this administration has authorized intentional leaks of classified information for political gain is grossly irresponsible,” he said.
A ‘target’ in the probe
In May, The New York Times reported: “The investigation into reporting by David E. Sanger of The Times, about efforts to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program, appears to be one of the most active inquiries.”
In June, NBC News reported that the FBI had zeroed in on one of the nation’s highest-ranking military officers at the time that Mr. Sanger was researching his book in 2011.
NBC said that retired Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and one of Mr. Obama’s closest military advisers, was a “target” in the probe — a designation that often means the Justice Department plans to indict the person.
Gen. Cartwright retired in August 2011.
Mr. Donilon, the national security adviser, submitted his resignation in June and left the post last month.
More than any previous president, Mr. Obama has aggressively gone after leakers — in this case possibly members of his own inner circle.
The Justice Department took the unusual step of collecting data on phone calls to and from the Washington bureau of The Associated Press in an effort to find who leaked information about a foiled terrorist attack.
The Justice Department has charged two former CIA employees and one former National Security Agency worker with providing secrets to journalists. In all three of those cases, the FBI acquired the “smoking gun” by obtaining emails between the reporters and the leakers.
In all, the Obama administration has charged eight people with leaking secrets, the most recent being former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Editor’s Note – NSA contractor Edward Snowden gave a video interview to the UK’s Guardian which exposed the NSA PRISM story – today they revealed his name and the interview.
This came a day after the DNI James Clapper filed a criminal complaint to the DoJ which you can read here. It’s also interesting to read about clause 215 of the Patriot Act that gave such broad authority.
The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for theCIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.
The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.
Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.
In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”
Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. “I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”
He does not fear the consequences of going public, he said, only that doing so will distract attention from the issues raised by his disclosures. “I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me.”
Despite these fears, he remained hopeful his outing will not divert attention from the substance of his disclosures. “I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in.” He added: “My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”
He has had “a very comfortable life” that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves. “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”
‘I am not afraid, because this is the choice I’ve made’
Three weeks ago, Snowden made final preparations that resulted in last week’s series of blockbuster news stories. At the NSA office in Hawaii where he was working, he copied the last set of documents he intended to disclose.
He then advised his NSA supervisor that he needed to be away from work for “a couple of weeks” in order to receive treatment for epilepsy, a condition he learned he suffers from after a series of seizures last year.
As he packed his bags, he told his girlfriend that he had to be away for a few weeks, though he said he was vague about the reason. “That is not an uncommon occurrence for someone who has spent the last decade working in the intelligence world.”
On May 20, he boarded a flight to Hong Kong, where he has remained ever since. He chose the city because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”, and because he believed that it was one of the few places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the US government.
In the three weeks since he arrived, he has been ensconced in a hotel room. “I’ve left the room maybe a total of three times during my entire stay,” he said. It is a plush hotel and, what with eating meals in his room too, he has run up big bills.
He is deeply worried about being spied on. He lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them.
Though that may sound like paranoia to some, Snowden has good reason for such fears. He worked in the US intelligence world for almost a decade. He knows that the biggest and most secretive surveillance organisation in America, the NSA, along with the most powerful government on the planet, is looking for him.
Since the disclosures began to emerge, he has watched television and monitored the internet, hearing all the threats and vows of prosecution emanating from Washington.
And he knows only too well the sophisticated technology available to them and how easy it will be for them to find him. The NSA police and other law enforcement officers have twice visited his home in Hawaii and already contacted his girlfriend, though he believes that may have been prompted by his absence from work, and not because of suspicions of any connection to the leaks.
“All my options are bad,” he said. The US could begin extradition proceedings against him, a potentially problematic, lengthy and unpredictable course for Washington. Or the Chinese government might whisk him away for questioning, viewing him as a useful source of information. Or he might end up being grabbed and bundled into a plane bound for US territory.
“Yes, I could be rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me. Or any of the third-party partners. They work closely with a number of other nations. Or they could pay off the Triads. Any of their agents or assets,” he said.
“We have got a CIA station just up the road – the consulate here in Hong Kong – and I am sure they are going to be busy for the next week. And that is a concern I will live with for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be.”
Having watched the Obama administration prosecute whistleblowers at a historically unprecedented rate, he fully expects the US government to attempt to use all its weight to punish him. “I am not afraid,” he said calmly, “because this is the choice I’ve made.”
He predicts the government will launch an investigation and “say I have broken the Espionage Act and helped our enemies, but that can be used against anyone who points out how massive and invasive the system has become”.
The only time he became emotional during the many hours of interviews was when he pondered the impact his choices would have on his family, many of whom work for the US government. “The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family, who I won’t be able to help any more. That’s what keeps me up at night,” he said, his eyes welling up with tears.
‘You can’t wait around for someone else to act’
Snowden did not always believe the US government posed a threat to his political values. He was brought up originally in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. His family moved later to Maryland, near the NSA headquarters in Fort Meade.
By his own admission, he was not a stellar student. In order to get the credits necessary to obtain a high school diploma, he attended a community college in Maryland, studying computing, but never completed the coursework. (He later obtained his GED.)
In 2003, he enlisted in the US army and began a training program to join the Special Forces. Invoking the same principles that he now cites to justify his leaks, he said: “I wanted to fight in the Iraq war because I felt like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression”.
He recounted how his beliefs about the war’s purpose were quickly dispelled. “Most of the people training us seemed pumped up about killing Arabs, not helping anyone,” he said. After he broke both his legs in a training accident, he was discharged.
After that, he got his first job in an NSA facility, working as a security guard for one of the agency’s covert facilities at the University of Maryland. From there, he went to the CIA, where he worked on IT security. His understanding of the internet and his talent for computer programming enabled him to rise fairly quickly for someone who lacked even a high school diploma.
By 2007, the CIA stationed him with diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland. His responsibility for maintaining computer network security meant he had clearance to access a wide array of classified documents.
That access, along with the almost three years he spent around CIA officers, led him to begin seriously questioning the rightness of what he saw.
He described as formative an incident in which he claimed CIA operatives were attempting to recruit a Swiss banker to obtain secret banking information. Snowden said they achieved this by purposely getting the banker drunk and encouraging him to drive home in his car. When the banker was arrested for drunk driving, the undercover agent seeking to befriend him offered to help, and a bond was formed that led to successful recruitment.
“Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world,” he says. “I realised that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good.”
He said it was during his CIA stint in Geneva that he thought for the first time about exposing government secrets. But, at the time, he chose not to for two reasons.
First, he said: “Most of the secrets the CIA has are about people, not machines and systems, so I didn’t feel comfortable with disclosures that I thought could endanger anyone”. Secondly, the election of Barack Obama in 2008 gave him hope that there would be real reforms, rendering disclosures unnecessary.
He left the CIA in 2009 in order to take his first job working for a private contractor that assigned him to a functioning NSA facility, stationed on a military base in Japan. It was then, he said, that he “watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in”, and as a result, “I got hardened.”
The primary lesson from this experience was that “you can’t wait around for someone else to act. I had been looking for leaders, but I realised that leadership is about being the first to act.”
Over the next three years, he learned just how all-consuming the NSA’s surveillance activities were, claiming “they are intent on making every conversation and every form of behaviour in the world known to them”.
He described how he once viewed the internet as “the most important invention in all of human history”. As an adolescent, he spent days at a time “speaking to people with all sorts of views that I would never have encountered on my own”.
But he believed that the value of the internet, along with basic privacy, is being rapidly destroyed by ubiquitous surveillance. “I don’t see myself as a hero,” he said, “because what I’m doing is self-interested: I don’t want to live in a world where there’s no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity.”
Once he reached the conclusion that the NSA’s surveillance net would soon be irrevocable, he said it was just a matter of time before he chose to act. “What they’re doing” poses “an existential threat to democracy”, he said.
A matter of principle
As strong as those beliefs are, there still remains the question: why did he do it? Giving up his freedom and a privileged lifestyle? “There are more important things than money. If I were motivated by money, I could have sold these documents to any number of countries and gotten very rich.”
For him, it is a matter of principle. “The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to,” he said.
His allegiance to internet freedom is reflected in the stickers on his laptop: “I support Online Rights: Electronic Frontier Foundation,” reads one. Another hails the online organisation offering anonymity, the Tor Project.
Asked by reporters to establish his authenticity to ensure he is not some fantasist, he laid bare, without hesitation, his personal details, from his social security number to his CIA ID and his expired diplomatic passport. There is no shiftiness. Ask him about anything in his personal life and he will answer.
He is quiet, smart, easy-going and self-effacing. A master on computers, he seemed happiest when talking about the technical side of surveillance, at a level of detail comprehensible probably only to fellow communication specialists. But he showed intense passion when talking about the value of privacy and how he felt it was being steadily eroded by the behaviour of the intelligence services.
His manner was calm and relaxed but he has been understandably twitchy since he went into hiding, waiting for the knock on the hotel door. A fire alarm goes off. “That has not happened before,” he said, betraying anxiety wondering if was real, a test or a CIA ploy to get him out onto the street.
Strewn about the side of his bed are his suitcase, a plate with the remains of room-service breakfast, and a copy of Angler, the biography of former vice-president Dick Cheney.
Ever since last week’s news stories began to appear in the Guardian, Snowden has vigilantly watched TV and read the internet to see the effects of his choices. He seemed satisfied that the debate he longed to provoke was finally taking place.
He lay, propped up against pillows, watching CNN’s Wolf Blitzer ask a discussion panel about government intrusion if they had any idea who the leaker was. From 8,000 miles away, the leaker looked on impassively, not even indulging in a wry smile.
Snowden said that he admires both Ellsberg and Manning, but argues that there is one important distinction between himself and the army private, whose trial coincidentally began the week Snowden’s leaks began to make news.
“I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest,” he said. “There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn’t turn over, because harming people isn’t my goal. Transparency is.”
He purposely chose, he said, to give the documents to journalists whose judgment he trusted about what should be public and what should remain concealed.
As for his future, he is vague. He hoped the publicity the leaks have generated will offer him some protection, making it “harder for them to get dirty”.
He views his best hope as the possibility of asylum, with Iceland – with its reputation of a champion of internet freedom – at the top of his list. He knows that may prove a wish unfulfilled.
But after the intense political controversy he has already created with just the first week’s haul of stories, “I feel satisfied that this was all worth it. I have no regrets.”
Obama administration leak about Libya military palnning undernies defense capabilities, puts killers of US diplomats and SEALs out of reach
Obama Administration Chooses To Support Re-Election At Expense of Justice for 9/11/12 Victims
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Scott Taylor, president of the OPSEC, issued the following statement in response to leaks by the Obama Administration yesterday that it was preparing for military operations in North Africa in response to the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi that killed the U.S. Ambassador, another diplomat and two former SEALs:
“There is clearly nothing this Administration won’t do or say to support President Obama’s re-election, including using premature statements about clandestine military operations planning to deflect attention from the Administration’s failure to protect our diplomats and security teams and now-obvious campaign of misinformation in the aftermath of the attack. The question of who ordered Ambassador Rice to speak out on numerous mainstream media networks in a clearly untruthful way remains to be answered.
“Several current Administration officials have provided information to the media about on-going military planning that is obviously trying to show the Administration is ‘getting tough’ with North African militants who carefully planned and executed attacks on September 11, 2012. Unfortunately the Administration’s military ramp-up comes too late the save the lives of those who had requested such support prior to the attacks.
“These leaks may help the president’s re-election campaign but they will actually make it harder to find and bring justice to those responsible for the attacks, who now know they have a target on their backs if they didn’t realize it before. Advertising the planning for the missions also unnecessarily increases the risks to the Special Operations personnel who may need to undertake any missions.
“Time and again the Obama Administration has shown it is willing to put its own political needs before the safety and security of the Americans who serve our country in dangerous places and this latest example is no different. Aren’t some things more important than politics?”
OPSEC, a group of former Intelligence officers and Special Operations members, previously released the film “Dishonorable Disclosures,” a documentary short film that views the impact of the increasing number of leaks on Intelligence and Special Operations missions, tradecraft, tactics and capabilities from the perspective of those who have relied on these tools to carryout similar missions and protect themselves and those they served alongside. The film is being shown in ads and at events and in advertising in key states across the country over the next several months, including Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada. More information about OPSEC and news about the release of “Dishonorable Disclosures” can be found at www.OpSecTeam.org.
Editor’s Note – For some reason, Americans polled recently (Suspect all polls!) seem to think Obama is strongest in Foreign Policy. That may be because he is so weak elsewhere, but on its face, people think he has the experience, at least now he does, and that Romney does not have enough. It is sad, because those of us who follow the foreign press know that the rest of the world is actually laughing at us. Our press does not allow that news into the country – another reason Americans just do not know how bad it is.
Allies can no longer trust America because secrets were revealed, and that places others in great danger. Regardless of whether it was done for political gain or not, it hamstrung our foreign policy. Severely diminished trust leads to less respect as well. Its not what we think, its what the world thinks of why he did it!
Say what you will about George Bush, but he commanded and earned respect across the globe, he was feared, something Obama has not done. Now many say that Obama got the world to like us more because they hated Bush, but what actually occurred was diminished clout. He is easily manipulated, cajoled, and led by the nose. His words carry little clout in Europe, and Putin plays him like a fiddle. Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan even out plays Obama.
So, is it better to be liked or feared by the rest of the globe? Trusted and respected, or thought to be weak and naive? Again, its not what we think, its what word leaders think. Axelrod may help Obama sway many Americans opinions, and may get the votes, but our stature across the globe is now quite pathetic as compared to historic levels.
Liberals want to be liked, but we are not going to a picnic, we need them to fear us. You decide:
The two presidential candidates spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars this week. Developments that have followed suggest that the president is vulnerable on at least two big issues, both of which Mitt Romney raised.
Regarding leaks, in a lousy showing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod declared that the president hadn’t leaked any national security secrets and that the president hadn’t authorized such leaks. But that’s an awfully narrow answer to a big and important question: Did someone in the White House leak sensitive intelligence?
Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed, and punished. The time for stonewalling is over.
It is not enough to say the matter is being looked into, and leave it at that. When the issue is the political use of highly sensitive national security information, it is unacceptable to say, “We’ll report our findings after Election Day.”
Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets? Did a superior authorize it? These are things that Americans are entitled to know — and they are entitled to know right now. If the president believes — as he said last week — that the buck stops with him, then he owes all Americans a full and prompt accounting of the facts.
Axelrod’s indignant but limited denial confirms what we can tell from news reports: At least some of the most critical information had to have originated in the White House. The issue won’t go away. And if the Romney team wanted a “transparency” issue, it might beat the drum from now until November for a full accounting of the leaks.
The other issue that Romney latched upon was the sequestration cuts and the Department of Veterans Affairs specifically. Now a report tells us how vets are faring under this president:
Veterans returning home today join lines for disability payments much longer than those Obama called intolerable in 2008. Their chances of finding jobs in a bleak economy are worse than those of most other Americans. Veterans’ complaints of employment discrimination by the federal government have actually risen.
Veterans remain more likely to be homeless than the general population. The VA estimates more than 67,000 sleep in shelters and on the streets or are otherwise considered homeless, a figure that is only slightly better than in 2009.
And improved data collection reveals just how bad the problem of suicide is among veterans. According to new data Reuters obtained from the VA, a veteran within the VA healthcare system tries to commit suicide about once every half-hour, on average.
That is before Obama kicks out 100,000 of our troops to find work in the private sector. They can be expected to face a dreary job market. (“Unemployment among [Iraq and Afghanistan war vets] rose from 7.3 percent in 2008 to 12.1 percent in 2011, when the national average was 8.9 percent. For 18- to 24-year-old veterans, the rate was 30 percent last year, nearly double the 16.1 percent rate for non-veterans in that age group.”)
If Romney is smart, he’ll keep hammering these two issues. Obviously, the administration has no sufficient defense.
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