The CIA is preparing to deliver arms to rebel groups in Syria through clandestine bases in Turkey and Jordan that were expanded over the past year in an effort to establish reliable supply routes into the country for nonlethal material, U.S. officials said.
The bases are expected to begin conveying limited shipments of weapons and ammunition within weeks, officials said, serving as critical nodes for an escalation of U.S. involvement in a civil war that has lately seen a shift in momentum toward the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.
Areas in Syria with a rebel presence
A look at the Syrian uprising nearly two years later. Thousands of Syrians have died and President Bashar al-Assad remains in power, despite numerous calls by the international community for him to step down.
Syria experts cautioned that the opposition to Assad remains a chaotic mix of secular and Islamist elements, highlighting the risk that some American-provided munitions may be diverted from their intended recipients.
But U.S. officials involved in the planning of the new policy of increased military support announced by the Obama administration Thursday said that the CIA has developed a clearer understanding of the composition of rebel forces, which have begun to coalesce in recent months. Within the past year, the CIA also created a new office at its headquarters in Langley to oversee its expanding operational role in Syria.
“We have relationships today in Syria that we didn’t have six months ago,” Benjamin J. Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said during a White House briefing Friday. The United States is capable of delivering material “not only into the country,” Rhodes said, but “into the right hands.”
“The Syrian puzzle has come into sharper focus in the past year, especially the makeup of various anti-regime groups,” said a U.S. official familiar with CIA assessments of the conflict. “And while the opposition remains far from monolithic, its military structures and coordination processes have improved.”
The official, like most others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence assessments and planning.
The increased certainty is one of several factors that led to the reversal of a U.S. policy against providing lethal aid that had been in place since the uprising began in Syria more than two years ago.
Rhodes said the change was driven by a new determination by U.S. intelligence agencies that Assad’s regime had used chemical weapons, including sarin gas, on at least four separate occasions. Obama also faced mounting pressure to intervene more aggressively as members of Congress and overseas allies became increasingly alarmed that Assad’s forces were gaining strength with expanded assistance from Russia and Iran.
For the CIA, the shift on Syria marks a return to a covert-action role that was familiar to the agency during Cold War-era conflicts but that gave way to increasingly direct lethal operations as the agency’s drone campaign surged in the years following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Photo provided by the Egyptian Presidency shows Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi addressing the audience at a popular conference in Cairo, June 15, 2013. Morsi on Saturday announced cutting ties with Syria, shutting down the Syrian embassy in Cairo and withdrawing the Egyptian charge d’affaires from Damascus, at a popular conference aired on state TV. (Xinhua/Egyptian Presidency)
by Mahmoud Fouly, Tian Dongdong
CAIRO, June 16 (Xinhua) — The recent decision of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to cut diplomatic ties with Syria is “harmonious” with the Western policies against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, especially that it comes after the United States approved providing arms for the Syrian opposition, analysts said.
On Saturday evening, Morsi told a conference in Cairo that he decided to shut down the Syrian embassy in Cairo and withdraw the Egyptian charge d’ affaires from Damascus.
“This is a step that conforms with the recent U.S. escalation to arm the Syrian rebels against Assad’s administration and conforms with its deliberation over imposing a no-fly zone on Syria,” Gamal Salama, head of political science department at Suez University, told Xinhua.
Salama said Egypt is one of the countries “revolving in the U.S. sphere,” and these U.S. allies always make decisions that go in harmony with the U.S. plans.
(Reuters) – The United States said on Saturday it would keep F-16 fighters and Patriot missiles in Jordan at Amman’s request, and Russia bristled at the possibility they could be used to enforce a no-fly zone inside Syria.
Washington, which has long called for President Bashar al-Assad to step down, pledged military support to Syrian rebels this week, citing what it said was the Syrian military’s use of chemical weapons – an allegation Damascus has denied.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved a Jordanian request for American F-16s and Patriot missiles to remain in the Western-backed kingdom after a joint military exercise there next week, a Pentagon spokesman said.
Western diplomats said on Friday Washington was considering a limited no-fly zone over parts of Syria, but the White House noted later that it would be far harder and costlier to set one up there than it was in Libya, saying the United States had no national interest in pursuing that option.
Russia, an ally of Damascus and fierce opponent of outside military intervention in Syria, said any attempt to impose a no-fly zone using F-16s and Patriots from Jordan would be illegal.
“You don’t have to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
The idea of a no-fly zone was endorsed by Egypt, the biggest Arab nation. President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist more distant from Washington than his deposed military predecessor, made a keynote speech in Cairo throwing Egypt’s substantial weight more firmly than before against President Bashar al-Assad.
Despite their differences, the United States and Russia announced in May they would try to convene peace talks involving the Syrian government and its opponents, but have set no date.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said chemical attacks by Syrian forces and Hezbollah’s involvement on Assad’s side showed a lack of commitment to negotiations and threatened to “put a political settlement out of reach”.
Kerry had not previously expressed such pessimism about prospects for the conference, which has run into many obstacles.
These include disarray in the Syrian opposition and military gains by the Syrian army and its Lebanese Hezbollah allies against rebels who have few ways to counter Assad’s air power.
The involvement of Hezbollah fighters on the side of Assad, a fellow ally of the main Shi’ite power Iran, has galvanized Arab governments, including Egypt, behind the rebels, who mostly follow the Sunni version of Islam that dominates the Arab world.
That has hardened sectarian confrontation across the region, which some Arabs hope might be softened by the election of the moderate Hassan Rohani as Iran’s president – though few believe he can truly influence Tehran’s supreme leader.
Mursi, addressing thousands of cheering supporters at a stadium gathering organized by Egyptian Sunni clerics, demanded Hezbollah pull out of Syria and, after his Muslim Brotherhood joined calls for jihad against Assad and his Shi’ite allies, the president said Cairo had now cut diplomatic ties with Damascus.
Egypt’s powerful, U.S.-backed army seems unlikely to involve itself in Syria, but religious passions are running high and more Egyptian volunteers could travel to join the rebels.
A firefighter fights a blaze near Black Forest, Colorado, on Wednesday, June 12. The Black Forest Fire is one of two major wildfires near Colorado Springs. The other, the Royal Gorge Fire, is threatening the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge.
The remains of two people killed trying to flee the most destructive Colorado wildfire on record have been found as crews fight to keep the fierce, wind-driven blaze from roaring into the outskirts of Colorado Springs. The blaze has ripped across more than 24-square-miles (6215 hectares) of rolling, forested terrain northeast of Colorado Springs since it erupted on Tuesday, forcing some 38,000 people to flee their homes. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said the dead, who have not been publicly identified, were recovered on Thursday (Friday NZT) from the garage of one of at least 360 homes destroyed by the so-called Black Forest Fire near the state’s second-largest city. Maketa indicated the blaze could be the work of an arsonist or the result of negligence, telling reporters that a criminal investigation was under way.
He told Reuters there were no signs of lightning strikes in the area when the fire began. News of the first two casualties from the monster blaze came as fire-fighters made their first measurable progress against the fire, managing to carve containment lines around 5% of the fire’s perimeter. Maketa said the victims had been on the phone as the flames closed in on their home. “The person they were speaking with said he could hear popping and cracking in the background and they (the two people) advised they were leaving right now,” Maketa said. “We were truly hoping that we could get from day-to-day without coming across news like this.” With the fire still burning largely unchecked and driven by erratic 30-mile-per-hour (48-kilometre-per-hour) winds that showed no sign of diminishing, officials ordered mandatory evacuations of about 1000 homes in the northern tip of Colorado Springs that were considered to be in imminent danger. “Load your family, and pets and GO NOW,” the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet. The area lies just to the east of the US Air Force Academy. A voluntary evacuation alert was issued for another 2000 homes in Colorado Springs, advising those residents to be ready to flee at a moment’s notice, as embers drifted over the city.
A voracious wildfire driven in all directions by shifting winds destroyed at least 360 homes – a number that was likely to climb as the most destructive blaze in Colorado history burned out of control for a third day through miles of tinder-dry woods. The destruction northeast of Colorado Springs on Thursday surpassed last June’s Waldo Canyon fire, which burned 347 homes, killed two people and caused $353 million in insurance claims just 15 miles to the southwest. The heavy losses were blamed in part on explosive population growth in areas with historically high fire risk. “I never in my wildest dreams imagined we’d be dealing a year later with a very similar circumstance,” said El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, who drew audible gasps as he announced the number of homes lost to the blaze in Black Forest. Hours later, residents of 1,000 homes in Colorado Springs were ordered to evacuate. Thursday’s evacuation was the first within the city limits. About 38,000 other people living across roughly 70 square miles were already under orders to get out. Colorado’s second-largest city, with a population of 430,000, also asked residents of 2,000 more homes to be ready to evacuate. The streets became gridlocked with hundreds of cars while emergency vehicles raced by on shoulders. Hot, gusty winds fanned the 23-square-mile wildfire, sending it into new areas and back into places that had previously been spared. Even investigators sent in to determine the cause of the fire were pulled out for safety reasons. No injuries or deaths have been reported. The Red Cross said more than 800 people stayed at shelters. Black Forest, where the blaze began, offers a case study in the challenges of tamping down wildfires in Colorado and across the West, especially with growing populations, rising temperatures and a historic drought. Developers describe Black Forest as the largest contiguous stretch of ponderosa pine in the United States – a thick, wide carpet of vegetation rolling down from the Rampart Range that thins out to the high grasslands of Colorado’s eastern plains. Once home to rural towns and summer cabins, it is now dotted with million-dollar homes and gated communities – the result of the state’s population boom over the past two decades.
Thousands of people were allowed to return home Saturday evening, after fire crews increased their hold on the Black Forest fire. Many more, though, remained displaced, and officials asked those blaze-battered residents for patience while firefighters finish the job. At an afternoon news conference, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said residents living in certain areas on the northern and northwestern edges of the mandatory evacuation zone around the fire would be allowed to go home at 8 p.m. Saturday. The re-opened area accounted for about a quarter of the remaining mandatory evacuation zone, Maketa estimated. Earlier in the day, officials had lifted voluntary and mandatory evacuations for areas in Elbert County and on the fire’s western and southwestern sides in El Paso County. Maketa said he expected Colorado 83 would re-open in both directions Saturday night. The American Red Cross also announced it would be closing two of its three shelters serving the fire. Only the shelter at Palmer Ridge High School in Monument remained open Saturday evening. Rich Harvey, the federal incident commander managing firefighting efforts, said crews had success Saturday in problem areas of the blaze and expected to attack it with equal vigor on Sunday. The fire is now 55 percent contained, Harvey said. Full containment could come mid-week. “We did make good progress all around the fire today,” Harvey said. But the good news was tempered by a new assessment that raised the number of homes destroyed in the fire to 483. And, five days after the fire started, the strain on those still out of their homes began to show. Several dozen residents of Black Forest attended a midday news conference with questions about when they could return to their houses, many of which – if still standing â have remained vacant since Tuesday.
Two dead as firefighters battle Colorado blaze
By Ashley Fantz. Dana Ford and Paul Vercammen, CNN
updated 1:14 PM EDT, Fri June 14, 2013
An orange sky highlights a fire on Thursday, June 13, that has been burning since June 11 near Colorado Springs. Two major wildfires are scorching thousands of acres and destroying hundreds of homes in the state.
Wildfires spread across Colorado
NEW: The two victims may have been trying to evacuate
NEW: “If it’s a draw, that’s a victory today,” sheriff says
The Black Forest Fire has scorched at least 15,700 acres
Colorado Springs, Colorado (CNN) — Firefighters made little headway Thursday against a raging wildfire near Colorado Springs, Colorado, which has scorched close to 16,000 acres, destroyed 360 homes and claimed at least two lives.
Witnesses spoke to the two victims in the afternoon, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa told reporters.
“They said that they could see a glow to the west. They were packing their personal belongings, trying to get out,” he said.
Earlier, county spokesman Dave Rose told CNN that the Black Forest Fire, burning northeast of the city, now appears to be the most destructive in terms of property lost in state history.
Some 750 firefighters were battling the blaze, which was 5% contained late Thursday. With the help of helicopters and air tankers, they established a loose perimeter.
“The fire is very, very active within the containment area, and we don’t have a high level of confidence at all that we’ll be able to hold all of these lines around this fire,” Rose said.
The fire’s evacuation area was 93,000 acres, affecting approximately 38,000 people and 13,000 homes, and the flames were estimated to have burned through 15,700 acres, said Maketa.
That marked a dramatic increase from the 8,500 acres officials said had been burned by Wednesday night, he noted.
After he spoke, residents of about 1,000 homes in Colorado Springs were told to evacuate.
“Wind is probably our No. 1 threat,” the sheriff said. Combined with dry brush and high temperatures, the winds have fanned devastating flames.
Maketa struggled to find a phrase to describe how ferocious the fire is, settling on “very dynamic.”
“If it’s a draw, that’s a victory today because we haven’t had too many draws in the last couple of days,” he said.
‘The flames were there’
Among those who lost their home were husband and wife, Jaenette and Kristian Coyne.
“We literally had five minutes, and we left because it was, the flames were there,” Jaenette Coyne told CNN’s AC360 Thursday night.
She said she grabbed a baby album and a personal computer with pictures on it. She also took a firebox, which contained most of the couple’s important documents.
The Coynes actually saw their home burn on live TV.
“It was probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life. You have that moment where you say: ‘Is that really my house?’ But we know it was. However, now I’m grateful that I know. A lot of people here just don’t know,” Jaenette Coyne said.
A public health alert has been issued for anyone who visited the BJ’s Wholesale Club in Watchung, N.J., between 1:30 and 4 p.m. on June 3. State health officials say a person confirmed to have measles may have exposed those at the store to the highly contagious illness. The state is urging anyone who visited the BJ’s at the time to contact a health provider to discuss potential exposure and risk of measles. Measles is spread through the air when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes. People can also get sick when they come in contact with mucus or saliva from an infected person. Symptoms include a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes. Those exposed at the BJ’s may develop symptoms as late as June 24.
Bacteria and viruses that cause only mild disease to humans, or are difficult to contract via aerosol in a lab setting, such as hepatitis A, B, and C, influenza A, Lyme disease, salmonella, mumps, measles, scrapie, dengue fever, and HIV. “Routine diagnostic work with clinical specimens can be done safely at Biosafety Level 2, using Biosafety Level 2 practices and procedures. Research work (including co-cultivation, virus replication studies, or manipulations involving concentrated virus) can be done in a BSL-2 (P2) facility, using BSL-3 practices and procedures. Virus production activities, including virus concentrations, require a BSL-3 (P3) facility and use of BSL-3 practices and procedures”, see Recommended Biosafety Levels for Infectious Agents.
Measles Case Confirmed at Popular NJ Supermarket
State health officials say a person confirmed to have measles may have exposed those at the store to Measles
Friday, Jun 14, 2013 | Updated 11:19 AM EDT
A public health alert has been issued for anyone who visited the BJ’s Wholesale Club in Watchung, N.J., between 1:30 and 4 p.m. on June 3.
State health officials say a person confirmed to have measles may have exposed those at the store to the highly contagious illness.
The state is urging anyone who visited the BJ’s at the time to contact a health provider to discuss potential exposure and risk of measles.
I hate to do this but I feel obligated to share, as the story unfolds, my creeping concern that the NSA leaker is not who he purports to be, and that the motivations involved in the story may be more complex than they appear to be. This is in no way to detract from the great courage of Glenn Greenwald in reporting the story, and the gutsiness of the Guardian in showcasing this kind of reporting, which is a service to America that US media is not performing at all. It is just to raise some cautions as the story unfolds, and to raise some questions about how it is unfolding, based on my experience with high-level political messaging.
Some of Snowden’s emphases seem to serve an intelligence/police state objective, rather than to challenge them.
a) He is super-organized, for a whistleblower, in terms of what candidates, the White House, the State Dept. et al call ‘message discipline.’ He insisted on publishing a power point in the newspapers that ran his initial revelations. I gather that he arranged for a talented filmmaker to shoot the Greenwald interview. These two steps — which are evidence of great media training, really ‘PR 101″ — are virtually never done (to my great distress) by other whistleblowers, or by progressive activists involved in breaking news, or by real courageous people who are under stress and getting the word out. They are always done, though, by high-level political surrogates.
b) In the Greenwald video interview, I was concerned about the way Snowden conveys his message. He is not struggling for words, or thinking hard, as even bright, articulate whistleblowers under stress will do. Rather he appears to be transmitting whole paragraphs smoothly, without stumbling. To me this reads as someone who has learned his talking points — again the way that political campaigns train surrogates to transmit talking points.
c) He keeps saying things like, “If you are a journalist and they think you are the transmission point of this info, they will certainly kill you.” Or: “I fully expect to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act.” He also keeps stressing what he will lose: his $200,000 salary, his girlfriend, his house in Hawaii. These are the kinds of messages that the police state would LIKE journalists to take away; a real whistleblower also does not put out potential legal penalties as options, and almost always by this point has a lawyer by his/her side who would PROHIBIT him/her from saying, ‘come get me under the Espionage Act.” Finally in my experience, real whistleblowers are completely focused on their act of public service and trying to manage the jeopardy to themselves and their loved ones; they don’t tend ever to call attention to their own self-sacrifice. That is why they are heroes, among other reasons. But a police state would like us all to think about everything we would lose by standing up against it.
In June, 1942, the United States Navy achieved one of history’s greatest naval triumphs over the Imperial Japanese Navy, thanks to a combination of brilliant leadership, plain good luck, and code-breaking.
US carrier-based dive bombers led by the intrepid Commander Wade McClusky Jr. swiftly sank three Japanese carriers. A fourth Japanese carrier was sunk soon after.
Midway turned the course of the Pacific naval war and spelled inevitable defeat for Japan in World War II.
US Navy code breakers had secretly deciphered Japan’s naval codes, so US Admiral Nimitz knew the Japanese fleet’s movements and timing. Nimitz positioned three US carriers northwest of Hawaii and ambushed the oncoming Japanese fleet heading for Hawaii.
Code breaking played a key role in the Allied WWII victory. The British and Soviets also broke many German military codes. The decisive battle of Kursk and the U-boat war were primarily won thanks to code breaking. Ever since, the US has made signals intelligence (SIGINT) a key part of military operations.
Fast forward to last week’s furor over electronic snooping under the PRISM program by the US National Security Agency (NSA) into America’s nine big internet providers. We should not have been surprised. Surveillance and spying cannot be stopped unless forcefully constrained. Intelligence, like fire, to quote Ben Franklin, is “a useful servant; but a terrible master.”
The National Security Agency is America’s largest but least known spy agency. In the military, we used to jokingly call NSA, “No Such Agency.” I was invited to join NSA at the end of my US Army days, but declined.
Investigative author James Bamford has written fine books and articles about the top secret workings of NSA. Way back in the 1960’s, we knew that NSA could listen in to almost every foreign embassy in Washington and many military transmissions around the globe.
When I was covering Moscow, NSA managed to eves drop on the private phone of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. We also know that NSA’s secret “ECHELON” system was hovering up phone and fax messages around the globe.
That was fine – overseas. At home, the Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot listen to the private communications of Americans.
MCMINNVILLE — It was indeed a tornado that damaged several buildings late Thursday afternoon in the community of McMinnville, the National Weather Service has confirmed.
Nobody was hurt, but three commercial buildings, all of them used for storage, were damaged, McMinnville Fire Chief Rich Leipfert said. The porch roof on one nearby home also sustained minor damage, Leipfert said.
A two-person NWS storm survey team dispatched to the scene confirmed the damage was caused by a tornado.
The tornado’s estimated top winds in the most damaged area ranged from 86 to 90 miles per hour, Weather Service meteorologist Treena Hartley said late Thursday night. That puts it in the EF1 storm category.
Elsewhere it was defined by the damage found as an EF0. That class of storm has winds from 65-85 mph, Hartley said.
“I was just across the way and I saw the whole roof roll up off of the building,” Kelly McDonald, managing partner of a nearby development, told the Yamhill Valley News-Register. “I wish I’d had the presence of mind to take a picture. I was just trying to get everyone inside.”
By DEB RIECHMANN and LOLITA C. BALDOR Associated Press
WASHINGTON June 15, 2013 (AP)
The Obama administration hopes its decision to give lethal aid to Syrian rebels will prompt other nations to beef up assistance, now that the U.S. has cited evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people. But the international reaction Friday ranged from flat-out disbelief of the U.S. intelligence assessments to calls for negotiation before more weapons pour into the vicious civil war.
The administration now says it has “high confidence” that President Bashar Assad’s forces have killed up to 150 people with sarin gas. Although that’s a tiny percentage of the approximately 93,000 killed in the civil war so far, the use of a chemical weapon crosses President Barack Obama’s “red line” for escalating U.S. involvement in the conflict and prompted the decision to send arms and ammunition, not just humanitarian aid and defensive non-lethal help like armored vests and night goggles.
The administration’s plan heading into the G8 meeting of industrialized nations beginning Monday is to use the chemical weapons announcement and Obama’s decision on arms to persuade Russia to increase pressure on Assad to send a credible negotiating team to Geneva for talks with the opposition.
In addition, Obama is expected to use the G8 meeting and discussions on the sidelines to further coordinate with the British, French and potentially others an increase of assistance — lethal, non-lethal and humanitarian — to the rebels, the political opposition and refugees.
In a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said the United States has determined that sarin was used in a March 19 attack on the Aleppo suburb of Khan al-Assal and in an April 13 attack on the neighborhood of Shaykh Maqsud. She said unspecified chemicals, possibly including chemical warfare agents, were used May 14 in an attack on Qasr Abu Samrah and in a May 23 attack on Adra.
U.S. officials have not disclosed any details about the weapons they intend to send to Syria or when and how they will be delivered. According to officials, the U.S. is most likely to provide the rebel fighters with small arms, ammunition, assault rifles and a variety of anti-tank weaponry such as shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenades and other missiles.
As of Friday, however, no final decisions had been made on the details or when it would reach the rebels, according to the officials, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal administration discussions with reporters.
Obama has consistently said he will not put American troops in Syria, making it less likely the U.S. will provide sophisticated arms or anti-aircraft weapons that would require large-scale training. Administration officials are also worried about high-powered weapons ending up in the hands of terrorist groups. Hezbollah fighters are among those backing Assad’s armed forces, and al-Qaida-linked extremists back the rebellion.
The lethal aid will largely be coordinated by the CIA, but that effort will also be buttressed by an increased U.S. military presence in Jordan.
Pentagon spokesman Dave Lapan sent the following statement to The Daily Beast after this story posted: “There is no new planning effort underway. The Joint Staff, along with the relevant combatant commanders, continue to conduct prudent planning for a range of possible military options.”
Along with no-fly zone plans, the White House is considering arming parts of the Syrian opposition and formally recognizing the Syrian opposition council, reports Josh Rogin.
The White House has asked the Pentagon to draw up plans for a no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced by the U.S. and other countries such as France and Great Britain, two administration officials told The Daily Beast.
The request was made shortly before Secretary of State John Kerry toured the Middle East last week to try and finalize plans for an early June conference between the Syrian regime and rebel leaders in Geneva. The opposition, however, has yet to confirm its attendance and is demanding that the end of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s rule be a precondition for negotiations, a condition Assad is unlikely to accept.
President Obama’s dual-track strategy of continuing to pursue a political solution to the two-year-old uprising in Syria while also preparing for more direct U.S. military involvement includes authorizing the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the first time to plan for multilateral military actions inside Syria, the two officials said. They added that no decisions on actually using force have yet been made.
“The White House is still in contemplation mode but the planning is moving forward and it’s more advanced than it’s ever been,” one administration official told The Daily Beast. “All this effort to pressure the regime is part of the overall effort to find a political solution, but what happens if Geneva fails? It’s only prudent to plan for other options.”
In a May 8 meeting of the National Security Council Principals Committee, the White House tasked several agencies with reporting on the pros and cons of two additional potential courses of action: arming vetted and moderate elements of the Syrian opposition, such as the Free Syrian Army, and formally recognizing the Syrian opposition council as the government of Syria, which would mean removing formal U.S. recognition of the Assad regime.
Sen. John McCain—who’s advocated for more aggressive U.S. support of the Syrian rebels and who traveled secretly into the country Monday to meet with the leaders of the Free Syrian Army—told The Daily Beast last week that despite the request for plans he doubts the White House will decide to implement a no-fly zone in Syria. The Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs are opposed to the idea, he said.
“One thing about the Pentagon, if they don’t want to do something, they will tell you all sorts of reasons why they can’t do it. It’s going to take significant pressure for them to come up with realistic plans,” McCain said. “They will invent ways for us not to do it until the president of the United States says we’ve got to do it.”
McCain said a realistic plan for a no-fly zone would include hundreds of planes, and would be most effective if it included destroying Syrian airplanes on runways, bombing those runways, and moving U.S. Patriot missile batteries in Turkey close to the border so they could protect airspace inside northern Syria.
In April, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense that the military was planning for a range of options in Syria but that he did not necessarily support using those options.
Is Obama Starting A War With Syria Just To Distract Us From All The Scandals?
By Michael, on June 13th, 2013
Well, isn’t that convenient? At the moment when the Obama administration is feeling more heat then ever before, it starts another war. Suddenly everyone in the mainstream media is talking all about Syria and not about the IRS scandal, Benghazi, NSA snooping or any of the other political scandals that have popped up in recent weeks. As if on cue, Obama made headlines all over the globe on Thursday by claiming that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against the rebels “multiple times”, and that the U.S. was now ready to do more to assist the rebels. That assistance is reportedly going to include “military support” for the rebels and a no-fly zone over at least part of Syria is being discussed. Without a doubt, these are acts of war, and this conflict is not going to end until Assad has been ousted. But Assad will not go quietly. And all it would take is for Assad to fire a couple of missiles at Tel Aviv for a huge regional war to erupt in the Middle East. And what happens if Russia or China decides to get involved in the conflict in Syria? Obama is playing with fire, but he has shown again and again that he is willing to do virtually anything if it will benefit him politically.
As far as the Obama administration is concerned, there is no such thing as a coincidence. The timing of this announcement regarding Syria was not an accident. If Obama wanted to use chemical weapons as an excuse to go after Syria he could have done it weeks ago, or he could have waited several more months before taking action. He chose to do it right now for a reason, and hopefully the American people will be able to see right through this.
So exactly what are we going to be doing for the Syrian rebels? Well, we will definitely be arming them and training them. And it is probably reasonable to assume that there will be American “advisers” on the ground inside Syria helping to organize the Syrian resistance. In fact, according to Debka, a large U.S. Marine force has already been deployed to the Jordanian border with Syria.
In addition, according to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. aircraft may be involved in enforcing a no-fly zone inside Syria…
A U.S. military proposal for arming Syrian rebels also calls for a limited no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced from Jordanian territory to protect Syrian refugees and rebels who would train there, according to U.S. officials.
Asked by the White House to develop options for Syria, military planners have said that creating an area to train and equip rebel forces would require keeping Syrian aircraft well away from the Jordanian border.
To do that, the military envisages creating a no-fly zone stretching up to 25 miles into Syria which would be enforced using aircraft flown from Jordanian bases and flying inside the kingdom, according to U.S. officials.
No matter how you slice it, the United States is now in a state of war with Syria. The only question is how “involved” we are going to get.
And several prominent Republicans are already rushing forward to applaud Barack Obama on this latest move. The following comes from a CBS News report…
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who met with the rebels last month and has been a vocal critic of the president’s Syria policy said in a joint statement with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.: “We appreciate the President’s finding that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on several occasions. We also agree with the President that this fact must affect U.S. policy toward Syria. The President’s red line has been crossed. U.S. credibility is on the line. Now is not the time to merely take the next incremental step. Now is the time for more decisive actions.”
But you know what? Many of these Syrian rebels have actually pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.
Yes, you read that correctly.
The whole point of the “war on terror” was to supposedly fight al-Qaeda, but now the U.S. military is allied with them.
20 Examples Of How America Is Rapidly Going Down The Toilet
By Michael, on June 13th, 2013
Deep corruption is eating away at every level of American society like cancer. We can see this in our families, we can see this in our businesses, and we can especially see this in our government. We have the highest rate of divorce in the world, we have the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the world, we have the highest rate of obesity in world, and nobody has higher rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes than we do. The suicide rate is soaring and our economy is falling apart. Meanwhile, our politicians seem absolutely clueless and we have piled up the biggest mountain of debt that the world has ever seen. Has America ever been in such bad shape before? The following are 20 examples of how America is rapidly going down the toilet…
#1 Why do so many members of the media have family members that work for the White House? Is this one of the reasons why the mainstream media is so soft on Obama? Just check out the following list which was recently compiled by the Washington Post…
The list of prominent news people with close White House relations includes ABC News President Ben Sherwood, who is the brother of Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, a top national-security adviser to President Obama. His counterpart at CBS, news division president David Rhodes, is the brother of Benjamin Rhodes, a key foreign-policy specialist. CNN’s deputy Washington bureau chief, Virginia Moseley, is married to Tom Nides, who until earlier this year was deputy secretary of state under Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Further, White House press secretary Jay Carney’s wife is Claire Shipman, a veteran reporter for ABC. And NPR’s White House correspondent, Ari Shapiro, is married to a lawyer, Michael Gottlieb, who joined the White House counsel’s office in April.
#2 Why are IRS agents training with AR-15 rifles? Exactly who do those IRS agents expect to be using those weapons against?
#3 The city of Detroit is on the verge of declaring the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history, but a 41-year-old city worker is about to starting drawing a $96,000 annual pension…
Matt Schenk isn’t your average retiree. He’s 41, works full-time and collects $194,000 a year at the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.
But as soon as next month, he’ll start collecting an estimated $96,000 annual pension, courtesy of an early retirement incentive offered to Wayne County appointees. It had no age restriction.
#4 The number of sexual assaults in the U.S. military is up 35 percent since 2010.
#5 The suicide rate for Americans between the ages of 35 and 64 rose by close to 30 percent between 1999 and 2010. The number of Americans that are killed by suicide now exceeds the number of Americans that die as a result of car accidents.
#6 The United States has the highest rate of obesity on the planet by far. The U.S. also has the highest rate of cancer, the highest rate of heart disease and the highest rate of diabetes.
#7 An illegal immigrant brutally raped and killed a 9-month-old girl in Richland, Washington recently, but you won’t hear anything about it from the big mainstream news networks because it might hurt the immigration bill being pushed through Congress.
#8 Even though the United States has been able to fully secure the border between North Korea and South Korea for the past 60 years, U.S. Senator Check Schumer says that it would take “years and years and years” to secure the border between the United States and Mexico.
#9 All over America illegal immigrants are turning pleasant communities into crime-infested cesspools. The following is what Doug Hoagland says is going on down in California…
Your brain will appreciate even a modest improvement in stroke risk factors.
This is not one of those posts that is going to beat you up for doing a crummy job exercising, eating better and all the other things you’re failing to do to ward off death.
Instead, this post is here to say that if you improve one thing just one teeny bit, it’s going to lower your risk of having a . So pick something, and stick to it.
Stroke, which happens when a blood vessel bursts or is blocked in the brain, is a leading cause of death and disability.
Scientists looked at seven factors known to affect stroke risk: cigarette smoking, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, physical activity and diet.
Most Americans aren’t doing so well on these. And most of us, knowing we’re supposed to be doing better on them all, just sigh and reach for the remote.
So the scientists dug into a large study that tracked 30,239 people to see how much improvement it takes to prevent stroke. The people were all over age 45 at the start, and the study lasted from 2003 to 2007.
The good news is it doesn’t take much to make a difference. Each risk factor for stroke was scored from 0 to 2, with 0 being crummy, 1 kind of OK, and 2 terrific. Even a one-point improvement in the total score across all seven factors significantly reduced stroke risk. Each improvement of a point on the 14-point scale meant an 8 percent reduction in stroke.
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