Incompetent: Classified National Security Secrets Don’t Stay Secret Under Obama Administration

June 2, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The level of detail spilling out through media reports about crucial national security operations is raising the question of whether President Barack Obama’s administration can keep a secret – or in some cases even wants to.

In just the past week, two tell-all articles about Obama’s leadership as commander-in-chief have been published, dripping with insider details about his sleeves-rolled-up involvement in choosing terrorist targets for drone strikes and revelations about his amped-up cyber war on Iran.

Each article notes the reporters spoke to “current and former” American officials and presidential advisers, as well as sources from other countries.

“This is unbelievable … absolutely stunning,” a former senior intelligence official said about the level of detail contained in the cyberattack story.

The official noted that the article cited participants in sensitive White House meetings who then told the reporter about top secret discussions. The article “talks about President Obama giving direction for a cyberweapons attack during a time of peace against a United Nations member state.”

The article follows on the heels of what many considered dangerous leaking of details about a mole who helped foil a plot by al Qaeda in Yemen. The revelations of the British national threatened what was described at the time as an ongoing operation.

“The leak really did endanger sources and methods,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California and chair of the Intelligence Committee, told Fox News.

The Yemen plot had many intelligence and national security officials flummoxed and angered by its public airing. Despite that, a senior administration official then briefed network counterterrorism analysts, including CNN’s Frances Townsend, about parts of the operation.

But such briefings are an “obligation” for the administration once a story like the Yemen plot is publicized, insisted National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor.

“The reason that we brief former counterterrorism officials is because they are extremely conscientious about working with us about what can and cannot be said or disclosed,” Vietor told Security Clearance. “They understand that there is an obligation for the U.S. to be transparent with American people about potential threats but will work with us to protect operational equities because they’ve walked in our shoes.”

Subsequently, the intelligence committee initiated a review of its agencies to assess the leak. The FBI launched an investigation as well.

Perhaps the highest profile intelligence coupe for the administration, the killing of Osama bin Laden, was followed almost immediately by criticism of how much detail was leaking out. Then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates complained that after officials agreed in the Situation Room not to reveal operational details, it was mere hours before that agreement was broken.

“The leaks that followed the successful bin Laden mission led to the arrest of Pakistanis and put in danger the mission’s heroes and their families,” Rep. Peter King, R-New York, said in an interview on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”

Questions were raised about why details of documents and other articles that were seized during the raid were discussed even before the intelligence community had time to review what they were holding.

Leon Panetta, who at the time was the director of the CIA and is now the defense secretary, penned a letter to CIA staff warning against loose lips.

In the letter, obtained by CNN, Panetta wrote that the operation, “led to an unprecedented amount of very sensitive – in fact, classified – information making its way into the press.”

“Disclosure of classified information to anyone not cleared for it – reporters, friends, colleagues in the private sector or other agencies, former agency officers – does tremendous damage to our work. At worst, leaks endanger lives,” the letter said.

In the latest case, the White House denied it was orchestrating the leak. Asked Friday if the Times’ story detailing the cyberattack on Iran was an “authorized leak,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest disagreed “in the strongest possible terms.”

“That information is classified for a reason. Publicizing it would pose a threat to our national security,” Earnest told reporters.

But the White House has tried to be more open about what have been secretive programs. The president himself became the first administration official to acknowledge U.S. drones were conducting attacks in Pakistan when he made a comment to a supporter in an online chat, even though officials through all the years of the program had never said publicly they were being conducted.

Then, in April, the president’s assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism, John Brennan, publicly blew the cover off the drone program, saying in a speech that “yes, in full accordance with the law – and in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and to save American lives – the United States government conducts targeted strikes against specific al Qaeda terrorists, sometimes using remotely piloted aircraft, often referred to publicly as drones.”

But that speech, Vietor told CNN’s Security Clearance last month, was carefully considered for how revealing it could be.

“I’m not going to get into internal deliberations, but as a general matter we obviously push to be as transparent as we can while being mindful of our national security equities,” Vietor said.

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Obama Promises Donors He Will Continue Doomed ObamaCare Effort If Re-elected

June 1, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – President Barack Obama is confiding to Democratic donors that he may have to revisit the health-care issue in a second term, a position at odds with his publicly expressed confidence that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold the Affordable Care Act, according to three Democratic activists.

A Tea Party activist outside the Supreme Court hearings on the constitutional challenges to the 2010 health care overhaul law. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/The New York Times via Redux
Obama Needs More Time to Redo Health Care

As he previewed his agenda for donors at a May 14 fundraiser, Obama said he may be forced to try to revise parts of his health-care plan, depending on how the court rules later this month, said one activist, who requested anonymity to discuss the president’s comments. Guests at the $35,800-a-plate dinner in the Manhattan apartment of Blackstone Group LP (BX) President Tony James were asked to check their smart phones and BlackBerries at the door.

The president has made similar remarks, usually in response to questions, at other fundraising events since the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case during the last week of March, according to two other activists, who also requested anonymity.

Obama’s answers, which begin with the president repeating his contention that the high court will uphold the law, have led some contributors to conclude the White House is making contingency plans should the justices strike down parts of the law, which would give Republicans a powerful talking point about one of his signature issues.

A challenge by 26 states centers on the law’s requirement that individuals purchase health insurance or face a penalty.
Outside Groups

While Obama is discussing with wealthy donors the prospect of a rebuke from the court, administration officials are coordinating with health-care-reform groups on how to manage their public response in the aftermath of the decision.

“While I won’t discuss in detail the president’s private conversations, I can say that your reporting, attributed to unnamed sources, inaccurately reflects the president’s views,” Jay Carney, Obama’s spokesman, said in an e-mail.

On April 3, Obama professed “enormous confidence” the law is constitutional and “the court is going to exercise its jurisprudence carefully,” in response to a question at the Associated Press’s annual meeting. A day earlier, he said the Supreme Court would have to take “an unprecedented, extraordinary step” to throw out “a law that was passed by a strong majority” in Congress.

Yet a planning memo, including a reminder that it’s important “to continue projecting confidence that the court will uphold the law,” was discussed at a May 29 meeting hosted by a group called Protect Your Care, attended by officials from the White House and Department of Health and Human Services, said one of the attendees, who requested anonymity to discuss a private meeting.
Staging Events

“The best way to demonstrate public outrage or public celebration about the decision is to stage an event that shows average people actually responding to the news,” according to the memo, e-mailed on May 16 by an official at the Herndon Alliance, a coalition of groups that backs the health-care overhaul.

“The White House is obviously very involved in this stuff,” said Bob Crittenden, executive director of the Herndon Alliance. “Some of the groups we work with have very close connections with the White House.”

Nick Papas, a White House spokesman, and Anton Gunn, director of external affairs at Health and Human Services, make regular appearances at the Protect Your Care meetings, which are held every other week.
Private Meetings

Last week, Gunn and Hilary Haycock from the White House attended, along with representatives from Families USA, Health Care for America Now, the Center for American Progress and labor organizations including the Service Employees International Union and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

“There’s a really strong feeling that getting out there and trying to do contingency planning out in public is not a very smart thing to do,” said Crittenden, also a professor of medicine at the University of Washington. “What we really want to do is to make sure that everyone is prepared to talk about the law when it comes up.”

Based on the tone of the justices’ questions to the lawyers arguing the case, some of the law’s supporters are concerned that the court will strike down the requirement that uninsured individuals purchase health insurance or else pay a fine.

Overturning Mandate

“The odds are that it’s slightly more likely to overturn the individual mandate,” said Richard Kirsch, a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and the former campaign manager for Health Care for America Now, a group that fought for the overhaul. After the court makes its ruling, “one of the battles will be to define what’s happened.”

Even if the mandate is removed, supporters of the law should organize media events to have “people who continue to benefit from the law to tell their stories,” said Kirsch, author of “Fighting for Our Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United States.”

Public opinion is divided on the different parts of the law, said Bob Blendon, an associate dean at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“Nobody wants the whole bill thrown out,” he said. “Nobody wants the bill as it is. The majority would be happy if the mandate disappeared.”

While Republicans, including Mitt Romney, their presumptive presidential nominee, would “gain a little” if the mandate is removed, they may be forced to offer another plan to cover those with pre-existing conditions, Blendon said. “If the bill is upheld, it’s a real boost for the president.”

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Obama Ignorant And Incompetent: Poland Demands Response After President’s Mention Of “Polish Death Camp”

May 30, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Poland demanded a “strong and clear response” from the U.S. after President Barack Obama’s mention of a “Polish death camp” while honoring a Pole who told the world about the Holocaust.

“We can’t accept such words in Poland, even if they are spoken by a leader of an allied country,” Prime Minister Donald Tusk told journalists in Warsaw today. “Saying Polish concentration camps is as if there was no German responsibility, no Hitler.”

Since, 2004 Poland has sought clarifications from several news outlets for the use of a phrase “Polish concentration camps” that were run by the Nazis during the country’s occupation in the World War II, according to the Foreign Ministry’s website. The government has convinced publications including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle to stop using the phrase.

The U.S. administration regrets “this misstatement,” the Wall Street Journal’s website cited Tommy Vietor, the National Security Council spokesman, as saying. The text of Obama’s remarks on the White House website hasn’t been corrected as of today.

“The White House will apologize for this outrageous mistake,” Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski wrote on his Twitter Inc. account. “It’s a shame that such a momentous ceremony has been overshadowed by ignorance and incompetence.”

Obama posthumously awarded Jan Karski the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, at a ceremony in Washington yesterday, saying the Polish officer “illuminated one of the darkest chapters of history” as he “repeatedly crossed enemy line to document the face of genocide, and courageously voiced tragic truths all the way to President Roosevelt.”

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Motion To Dismiss Charges In Kangaroo Court At US Torture Prison At Guantanamo Bay Based On Unlawful Influence By G.W. Bush And Obama

May 23, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Defense lawyers in the Sept. 11 case at Guantanamo are seeking the testimony of former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama in a motion to dismiss charges, according to a legal motion released Wednesday.

Lawyers for three of the five defendants charged with planning and helping carry out the attacks say the charges should be dismissed because Bush, Obama and other top officials have made many statements that could influence potential jurors in their eventual trial before a special tribunal known as a military commission, according to the motion.

They have exerted what is known as “unlawful influence,” over the case with such statements as calling the defendants “terrorists,” and saying they must be brought to justice, the lawyers argue.

“Under these facts, it is impossible for any objective, disinterested observer, with knowledge of all the facts and circumstances, to believe these men can receive a fair trial by military commission,” they wrote.

Also among those called to testify are Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who has been active in detainee policy, as well as several Pentagon officials.

The motion was filed May 11 but was only just released on a Pentagon website following a security review. It will be up to the military judge to decide whether to call any of the witnesses to the stand at the U.S. base in Cuba and such an outcome would seem unlikely. The judge may just require written briefs in what is one of many pretrial motions pending in the case.

Prosecutors have not filed a response.

The five defendants, including the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, were arraigned at Guantanamo on May 5 on charges that include terrorism and murder. They could get the death penalty if convicted.

The brief was submitted by the defense lawyers for three of the men: Ramzi Binalshibh of Yemen; Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi of Saudi Arabia; and Pakistani national Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali.

A prohibition on improper influence is an important tenet of the military justice system, intended to prevent higher ranking officers from attempting to sway a case being tried by people over whom they have command.

“For the past 10 years, through the administrations of two presidents, these accused have consistently been described as ‘thugs,’ ‘murderers’ and ‘terrorists’ who ‘planned the 9/11 attacks’ and must ‘face justice,'” the lawyers wrote. “It can easily be understood by members of the public that this system of military commissions exists solely for the purpose of imposing a death sentence upon these accused.”

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The Amateur – Barack Obama In The White House – Debuting At #1 On NYT Nonfiction List For June

May 23, 2012

Edward Klein’s new book about President Obama, The Amateur, has already made some news, particularly with regard to allegations that an ally of Obama’s offered the odious Reverend Jeremiah Wright a $150,000 bribe to keep his mouth shut during the 2008 presidential campaign. And the title of the book is a quote from Bill Clinton, who was said to be urging his wife to challenge Obama for the Democrat nomination in 2012.

That’s pretty sensational stuff, but the media has been studiously ignoring Klein’s book. NewsBusters noted on Tuesday that none of the mainstream media networks have interviewed Klein on the air, or offered a serious discussion of his work. ABC News very briefly mentioned the “amateur” quote from Clinton on their website, but that’s about it.

Needless to say, that’s very different from the way the mainstream press treats provocative books about people they dislike.

It looks like the public hasn’t been ignoring Klein’s book, however, because Regnery Publishing (around whose metaphorical water cooler we HUMAN EVENTS writers gather) announced today that The Amateur will debut at Number One on the New York Times nonfiction list for June 3rd.

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CHANGE: US Electric Bills To Skyrocket As President Obama’s “War On Coal” Continues – Energy Costs In Some Areas Projected To Jump 8 Times Higher Than 2012 Costs

May 22, 2012

Obama’s War on Coal has already taken a remarkable toll on coal-fired power plants in America.

Last week the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a shocking drop in power sector coal consumption in the first quarter of 2012. Coal-fired power plants are now generating just 36 percent of U.S. electricity, versus 44.6 percent just one year ago.

It’s the result of an unprecedented regulatory assault on coal that will leave us all much poorer.

Last week PJM Interconnection, the company that operates the electric grid for 13 states (Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia) held its 2015 capacity auction. These are the first real, market prices that take Obama’s most recent anti-coal regulations into account, and they prove that he is keeping his 2008 campaign promise to make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket.”

The market-clearing price for new 2015 capacity – almost all natural gas – was $136 per megawatt. That’s eight times higher than the price for 2012, which was just $16 per megawatt. In the mid-Atlantic area covering New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and DC the new price is $167 per megawatt. For the northern Ohio territory served by FirstEnergy, the price is a shocking $357 per megawatt.

Why the massive price increases? Andy Ott from PJM stated the obvious: “Capacity prices were higher than last year’s because of retirements of existing coal-fired generation resulting largely from environmental regulations which go into effect in 2015.” Northern Ohio is suffering from more forced coal-plant retirements than the rest of the region, hence the even higher price.

These are not computer models or projections or estimates. These are the actual prices that electric distributors have agreed to pay for new capacity. The costs will be passed on to consumers at the retail level.

House Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) aptly explained: “The PJM auction forecasts a dim future where Americans will be paying more to keep the lights on. We are seeing more and more coal plants fall victim to EPA’s destructive regulatory agenda, and as a result, we are seeing more job losses and higher electricity prices.”

The only thing that can stop this massive price hike now is an all-out effort to end Obama’s War on Coal and repeal this destructive regulatory agenda.

The Senate will have a critical opportunity to do just that when it votes on stopping Obama’s most expensive anti-coal regulation sometime in the next couple of weeks. The vote is on the Inhofe Resolution, S.J. Res 37, to overturn the so-called Utility MACT rule, which the EPA itself acknowledges is its most expensive rule ever.

This vote is protected from filibuster, and it will take just 51 votes to send a clear message to Obama that his War on Coal must end.

Of course, Obama could veto the resolution and keep the rule intact, although that would force him to take full political responsibility for the massive impending jump in electricity prices.

I have a form set up at http://www.WarOnCoal.com to make it easy to contact your senators on this crucial issue.

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Arizona Sercretary Of State Threatens To Keep Obama Off State Ballot Until He Sees Real Proof He Was Legally Born In Hawaii

May 18, 2012

ARIZONA – Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett is threatening to keep President Obama’s name off the state’s ballot in November unless he receives confirmation from Hawaii that it has a valid birth certificate on file for him.

Bennett, who spoke to Arizona radio host Mike Broomhead Thursday, said he requested the confirmation eight weeks ago and has not gotten it. Hawaii, he said, does not have to supply a certified copy of the birth certificate, merely send him an email confirming that it has one.

Asked by Broomhead if he would remove Obama’s name from the ballot if Hawaii fails to comply, Bennett said: “That’s possible. Or the other option would be that I would ask all the candidates, including the president, to submit a certified copy of their birth certificate.”

Despite overwhelming evidence that Obama was born in Hawaii, the issue of his birth continues to dog him. Thursday, Breitbart Big Government reported on a promotional booklet by Obama’s own literary agency listing him as having been born in Kenya.

Bennett said Hawaii law permits government officials to request verification of possession of a birth certificate in lieu of a certified copy.

“They could say yes tomorrow and the whole thing goes away,” Bennett said. “If they can’t say yes to that simple question, than it makees we wonder if we have to take it to another level. One way or another, we have to have some simple verification that people are qualified for the office if they’re going to be on the ballot here in Arizona.”

Bennett asserted that he is not a “birther” and denied accusations that he is playing to the birther crowd in Arizona because he wants to run for governor. But Bennett also hedged in stating his belief that Obama was Hawwaii-born.

“I believe the president was born in Hawaii – or at least I hope he was,” Bennett said.

Arizona, with its 11 electoral votes, is an important 2012 presidential battleground state. A Real Clear Politics average of recent polling in the state has Mitt Romney ahead by only four points.

One thing I’d like to make clear. This blog believes Obama was born in Hawaii. But it also believes threats by the Arizona Secretary of State to exclude the president from the ballot are newsworthy.

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