Ben Weingarten

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Tag: State Department

Big Banks Had More Integrity than the Obama Admin in Refusing to Collude with Iran for Iran Deal

When Obama Pressured Big Banks To Break The Law For Iran, They Resisted

Financial institutions, though often maligned especially in the post-financial crisis world, serve a vital marketplace function. Just like all enterprises, they can be vehicles for good, such as raising capital to help businesses grow, and ill, such as engaging in fraudulent activities.

On the negative side of the ledger, there is a sordid history of banks prioritizing profit over principle (principal over principal?) when it comes to doing business with evil regimes and sinister characters — most notably Swiss institutions during and after World War II, something I am proud to say my father worked to rectify.

This is what makes revelations over the latest Iran Deal-related Obama administration scandal so astonishing.

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The State Department Exchange that Shows #Iransom is Real and Spectacular

The following transcript provided by The Israel Project’s Omri Ceren from yesterday’s exchange between State Department Spokesman John Kirby, Fox News’ James Rosen and AP’s Brad Klapper says it all about the Obama administration’s deceitfulness re #Iransom:

KLAPPER: Beyond saying there’s no ransom, you’ve said several times, a lot of people from different podiums in this government, have said there was no quid pro quo. What you just described is by definition a quid pro quo, is it not?

KIRBY: No.

KLAPPER: How is it not? You said they would not get the money until they were released. Quid, quo.

KIRBY: Thank you for the Latin expert. The Latin lesson, the Latin lesson.

KLAPPER: I mean, what am I missing in a quid pro quo that you have just outlined?

KIRBY: Brad, they were gonna get this money anyway, because The Hague Tribunal decided that they were going to get their money back. And-

KLAPPER: No, they hadn’t decided-

KIRBY: There was a negotiation inside The Hague Tribunal that they were going to cover the $400 million principal and then some interest that we negotiated, which saved the taxpayers a lot of money. That process was moving forward and it was moving forward on an independent track. Separately and distinctly we were also in talks with them about getting our Americans back. That was also done by a different team and moving forward. These two tracks came together in a very finite period of time.  And it would have been- given the fact that Iran hadn’t proved completely trustworthy in the past, it would have been irresponsible for us to not, since we- since we knew this payment was coming and coming soon, to not hold it up until we made sure we had our Americans out.

KLAPPER: Which is why everyone called it a quid pro quo at the beginning, and you disputed that. So I don’t quite understand how that changes anything. You’re saying it would have been imprudent not to link the payment, the delivery of the money, to the release of the prisoners, but you’re saying the delivery of the money wasn’t a quid pro quo related to the release of the prisoners because there’s a back story.

KIRBY: Because The Hague Tribunal had decided, the negotiation had been settled. That process was moving forward and would have moved forward regardless. But because it all happened in a short period of time, yes, we took advantage of that to make sure we had the maximum leverage possible to get our people out and get them out safely.

KLAPPER: So it was a quid pro quo?

KIRBY: No.

KLAPPER: You took advantage of it and you made it a quid pro quo.

KIRBY: We took advantage of leverage that we thought we could have to make sure that they got out safely and efficiently.

JAMES ROSEN: So you were holding the Iranians’ money hostage?

KIRBY: No, James.

KLAPPER: They paid the ransom. Because they released the prisoners.

KIRBY: It was their money, it’s their money. They were gonna get it anyway.

ROSEN: Would you at least agree, John-

KIRBY: Look, guys, we had to, you know, if we hadn’t done that, and if for some reason the Iranians did play games and we didn’t get the Americans out, and we hadn’t tried to use that leverage, then I could understand the disdain and the criticism here. But this was a sound decision made in the end game of two separate negotiation tracks.

KLAPPER: I’m making no value judgment on the decision. I’m just trying to get you to say what it is, which is very simple.

KIRBY: I have described what it is for the last 15 minutes. I haven’t used the Latin phrase that you like, but it doesn’t mean that I haven’t described what happened.

KLAPPER: Listen, this happened in January and this if the first time you’ve ever said flat out that they wouldn’t get the money until the prisoners were released. That took, let’s count it, what, seven months? Why all the beating around the bush?  If it was such a great and noble decision?

KIRBY: The only reason that we’re having this discussion is because of the press coverage, Brad. We’ve said all along-

KLAPPER: So, evil reporters have made you dredge this up?

KIRBY: No. I’ve never called you guys evil, I’ve called you other things, but never evil.

KLAPPER: I mean, you can’t blame press coverage because you didn’t say what this was seven months ago.

KIRBY: We did describe it seven months ago.

KLAPPER: You did not say it was contingent, this was contingent on that. Now you’re saying-

KIRBY: We said-

KLAPPER: – flatly out that this was, this payment was contingent on the release of the prisoners.

KIRBY: I said-

KLAPPER: You did not say that in January.

KIRBY: I said this was, as I said before, we of course wanted to seek maximum leverage in this case as these two things came together at the same time.

ROSEN: John, you said that everyone all along, at all points, has been completely above board about this. But you would agree that what you’re telling us today represents a new factual disclosure from the administration, does it not?

KIRBY: I certainly would agree that this particular fact is not something that we’ve talked about in the past, but if you go back and look at the press coverage, your own coverage, of this when it happened, nobody made any bones about the fact that these two process [sic] were coming together at the same time and we took advantage of the opportunity we had, with the closure of the nuke deal, with The Hague Tribunal, and with talks to get our Americans back, we took full advantage of that, and I don’t think anybody in the administration is going to make any apology for having taken advantage of those opportunities to get these Americans home.

ROSEN: And would you agree that a reasonable observer could look upon a situation in which cash is withheld until prisoners are released, as something akin to ransom?

KIRBY: Well, an observer, whoever he or she may be, can look at this however they want. I’ve described now over the last 10 or 15 minutes what happened and what our thought process was going through that, and I’ll let others decide for themselves. I got to get going here, guys.

If Jews Are ‘Emotional’ About the Iran Deal, Then What Does That Make the Obama Administration?

Kerry: Let me put this in very precise terms. Look, I’ve gone through this backwards and forwards a hundred times and I’m telling you, this deal is as pro-Israel, as pro-Israel’s security, as it gets. And I believe that just saying no to this is, in fact, reckless.

Goldberg: So why do you think you can’t convince the majority of Israelis, or the majority of the organized Jewish community, of this?

Kerry: Because there’s a huge level of fear and mistrust and, frankly, there’s an inherent sense that, given Iran’s gains and avoidance in the past, that somehow they’re going to avoid something again. It’s a visceral feeling, it’s very emotional and visceral and I’m very in tune with that and very sensitive to that. – John Kerry’s Interview With Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic

So just to be clear, Secretary of State Kerry and the Obama administration have cut a deal in which Iran will be subjected to no inspections, no disclosures, no verification and no sanctions, that will equip the world’s leading state sponsor of terror with billions of dollars, and requires that the U.S. help protect its nuclear infrastructure, among many other travesties, but Secretary of State Kerry believes that critical Israelis in particular and Jews in general are responding “emotionally,” as opposed to rationally with fear and loathing?

Contrast the reaction of Jews, Christians and others who comprise the majority of Americans who oppose the Iran Deal with the Obama administration that claims that its political opponents are siding with Iran’s “hardliners” — that is, the mullahs to whom President Obama has not only capitulated but in effect made common cause.

In a parade of horribles chronicled in a powerful editorial in the Jewish magazine Tablet (no enemy of President Obama mind you), the publication’s Editors write:

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Hillary Clinton’s Hypocritical and Totalitarian War on Free Speech

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has suggested that a key litmus test in evaluating prospective Supreme Court appointees would be their willingness to challenge “the right of billionaires to buy elections.”

Presumably, a suitable judge would indicate a desire to overturn the Citizens United decision that struck down a ban on political expenditures by corporations and unions ruled to violate the First Amendment protection of free speech – a case coincidentally centered on Citizen United’s attempt to advertise for and air a film critical of none other than Clinton.

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to the reporters at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Clinton conceded that she should have used a government email to conduct business as secretary of state, saying her decision was simply a matter of "convenience." (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to the reporters at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, March 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

In light of recent allegations swirling around the presidential favorite, Clinton’s support of such a position is highly ironic.

For while the former secretary of State may oppose the rights of the wealthy to spend money on politics, she seems to have no such concern with the wealthy spending money on the Clinton Foundation and her husband Bill – all while Hillary served in the Obama administration.

Would Clinton seek a Supreme Court justice who would protect the rights of the likes of Carlos Slim and James Murdoch to contribute to the favored cause of a politician and shower the politician’s spouse with millions for speaking engagements?

If so, this apparent hypocrisy can be read in one of two ways:

  1. Clinton believes that money does not have a corrupting influence so long as it is funneled through “indirect” channels
  2. Clinton believes that the wealthy and powerful ought to bypass funding elections and simply pay politicians outright.

Appearances of impropriety aside, there are a few substantive questions around political speech that Clinton should be required to address.

Why does Clinton believe that the government has a compelling interest in stifling the political speech of any American, rich or poor?

How does Clinton square her supposed advocacy of human rights with her belief in inhibiting the right to free speech — which facilitates the robust and vigorous debate essential to a liberal society?

More generally, given a system in which millions of dollars are spent on losing causes each election cycle on both the left and right, what have Americans to fear about spending so long as laws are enforced equally and impartially regarding “pay-to-play” schemes and other politically corrupt activity?

Continue reading at TheBlaze…

Four Reasons Why the Left Loathes Senator Cotton’s Letter to Iran

That a short letter penned by an Iraq War veteran and signed by 46 of his colleagues in the Senate would earn the ridicule, scorn and derision of the left, while generating wobbliness among the more politically craven members of the right, is a testament to its virtue.

The primarily pedagogic letter’s detractors have invoked the Logan Act, signing a petition calling for the prosecution of the letter’s signatories on grounds of treason. But little could be further from treasonous than publicly opposing a policy that legitimizes and empowers a mortal enemy of America and her interests.

This Aug. 21, 2014, file photo shows Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as he speaks during a news conference in North Little Rock, Ark. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

This Aug. 21, 2014, file photo shows Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as he speaks during a news conference in North Little Rock, Ark. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

Worse still, legislators who in actuality undermined American interests by negotiating with our enemies are mentioned in the same light. This list of shame includes: John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi among others.

The truth of the matter is that Sen. Cotton’s letter sticks in the craw of the left, causing it’s partisans to resort to ad hominem and absurd attacks. They do so primarily for four reasons:

1. Sen. Cotton’s letter forces the left to defend the indefensible

Whether addressing the congressional speech of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or the letter authored by Sen. Tom Cotton, the left rarely attacks on substance because it realizes the content of its opponents’ message is credible, and the character of the messengers is widely seen as unimpeachable.

The same cannot be said however of the deal that President Barack Obama seeks to consummate, and the parties sitting at the negotiating table.

Continue reading at TheBlaze…

10 Troubling Aspects of President Obama’s ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ Summit

The White House’s “Countering Violent Extremism” summit is barely underway, yet the message is already clear: the conference is politically correct — and far worse — a charade.

And that is a charitable interpretation.

Its sponsors are engaging in intentional obfuscation (e.g., saying “violent extremism” is the enemy), as well as peddling ineffective and ill-considered policy proposals (more community “empowerment”). The conference will effectively aid and abet America’s increasingly ascendant jihadist foes.

Reviewing the Obama administration’s summit preview, here are its 10 most disturbing aspects:

1. Contrary to its big government ethos, the Obama administration asserts that national security should be driven by the people, not the state.
Image source: BuzzFeed

(Image source: BuzzFeed)

According to the White House preview [emphasis mine]:

Really at the core of our approach is that the government does not have all the answers in combatting violent extremism. It is, at its core, a bottom-up approach. It puts communities with civic leaders, with religious authorities, with community power brokers, teachers, health providers, et cetera, in the driver’s seat. They know their citizens best. They are the first line of defense to prevent or counter radicalizing forces that can ultimately lead to violence. And so our approach is to really embrace and empower what local communities can do. So we’ve been working with our federal partners and our local partners to put in place this approach over the past couple of years.

Further:

Again, this is not about government, especially the federal government. The federal government doesn’t have all the answers. This is about building a comprehensive network to fight back against violent extremism. And we are explicitly recognizing the role that civil society plays, the private sector plays, and that families, et cetera, can play in countering violent extremism.

Who knew the Obama administration had so much respect for and faith in civil society?

Yet of course, this faith turns out to be dangerously misplaced as…

2. The groups the president wants to empower are those who may pose the biggest threat.

As Patrick Poole noted in an extensive report for TheBlaze:

In December 2011, the White House issued the “Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States” – the local partners, of course, being Islamic organizations, including those cited by the Justice Department as working to aid foreign terrorist organizations. All national security and law enforcement agencies on the federal, state and local level would now have to consult these groups and rely on “local partners” as a matter of policy. And as made clear in Salam al-Marayati’s Los Angeles Times op-ed, Islamic groups complaining about counter-terrorism policies or training would disrupt government efforts to “counter violent extremism” gave them an implicit veto over counter-terrorism policies. [Los Angels Times link added for context]

Why should we care about this 2011 report?

A senior Obama administration official noted in previewing the summit that the report details the very efforts the administration will be hawking during the three-day event.

Local partners such as the Council on American-Islam Relations — an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest Hamas funding trial in history — has advised members of the Muslim community not to work with the FBI, and religious leaders to lawyer up as opposed to working together with law enforcement when it comes to potential jihadists. On the eve of the summit, CAIR is reportedly calling for the Department of Justice to “protect those who act in good faith to prevent violent extremism by engaging with [Muslims] considering it in order to dissuade them.”

A partner of perhaps higher standing is the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB), a group linked to numerous jihadis and jihadi-sympathizers, that is reportedly the primary liaison between the Muslim community and law enforcement in countering violent extremism. The Boston  program will be one of the three held up as a success story during the summit, despite the ISB’s Islamic supremacist efforts.

Looking to the heart of Muslim communities, according to the Mapping Sharia project, imams in over 80 percent of 100 randomly surveyed representative mosques in America recommended the study of violence-positive texts. The correlations with these texts are disturbing, as illustrated below:

Sharia Adherence Mosque Survey: Correlations between Sharia Adherence and Violent Dogma in U.S. Mosques (Image Source: http://www.terrorismanalysts.com/pt/index.php/pot/article/view/sharia-adherence-mosque-survey/html)

(Image Source: Sharia Adherence Mosque Survey: Correlations between Sharia Adherence and Violent Dogma in U.S. Mosques)

In Pew’s extensive 2011 report on Muslims in America, 21 percent of those polled indicated there was a great deal or fair amount of “support for extremism among Muslim American;” 19 percent did not indicate that “suicide bombing/other violence against civilians is justified to defend Islam from its enemies;” only 70 percent indicated that they viewed Al Qaeda “very unfavorably.”

As leaked Department of Homeland Security documents reveal, the second highest concentration of people designated as “known or suspected terrorists” by our government reside in Dearborn, Michigan. Dearborn’s population is 96,000, and it has the highest percentage of Arab-Americans of any city in the country.

In light of these figures, and the fact that jihadist groups worldwide claim they are at war with America, having committed over 25,000 attacks in the name of Allah since Sept. 11, 2011, one must ask, what exactly is the rationale behind leaving self-policing to Muslim communities when these are the very places from whence jihadists spring?

Such a policy of course is only baffling if you are of the belief that jihad is an Islamic tenet, and that Islamic supremacist ideology is what animates the vast majority of the world’s “violent extremists.”

But of course…

3. According to the administration there is no profile of a “violent extremist.”

Continue reading at TheBlaze…

An interview with the man who literally wrote the book on impeaching President Obama, former fed prosecutor Andrew McCarthy

We conducted an interview with former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, author of the new book, “Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment,” in which we covered a number of controversial issues, including the case for impeaching President Obama, the Bowe Bergdahl terrorist exchange, Benghazi and Hillary Clinton, and the government’s efforts to chill free speech.

The below reflects a transcript of the interview, conducted via phone, which is slightly modified for clarity and links.

For more content like this, please give Blaze Books a follow on Facebook andTwitter.

Who is “Faithless Execution” intended for, and why should both President Obama’s critics and proponents pick it up?

McCarthy: The book is intended for the public broadly, because I really thought and continue to think that there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding generally about what the standards are for removal of a president from power, what the wages are of having a lawless president, and what the arsenal is that Congress has to respond to it. It seems that there’s a lot of frustration on the part of people with the fact that the president doesn’t seem to be bound by the law, or certainly doesn’t take himself to be bound by the law, and people seem very frustrated that there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done about it. And point of fact, there’s a lot that can be done about it, but there is a lot of ignorance and misinformation out there about what the remedies are. So, what I hope the book will be is a corrective for people in general about what ways presidential lawlessness threatens the Republic, and what responses the Framers put in place that we could use to combat it.

The central point of your book hinges on the notion that impeachment is both a legal but more importantly political remedy. Thus, despite the merits of the case against President Obama, all is moot without their being broad political support for such proceedings. Can you expand on the thesis, explain why impeachment is primarily a political remedy, and provide a little bit of the history behind impeachment itself? 

McCarthy: Impeachment has two components. There’s a legal component to it in the sense that the Constitution has a threshold or a standard that applies to presidential malfeasance or maladministration – I guess maladministration is a better term because the Framers weren’t just concerned about corrupt behavior – they were concerned about a president who was in over his head so gross ineptitude even if it was well-meaning was something they were very concerned about simply because the presidency that they created was so powerful, and had so much potential to harm the republic that they were concerned about having someone who was unsuited in that position – whether it was unsuited because of corruption or simply because of reasons of incompetence. They had a straightforward legal test for what would be required to remove a president. Treason and bribery are straightforward enough – they’re actual crimes that have a lot of history and people understand them. The thing that people generally have some confusion about are high crimes and misdemeanors, and maybe it’s because of the phrase itself because it mentions “crimes and misdemeanors,” so people naturally think of penal statutes where Congress has enacted laws that qualify as felony criminal offenses or misdemeanor offenses. And that’s not what high crimes and misdemeanors is really about at all.

What the framers discussed when they adopted this standard — and it was very much on their mind because they were all men of the world, they were all men who followed current events, many of them were steeped in British law — at the time the Constitution was being debated in the Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, the impeachment trial of Warren Hastings was ongoing in England, where Edmund Burke had led the effort in Parliament to have him impeached on the basis of high crimes and misdemeanors, so it was a phrase, and a term that was very well known to the Framers. And what it really means is, as Hamilton put it, political wrongs, or the offenses of public officials in whom high public trust is vested. So, it doesn’t have to be statutory offenses, and in many ways it’s easier to understand it in terms of the military justice system rather than the civilian penal justice system because it embraces concepts like dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming of an officer, and the like. It really is about a breach of trust and there is no more trust in our system than what’s reposed in the president, who by the way is the only one in the government who constitutionally is required to take an oath of office of the kind that’s spelled out in the constitution, which requires him to swear to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. The failure to do that, more than any statutory offense, was something the Framers were much more concerned about.

So the legal test of high crimes and misdemeanors is pretty straightforward. If you have situations where the president violates the trust of the American people by undermining our system and its checks and balances, those would qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors. A president who is dishonest with the public or dishonest in reporting important matters of foreign affairs to Congress and the like would be guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. A president who is derelict in his duties as commander-in-chief is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors even though there is no penal offense in the federal code that would match up with that. But the Framers were also very concerned that impeachment not be the result of partisan hackery, trivial offenses, or matters of factions (so the president’s part of one faction, Congress is controlled by another, and they can impeach him just for those political and power reasons).

Read more at TheBlaze…

 

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