Monday 10 June 2013
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Thomas Joscelyn, Long War Journal senior editor; Bill Roggio, Long War Journal and FDD, in re: gang warfare in Kabul; Zawahiri writes a letter to two or three of his commanders in the Syrian civil war, installs his own rep.
Jilani: "Dear gangsters, [chastises them for who runs the South Side and who has the prostitution and gambling money] . . . " Al Nusrah head responds no; letter publ on 23 May . . .
Two Afghan boys going through garbage bins for food for their families were captured by Taliban and beheaded. Bodies recovered. They shoot men and women, kill them by all sorts of brutality; these are he persons the US is negotiating with. Kunar Province has been pretty consistently under Taliban, the US bugged out long ago – DC intellectuals said, "The US is the problem in Kunar; when we leave, the Taliban will no longer be active." Wrong.
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Two Afghan boys, ten and sixteen, scavenging in garbage bins for food for their families were captured by Taliban and beheaded.
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Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 1, Block B: Thomas Joscelyn, Long War Journal senior editor; Bill Roggio, Long War Journal and FDD, in re: AL Nusrah in Syria. Aleppo. US underestimates al Nusrah's strength because it can assemble diverse groups and create a functioning coalition. Cf: US said that Yemen had only 300 alQ members, but now they’re overwhelming. Major US miscalculation. In Syria, al Nusrah has tried to modify its brutality in Syria to avoid the repellent conduct of its previous Khmer Rouge-style behavior and not alienate the population so completely.
US adds al Qaeda explosives expert to list of global terrorists Abd al Hamid al Masli, a Libyan, is a "key improvised explosive device (IED) facilitator" who operates in Waziristan. He temporarily served as the head of al Qaeda's military committee, likely after Abdullah Said al Libi, the former head of the Lashkar al Zil, was killed in a drone strike.
Local Taliban commander killed in latest drone strike in Pakistan Mutaqi was reportedly preparing to lead fighters across the border to wage jihad in Afghanistan. The Obama administration has claimed that drone strikes would be conducted only against targets that pose an "imminent threat" to the US.
Al Nusrah Front raises al Qaeda's flag in Aleppo . . . and Ayman al Zawahiri calls for Muslims to "deploy to the Levant."
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: Lara M Brown, political analyst and author; Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review & Pirates fan, in re: Mr Snowden, not answering his phones while camped in a five-star hotel in Hong Kong; so many scandals, not enough hands to keep up with them.
State and perps: CBS reports allegations that State conducted a cover-up of its own officers. Miller had a memo . . . security official in Beirut in sexual assault; drug ring, prostitution ring – in Secy Clinton's security detail. Quashing an IG report can cause a lot of very big problems for this Administration and for Mrs Clinton. A drip-drip-drip situation; State members not only talking behind closed doors but leaking a lot of info. Could easily blow up to the size of our other recent scandals. Cummings vows release of IRS transcripts. “The top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on Sunday threatened to release full transcripts of testimony from Internal Revenue Service employees related to the agency's targeting scandal by week's end if Chairman Darrell Issa does not.” Daniel Strauss in The Hill.
Are we getting carsick riding along with the Obama Administration?
Is the Obama Administration growing exhausted and overwhelmed? Looks like it. Jay Carney wouldn't even respond today on Mr Snowden. Why is Snowden in China? Looks pretty dodgy.
Are the media exhausted and overwhelmed? An accumulation of scandals; feels like the Grant Administration – sense that the president is out of it with one breaking scandal after another. Govt is careening out of control. Democrats passive? The NSA scandal shows that many of the practices dvpd under Bush II continue here; show on the other foot. Not a clear partisan split right now; more, libertarians and civil liberties people vs security-state and war-on-terror people. Confusion; passivity among both Republicans and Dems.
On the Sunday Morning Talk Shows, a Rather Familiar Cast of Characters Politicians like Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Richard J. Durbin are perennial guests on the networks’ political news programs.
Another scandal, another reason for no trust. This Administration reminds me of Melville's Confidence Man.
Are we killing time while we wait the next bombshell? "Republicans have a problem with young voters. Democrats have a problem with young nonvoters," National Journal notes. "That simple equation, which applies equally to minority voters, helps explain why Republicans could enjoy another strong midterm election in 2014 without solving any of the underlying demographic challenges that threaten them in the 2016 presidential race. Next year's election could both disappoint Democrats (by frustrating their hope of recapturing the House) and mislead Republicans (by tempting them to believe they have overcome the trends that allowed Democrats to win the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections.) It could also highlight one of the forces that is making it difficult for either party to sustain unified control over Washington, even as they struggle to reach consensus on almost anything while power is divided."
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Francis Rose, Federal News Radio, in re: Where we are, what we know & don't know about the IRS. About the union. Shulman left in November; replaced by a guy who left this month. Now replaced by Danny Werfel (an executor, not a policy formulator) (Werfel has let his boss put his head on the guillotine.) Every political appointee for every administration is a fixer. Cincinnati wdn't turn the lights out without instrux from Washington; Washington wdn't turn the lights out without demand from Treasury. They implement the policies the president wants implemented. Werfel happens to have chosen to accept a job from this administration, whose policies are what they are. Danny Werfel has been at OMB a ong time, mostly as a career employee and was well thought of – very intelligent, a hard worker; wanted to do well but not overly ambitious. Got promoted; attracted attn of Obama Adm in 2008, since the office of the Comptroller isn’t political in the normal sense. (You can be fired or replaced, unlike when you're a Deputy.) When he transitioned from OMB to IRS, he came in with Pres Obama's explicit support.
How do career civil servants survive an Administration that has to get re-elected?
Why hasn't the federal government produced a comprehensive list of deadlines and rules? What did Congress mean by "permanent" when it ordered permanent changes to state unemployment insurance? Will all federal agencies collect the same data or will each agency set its own rules? And how, exactly, are states supposed to track and report all this spending when there's no money in the law for tracking or auditing? Deputy Controller Danny Werfel spent the day alternating between fielding such questions and pacing the hallways with his cell phone, trying to get answers.
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 2, Block A: John Fund, National Review Online, and David M Drucker, Washington Examiner Sr Congressional correspondent, in re: 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 the CIA and current employee of the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton," The Guardian reports. "Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors... 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." Said Snowden: "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong."
Get Behind Gomez He’s not a conservative, but he can win.
Online Article When the "Gang of Eight" immigration reform package hits the Senate floor next week, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley will be running the debate and amendment process for the Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has ultimate authority over the floor debate; and as the Democratic "floor manager," Judiciary Committee . . .
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 2, Block B: John Fund, National Review Online, and David M Drucker, Washington Examiner Sr Congressional correspondent, in re: Immigration debate; the basic competence of he federal govt is in question right now . Were it to say, "Trust us, we'll secure the border an install a good procedure for all those millions of illegal immigrants" – not quite the ticket now. A lot of very nervous Red State senators are up for election.
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 2, Block C: Larry Johnson, NoQuarter, in re: Snowden flees to Hong Kong with a lot of intellectual property of US citizens. What does the info mean"? WH has no comment. (Joe Rochefort + a team of cryptographers in Hawaii broke the Japanese code, allowed the US to go to Midway, which battle changed the course of history.) If you’re n the run, do you flee to China? Only if I think I have a support network in place. Happens to be simultaneous with an Obama-Xi meeting. Is this a coordinated Chinese effort? Dunno, but the effect is the same: a completely emasculated Pres Obama. Erosion of our Bill of Rights – we can enter someone's life electronically irrespective of the Bill of Rights. Can govt be trusted to take a dragnet, have an enormous volume of info? Your cell phone, even when off, can be used as a listening device. If our computer has a video camera. it can be used to watch you. We're asked to trust the govt, yet find the current govt to be largely incompetent. Not encouraging.
Larry, as a CI and DIA contractor, if you stole property, you’d be pursued and arrested, yes?
Yes. Leaks usu occur because of 1. a bona fide policy dispute, or 2. as a pol tool, a leak by govt officials, or 3. espionage. Hong Kong? leader was chosen by the Standing Committee – he's their boy.
More shoes to drop. NSA whistleblower is identified
Largest defense lobbyist in DC, has a good sense of where elections are headed (he called the Obama victory in Aug of 2008). His optimism about Romney is through the roof right now. His is not an emotional assessment. He's very cleared-eyed in taking stock.
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 2, Block D: Gordon Chang, Forbes.com, in re: Snowden says he has the same and place of every station the US has, everyone's name. He's bargaining – with the Standing Committee. He seems to think Beijing will save him. This is "very close" to treason. Left, right and center all say that Snowden's deed doesn’t pass the smell test. Donilon's remarks: a lot of what Pres Obama said to Xi Jinping, but precious little of what Xi said to Obama. Looks as though Xi didn’t much agree. China's economy: has been sliding down for many months; the May numbers paint a distressing picture. Producer price index declined by 2%+ - for 15 month. Cannot have robust growth and still be in deflationary envt. China has few tools to work with because is economy s straitened. Why was Edward Snowden in a hotel room in Hong Kong? Why were the revelations just before the conversation on cyberhacking, US security; why were Snowden's as answers all just assertions?
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 3, Block A: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Syria. Turkey. Israel. Snowden most famous in his own mind; not in hotel room tonight but probably still in China. Syrian civil war: knives, guns, missiles, RPGs. US mulling arming the Free Syrian Army," while Israel avoids that. Many vestiges of how vicious the campaign in Aleppo was - Sunni, Shiite, Catholic temples all torn apart. Hundred or more armed volunteers from Saudi, Europe, all over; forming their own forces, not integrating into FSA, which complicates. US has delivered $50-60 mil but wants to hand over a lot more – and can’t figure out whom to give it to. Secy Kerry postponed his sixth trip in five months to the Pal territories and Israel; Palestinians creating large numbers of pre-conditions; Islamist demos in Ramallah – staged by the Palestinian Authority to oblige the US to fork over money and blandishments. Network of underground rocket-launchers, using tunnel technology. Abbas demands release of 120 terrorists; Netanyahu offered dozens, Abbas refused, Netanyahu withdrew the offer, Abbas now demands a complete map before negotiations begin.
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 3, Block B: Malcolm Hoenlein, Conference of Presidents, in re: Iranian election; Bushehr; bunker busters. Yemen, Egypt, Bulgaria. Iran: Jalili is likely to win, said MH; a bunch dropped out recently, but JB's guy, Valayati, is still in - hugging the rail. Car imports down 21% this year. An April earthquake damaged the Russian-blt nuke at Bushehr; more rectors along the same fault lines. GBU57 bunker-buster bombs penetrated deep in a test that explains to Iran what the future may hold. Yemen: Houthis, a gang that sometimes is supported by Saudis, sometimes, by Iran, now Iran. Sixteen Houthis killed by Yemeni forces yesterday; conflict escalation. Morsi in Egypt: can’t feed his people or secure the streets, but Ethiopia is about to build a dam and Morsi wants to go to war with Ethiopia. Secy Kerry has promised $1.3 billion to Egypt for transparency and democracy, neither of which is evident in Egypt. Taksim Square: demos in 40 cities in Turkey, before a 2014 election in which Erdogan wants to consolidate power. Difficult. Bulgaria: new gov, Socialist, claims no conclusive evidence that Hezbollah committed the murders last year, just as the EU was on the edge of labelling Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 3, Block C: Thomas Goltz, author, university professor and intl adventurer in Istanbul, in re: Taksim Square and the multiple demos across Turkey. A truly amorphous bunch of groups, united only in their opposition to Erdogan. No govt would allow an endless occupation of a main area – such as Times Square from Eleventh Ave to Fifth, and from 52 St down to 34 St. Demonstrators are giddy at the prospect of police rapelling down. Govt hopes for either massive rain, or to wait them out – university exams are next weekend. Students, he hopes, will drift off to beaches. At that point, govt will move back in with street-sweepers and paint brushes. Maybe 70% of protestors have no declared political affiliation whatsoever. However, "pacifist" isn’t off-mark – flower children. In Tahrir Square, a large group of educated people were un- or underemployed. In Istanbul, not the same: youth is dominant – mean age is 23 to 33 – have braved police brutality, pepper spray et al., and say: our future is not this. Whatever emerges from this will determine Turkey's near- and medium-term future – either a backdown and a police state, or the govt will back down and we'll be staring into an unknown.
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 3, Block D: Eric Lipton, NYT, in re: Leaker’s Employer Is Paid to Maintain Government Secrets Edward J. Snowden’s employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, has become one of the largest and most profitable corporations in the United States almost exclusively by serving a single client: the government of the United States. Reaction to the Snowden Leak. Over the last decade, much of the company’s growth has come from selling expertise, technology and manpower to the National Security Agency and other federal intelligence agencies. Booz Allen earned $1.3 billion, 23 percent of the company’s total revenue, from intelligence work during its most recent fiscal year. The government has sharply increased spending on high-tech intelligence gathering since 2001, and both . . . [more]
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Patrick Chovanec, chief strategist at Silvercrest Asset Mgt, in re: Obama pressed Chinese leader on cybersecurity Obama Meets With Xi Jinping, Says US, China Must Develop Cyber Rules
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 4, Block B: Jed Babbin, American Spectator, in re: Are We Being ImPrism’ed? Is there anyone in government we can trust? It seemed as if we’d be able to focus on the Eric Holder subset of the Obama scandal parade for at least a few days. But we were interrupted by revelations about Obama’s telephone and email snooping published in the Guardian, a Brit newspaper not known for its faithfulness to the facts. Guardian published a story — and a top secret court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — focusing on our government’s intelligence gathering of telephone “metadata” on more than a hundred million Verizon customers and a hitherto unknown e-mail snooping system called “PRISM.” Both reports were verified (and denounced) by the U.S. intelligence . . .
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 4, Block C: Thom Shanker, in re: US Helps Allies Trying to Battle Iranian Hackers — The Obama administration has begun helping Middle Eastern allies build up their defenses against Iran’s growing arsenal of cyberweapons, and will be doing the same in Asia to contain computer-network attacks from North Korea, according to senior American officials. The American officials would not say which countries in the Persian Gulf have signed up for help in countering Iran’s computer abilities. But the list, some officials say, includes the nations that have been the most active in tracking Iranian arms shipments, intercepting them in ports and providing intelligence to the United States about Iranian actions. The three most active in that arena are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. In Asia, the countries most worried about being struck by North Korean computer attacks . . . [more]
Monday 10 June 2013 / Hour 4, Block D: Michael Tomasky, Daily Beast, in re: The Leaker and the Right As Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) reaches the 21,000-day milestone of U.S. House service today, Smart Politics notes Dingell has served alongside 2,445 different U.S. Representatives thus far during his 57+ years in the House.
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