Pakistan And India: Can There Ever Be True Peace Between Them

(This article is courtesy of the Pakistan Observer News Paper)

A mature policy towards India

Masood Khan

Tension between India and Pakistan, and the hostility that goes with it, is a ‘constant’ not a ‘variable’. This is what our history of the past seven decades has manifested. This evaluation is neither negativist nor pessimistic. It captures a reality and a trend that has proved to be enduring.
Of course, from time to time nations have transcended their past to seek peace but conditions are not ripe for such a breakthrough between India and Pakistan. Pakistan would not abandon its stance on Kashmir, India would not address it the way Pakistan wants, and India would continue to use its new-found diplomatic space and economic prowess to isolate and undermine Pakistan. India would not let go of its accusations of terrorism against Pakistan to delegitimize the Kashmir issue and Pakistan’s nuclear programme. The UN, in this fight, will remain a bystander and India would use its clout with the US, Europe and the Gulf states to diminish Pakistan’s outreach and deny it opportunities to develop its economic and military strength.
Pakistan has secured itself by acquiring nuclear capability and its economy is showing promise. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) alone has given a big boost to Pakistan’s economy and the good news is that many global investors are also taking keen interest in Pakistan.
Pakistan has also pursued a very sophisticated and constructive policy towards India in the past several years. The crux of the policy is: try to engage but do not compromise on the core principles.
But quite a few of Pakistan’s flanks remain vulnerable involving the Indian factor. In Afghanistan, India’s influence, among others, hampers normalization and reconciliation and that has a direct bearing on Pakistan. Indian commander Kulbhushan Jadhav’s arrest confirms that India has been using Iran’s territory to plan and execute terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan. In the US, Indian lobby has become so powerful that, in many areas, it holds a veto over the United States’ Pakistan policy. This past week, for instance, pro-India US legislators have been objecting to a sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan. The voices are American; but the agenda is India’s. Delhi is making new inroads into the Gulf region among the nations disaffected with Pakistan because of its rather balanced position on Iran-Gulf relations. It is also working constantly on China to dilute its positions in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the UN Security Council that seem to help Pakistan; and India has protested to China for taking the CPEC through Gilgit-Baltistan. India is demonstrating its ability to hurt Pakistan beyond South Asian borders and shrink its space.
In the first few months of 2016, some new patterns have emerged. After the terrorists attack, the Pathankot airbase in India, there wasn’t a general break-drown though this scuttled the proposed talks between foreign secretaries of the two countries. Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team to look into to the leads on the Pathankot incident was received in India but the team was given limited access defeating the very purpose of the visit. After the arrest of Jadhav, a serving Indian naval officer, Pakistan did not cut off communication with India. Ranking foreign ministry officials have been meeting on the sidelines of multilateral conferences. So a model of grudging, cautious cooperation, albeit fragile and brittle, seems to be emerging.
Pakistan should take the following steps to deal effectively with the emerging scenarios:
One, it should not take its strong ties with China for granted. There should be no complacency in promoting and expanding ties with our closest strategic cooperative partner. The onus for sustaining and strengthening the relationship is not just on China, but on Pakistan too. Pakistan should have its own people to people contact policy towards China so as to give depth to our ties.
Two, do not neglect the US. Though, over the decades, we have lost ground in Washington, the situation is not irredeemable. Pakistan too should use its expanding Diaspora community in the US. A new base has been furnished by the recent high-level bilateral contacts to broaden our relationship to non-security areas. In that realm, development of the Knowledge Corridor will be most productive.
Three, through quiet diplomacy repair the damage in the Gulf region and the Middle East. The Gulf countries, though annoyed, still have a bond with Pakistan that would not be snapped, ever. In the Arab Street, Pakistan is seen as a beacon of hope for the Muslims. Besides, today we need Arabs, tomorrow they would need Pakistan, for sure, for economic progress and linkages.
Four, Pakistan should explore two new corridors. One should go through Iran branching off to Turkey, the Caucuses, and Europe, in the west, and to Central Asia and Russia, in the north, the other should be our corridor to Africa, the most underutilized potential of our external policy.
Five, we should realize that Afghanistan will take a long time to settle down. This year and in 2017, we should brace for a civil war that would have adverse consequences for Pakistan. The Afghan factions would continue to drag Pakistan into their fights and then berate it for all their troubles. So Pakistan should take a very patient and resolute approach. Afghans are now saying that they do not need Pakistan for facilitating peace and reconciliation process; all they want is that we start military operations against Afghan Taliban. At least one Afghan official has said that Afghanistan would send its own squads for attacks on Pakistani soil. This may not just be bluster.
Six, with India we should continue to give signals for engagement in a dignified manner. The prospects of resolving problems with India are very slim. There would be escalation whether or not we like it, but we should never let it spin out of control. We need a period of relative calm till 2030 to develop economically and militarily. This is a critical transformative phase in our history as a nation. We should not let it be disrupted by tensions with India; and we should not squander this precious opportunity.
Investors are coming to Pakistan; they should not flee.

In The Holy Land: Land For Peace Has Always Been A Con Job

In The Holy Land: Land For Peace Has Always Been A Con Job

In 1948 the United Nations recreated the State of Israel that was just a small sliver of its former God-given borders. The Jewish people had to fight for every inch of that ground as the people living there did not wish to be removed from the land and I don’t believe that they can be blamed for that. If the United States government decided to  give the state of New Mexico back to the native population I am rather sure that the people currently living there would fight to keep from being removed, wouldn’t you? In the 7th century A.D. when the creation of Islam occurred the land of the Middle-East was dominated by the Jewish and Christian people and their religions. The military forces of Islamic believing people took these people’s land and their lives taking all of their possessions as spoils of war. The people of Islam held this land until 1948 then they were removed by force. The Jewish/Hebrew people had possessed this land for about 2,100 years before losing it to the Arab/Islamic people and these people and their faith have ruled the Middle-East for about 1,400 years now.  It is easy to see why all the people of ‘The Holy Land’ claim the land as their own.

 

The first paragraph was a 200 word attempt at encapsulating about 3,500 years of human history of ‘The Holy Lands’. There is no way to give the people and the land a totally fair shake in this one short article but I am going to do my best to be honest and fair in what I write. The reason I side with Israel on the land issue is because I am a Christian who happens to believe that the Bible is the Holy Spirit inspired word of God, all of it. When Moses led the Hebrew people up out of Egypt in about the year 1,500 B.C. He (God) specified to Moses and his successor Joshua exactly what Israels boundaries were to be.  The Israel of 1948 and indeed the Israel of 1967 and the Israel of 2018 are only a sliver of the God-given boundaries of what is supposed to be the nation of Israel.

 

In 1967 the Arab nations around Israel attacked the people of Israel from every direction in an attempt to remove Israel from the map but they failed completely. The 1967 war was called the 6 day war because Israel dominated their attackers and in the process Israel more than doubled their size via the land they captured from their neighbors during those 6 days. This is the land that the idiots at the U.N. and some in D.C. still refer to as “occupied land.” In 1972 Israel gave the whole Sinai back to Egypt when they signed a peace deal with their President Anwar Sadat from an agreement with President Carter of the U.S. which was called the Camp David Accord. This peace accord cost President Sadat his life at the hands of his own military. Twelve years ago Israel gave up land for peace when they gave up the Gaza Strip and The West Bank to the PLO and their leader President Arafat and his Fatah military wing. I stated at that time that the Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon had made a horrible mistake in giving away what God himself had given and I was proven totally correct on this issue. About 4 months after this land give away Mr. Sharon suffered a massive stroke that he never woke up from, laying in a coma for almost exactly 8 years before he died in January of 2014.

 

I know that I am not the only person who knew that once the people who were now called ‘the Palestinians’ would only use this land they were given to stage more attacks on the people of Israel from a now closer range. Here in America when we elected our first Islamic Shiite President in Mr. Obama on his first official visit to Israel he without consulting the government or the people declared that Israel was going to revert back to the pre 1967 borders, as though he was some kind of King of the world. Mr. Obama has been mad at the leaders of Israel ever since they said no to his ‘decree’. Think about this issue for a moment, in 1967 prior to the Arab nations attack these same Arab nations and people were trying to end Israel as a nation. They did not and do not want there to be such a thing as a nation of Israel. If this current government of Israel did as King Obama wanted there is no reason to believe that the people who believe that Allah is God would do anything other than continue to attack the Jewish nation in an attempt to do as they tried to do in 1967. When it comes to land for peace, and treaties with Islamic believers there is no such thing as creating peace with them by giving them more of your land. This illusion of peace has never been true since the days that Muhammad walked the Earth, it is not true today and it will never ever be true.

Russia Against The U.S. Or The U.S. Against Russia Type Policies Show Ignorance; Not Strength

Russia Against The U.S. Or The U.S. Against Russia Type Policies Show Ignorance; Not Strength

It does seem to me that during the 14 years that President Putin has been in power that the nation of Russia has constantly grown further away from having good ties with the United States. I do put a lot of blame on America/Americans for Mr. Putin ever coming to power in Russia in the first place though. We here in American movies, media outlets as well as the talking heads in D.C. were always slamming Russia for being backwards and incompetent. How could the American idiots not have known that they were not just slamming a picture on a map, they were constantly slapping the people of Russia in the face for the actions of their pathetic Communist government. The people were constantly having their national and personal pride stomped on by a bunch of ego maniacs who were too uncaring or too ignorant to care. This is not how you build friendships with a people/Nation, it is how you destroy relationships. When the Soviet Union crashed in the fall of 1989 large Capitalist Corporations simply saw red meat concerning the people and resources they could get control of. About a 150 years ago after the American Civil War ended there ware folks that were labeled as Carpet-bagger’s for their actions like what the wealthiest of the West has done to the poorest of the Russian population.

 

I am a person that believes that Russia, China, America and the E.U. need to work together as friends, bringing in the smaller nations that surround us in a real barricade against the spread of Islamic extremest within our borders. The people of Russia that I have met in my life as well as the folks from that region of the world are just like everyone else. They want personal security for themselves their families and their businesses. They want a roof over their heads, food to eat and regular trash pick-up and to be left alone by the government. There are a lot of people in the governments of countries like China and Russia who do not believe in their being any God (I’m sure there are some of those in the U.S. government also). Folks that mindset is much easier to work with, to live with, than a religion that’s stated goal is to kill everyone on Earth who doesn’t follow 100% their beliefs. Of course there is always the issue of whom is the Judge at any particular moment as to whom gets their head lifted.

 

I personally don’t know just how we the non-Islamic world will be able to come together with all the divides we keep throwing at each other from D.C., Moscow and Beijing but our government and military officials on all sides of the Big Ponds need to get their heads out of their behinds before they get them cut off with them permanently stuck there. Our so-called leaders need to start focusing on the avenues of good that can be followed and nurtured between our Nations and our cultures before we have no Nation, Culture, or Head!

 

 

Why the United States Is Saying Goodbye To UNESCO

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

Why the United States Is Saying Goodbye to UNESCO

12:07 PM ET

The Trump Administration says the U.S. is withdrawing from the United Nations’ cultural body UNESCO, citing “anti-Israel bias” as one of its reasons.

“This decision was not taken lightly,” Heather Nauert, State Department spokesperson, said in a statement on Thursday. “[it] reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.” The withdrawal will take place on Dec. 31, 2018. The State Department said on Thursday that the U.S. will instead establish an observer mission at UNESCO, which is known for designating world heritage sites.

Director General of UNESCO Irina Bokova expressed her “profound regret” with the decision. “This is a loss to UNESCO. This is a loss to the United Nations family. This is a loss for multilateralism,” she said in a statement.

The news comes as the body picks its new director-general, with former French culture minister Audrey Azoulay and Qatari diplomat Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari as the main frontrunners. Here’s what to know:

What is UNESCO?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was created in 1945 with a mission to celebrate cultural diversity and foster intellectual cooperation and the free flow of ideas among the world’s nations. Among its first projects was to rebuild libraries, schools and museums destroyed during World War Two.

The agency is best known for its World Heritage program, which protects traditions and cultural sites across the globe, including India’s Taj Mahal and the United States’ Yellowstone National Park. It also works to improve education in poor countries, defend media freedom and promote scientific advances.

Why has Trump pulled out now?

The biggest strain is the body’s approach to Israel. This year, UNESCO declared Hebron in the West Bank as a Palestinian world heritage site — a move Israel says negates Judaism’s links to the town.

Israel had earlier recalled its ambassador to UNESCO in 2016, in response to the agency accepting resolutions that condemned Israel’s policies in religious sites in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and cited the Temple Mount as only a “Muslim holy site of worship,” Reuters reports.

Trump’s administration has been preparing to leave the body for months, Foreign Policy reports, and it might have been motivated by budget cuts. The President has repeatedly criticized what he considers to be the disproportionate contributions to international bodies like the U.N.

Has the U.S. done this before?

Yes. The organization ran afoul of the administration of Ronald Reagan, which withdrew the U.S. from the body in 1984 citing corruption and a pro-Soviet union, anti-U.S. bias. The administration also viewed UNESCO as a platform for Third World criticism of Israel and the U.S, the New York Times reports.

Under President George W. Bush, the U.S. rejoined the agency in 2003, citing its reformed bureaucracy, finances and efforts to expunge the worst of its biases.

That changed again in 2011 after UNESCO granted full membership to Palestine. This reinforced the notion of UNESCO’s long-running anti-Israel bias and under former U.S. President Barack Obama, UNESCO lost a chunk of American funding. But the State Department continued to maintain an office at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters so as to weigh in on policy.

So, You Become A Soldier Just So You Can Become Crocodile Poop

(I PULLED THIS STORY OFF OF FACEBOOK, RATHER SICKENING TO THINK ABOUT, BUT IT IS A GOOD READ.)

An army of 1000 Japanese soldiers was decimated by saltwater crocodiles during the Battle of Ramree Island of World War II.

Oct 11, 2016
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During World War II, The Japanese Imperial Army captured Ramree Island in 1942. The island lies off the Burma coast, 70 miles south of Akyab, now known as Sittwe.

Since Ramree was strategically important, the Allies launched an attack in 1945 to retake the island and establish airbases to support the mainland campaign.

After a bloody campaign, British troops managed to drive nearly 1,000 enemy combatants off the island into the dense mangrove swamp that covered some 10 miles of Ramree.

It was after this that one of the oddest incidents in the history of warfare occurred.

British troops in a landing craft make their way ashore on Ramree Island, 21 January 1945.
British troops in a landing craft make their way ashore on Ramree Island, 21 January 1945.

The defeated Japanese soldiers ignored all appeals by the British for their surrender, and instead abandoned their base and entered the swamp. Many of the Japanese troops succumbed to tropical diseases carried by swarms of mosquitoes, as well as the various poisonous spiders, snakes and scorpions found in the marsh.

Another additional problem for the Japanese troops was the lack of drinking water and constant threat of starvation. Despite these numerous hazards, one danger stood out as the greatest.

One night the British soldiers reported hearing panicked screams and gunfire emanating from within the darkness of the swamp. They didn’t know what exactly caused the shouts of terror they heard, but only that the Japanese troops were being ravaged by some evil menace.

A saltwater crocodile
A saltwater crocodile

Unfortunately for the Imperial Japanese Army, the mangrove swamps of Ramree Island are home to an unknown amount of the largest reptilian predator in the world, the saltwater crocodile.

The reptiles can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh 2,000 pounds, but even a midsize saltwater crocodile could easily kill a full-grown adult human, with many being known to eat animals as vast as Indian water buffalo. The soldiers were viciously and mercilessly attacked by the crocodiles.

The naturalist Bruce Stanley Wright described the scene unfolding in his 1962 book, Wildlife Sketches Near and Far: “That night was the most horrible that any member of the M.L. [marine launch] crews ever experienced. The crocodiles, alerted by the din of warfare and the smell of blood, gathered among the mangroves, lying with their eyes above water, watchfully alert for their next meal. With the ebb of the tide, the crocodiles moved in on the dead, wounded, and uninjured men who had become mired in the mud.”

Men of the Wiltshire Regiment from the 26th Indian Infantry Division prepare a meal beside a temple on Ramree Island.
Men of the Wiltshire Regiment from the 26th Indian Infantry Division prepare a meal beside a temple on Ramree Island.

There is a long history of saltwater crocodiles attacking humans who wander into their habitats, and ultimately only 520 out of 1000 Japanese soldiers managed to survive the Ramree swamps.

Some of them being so badly injured and mauled that they were later recaptured by the British forces.

The likeliness of hearing of the Battle of Ramree Island is incredibly small due to it not being one of the Second World War’s most significant skirmishes, but many consider it one of the oddest and creepiest stories in the history of warfare.

U.S. Support for the War in Yemen Is Indefensible

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME MAGAZINE)

WORLD AFFAIRS

U.S. Support for the War in Yemen Is Indefensible

A destroyed vehicle is pictured in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah on Oct. 13, 2016.
AFP/Getty ImagesA destroyed vehicle is pictured in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah on Oct. 13, 2016.

Ray Offenheiser is the President of Oxfam America.

‘Deference to Saudi Arabia has cost America its moral footing’

Not even funerals are sacred in a time of war.

Last Saturday, as hundreds of Yemeni mourners waited to pay their respects to a beloved elder, warplanes obliterated the funeral hall they were gathered in killing more than 140 people and wounding more than 525. This is not an isolated incident but rather the latest tragedy in Saudi Arabia’s military intervention—facilitated by U.S. intelligence sharing and aerial refueling.

These are your tax dollars at work.

The humanitarian impact of the bombing campaign is staggering—no civilian is left unaffected. Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East before the start of this conflict, is now on the brink of starvation. The numbers do not sufficiently represent the desperation that this conflict has wrought, but they’re a start. More than 19 million people do not have access to clean water, 14 million people are suffering from hunger and malnutrition, and more than 3 million Yemenis have been driven from their homes.

We live in a world where the rules of war are continually flouted and the U.S.-supported Saudi-led campaign in Yemen is no exception. In the more than 3,000 strikes since the conflict began, civilian sites are routinely in the line of fire. Hospitals, schools, factories, homes, markets—there is no safe space in Yemen today. And with Saudi Arabia’s purchase of more than $115 billion in U.S.-manufactured military equipment approved since the war in Yemen began—including air-to-ground munitions as well as tanks—the jeopardy civilians are facing is marked with a deep American imprint.

Newly disclosed government documents reveal that State Department lawyers warned that the U.S. could be implicated in war crimes for supporting a Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen.

The sale went ahead anyway.

Now, in the wake of Saturday’s attack, the U.S. announced that it will immediately review its support to the Saudi-led coalition. This review cannot be a smokescreen for inaction or a place holder for responsibility. As of now, it is unclear how the review will unfold, what the timeline is, and who will be responsible for carrying it out. And U.S. support for the coalition will continue even though the very need for a review casts a long shadow on anything that takes place until it is finalized.

The lack of transparency from the get-go is an insult to the families of the massacred, who are still burying their dead, and for the families of those wounded in the attack desperately trying to seek assistance for their loved ones. At the very least, the U.S. should suspend its support for the campaign until the review is completed.

Deference to Saudi Arabia has cost America its moral footing. Many Members of Congress agree. Last month, 27 senators—including top leaders—voted to block a sale of tanks and other defense equipment to the Kingdom in a direct rebuke to the Obama administration. While the measure did not pass, it was a sign of the growing realization in Congress that U.S. support for the war in Yemen is indefensible.

To be clear, the Saudi-led coalition is not the only ones responsible for the violence and loss of life. All sides involved in this horrific war are responsible for the serious violations that have led to this humanitarian catastrophe. But the U.S. is only supporting one side.

In the end, one has to wonder how this will ultimately reflect on President Obama’s legacy. He and his foreign policy leadership will surely look back upon the decisions they’ve made about Yemen with regret in light of the carnage and the daily assault on human dignity.

Each day the U.S. supports this war, with every air strike that hits a civilian site, every civilian killed, maimed or going hungry; with every U.S. weapon used in Yemen and every war plane refueled that kills or wounds civilians, the U.S. tarnishes its reputation in the world. Some things should still be sacred.

UN: Aleppo Bombing Are A War Crime: So Are Presidents Putin & Assad War Criminals?

 

This past week as the very weak humanitarian cease-fire in Aleppo Syria broke down Russian and Syrian Jets restarted bombing the eastern half of this once beautiful city. The UN says there are still more than 250,000 civilians ‘trapped’ in the eastern half of the city that ‘the rebels’ still control. In reality almost all of Syria has become a stew of who hates who, who is backing who, and who is killing whom today. The UN says the people of the city are trapped and starving and have no way out from the conflict. We have heard in the past few days that Russian and Syrian Jets have been bombing and shelling pretty much anything and every thing not caring whom they kill. This sounds a bit like Hitler ordering the bombing of London during WW-2. We hear on our evening news how the hospitals in Aleppo have been bombed several times and that the Syrian government is using Barrel Bombs on the population. They have also been know to use chemical weapons of the citizens several times during this almost six-year Civil War. The UN says that the actions by Russia and Syria do amount to War Crimes. So my friends, my question is simple. If in deed these are by legal definition War Crimes, should anyone be charged with these crimes? These crimes are in fact ‘mass murder’ so does the World Court in the Netherlands at the Hague actually hold anyone in either government as the ‘criminals?’ Or is the Hague really just a paper tiger that only holds weak small third world countries Leaders at fault for their crimes? I ask you for your opinion, will Presidents Putin of Russia and President Assad of Syria be charged as War Criminals and put out warrants for their arrest? I believe that the answer to that is no. I don’t think they have the guts to charge President Putin with anything just as they did not charge President George W Bush, VP Dick Cheney or Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for their illegal actions in Iraq. Folks, this article is just my opinion. Time will tell us all if I am correct or not. I believe I am going to be right on this issue or I wouldn’t have written this article to you. I wouldn’t bet the title to the farm on it, but then again, I don’t bet, I don’t have a farm and I don’t have a title. I hope you all have a great day, stay safe, stay out of Aleppo, God’s blessings to you all.

U.S. Congress Overrides 9/11 Veto: Should Families Now Be Able to Sue U.S. Government For Not Protecting There Family Members?

(This article is courtesy of the Washington Post News Paper)

Congress poised to override Obama’s veto of 9/11 bill

  September 28 at 12:30 PM

The Senate on Wednesday voted to override President Obama’s veto of legislation that would allow 9/11 victims’ families to sue the Saudi Arabian government over its alleged support for the terrorists who carried out the attacks.

The vote was 97 to 1.

The House is expected to vote later in the day and if successful, it will be the first time Congress has overridden a veto during the Obama administration.

“Overriding a presidential veto is something we don’t take lightly, but it was important in this case that the families of the victims of 9/11 be allowed to pursue justice, even if that pursuit causes some diplomatic discomforts,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who co-authored the bill with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), said in a statement.

Traveling aboard Air Force One Wednesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the vote “the single most embarrassing thing the United States Senate has done possibly since 1983.”

“Ultimately these senators are going to have to answer their own conscience and their constituents as they account for their actions today,” Earnest said, noting that at least one GOP senator said some of his colleagues had failed to read the bill before voting on it initially. “To have members of the United States senate only recently informed of the negative impact of this bill on our service members and our diplomats is in itself embarrassing.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) cast the lone vote to sustain the veto after receiving a letter from Obama arguing the consequences could be “devastating,” and urging him “to vote to sustain the veto.”

In the letter, which Obama sent Tuesday to both Reid and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the president said that he was “fully committed to assisting the families of the victims of terrorist attacks of Sept. 11″ but the legislation would military and other U.S. officials overseas at risk. The bill’s enactment, he warned, “would neither protect Americans from terrorist attacks nor improve the effectiveness of of our response to such attacks.”

Reid voted against the override despite telling reporters earlier this month that “I support that legislation” and Schumer’s efforts.

“He’s always had the president’s back,” said Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson.

McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said the president called the majority after the override vote was scheduled, but neither the conservation nor the letter did anything to change his mind.

Both chambers passed the legislation without dissent earlier this year, but now several lawmakers are echoing the White House’s argument that the legislation could set a dangerous precedent, inviting other nations to respond by suing American diplomats, military personnel and other officials in foreign courts.

Critics of the bill are now focusing on how to scale back the measure once it becomes law. Approximately 20 senators have signed onto a letter expressing their intention to return to the issue during the lame duck if there are negative consequences once the 9/11 bill becomes law.

“We see the writing on the wall: the override is going to occur,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has been leading efforts to negotiate a narrower alternative, before the vote.

Corker is one of several members who argue the bill, which would allow courts to waive claims to foreign sovereign immunity in situations involving acts of terrorism on U.S. soil, is so broad that it could expose the United States to retaliation in foreign courts.

He complained that if the bill becomes law “what you really do is you end up exporting your foreign policy to trial lawyers,” adding that U.S. personnel might find themselves dragged into lawsuits abroad over American drone use in Pakistan and Afghanistan, or even its support for Israel.

Yet he and other senators who expressed similar concerns elected, in the end, to vote for the override.

Sen. Angus King (I-Me.), who asked Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter about potential repercussions for military personnel last week, said he voted for the override because “concrete benefit” for the 9/11 victims’ families outweighed “speculative detriment” to American officials and foreign relations.

In a letter Monday to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) and ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter warned that allowing the bill to become law risked “damaging our close and effective cooperation with other countries” and “could ultimately have a chilling effect on our own counter-terrorism efforts.”

Thornberry and Smith both circulated letters among members in the last few days, urging them to vote against overriding the veto.

CIA Director John O. Brennan also warned of the 9/11 bill’s “grave implications for the national security of the United States” in a statement Wednesday.

Members who criticized the legislation guessed their colleagues might be more open to scaling back the measure after observing the international “blow-back” once it becomes law. Corker said he is working with Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Ben Cardin (D-Md.) — who also supported the override Wednesday — in the hopes that “during the lame duck, maybe there’s a way to be successful in tightening this up.”

One alternative lawmakers have discussed is limiting the measure to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, as a way of satisfying the demands of the 9/11 victims’ families without opening the United States to continuing diplomatic and legal problems.

Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in an interview that it could take time to grasp the bill’s full implications, and there may be “some time to tweak the law before some of the most damaging consequences become clear.”

“But the biggest issue is that it opens up government agencies to court-ordered discovery,” Alterman said, adding that the federal government might not only be forced to hand over documents related to 9/11 litigation but could face lawsuits from those who have been victims of drone strikes and other American military activities. “It’s not limited to Saudi Arabia, and it’s likely to have a much larger impact on the U.S. government than the Saudi government, because the U.S. government takes rules very seriously.”

While Congress continues to approve arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the executive branch closely collaborates with its government on intelligence sharing and military operations against Islamist extremists, the vote comes at a time where tensions between the longtime allies are rising.

“This is not a time when U.S.-Saudi relations have much popular support on either side,” said F. Gregory Gause, head of the international affairs department at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service. Just as the Saudis think the administration has titled too closely towards Iran, he said, many U.S. politicians blame Saudi Arabia for the globe spread of Sunni extremism. “I think that’s really simplistic.”

The Saudi government has denied it had any ties to the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks and has lobbied fiercely against the bill. But victims’ families have pushed for the legislation so they can press their case in courts and lawmakers who support the measure argue if the Saudis did nothing wrong they have nothing to worry about.

While White House staffers have reached out to certain members of Congress, Obama did not launch an all-out lobbying push to pull members away from this bill.

“I know of no counting or anything they’ve asked me to do on that,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Tuesday. Pelosi intends to vote to override Obama’s veto.

Bill supporters have not warmed to any of the alternative proposals critics are floating and Cornyn dismissed the idea Congress will revisit the legislation later this year.

“As far as I’m concerned this bill is a done deal,” Cornyn said. “Obviously any senator or group of senators can offer any additional legislation they want, and we’ll take it up in due course.”

Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.

Kosovo Islamic Hacker Sends ISIS Kill list Of American Military People

(This article is courtesy of ‘Creeping Sharia News Magazine)

Muslim immigrant gets 20 years for sending ISIS a ‘kill list’ of US military members

Well-vetted. Source: Ardit Ferizi, hacker who aided Islamic State, sentenced for helping terror group with ‘kill list’ – Washington Times

A 20-year-old computer science student from Kosovo described by the Justice Department as “the first terrorist hacker convicted in the United States” was sentenced Friday to two decades in prison for providing the Islamic State with a “kill list” containing the personal information of roughly 1,300 U.S. military members and government employees.

Federal prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema to sentence Ardit Ferizi to 25 years in prison after the hacker pleaded guilty in June to two charges brought as a result of his role with the terror group.

Mr. Ferizi acknowledged hacking an Illinois-based company in June 2015 and illegally obtaining the personally identifiable information of tens of thousands of its customers. He then parsed those records for individuals with military and government email accounts before providing their details to a Junaid Hussain, an Islamic State recruiter who administered the group’s cyber operations and had previously published a similar “kill list” containing the names and addresses of 100 U.S. military personnel, according to court documents.

Mr. Hussain was ultimately killed by a U.S. drone strike in August 2015. Two weeks prior to his death, however, he  took Ferizi’s hacked data and released it online in the form of a new list containing the information of approximately 1,300 U.S. government and military targets.

“[W]e are extracting confidential data and passing on your personal information to the soldiers of the khilafah, who soon with the permission of Allah will strike at your necks in your own lands!” reads an excerpt from a statement that accompanied the second kill list when it was tweeted by Hussain in mid August.

Federal investigators soon after identified Mr. Ferizi as the perpetrator of the Illinois hack and arranged to have him arrested in Sept. 2015 in Malaysia where he had been attending college. He was formally charged the following months and was subsequently extradited to the U.S. where he pleaded guilty earlier this year to providing material support to the Islamic State and accessing a protected computer without authorization and obtaining information in order to provide material support to the terror group.

In court Friday, Judge Brinkema said that “just having your name on a list, knowing that you’ve been identified by a terrorist group,” is a “terrorizing” experience, the Washington Post reported.

In a pre-sentencing memorandum, however, prosecutors said the hacker was well aware of the results his actions would have on the individuals whose names and sensitive information was widely shared among sympathizers of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, and agreed when Hussain told him that the data would help “hit them hard.”

“The threat to these 1,300 victims goes beyond the release of their private information,” U.S. Attorney Dana Boente wrote in a court filing earlier this month.

“They have now been marked as enemies of ISIL. Any ISIL member or sympathizer in the United States looking for a target now has the information belonging to 1,300 individuals who ISIL has specifically marked for attack. The victims have a permanent target on their backs. While the defendant may not have pulled a trigger, he told members of ISIL where to shoot.”

Mr. Ferizi will be deported to Kosovo upon completing his sentence and will be barred from reentering the United States.


More: Hacker Gets 20 Years for Sending US Hit List to ISIS

Prosecutors noted the psychological impact his actions had on those on the list. “This was a hit list,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Van Grack said. “The point was to find these individuals and hit them, to ‘strike at their necks’.”

MLB Once Again Disallows Free Speech: Do MLB Rules Overrule The U.S. Constitution?

(This article is courtesy of USA Today sports and the Reuters News Agency)

Mariners suspend Clevenger for remarks about protesters

Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners suspended catcher Steve Clevenger on Friday for posting inflammatory comments about civil unrest in Charlotte, North Carolina, that called for protesters to be “locked behind bars like animals.”

Back-up Clevenger, who has since apologized for posting the remarks on Thursday, was suspended for the last 10 games of the season without pay, the American League club said on Friday.

Two nights of street violence sprung from protests in Charlotte over the death of Keith Scott, 43, who was shot dead by a black police officer in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Charlotte on Tuesday.

Scott’s death was the latest in a long string of controversial police killings of black people by U.S. police that have stirred an intense debate on race and justice.

“Black people beating whites when a thug got shot holding a gun by a black police officer,” Clevenger tweeted on Thursday. “Haha (stuff) cracks me up! Keep kneeling for the Anthem!

“(Black Lives Matter) is pathetic once again! Obama you are pathetic once again! Everyone involved should be locked behind bars like animals!”

The Mariners on Thursday issued a statement about Clevenger’s remarks.

“The Seattle Mariners are very disappointed at the tweets posted on Steve Clevenger’s account,” the team said.

“While he is certainly free to express himself, his tweets do not in any way represent the opinions of the Seattle Mariners. We strongly disagree with the language and tone of his comments.”

Clevenger apologized hours after the Mariners’ statement.

“First and foremost I would like to apologize to the Seattle Mariners, my teammates, my family and the fans of our great game for the distraction my tweets on my personal twitter page caused when they went public earlier today,” Clevenger said.

“I am sickened by the idea that anyone would think of me in racist terms. My tweets were reactionary to the events I saw on the news and were worded beyond poorly at best and I can see how and why someone could read into my tweets far more deeply than how I actually feel.”

The 30-year-old Clevenger has not played for the Mariners since late June after suffering a broken hand and a flexor strain in his right elbow.

In 22 games this year, his only season for the Mariners, he is batting .221 with one home run and seven RBIs in 68 at-bats.

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