The John Batchelor Show

Monday 20 May 2013

Air Date: 
May 20, 2013

Picture, above: Al Nusrah Front black flag. Sheikh Abu Muhammad al Julani, the emir of al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, swore allegiance to al Qaeda's leader just over one month ago. See: Hour 1, Block A, Bill Roggio, Long War Journal & FDD, and Thomas Joscelyn, Long War Journal senior editor


Hour One

Monday 20 May  2013 / Hour 1, Block A:  Bill Roggio, Long War Journal and FDD, Thomas Joscelyn, Long War Journal senior editor, in re: US drones kill 4 'militants' in first strike in Yemen in a month  Four al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters who were reportedly transporting suicide vests and explosives were killed in a strike in the terrorist haven of Al Mahfad in Abyan province.  AQAP trained by Awlaki in Yemen; now gone. Since original attack, drone strikes over 11 mos, 26 are not about projecting power to the West by AQAP, are instead air support of Yemeni fragile govt in Sanaa.  US is acting as the robot air force for Yemen.

ISAF targets al Qaeda facilitator in eastern Afghanistan  The International Security Assistance Force has balked at mentioning al Qaeda in press releases since the end of January.

Al Nusrah Front's emir to be added to US terrorism list Sheikh Abu Muhammad al Julani, the emir of al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, swore allegiance to al Qaeda's leader just over one month ago.  http://www.longwarjournal  [dot]  org

Monday  20 May  2013 / Hour 1, Block B:   Bill Roggio, Long War Journal and FDD,  and Thomas Joscelyn, Long War Journal senior editor, in re:  State has added Al Nusrah's emir to the terrorist list. Al Nusrah front is the most effective insurgency group in Syria. It is absolutely al Qaeda, swore bayat to Zawahiri; one of the brigades led by a Chechen. No way can the US disaggregate the insurgent groups in Syria. If we're trusting the Qataris in their supply chain, that's a fool's errand  - and I think we are.  You don’t have to be in the US special drone death list to be targetted and killed. We whack various people in Yemen to protect that failing govt, but we don’t go after al Qaeda in Syria.


Monday 20 May  2013 / Hour 1, Block C:  Lara M Brown, Villanova, and Mona Charen, NRO, and Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,  in re: trifecta scandals. Day after day, irrespective of the subject of the latest dust-up, we've heard a similar refrain from the West Wing: "The President was not aware. The White House was not involved."

From the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service to the Justice Department's subpoena of the Associated Press' telephone records to the terrorist nature of the attack in Benghazi and the State Department's editing of the talking points to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' "Fast and Furious" gun-walking operation to the pre-planned Secret Service party with prostitutes in Colombia to Beyonce and Jay-Z's trip to Cuba, we've been told that the White House is clueless. Republican extremism is what's behind the appearance of a scandal. Bureaucratic overreach or administrative incompetence is the core problem.

Even when it came to the controversy involving the more than $500 million federal loan to the failing alternative energy company Solyndra, White House spokesman Jay Carney was able to . . . 

Monday 20 May  2013 / Hour 1, Block D: Paul Kiel, NYT, in re: camp followers/loan sharks preying on military staff – 400% over several years. Same characters offer to pay title loans so they can take over soldiers's homes. 

Hour Two

Monday 20 May  2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  John Avlon, CNN, The Daily Beast,  and Newsweek International; John Fund, National Review Online; David M Drucker, Washington Examiner sr Congressional correspondent, in re: Mayor of Oklahoma City, Nick Cornett, en route back to town from a trade mission after mile-wide tornado twenty miles long. Asks for prayers and donations to the Red Cross. Over 48 confirmed dead among the rubble.


Investigation of James Rosen: June 2009, Obama Adm began a clear war vs Fox News; inter al., Rosen's article on North Korea upset the Adm, which began to track Rosen's movements and got his personal e-mails; went to court to accuse him of being part of a criminal enterprise. How many other reporters subjected to this is unknown. Sen Baucus, Finance chairman, on IRS: bipartisan, bicameral effort to investigate what the Adm is doing. Supported (unusually) by Harry Reid. IRS scandal: everybody says nobody knows who was in charge. 

Mistaken Nixon parallels.  The president's scandal trifecta; hope for immigration, and what Jolie's revelation means for women.   5 Takeaways from the Ways and Means IRS Hearing.  Strange Goings-On  Obama stays aloof; minions make trouble. Will scandals stall Obama agenda?

Monday  20 May  2013 / Hour 2, Block B: John Avlon, CNN, The Daily Beast,  and Newsweek International; John Fund, National Review Online; David M Drucker, Washington Examiner sr Congressional correspondent, in re: Daniel Pfeiffer all over Sunday interview shows. This is not Watergate; the comparison is lazy.   However, noise of a Select Committee, Special Investigator. Instead, need serious hearings. "Pre-emptive collection of memory agreements" by Dan Pfeiffer; not explaining what happened but offensives – like the Clintons, but more aggressive. Surprising that the president always doesn't know what's happening; the public could decide that tthey like the president but he's  incompetent. 

Monday 20 May  2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  Larry Johnson, NoQuarter, in re:  Larry Johnson, NoQuarter, in re:   "Mistakes were made. Us being idiots." At State Dept, Raymond Maxwell – "Clinton's scapegoat" - out on administrative leave.   Poetry: "being lynched" – evocative, and by a Black man.

Exclusive: Hillary's Benghazi 'Scapegoat' Speaks Out   Raymond Maxwell, the only official at the State Department's bureau of Near Eastern Affairs to lose his job after the attacks, tells Josh Rogin that he’s been scapegoated by Hillary Clinton’s team. 

Following the attack in Benghazi, senior State Department officials close to Hillary Clinton ordered the removal of a mid-level official who had no role in security decisions and has never been told the charges against him. He is now accusing Clinton’s team of scapegoating him for the failures that led to the death of four Americans last year.  [more]

One of the military guys who were in beforehand planning came fwd: the military knows who killed Amb Stevens, was and is ready to take acti0n vs the guy -- White House quashed that, said it'd go to the FBI [as delay].

Victoria Toensing, legal counsel to Hicks, says that Hillary Clinton had given Stevens direct instructions to prepare the CIA compound in Benghazi to be upgraded to the status of a U.S. diplomatic mission and Stevens, in complying with Clinton’s wishes, was in Benghazi the first time he had the opportunity to do so, cognizant of the need to visit the site before the end of the fiscal year, on Sept. 30, 2012.  “Stevens was in Benghazi because Clinton told him to go there,” Toensing explained.

           Hicks’ attorney also charged the Accountability Review Board, or ARB, headed by Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Michael Mullen, was a cover-up designed to contain blame for the Benghazi terror attack at a level below Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the State Department.  On page 34 of its unclassified final report, the ARB stated: “The Ambassador chose to travel to Benghazi that week, independent of Washington, as per standard practice.”  This, Toensing charged, is a complete misrepresentation of the truth despite the attempt of her client, Gregory Hicks, to explain in his testimony to the ARB that Stevens went to Benghazi on Clinton’s specific and go to Benghazi before Sept. 30, 2012, to establish Benghazi as a permanent State Department facility.

            Why was Stevens in Benghazi?

            The sworn testimony Hicks gave the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on May 8, 2012, supports Toensing’s contention that Stevens was in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, because Clinton had ordered him to go there and he was running out of time to comply with her request.  Under questioning from Rep. Lankford, R-S.C., Hicks explained: “According to [Ambassador] Chris [Stevens], Secretary Clinton wanted Benghazi converted into a permanent constituent post. Timing for this decision was important. Chris needed to report before Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, on the physical and the political and security environment in Benghazi to support an action memo to convert Benghazi from a temporary facility to a permanent facility.” Hicks explained the directive came from the State Department Office of Near Eastern Affairs, headed by Acting Assistant Secretary Beth Jones, that funds were available to be transferred to Benghazi from a State Department fund set aside for Iraq available, provided the funds transfer had been obligated by September 30.

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CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson did several interviews last week that discussed her investigative work

C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, Monday     Attkison said the Obama administration has "perfected" delaying public release of information, and reported the White House has "quit talking" to her all together.

In an interview with David Brody of CBN News, Attkisson admitted that's not her only roadblock: “there hasn’t been an appetite for the stories I’ve offered on Benghazi” to the CBS morning and evening newscasts.

"I’ve received a lot of encouragement from the top executives,” she told Brody. “Jeff Fager, who’s our CEO, and David Rhodes, who’s our president, have certainly never said anything to try and interfere with the coverage. They’ve complimented a lot of my work and strongly supported it. On the other hand, every story you present as a reporter has to be bought by a broadcast, meaning not purchased for money, but you have to get them interested in it . . . there hasn’t been an appetite for the stories that I’ve offered on Benghazi [on the CBS morning and evening newscasts] so I’ve published a lot online because there’s unlimited content space online and I’ve done a lot of my reporting there.”

She's not kidding. Matthew Balan reported CBS went more than five months without an Attkisson Benghazi report until she appeared on May 8. See the earlier report that CBS News people see Attkisson as "dangerously close to advocacy" on Benghazi.

Attkisson told Brody she’s attracted to stories off the beaten path and enjoys fighting for a story she’s worked on, and that she’s successful “more often than not.” On Benghazi, it's more "not."

Here’s a longer transcript of her take on C-SPAN (transcript by MRC intern Andrew Lautz):

SHARYL ATTKISSON: I think one of the things that working in Washington has aggravated me when trying to get to the truth. This is true across administrations, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans. They seem to have lost sight of the fact that they work for us, not the other way around. And I think we the public are owed a lot of information, collected and gathered on our behalf, such as information floating around about Benghazi. And it’s guarded by the holders and the keepers of the information, as if they somehow own it and hold the privilege over you that you can’t see it.

For example, Freedom of Information requests that I’ve made. That act has now been used, instead of to facilitate the release of public information, which was its intention – it’s now in my opinion been used to withhold and delay the release of public information. I get pretty much zero response. That didn’t start under the Obama administration. He seems to have perfected it, he and the federal agencies. But this was true also under George Bush. It’s very difficult to get public information, even when you apply the Freedom of Information law.
 . . . 

ATTKISSON: Who made the decision not to convene the Counter-terrorism Security group the night of the Benghazi attacks, which we understand is protocol under presidential directive in SPD-46. Why was the protocol not followed? I’ve gotten a partial answer to that from the White House before they quit talking to me altogether. They said they felt it wasn’t needed, that all the proper advisors on counter-terrorism were in the mix.

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PS: Andrew also noticed Attkisson mentioned how Hillary Clinton lied dramatically on the presidential campaign trail in 2008 about undergoing sniper fire in Bosnia as First Lady. This ought to make journalists more skeptical and investigative about her Benghazi testimony.

But, in fact, Attkisson on C-SPAN left out NewsBusters and MRC's Rich Noyes, who unearthed the telltale 1996 video first. Back then, she mentioned to the Los Angeles Times she was sent a NewsBusters link.

SHARYL ATTKISSON: Many years later, when she was running for president, I guess she was telling a story of how she had dodged sniper fire in Bosnia. And I came home from an overseas trip, and it was my husband who said: “You know that trip you went on, did you get shot at?” And I said “No, we didn’t get shot at.” And he said, “Well, Mrs. Clinton is giving speeches and saying you all were shot at.” And I said, “Well she must be talking about a different trip because we definitely didn’t get shot at. . . .  I looked through my files, and we have the video still from that day. And we were able to show that there was nothing of the sort happening.

-----Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center.

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Monday 20 May  2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Gordon Chang,, in re: James Rosen of Fox reported in 2009 that North Korea was threatening another nuclear test. The Obama Administration in reaction tracked Rosen's whereabouts for years, even got a court order allowing it to read his personal e-mail, have threatened him with criminal activity for writing that innocuous report. Constitutional issue. Meanwhile, Tom Donilon is arranging a meeting with Pres Xi in California - to what good end? These chats never get any favorably result from China. It;s a criminal, thuggish regime, and the US needs to recognize that. PM Li Kaiching just did a whirlwind tour of India, made zero concession, then immed went to Pakistan, which China has armed with nuclear weapons.  Pres Obama met with ruler of Burma despite the latter's acceptance of mass killings of Rohingya, Muslim minority group there. North Korea again fired missile into the sea east of South Korea. Kim Jung-eun acts as though he's introduced a Mad Queen element - but this is bogus. Kidnapping if Chinese fishing crew, now released.  More disarray in the regime, Eun tries to consolidate his tenuous grip on power over tjhe generals.  Best wd be cancellation of June 7 & 8 for mtg betw Pres Obama and Pres Cyberespionage.

Profits of Alibaba Group, the world’s biggest online retailer, more than doubled in the three months ended in December, jumping to $642.2 million from $236.9 million a year earlier.  Revenue in the quarter was up 79.9%.  which holds a 24% stake in the Hangzhou-based company, reported the results on the 7th of this month in its SEC filing.  Moreover, Alibaba’s prospects look strong.  Morgan Stanley says revenue could grow 59% this year and 44% in 2014.  Profits might hit $2.18 billion in 2013.  Not surprisingly, all eyes are on Alibaba’s IPO.  Jack Ma, who founded the company in his apartment in 1999, professes not to know when it will occur.  In 2012, he said it might happen in five years.  Most analysts expect a listing within months, certainly by the end of 2014.  Who wouldn’t want to own Amazon, eBay, PayPal, and Groupon all rolled into one? That is essentially what Ma, 48, has created for the Chinese market.   Some think the . . .  [more]

Hour Three

Monday 20 May  2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  Bill Whalen, Hoover Institution, Advancing a Free Society, in re: Back to School for This President?  The scandalabra, as John Avlon's friend calls it, is a bit much for the president to be wholly unaware of almost everything about it.  Pres Obama is at this strongest when debating known issues; at his worst when he has to hold a defensive press conference – he rambled for 18 minutes the other day. For him to succeed in 2014, he has to win – win immigration, for example, In that case, the press may start to write that his presidency has new life. If he fails with that, Congress wont care to engage with him, leading into 2016.  The most teeth-gnashing must be chez Hillary Clinton – Dems raise the question of party-wide incompetence, which of course would redound deeply to Secy Clinton's disadvantage.

Monday 20 May  2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal editorial board, in re: Thomas Perez .

14 May 2013,  The Wall Street Journal Online  President Obama's labor secretary nominee, Thomas Perez, is still refusing to comply with an April 10 subpoena of his personal email account, despite the Justice Department's admission that he used it to conduct official business more than 30 times, in contravention of the Federal Records Act. Now Justice has offered to show House investigators the emails in camera, but only the "sender, recipient, and date fields." The stonewalling would be funny if it weren't so serious.

In a May 10 letter to Republican Darrell Issa and Democrat Elijah E. Cummings of the House Oversight Committee, Justice's Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Peter J. Kadzik, argued that Mr. Perez had sent some 1,200 emails to his government account, where they "were available for Freedom of Information Act and other congressional or litigation records requests made to the Department." In other words, subpoena? Who cares? Mr. Kadzik is not the subject of the House subpoena, and it is unclear when Mr. Perez forwarded those emails to his Justice account. (Mr. Perez is the agency's civil-rights chief.)

        Nor is it clear why House investigators would take Justice at its word. The year-long inquiry into Mr. Perez concerns a legal quid quo he struck with the City of St. Paul, Minn., last year, in which the city withdrew an anti-discrimination case from the Supreme Court in exchange for the feds' refusal to join two False Claims Act cases against St. Paul. The goal was to prevent the high court from clarifying a shaky legal theory that Mr. Perez was using to extract multimillion-dollar settlements out of banks.

       Justice stonewalled the investigation for months. Mr. Perez didn't testify until March, when he told investigators he didn't "recall" using his personal email account. Through Mr. Kadzik, he later admitted that he did—but only after oversight staff confronted Justice with evidence to the contrary. Several parts of Mr. Perez's Senate confirmation testimony—details about the quid pro quo's origins, the ethics review of the deal, and the bureaucracy's initial support for Newell (one of the False Claims Act cases)—have been contradicted by the testimony of other witnesses and documents collected by House investigators.

       Maybe that's why Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch told reporters last week that "there's real trouble" with the Perez nomination because "a lot of people don't feel he's been straightforward." A Senate committee is expected to approve the nominee on a party-line vote Thursday. Perhaps it's time for a senator to stand up and ask what Mr. Perez is hiding in those emails and to explain the contradictions in his testimony.

Monday 20 May  2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  Kim Barker, ProPublica, in re: IRS Cincinnati office. "The IRS division responsible for flagging Tea Party groups has long been an agency afterthought, beset by mismanagement, financial constraints and an unwillingness to spell out just what it expects from social welfare nonprofits, former officials and experts say," report ProPublica's Kim Barker and Justin Elliott.  The pair continue, "Moves launched in the 1990s were designed to streamline the tax agency and make it more efficient. But they had unintended consequences for the IRS's Exempt Organizations division. Checks and balances once in place were taken away. Guidance frequently published by the IRS and closely read by tax lawyers and nonprofits disappeared. Even as political activity by social welfare nonprofits exploded in recent election cycles, repeated requests for the IRS to clarify exactly what was permitted for the secretly funded groups were met, at least publicly, with silence.  All this combined to create an isolated office in Cincinnati, plagued by what an inspector general this week described as "insufficient oversight," of fewer than 200 low-level employees responsible for reviewing more than 60,000 nonprofit applications a year."

And they add, "Of course, any number of structural fixes wouldn't stop rogue employees with a partisan ax to grind...But what is already clear is that the IRS once had a system in place to review how applications were being handled and to flag potentially problematic ones. The IRS also used to show its hand publicly, by publishing educational articles for agents, issuing many more rulings, and openly flagging which kind of nonprofit applications would get a more thorough review.  All of those checks and balances disappeared in recent years, largely the unforeseen result of an IRS restructuring in 1998, former officials and tax lawyers say."   Barker and Elliott go on to detail how the IRS handled 501(c)(4)s in the past, how only 77 of 24,196 applications were rejected between 1998 and 2009, why they changed their old system of flagging problems, and how Cincinnati became the top field office for nonprofit applications.

Monday  20 May  2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   Reza Kahlili, author, A Time to Betray, in re: HEZBOLLAH PREPARING TO ATTACK ISRAEL, COMMANDER SAYS  Hezbollah is in the final stage of preparation to attack Israel with sophisticated weapons, according to a high-level commander of the terrorist group.   Tabnak, an outlet of Iran’s Islamic regime, said an unidentified Hezbollah commander, in an interview with the Kuwaiti paper Alrai, thanked Syrian President Bashar Assad for keeping his promise to provide those weapons to Hezbollah.  “The weapons given to Hezbollah will change the balance of power,” he said.

“We have in recent days done extensive operations for reconnaissance on Israel’s central and sensitive military and infrastructural installations in different areas and also on Israel’s commando posts and peacekeeping forces in the Golan Heights,” he said, “to prepare for the coming battle with the occupying regime.”  The commander revealed some of the weapons given by Syria to Hezbollah, including Pantsir (SA-22 Greyhound) surface-to-air missiles, SAM 5 surface-to-air missiles and the Russian anti-tank Kornet missiles. However, the commander also hinted that soon Hezbollah will receive the advanced and dreaded ship-killer Yakhont missiles from Assad.  [more]

Hour Four

Monday  20May  2013 / Hour 4, Block A: Meghan Irons, Boston Globe, in re: 200 Harvard Students Demand Investigation into Jason Richwine's Thesis on Hispanic IQ  ThinkProgress.  The thesis was written by Jason Richwine, a co-author of a paper by the conservative Heritage Foundation that argued immigration reform ..

Monday 20 May  2013 / Hour 4, Block B:   Gene Countryman, KNSS Wichita, in re: massive tornado tears up Moore, Oklahoma, due north of Dallas and due south of Wichita. At least 51 dead, 20 of them children Two schools hit, one reduced to utter rubble, the other had its façade and roof torn off. Twenty-four hours ago, amidst storm warnings, Gene heard sounds in the middle of the night.  The owner of the big theater in Moore that was damaged lives in Wichita; the bowling alley right next door to it was obliterated. The weather here became too humid too quickly, then I heard what sounded like a 747 circling right above my house; the actual tornado was sighted near the airport, lifted up again, sky grew very dark. The noise was fearful, and thunder crashed, but fortunately the tornado didn't hit my home. If you're in a mobile home, you need to leave it - most mobile home parks now have community safe spaces. In a regular house, get into the basement, or even in the bathtub - one woman held her child by the hair as the storm was trying to pull it away. Storms often arrive in daytime - then suddenly it'll leave and have the sun out, birds singing.  Most of 'em don’t get to the ground; and if they do, they're not as wide as this monster was. You just hope that it doesn’t hit you. My mother was so afraid, she built an actual concrete bunker in her basement.


Monday  20 May 2013 / Hour 4, Block C:  Nick Confessore, ProPublica, in re: Confusion and Staff Troubles Rife at I.R.S. Office in Ohio  The Senate is finally figuring out that Tom Perez hasn’t told them the truth about his activities as the Justice Department’s civil-rights chief. He may be filibustered. During the summer of 2010, the dozen or so accountants and tax agents of Group 7822 of the Internal Revenue Service office in Cincinnati got a directive from their manager. A growing number of organizations identifying themselves as part of the Tea Party had begun applying for tax exemptions, the manager said, advising the workers to be on the lookout for them and other groups planning to get involved in elections.

Monday 20 May  2013 / Hour 4, Block D: Anna Nemtsova, Daily Beast/Newsweek, in re: CIA Spy Nabbed in Russia?  Russia’s claim to have arrested an American spy.  Addtl story:  http://www.foreignpolicy [dot] com/articles/2013/05/15/the_cold_peace_between_moscow_and_washington_just_got_colder

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Hour 1:  Syriana; Frost Nixon

Hour 2:  Frost Nixon; Argo; House of Flying Daggers

Hour 3:  Frost Nixon

Hour 4: 

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