Monthly Archives: June 2016

China Expected to Reject Peaceful Resolution of Pacific Dispute

The world’s most dangerous maritime dispute is awaiting a ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.China has unlawfully laid claim to almost the entire oceanic area known as the South China Sea, and which the Philippines call the West Philippine Sea.  It encompasses a 1,400,000 square mile region from Singapore and the Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan. A third of the planet’s shipping transits through it, and huge deposits of oil and gas, as well as a wealth of fish, are contained within.The Philippines initiated proceedings against Beijing in accordance with the United Nations Law of the Sea.  International Law would classify maritime features, including hundreds of very small uninhabited spots, many of which are now questionably claimed and some occupied by China’s military, as rocks, low tide elevations, or submerged banks, but not islands, which overturns China’s claims to use those already disputed sites as a way to extend its claims over ocean areas.The Philippines simply seek to have the right to operate within its own exclusive economic zone restored and have access to its key offshore areas without Chinese harassment.China has already stated that it has no intention of abiding by the results, and rejects the jurisdiction of The Hague.  In other related disputes in the area, Beijing has not been cooperative in attempts to negotiate the issue through regional talks, preferring to deal separately with each national claimant, a tactic that allows it to use armed intimidation as an effective tool. China’s General Luo Yuan said his nation should be prepared for “war at all costs” to enforce its claims, according to a commentary posted on china.org.cn.

Writing in the Asia Times   National Security author Bill Gertz writes that “China’s takeover of the South China Sea is nearly complete and Beijing is now stepping up its sophisticated information warfare campaign in preparation for an expected unfavorable ruling from an international tribunal affecting its island claims… The strategic goal of China in the South China Sea is to solidify control over the waters without firing a shot, in much the same way as Russia was able to do with its military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in March 2014. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) refers to this as the use of “military soft power.”

During the past several years, unrestrained by a weakened American navy and an irresolute President, China has laid claim to most of the South China Sea region. The basis of China’s claim is what it describes as a “Nine Dash Line,” which, according to U.S. sources,  is “a Chinese map of the South China Sea showing nine line segments that, if connected, would enclose an area covering roughly 90% [of the entire region.] …The area inside the nine line segments far exceeds what is claimable as territorial waters under customary international law of the sea… and includes waters that are within the claimable [and internationally recognized]  (and in some places are quite near the coasts) of the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam.”

Under the Obama Administration, little of substance has been done to discourage China’s aggressive actions.  The White House has refused to side with America’s allies such as the Philippines or Japan when China engaged in provocative actions against those nations. Even as China used force in furtherance of its goals, all the U.S. Administration did was to encourage a “peaceful resolution,” an act which some has said was a betrayal of allies, and a complete denial of the rule of law which objective observers note rejects Beijing’s claims.

President Obama has emphasized what the Administration describes as a “pivot to Asia” of U.S. armed forces, in response to China’s actions.  However, the substance of the pivot involves comparatively little force, since the U.S. navy is now a shadow of its former size, the smallest it has been since before World War 1, and China, in contrast, has dramatically built up the size of its forces.  It now has more submarines than the U.S. Navy, and its fleet will outnumber America’s within four years.  Beijing also has extraordinary new land based weapons, such as the DF-21missile which can destroy American naval vessels at a distance of 900 miles.

The President has concluded agreements with Vietnam as a means to stiffen regional resistance. However, speaking in Hawaii, Mr. Obama denied the deal was aimed at China.

Benghazi Report Reveals Lies, incompetence

The Select Committee on Benghazi has released its report and the information presents a stunningly terrible picture of a U.S. State Department in complete negligence, failing to comply with requests to strengthen the facility. It reveals in unmistakable measure that the Administration knowingly lied to the American people about the cause of the attack. It reveals that an antiterrorism team was indeed stopped from proceeding. It also demonstrates that remnants of the Qadhafi regime, which the Obama Administration intentionally helped overthrow, attempted to assist the U.S., opening up again the question of why the Obama Administration has repeatedly engaged in efforts which assisted extremist forces against nonthreatening regimes.

A summary of the report from the Committee:

The committee’s proposed report is just over 800 pages long and is comprised of five primary sections and 12 appendices. It details relevant events in 2011 and 2012.

The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part I:

  • Despite President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s clear orders to deploy military assets,[to protect the site in the period before the attack]  nothing was sent to Benghazi, and nothing was en route to Libya at the time the last two Americans were killed almost 8 hours after the attacks began.
  • With Ambassador Stevens missing, the White House convened a roughly two-hour meeting at 7:30 PM, which resulted in action items focused on a YouTube video, and others containing the phrases “[i]f any deployment is made,” and “Libya must agree to any deployment,” and “[w]ill not deploy until order comes to go to either Tripoli or Benghazi.”
  • The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff typically would have participated in the White House meeting, but did not attend because he went home to host a dinner party for foreign dignitaries. [pg. 107]
  • A Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) sat on a plane in Rota, Spain, for three hours, and changed in and out of their uniforms four times.
  • None of the relevant military forces met their required deployment timelines.
  • The Libyan forces that evacuated Americans from the CIA Annex to the Benghazi airport was not affiliated with any of the militias the CIA or State Department had developed a relationship with during the prior 18 months. Instead, it was comprised of former Qadhafi loyalists who the U.S. had helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution. [pg. 144]

Rep. Mike Pompeo (KS-04) released the following statement regarding these findings:

“We expect our government to make every effort to save the lives of Americans who serve in harm’s way. That did not happen in Benghazi. Politics were put ahead of the lives of Americans, and while the administration had made excuses and blamed the challenges posed by time and distance, the truth is that they did not try.”

Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) released the following statement regarding these findings:

“Our committee’s insistence on additional information about the military’s response to the Benghazi attacks was met with strong opposition from the Defense Department, and now we know why. Instead of attempting to hide deficiencies in our posture and performance, it’s my hope our report will help ensure we fix what went wrong so that a tragedy like this never happens again.”

The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part II:

  • Five of the 10 action items from the 7:30 PM White House meeting referenced the video, but no direct link or solid evidence existed connecting the attacks in Benghazi and the video at the time the meeting took place. The State Department senior officials at the meeting had access to eyewitness accounts to the attack in real time. The Diplomatic Security Command Center was in direct contact with the Diplomatic Security Agents on the ground in Benghazi and sent out multiple updates about the situation, including a “Terrorism Event Notification.” The State Department Watch Center had also notified Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills that it had set up a direct telephone line to Tripoli. There was no mention of the video from the agents on the ground. Greg Hicks—one of the last people to talk to Chris Stevens before he died—said there was virtually no discussion about the video in Libya leading up to the attacks.
  • The morning after the attacks, the National Security Council’s Deputy Spokesperson sent an email to nearly two dozen people from the White House, Defense Department, State Department, and intelligence community, stating: “Both the President and Secretary Clinton released statements this morning. … Please refer to those for any comments for the time being. To ensure we are all in sync on messaging for the rest of the day, Ben Rhodes will host a conference call for USG communicators on this chain at 9:15 ET today.”
  • Minutes before the President delivered his speech in the Rose Garden, Jake Sullivan wrote in an email to Ben Rhodes and others: “There was not really much violence in Egypt. And we are not saying that the violence in Libya erupted ‘over inflammatory videos.’”
  • According to Susan Rice, both Ben Rhodes and David Plouffe prepared her for her appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows following the attacks. Nobody from the FBI, Department of Defense, or CIA participated in her prep call. While Rhodes testified Plouffe would “normally” appear on the Sunday show prep calls, Rice testified she did not recall Plouffe being on prior calls and did not understand why he was on the call in this instance.
  • On the Sunday shows, Susan Rice stated the FBI had “already begun looking at all sorts of evidence” and “FBI has a lead in this investigation.” But on Monday, the Deputy Director, Office of Maghreb Affairs sent an email stating: “McDonough apparently told the SVTS [Secure Video Teleconference] group today that everyone was required to ‘shut their pieholes’ about the Benghazi attack in light of the FBI investigation, due to start tomorrow.”
  • After Susan Rice’s Sunday show appearances, Jake Sullivan assured the Secretary of the State that Rice “wasn’t asked about whether we had any intel. But she did make clear our view that this started spontaneously and then evolved.”
  • Susan Rice’s comments on the Sunday talk shows were met with shock and disbelief by State Department employees in Washington. The Senior Libya Desk Officer, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, State Department, wrote: “I think Rice was off the reservation on this one.” The Deputy Director, Office of Press and Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, State Department, responded: “Off the reservation on five networks!” The Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications, Bureau of Near East Affairs, State Department, wrote: “WH [White House] very worried about the politics. This was all their doing.”
  • The CIA’s September 13, 2012, intelligence assessment was rife with errors. On the first page, there is a single mention of “the early stages of the protest” buried in one of the bullet points. The article cited to support the mention of a protest in this instance was actually from September 4. In other words, the analysts used an article from a full week before the attacks to support the premise that a protest had occurred just prior to the attack on September 11.
  • A headline on the following page of the CIA’s September 13 intelligence assessment stated “Extremists Capitalized on Benghazi Protests,” but nothing in the actual text box supports that title. As it turns out, the title of the text box was supposed to be “Extremists Capitalized on Cairo Protests.” That small but vital difference—from Cairo to Benghazi—had major implications in how people in the administration were able to message the attacks.

Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-04) released the following statement regarding these findings:

“Obama Administration officials, including the Secretary of State, learned almost in real time that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Rather than tell the American people the truth, the administration told one story privately and a different story publicly.”

Rep. Peter Roskam (IL-06) released the following statement regarding these findings:

“In the days and weeks after the attacks, the White House worked to pin all of the blame for their misleading and incorrect statements on officials within the intelligence community, but in reality, political operatives like Ben Rhodes and David Plouffe were spinning the false narrative and prepping Susan Rice for her interviews.”

The following facts are among the many new revelations in Part III:

  • During deliberations within the State Department about whether and how to intervene in Libya in March 2011, Jake Sullivan listed the first goal as “avoid[ing] a failed state, particularly one in which al-Qaeda and other extremists might take safe haven.”
  • The administration’s policy of no boots on the ground shaped the type of military assistance provided to State Department personnel in Libya. The Executive Secretariats for both the Defense Department and State Department exchanged communications outlining the diplomatic capacity in which the Defense Department SST security team members would serve, which included wearing civilian clothes so as not to offend the Libyans.
  • When the State Department’s presence in Benghazi was extended in December 2012, senior officials from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security were excluded from the discussion.
  • In February 2012, the lead Diplomatic Security Agent at Embassy Tripoli informed his counterpart in Benghazi that more DS agents would not be provided by decision makers, because “substantive reporting” was not Benghazi’s purpose.
  • Emails indicate senior State Department officials, including Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and Huma Abedin were preparing for a trip by the Secretary of State to Libya in October 2012. According to testimony, Chris Stevens wanted to have a “deliverable” for the Secretary for her trip to Libya, and that “deliverable” would be making the Mission in Benghazi a permanent Consulate.
  • In August 2012—roughly a month before the Benghazi attacks—security on the ground worsened significantly. Ambassador Stevens initially planned to travel to Benghazi in early August, but cancelled the trip “primarily for Ramadan/security reasons.”
  • Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta bluntly told the committee “an intelligence failure” occurred with respect to Benghazi. Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell also acknowledged multiple times an intelligence failure did in fact occur prior to the Benghazi attacks.

Rep. Susan Brooks (IN-05) released the following statement regarding these findings:

“President Obama has said his worst mistake was ‘failing to plan for the day after … intervening in Libya.’ As a result of this ‘lead from behind’ foreign policy, the Libyan people were forced to make the dismal trade of the tyranny of Qadhafi for the terror of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and others. Although the State Department considered Libya a grave risk to American diplomats in 2011 and 2012, our people remained in a largely unprotected, unofficial facility that one diplomatic security agent the committee interviewed characterized as ‘a suicide mission.’”

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03) released the following statement regarding these findings:

“One of the most concerning parts of the State Department’s policy in Libya was its reliance upon the militias of an unstable nation to protect our men and women in Benghazi. These were by no means forces that could adequately protect Americans on the ground, and the State Department knew it. But the appearance of no boots on the ground was more important to the administration.”

Part IV of the report reveals new information about the Select Committee’s requests and subpoenas seeking documents and witnesses regarding Benghazi and Libya, and details what the Obama administration provided to Congress, what it is still withholding, and how its serial delays hindered the committee’s efforts to uncover the truth.

Part V proposes 25 recommendations for the Pentagon, State Department, Intelligence Community and Congress aimed at strengthening security for American personnel serving abroad and doing everything possible to ensure something like Benghazi never happens again, and if it does, that we are better prepared to respond, the majority make a series of recommendations.

The Select Committee intends to convene a bipartisan markup to discuss and vote on the proposed report on July 8, 2016. All members of the committee will have the opportunity to offer changes in a manner consistent with the rules of the House.

 

White House Refuses to Answer Benghazi Questions

The unexplained failure of both the President and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to explain their actions during the Benghazi attack, and the actions by House Democrats to shield them from doing so, is leading to a Constitutional Crisis.

Requests for written responses to questions by The Select Committee on Benghazi, under chair Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) have been rejected by Obama’s counsel Neil Eggleston, who alleges that even the mere act of requesting the information is a violation of the Constitutional separation of powers.  That’s an unprecedented act of arrogance. It is, however, completely consistent with the actions of this Chief Executive who has famously declared that he “can’t wait” for Congress to act, his numerous Executive Actions which infringe on the legislative authority of Congress, and his recent statement on an immigration decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in which he made it clear he would not comply.

Chairman Trey Gowdy  notes that “This committee’s thorough, fact-centered investigation has been repeatedly stonewalled by the Obama administration, Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, and Committee Democrats. Not only have they failed to identify a single administration witness worth talking to or a single document worth accessing in the past two years, they have affirmatively delayed the identification of witnesses and the production of unquestionably relevant documents. Committee Democrats have not lifted a finger to help the Select Committee speed up its investigation and release a report.”  The Committee notes that “Earlier this month, the Obama administration confirmed the committee went the extra mile to complete its investigation as soon as possible by helping the State Department get extra funding. In total, $6.5 million was reprogrammed so the State Department could speed up document production to Congress and the committee could complete its investigation faster.”

A minority report by the Committee’s Democrats contends that no lies were intentionally made by Mr. Obama or Secretary Clinton, a point overtly incorrect since emails sent by Ms. Clinton to her daughter clearly indicate that the then-Secretary of State knew that blaming the event on a Florida-originated video, as both she and the President alleged, were wrong.

While the Administration and House Democrats continue to portray inquiries as partisan attacks, the reality is that the now obvious lies (knowingly and repeatedly told to the U.S. public, the families of the fallen, and the world community) combined with the apparent decision not to retaliate in any meaningful way, and the poor decision regarding the removal of the prior Libyan regime in the first place, render White House cooperation with a Congressional investigation a necessity.

In order to justify the blatant refusal to lawfully comply with the Committee’s legitimate fact finding requests, The White House, Ms. Clinton, and House Democrats claim that the entire inquiry is based on partisan attempts to vilify Ms. Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign. The Minority Report, issued yesterday, concentrates heavily on attempting to insulate Ms. Clinton from criticism. Benghazi press secretary Matt Wolking noted:

“Benghazi Committee Democrats’ obsession with the former Secretary of State is on full display. For over two years they refused to participate in the Majority’s serious, fact-centered investigation. The dishonest Democrats on this committee falsely claimed everything had been ‘asked and answered.’ They said the committee had found ‘absolutely nothing new.’ If that’s changed, they should come clean and admit it. If not, everyone can ignore their rehashed, partisan talking points defending their endorsed candidate for president…A quick search of the Democrats 339 page Report reveals these telling facts…:

334 – Number of times “Clinton” appears

200 – Number of times “Republicans” appears

85 – Number of times “Stevens” appears

55 – Number of times “Blumenthal” appears

36 – Number of times “Smith” appears

23 – Number of times “Trump” appears – ?????

15 – Number of times “Doherty” appears

12 – Number of times “Brock” appears

8 – Number of times “Correct the Record” appears

6 – Number of times “Woods” appears

As serious as the Benghazi incident was, and as worrisome as the lies and ineptitude of the Obama Administration are, there is an even larger issue at stake. The continued actions of the Obama Administration to ignore the constitutional prerogatives of the legislative branch and the requirement to follow the decisions of the judicial branch are an existential threat to the entire framework of American government.

Personal Freedom Under Attack

As Independence Day approaches, it is appropriate to recall that individual freedom was the central concept that inspired the birth of the United States two hundred and forty years ago.

Increasingly, however, that idea is imperiled by the rapid growth of government power to limit the personal, economic, and political rights of citizens. Particularly over the past seven and one-half years, key portions of the Bill of Rights, which legally enshrines American freedom, have been frequently attacked, treated as an irrelevancy, or wholly ignored on both the state and federal levels. The First, Second, Fourth, Ninth and Tenth Amendments—one half of the entire document– have all been subjected to this.

Throughout most of U.S. history, freedom of speech has been considered the most precious of personal liberties, and the First Amendment had been treated as sacrosanct.  Disturbingly, that respect has sharply diminished in several ways. Campaign finance regulations seek to regulate how positions are publicized in elections. Obamacare demands that religious organizations put aside their beliefs. In many public and private colleges, students who stray from left-wing orthodoxy are penalized. Federal agencies have been hijacked for partisan use. Local governments have even become involved in the personal dietary choices of individuals. (Philadelphia recently imposed a soda tax, which may only be the first of laws throughout the nation that will infringe on the rights of people to determine what to eat or drink.)

The institutions of the national government, including the IRS and the Department of Justice, have been used to attack those that use their freedom of speech to lawfully disagree with the Executive Branch of government. Various state attorneys general have harassed think tanks that merely question the actions of the Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. Attorney General has considered criminally prosecuting those that disagree with the White House position on climate change.

During her 2009 nominating hearing, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan refused to agree with the concept of unalienable rights, a foundational concept of America expressed in the Declaration of Independence itself as a reason for the separation from England.   In 2012, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, speaking in Cairo, Egypt, said that if she were writing a constitution for a new nation, she wouldn’t use the U.S. constitution as a model.

The President has surrendered internet control to an international organization comprised of several member states that believe censorship is justifiable, and during his tenure in office, sought to have Federal Communications Commission monitors placed in newsrooms.

In the aftermath of the Benghazi attack, Mr. Obama and Secretary Clinton blamed an American video for the assault. Adding insult to injury, it turned out that the video had nothing to do with the incident, yet both still cling to the fabrication.

Writing in MoodyMedia, Dr. Edwin Lutzer notes:  “The censurers, the radicals who are all too ready to deny freedom to those who disagree with them, are perceived in our culture as “tolerant,” and [those who disagree] are viewed as “intolerant.” In other words, the philosophy of the left is preach tolerance, but practice inflexible intolerance to anyone who has the courage to express a different point of view.”

Even in the conduct of our national safety, rather than give full-throated fury at the horrible philosophy of Jihadi extremists who perpetuated the devastating tragedies in Orlando, Fort Hood, and San Bernardino, U.S. government at the highest levels spoke with far more fervor about limiting the Second Amendment rather than increased military action against the bigoted radicals who hate personal liberty.

The misplaced emphasis on restricting the practice of freedom rather than attack those who would abolish it can also be seen in the continuing power of government to invade the privacy of the citizenry, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Many small businesses have been jeopardized by financial regulations ostensibly emplaced to detect illicit foreign funds transfers, but which have in practice accomplished little or nothing.

There was a time when Americans jealously guarded their personal rights.  Over the past several years, however, Washington’s reflexive response to almost every problem has been to adopt new executive actions or agency regulations (Imposed without the consent of Congress by a President that ignores the Constitution’s Separation of Powers mandate and loudly proclaims that he “Can’t wait for Congress”) that don’t solve the issue at hand but further limit freedom.

This tendency was foreseen by the framers of the Bill of Rights, who, in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, specifically limited the powers of the federal government, and even noted that powers not specifically mentioned in the Constitution belong to the people, not the federal government.

Throughout humanity’s long history, there have been many names for oppressive government: monarchies, dictatorships, Nazi, Fascist, theocratic, Communist and Socialist regimes.  Despite differing titles and symbols, all share the same over-arching philosophy: the power of government overrules the rights of individuals.  America must stop heading down that path.

Militarization of Federal Agencies

Much concern has been expressed about the dwindling condition of the U.S. military, but the purchase of weapons and ammunition for civilian federal agencies has been proceeding at a record pace.  The question is why Washington has chosen to do this in the face of dire shortages within the armed forces and a lack of any significant need on the part of the civilian agencies.

The Open the Books  organization has examined the issue, and produced a report entitled the “Militarization of America” The study notes that:

“Regulatory enforcement within administrative agencies now carries the might of military-style equipment and weapons. For example, the Food and Drug Administration includes 183 armed ‘special agents,’ a 50 percent increase over the ten years from 1998-2008. At Health and Human Services (HHS), ‘Special Office of Inspector General Agents’ are now trained with sophisticated weaponry by the same contractors who train our military special forces troops… much of this spending on guns, ammunition and military-style guns, ammunition and military-style equipment is redundant, inefficient and unnecessary.”

The key findings of the report are:

  1. Sixty-seven non-military federal agencies spent $1.48 billion on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment.
  2. Of that total amount, ‘Traditional Law Enforcement’ Agencies spent 77 percent ($1.14 billion) while ‘Administrative’ or ‘General’ Agencies spent 23 percent ($335.1 million).
  3. Non-military federal spending on guns and ammunition jumped 104 percent from $55 million (FY2006) to $112 million (FY2011).
  4. Nearly 6 percent ($42 million) of all federal guns and ammunition purchase transactions were wrongly coded.Some purchases were actually for ping-pong balls, gym equipment, bread, copiers, cotton balls, or cable television including a line item from the Coast Guard entered as “Cable Dude”.
  5. Administrative agencies including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Small Business Administration (SBA), Smithsonian Institution, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Mint, Department of Education, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and many other agencies purchased guns, ammo, and military-style equipment.
  6. Since 2004, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) purchased 1.7 billion bullets including 453 million hollow-point bullets. As of 1/1/2014, DHS estimated its bullet inventory-reserve at 22-months, or 160 million rounds.
  7. Between 1998 and 2008 (the most recent comprehensive data available) the number of law enforcement officers employed by federal agencies increased nearly 50 percent from 83,000 (1998) to 120,000 (2008). However, Department of Justice officer count increased from 40,000 (2008) to 69,000 (2013) and Department of Homeland Security officer count increased from 55,000 (2008) to 70,000 (2013).
  8. The Internal Revenue Service, with its 2,316 special agents, spent nearly $11 million on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment.
  9. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spent $3.1 million on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment. The EPA has spent $715 million on its ‘Criminal Enforcement Division’ from FY2005 to present even as the agency has come under fire for failing to perform its basic functions.
  10. Federal agencies spent $313,958 on paintball equipment, along with $14.7 million on Tasers, $1.6 million on unmanned aircraft, $8.2 million on buckshot, $7.44 million on projectiles, and $4 million on grenades/launchers.
  11. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spent $11.66 million including more than $200,000 on ‘night vision equipment,’ $2.3 million on ‘armor – personal,’ more than $2 million on guns, and $3.6 million on ammunition. Veterans Affairs has 3,700 law enforcement officers guarding and securing VA medical centers.
  12. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spent $4.77 million purchasing shotguns, .308 caliber rifles, night vision goggles, propane cannons, liquid explosives, pyro supplies, buckshot, LP gas cannons, drones, remote controlled helicopters, thermal cameras, military waterproof thermal infrared scopes, and more.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal,  former Senator Coburn and Adam Andrzejewski ask “who is all this equipment designed to fight?”

“The number of non-Defense Department federal officers authorized to make arrests and carry firearms (200,000) now exceeds the number of U.S. Marines (182,000). In its escalating arms and ammo stockpiling, this federal arms race is unlike anything in history. Over the last 20 years, the number of these federal officers with arrest-and-firearm authority has nearly tripled to over 200,000 today, from 74,500 in 1996.”

The answer can be gleaned from examining the actions of the current White House.

In the face of massive military buildups and aggressive acts by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, President Obama continues to react passively. He and Secretary Clinton even failed to respond to the attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi which killed Ambassador Stevens and other Americans.

However, from the start of the Obama Administration, an unusual fear of average Americans has been expressed and acted upon. The Department of Homeland Security under Obama appointee Janet Napolitano issued a report indicating that returning veterans were a significant threat. In the wake of the recent shooting in Orlando, Jeh Johnson, the current Homeland Security chief, warned of “right wing extremism” among American citizens. Following the massacre in San Bernardino, the President himself in his public address spoke of his concern with gun ownership by Americans. The IRS has been used to harass Americans who disagree with the White House. Attorney General Lynch has discussed criminally prosecuting those that disagree with The President’s view on climate change.

The disturbing reality is that the current Administration sees fellow Americans of a different party or philosophy as an enemy to be feared more than opposing nations. It can be seen in where the President seems most comfortable increasing spending on weapons, and it was openly verbalized by Ms. Clinton last October when she openly called Republicans the enemy.

Obama, House Democrats Ignore Constitution

Several significant events yesterday indicate that there is a profound disregard for the Constitution, as well as the role of law, on the part of the White House, its appointees, and its supporters in Congress.

Approximately two hours after the President learned that the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t overturn a lower court decision rejecting Mr. Obama’s move to disregard portions of the immigration law, he contemptuously stated that he would take action that essentially ignored the ruling.

In 2014, the White House announced its plans to implement a program called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), which overlooked existing immigration statutes. The move ignored the fact that changes to the law would have to be passed by Congress. It was opposed by 26 states, which brought a successful law suit to block the unconstitutional maneuver.

In his statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court, the President pledged that he would place the affected immigrants on a “low priority” deportation list, and they had “nothing to worry about.” Mr. Obama unlawfully ignored the Constitution, Congress, the courts, and over half the states.

The President’s supporters in Congress also acted in contempt of the fundamental law of the land. Having lost again in their bid to expand gun control, Democrat Representatives, led by Rep. John Lewis, rather than doing what losing Representatives have always done (try again later, rephrase their proposal, or make the issue a factor in the next campaign)  staged a sit-in, quite possibly the most juvenile and contemptuous act that the venerable institution has endured.

The tactics were described by the New York Times  as a “dramatic,25-hour siege by House Democrats.” Adding to the tawdry nature of the move, Democrats sent out a fund raising letter featuring the sit-in stunt.

Is this how American laws should be enacted: not through winning debates, not through persuading others to agree, but through sophomoric stunts and “sieges?”

In his weekly address, House Speaker Paul Ryan discussed the sit-in:

“One of the things that makes our country strong is our institutions. No matter how bad things get in this country, we have a basic structure that ensures a functioning democracy. We can disagree on policy, but we do so within the bounds of order and respect for the system. Otherwise it all falls apart.

“I’m not going to dwell on the decorum of the House here today, other than to say we are not going to allow stunts like this to stop us from carrying out the people’s business. Why do I call this a stunt? Well, because it is one… Let’s just be honest here. Here are some facts:

“Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee considered its bill for Homeland Security spending. At the committee, Democrats offered in committee an amendment offering the gun measure they say they wanted. That amendment failed on a bipartisan basis. So just yesterday, the Democrats offered this gun measure they claim they want, and it failed on a bipartisan basis in committee. There was a vote, it was in the committee, through regular order, and the vote failed. That’s a fact they didn’t want to talk about.

“Here’s another one: if Democrats want a vote for a bill on the floor, there is a way to get one. It just takes 218 signatures on a petition, and they can have a vote. It is that simple. That’s how the House works—it’s a well-known process.

“But they’re not doing that. They are not trying to actually get this done through regular order. No, instead they’re staging protests. They’re trying to get on TV. They are sending out fundraising solicitations, like this one: Your contribution will go to the DCCC. Fifteen dollars. This one says, try giving us $25. But if you want, you can send us $50, $100, $250, $500, $1000. Because look at what we’re doing on the House floor. Send us money.

“If this is not a political stunt, then why are they trying to raise money off of this—off of a tragedy?

“What they’re calling for failed in a committee in the House. The reason I call this a stunt is because they know this isn’t going anywhere. It already failed in the Senate.

“They may not like this fact, but this bill couldn’t even get 50 votes in the United States Senate, let alone 60. Why is that? Why is it that this bill failed on a bipartisan basis in committee and this bill failed on a bipartisan basis in the Senate? Because in this country we do not take away people’s constitutional rights without due process.

“This is not just Republicans saying this. It’s groups like the ACLU who are saying this.”

Neither the immigration ruling nor the gun control legislation is the key issue here.  What is important is recognizing a pattern of contempt for the rule of law, and the Constitution itself, by Mr. Obama and his supporters in Congress. A dangerous precedent is being set, one which could lead to a breakdown of the form of government that has made the U.S. humanity’s most successful nation.

White House Ignores Russia’s Arms Pact Violations

The danger from Moscow’s lead in both strategic and conventional weaponry has been increased by that nation’s violation of weapons pacts made with the U.S., according to recently discovered information.

The imbalance in atomic weaponry  become a major factor as a result of the New START treaty signed by President Obama shortly after he assumed office, although the obsolescence of America’s arsenal was already becoming a concern before his administration. Bizarrely, members of the White House, especially Secretary of State John Kerry, continue to hail that agreement.

While the actual terms of the treaty are not favorable to Washington, Moscow’s history of noncompliance with the accord produces additional problems.

Bill Gertz, writing for the Washington Free Beacon, reports that Russia has again been in serious violation of the measure. According to Gertz, “U.S. nuclear arms inspectors recently discovered that Russia is violating the New START arms treaty… by improperly eliminating SS-25 mobile missiles… U.S. technicians found critical components of SS-25s—road-mobile, intercontinental ballistic missiles—had been unbolted instead of cut to permanently disable the components. Additionally, American inspectors were unable to verify missiles slated for elimination had been destroyed. Instead, only missile launch canisters were inspected.”

The end result is that America continues to disarm weapons, the Kremlin only pretends to, furthering the already expanding gap.

The Obama Administration seems unconcerned.

Gertz notes that key observers, including House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry have expressed concern over the White House’s disconnected attitude. “Whether it’s Russian violations of the Open Skies Treaty, the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, or multiple violations of the INF treaty, this administration has proven singularly unconcerned with arms control compliance…John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a former State Department undersecretary for arms control, said the latest Russian treaty issue raises questions about whether Moscow may have helped Iran to circumvent treaties.”

Neither most politicians nor most pundits choose to discuss the rapidly growing crisis, fearing ridicule and retribution by a White House that desperately seeks to finance its continuously expanding entitlement agenda by limiting spending on defense.

The reality, however, is that nuclear nightmares have made a comeback, thanks to a Russian resurgence based primarily on force and the threat of force. While the United States atomic deterrent slips into obsolescence, Moscow has modernized its arsenal. In both quality and, for the first time in history, quantity, Russia is now the globe’s predominant nuclear superpower.

Objective observers have begun to write about the growing disparity between Washington and the Kremlin in atomic weaponry, headlined by Russia’s ten to advantage in tactical nukes as well as a growing lead in strategic weapons.

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists,  “Russia is in the middle of a broad modernization of its strategic and nonstrategic nuclear forces, including some new developments. The authors estimate that as of early 2016, the country had a stockpile of approximately 4500 nuclear warheads assigned for use by long-range strategic launchers and shorter range tactical nuclear forces. In addition, as many as 2800 retired but still largely intact warheads awaited dismantlement, for a total inventory of about 7300. The modernization program reflects the government’s conviction that strategic nuclear forces are indispensable for Russia’s security and status as a great power. Unless a new arms reduction agreement is reached in the near future, the shrinking of Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal that has characterized the past two decades will likely come to an end, with the force leveling out at around 500 launchers with roughly 2400 assigned warheads. Combined with an increased number of military exercises and operations, as well as occasional explicit nuclear threats against other countries, the modernizations contribute to growing concern abroad about Russian intentions.”

Compare that with the Bulletin’s analysis of the American deterrent:

“The U.S. nuclear arsenal remained roughly unchanged in the last year, with the Defense Department maintaining an estimated stockpile of some 4,670 warheads to be delivered via ballistic missiles and aircraft. Most of these warheads are not deployed but stored, and many are destined to be retired. Of the approximately 1,930 warheads that are deployed, roughly 1,750 are on ballistic missiles or at bomber bases in the United States, with another 180 tactical bombs deployed at European bases.”

Tension Rising Between China and Japan

The Japan Times has reported that a Chinese spy ship has entered Japan’s territorial waters for only the second time since the end of the Second World War. The reconnaissance vessel crossed into Japan’s waters near Kuchinoerabu Island on June 15.

Japanese aircraft ordered the vessel to move outside of the nation’s territorial waters, 12 nautical miles off the coastline, and the ship complied.

The incident is considered even more serious because it occurs within a week after Beijing sent a frigate into the contiguous zone adjacent to Japan’s territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands, which both China and Japan have claimed..

In 2004, a Chinese submarine was discovered within Japan’s territorial waters near Ishigaki Island, prompting Tokyo to hike naval security.

It’s believed that the latest incursion is due to China’s practice of shadowing other naval vessels conducting maneuvers in international waters. Two Indian ships were the presumptive targets. Beijing’s navy has also shadowed the U.S. aircraft carrier John C. Stennis.

According to the Japan Times, Kenji Kanasugi, director-general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, has lodged a protest against China, stating “concerns about the overall activities of the Chinese military, which have been escalating tensions…”  China’s ambassador was summoned to receive Tokyo’s condemnation of the incursion.

China has also moved aggressively against American surveillance aircraft over international waters.

Beijing has ratchet up tensions in anticipation of a ruling being handed down by the Hague international arbitration court concerning China’s incursion into Philippine waters.

At the April G7 meeting in Hiroshima,  the attending foreign ministers, concerned over Beijing’s belligerence and its construction of islands for military use,  noted that “Free, open and stable seas are a cornerstone for peace, stability and prosperity of the international community. We reaffirm the importance of maintaining a maritime order based upon the universally recognized principles of international law… We reiterate our commitment to the freedoms of navigation and overflight and other internationally lawful uses of the high seas and the exclusive economic zones as well as to the related rights and freedoms in other maritime zones, including the rights of innocent passage, transit passage and archipelagic sea lanes passage consistent with international law. We call on all states to pursue the peaceful management and settlement of maritime disputes in good faith and in accordance with international law, including through applicable internationally recognized legal dispute settlement mechanisms, including arbitration, recognizing that the use of such mechanisms is consistent with the maintenance and enhancement of the international order based upon the rule of law… We are concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas, and emphasize the fundamental importance of peaceful management and settlement of disputes. We express our strong opposition to any intimidating, coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions, and urge all states to refrain from such actions as land reclamations including large scale ones, building of outposts, as well as their use for military purposes and to act in accordance with international law including the principles of freedoms of navigation and overflight.”

Japan has been on edge lately, due both to China’s aggressive actions and the dramatic increase in military strength both from that nation and North Korea.  According to Tokyo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

“Japan’s security environment is becoming even severer with the dramatic shift in the global power balance, the emergence of new threats such as terrorism and cyber attacks, and the severe security environment in the Asia-Pacific region. Such threats easily cross national borders.”

Several main concerns were stressed, including

  • “Despite the concentration of nations that possess large-scale military capability including nuclear-weapons states, regional cooperation frameworks on security are not sufficiently institutionalized.
  • North Korea’s continued development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs as well as its provocative behavior.
  • China’s advancement of its military capacity without transparency, and its further activities in the sea and air space.”

China’s naval power has escalated to an extraordinary degree. It currently has more submarines than the U.S., and overall it will have a larger navy than the U.S. within four years. Beijing has also developed land-based missiles that can disable ships 900 miles away.

Montenegro to Join NATO; Sweden, Finland Next?

Montenegro is set to become NATO’s 29th member.

The alliance’s mission has been seen, once again, as vital to the security of Europe in the wake of Russia’s vast military buildup, and its aggressive foreign policy which has included the recent invasion of Ukraine, incursions into the air and sea space of several nations, and the harassment of NATO air and naval forces.

A statement released by the Atlantic alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated:  “Membership will give Montenegro the ability to help shape NATO policy. It will bring more stability and security to the region, and therefore promoting prosperity”

Further dramatic changes may take place for the alliance, as Sweden and Finland both consider joining the organization. Finland, long threatened by Moscow, recently completed an analysis  considering key points.

According to the study, “Finland needs to adapt yet again to changing circumstances…Finland shares the broader strategic concerns of its EU partners, along with the rising challenges to both East and South of the continent. However, the EU does not possess the institutions and capabilities to deal with the full range of these strategic concerns by itself…geography gives particular importance to Russia, with which Finland shares a 1340 kilometre-long border. As an unsatisfied power, Russia has made unpredictability a strategic and tactical virtue, underpinned by an impressive degree of political and military agility. Russia has adopted a revisionist stand towards the norms and principles governing the European order…”

The report notes that any move to join—or not join– the alliance should only be considered jointly with Sweden.

Sweden, for its part, has moved closer to NATO, in response to Moscow’s significant threats. Moscow has moved air and missile forces close to Sweden, and is considering deploying much of its large tactical nuclear forces to the region as well. Russia possesses a ten to one advantage over the U.S. in tactical nuclear weapons.  Moscow has engaged in simulated attacks on Sweden, and its intelligence forces constitute an ongoing threat. The Swedish journal The Local  notes that “A poll released in October 2015 suggested that 41 percent of Swedes are in favor of seeking membership in the military defense alliance, 39 percent are against the idea and 20 percent are uncertain.”

As noted previously in the New York Analysis of Policy & Government, “The Scandinavian nation has already participated in some of the alliances’ activities.  Swedish forces joined with the NATO Response Force …in a joint training exercise.  Finland and Ukraine (this was before the invasion) also participated.  Both Finland and Sweden have moved closer to the alliance,  participating in key exercises and permitting NATO forces to be deployed within their nations.

[Former] NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmssen said that the relationship between the alliance and Sweden “is already strong.” Like the NATO nations, Sweden had seriously weakened its defense capabilities in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse, according to Defense News. It has been estimated that the nation has only a quarter of the capabilities it had during the Cold War era. Russia has engaged in provocative activities, including simulated attacks on Sweden.  That forced a new look at the diminished capability of the nation’s armed forces, which reportedly could only endure a week in the face of an attack by Moscow. However, in the wake of the Ukrainian invasion and Russia’s enormous rebuilding of its military might, it is both re-examining its own military capabilities as well as the advantages of joining NATO.”

The publication Foreign Affairs  suggests “The West would do well to consider a more robust long-term option to deter Russia from moving deeper into Europe. NATO should offer membership to Sweden and Finland, and Sweden and Finland should accept… Expanding NATO to Sweden and Finland would achieve several important aims. From a political standpoint, it would bring the NATO border ever closer to Russia, demonstrating that military aggression in Europe carries major geopolitical consequences. Sweden and Finland’s nonalignment has offered Russia a comforting buffer zone along its northwestern border ever since the end of World War II. If Sweden and Finland were to join NATO now, that buffer would be gone… From a military standpoint, Sweden and Finland would add technologically sophisticated and well-equipped armed forces to the alliance.”