Yesterday Dan Rather, the former CBS News anchor who was fired after reporting President George W. Bush dodged the draft based on fraudulent documents, offered a full defense of President Obama and slammed his critics. Rather said it is difficult to be "nice" to Onama's critics because they want to "cut his heart out and throw his liver to the dogs." Newsbusters reminds us this is the second time Rather has made this comment. The first time was on Chris Matthews' show on MSNBC, of course.
Are diplomats at an official Saudi government compound in the United States engaged in human trafficking? Looks like it.
A case of "possible human trafficking" at a Saudi diplomatic compound in Virginia is under investigation, Homeland Security confirmed to News4.
Agents from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations and Fairfax County police were called to a home in the 6000 block of Orris Street in McLean overnight and, in the words of a source familiar with the investigation, "rescued" two women. One woman reportedly tried to flee by squeezing through a gap in the front gate as it was closing.
It's not clear if the women, who sources say are from the Philippines, called investigators to the home themselves or if someone else did.
"Homeland Security Investigations DC did encounter two potential victims of trafficking and the investigation is ongoing," a D.C.-based spokesman for ICE/Homeland Security investigations told News4.
If the women are from the Philippines, there is a high chance they are being trafficking for sex. Saudi Arabia has a history of using the sex trade in the Philippines. From a 2009 State Department report:
The Philippines is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. A significant number of Filipino men and women who migrate abroad for work are subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude in Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Palau, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Muslim Filipina girls from Mindanao were trafficked to the Middle East by other Muslims.
This story will most likely be treated as a local crime issue when in fact, it's a major international problem. The incident above didn't happen in the Philippines or in the Middle East, it happened in one of the most affluent parts of the United States. Not to mention, these women allegedly escaped from an official Saudi government compound.
As the debate over illegal immigration continues to rage on Capitol Hill, President Obama will be meeting with newly minted Mexican President Pena Nieto today. Apparently, things with Mexico could be changing on a number of levels, but the most alarming surrounds how the two countries combat Mexican drug cartels.
"I think that in my first conversation with [Peña Nieto], he indicated to me that he very much continues to be concerned about how we can work together to deal with transnational drug cartels," Obama said at a press conference Tuesday at the White House. "We’ve made great strides in the coordination and cooperation between our two governments over the last several years. But my suspicion is is that things can be improved."
Peña Nieto’s government has suggested it may move away from aggressive prosecution of its battle against drug cartels, which have wracked the country with violence. His reformist agenda leaves open the question as to how – and whether – the U.S. and Mexico will continue to pool resources in fighting drug lords.
Mexican cartel actiity not only effects Mexico, it has had a substantial negative impact on the criminal justice system here in the United States. The Associated Press recently issued an extensive report detailing cartel infiltration into more than a dozen U.S. states, many far away from the border.
Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the U.S. border are dispatching some of their most trusted agents to live and work deep inside the United States — an emboldened presence that experts believe is meant to tighten their grip on the world's most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.
If left unchecked, authorities say, the cartels' move into the American interior could render the syndicates harder than ever to dislodge and pave the way for them to expand into other criminal enterprises such as prostitution, kidnapping-and-extortion rackets and money laundering.
But a wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. Cartel operatives are suspected of running drug-distribution networks in at least nine non-border states, often in middle-class suburbs in the Midwest, South and Northeast.
"It's probably the most serious threat the United States has faced from organized crime," said Jack Riley, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Chicago office.
If Nieto plans to give violent cartels a pass, that's unacceptable and an indication of failed leadership and corruption. Either way, that wouldn't surprising because after all, recent reports show many Mexican government officials are part of the problem.
With evidence building that drug cartels have penetrated deep into Mexican government, law enforcement and society, authorities fear the narcotics trade might be on its way to turning the country into a Colombian-style "narco-democracy."
Other items on the agenda for Obama's meeting today include immigration and the economy.
President Barack Obama is headed to Mexico with a domestic ambition at the top of his travel agenda. To sell his immigration overhaul back home, he needs a growing economy in Mexico and a Mexican president willing to help him secure the border.
Obama was to fly to Mexico City on Thursday to meet with President Enrique Pena Nieto, eager to promote Mexico's economic success and the neighboring country's place as the second largest export market for U.S. goods and services. Mexicans will be hanging on the president's words, but Obama also has in mind an important audience back in the United States.
The Boston Police Department has just announced the arrest of three additional terror suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing case.
More from the Boston Globe:
Three college students have been arrested by federal authorities in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings, a law enforcement official familar with the case said this morning.
The Boston police Web page said that three additional “suspects” had been taken into custody. It emphasized that there was no threat to public safety.
The three people were connected to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, the surviving bomb suspect, at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Tsarnaev was a student. They allegedly helped him after the bombing, a different source told the Globe.
“Additional details will be provided when they become available,” police said in a statement. No news conference was scheduled.
Up until this point, the Boston attacks carried out by brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have been classified as "lone wolf attacks."
President Obama expressed confidence that U.S. intelligence was functioning at a level sufficient to prevent large terrorist attacks, but warned of the difficulty agencies might have in tracking and preventing lone wolf attacks like the one in Boston earlier this month.
Yesterday is was reported that the DNA of a female was found on one of the pressure cookers used by the Tsarnaev's as a bomb.
Investigators have found female DNA on at least one of the bombs used in the Boston Marathon attacks, though they haven't determined whose DNA it is or whether that means a woman helped the two suspects carry out the attacks, according to U.S. officials briefed on the probe. The officials familiar with the case cautioned that there could be multiple explanations for why the DNA of someone other than the two bombing suspects—Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar—could have been found on remnants of the exploded devices. The genetic material could have come, for example, from a store clerk who handled materials used in the bombs or a stray hair that ended up in the bomb.
Yesterday President Obama claimed during a press conference that he was "unaware" of Benghazi whistleblowers being prevented by his administration from coming forward with valuable information about the terrorist attack on September 11, 2012.
Obama's response prompted Chairmain of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa to issue the following statement:
A lawyer for Benghazi whistleblowers has publicly stated that the State Department is blocking her client’s ability to talk freely with counsel. Over the past two weeks, I have sent four letters requesting that this Administration make information available about how lawyers – who already have security clearances and are representing Benghazi whistleblowers – can be cleared to fully hear their clients’ stories. I have yet to receive any response from the Obama Administration.
Even if the President really doesn’t know anything about someone wanting to come forward, his position should be that whistleblowers deserve protection and that anyone who has different information about Benghazi is free to come forward to Congress. The President’s unwillingness to commit himself to protecting whistleblowers only aids those in his Administration who are intimidating them.
Stonewalling over a cover-up? This is standard procedure for the Obama administration. President Obama has no interest in protecting whistleblowers, he's interested in punishing them for daring to to tell the truth about his failures.
The Food and Drug Administration officially made the morning after pill available to children without parental consent or a doctor's prescription yesterday, going against the positions of pro-life groups and the Obama administration. Previously, the morning after pill, known as Plan B, was only available over-the-counter to those 17 years of age.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced that it has approved an amended application submitted by Teva Women’s Health, Inc. to market Plan B One-Step (active ingredient levonorgestrel) for use without a prescription by women 15 years of age and older.
The good news (I guess) is the morning after pill was not made available to women of any age at any time without parental consent as previously expected.
The product will now be labeled “not for sale to those under 15 years of age *proof of age required* not for sale where age cannot be verified.” Plan B One-Step will be packaged with a product code prompting a cashier to request and verify the customer’s age. A customer who cannot provide age verification will not be able to purchase the product. In addition, Teva has arranged to have a security tag placed on all product cartons to prevent theft.
Not surprisingly, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards is celebrating.
On January 1 Speaker John Boehner made the decision to pull the Hurricane Sandy Relief bill from a vote because it was full of pork and pet projects. The bill included everything from funding for Amtrak to Alaska fisheries, hardly close to helping those devastated by the storm. As a reminder:
The pork-barrel feast includes more than $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Homeland Security and Justice departments. It also includes a whopping $150 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to dole out to fisheries in Alaska and $2 million for the Smithsonian Institution to repair museum roofs in DC.
An eye-popping $13 billion would go to “mitigation” projects to prepare for future storms.
Other big-ticket items in the bill include $207 million for the VA Manhattan Medical Center; $41 million to fix up eight military bases along the storm’s path, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; $4 million for repairs at Kennedy Space Center in Florida; $3.3 million for the Plum Island Animal Disease Center and $1.1 million to repair national cemeteries.
Budget watchdogs have dubbed the 94-page emergency-spending bill “Sandy Scam.”
Regardless of the original "Sandy Relief Bill" not really being about Sandy relief, Boehner's move prompted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to hold an angry press conference the next day. He berated House Republicans for the failure of the bill.
"There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims, the House majority and their Speaker John Boehner," Christie said.
Throughout seven minutes of official remarks in response to Boehner's move, Christie didn't mention pet projects a single time. Finally, at the very end of the press conference (27 minute mark) in response to a reporter, Christie pointed out some of the pet projects put into the bill.
On January 4, a bill to replenish the federal government's flood insurance fund was passed by the House and Senate and was signed by President Obama. On January 15, the House passed a $51 billion Sandy Relief package and it wasn't until January 29 that the remainder of the relief passed after stalling from the Democratic controlled Senate for weeks.
Today, Christie is claiming he never supported a pork ridden bill and demanded pork be stripped out of Sandy Relief from the beginning, which isn't true.
"My criticism was after they did not pass the GOP version of the bill without the pork in last Congress," posted on Twitter today.
In fact, he helped solicit votes for the pork ridden version of the bill Boehner pulled.
"My help was enlisted in rounding up votes. I spoke to members from all over the country. I spent most of New Years Eve and New Years Day on the phone with members of Congress from all over the country soliciting their support and vote for this package," Christie said on January 2.
The entire reason Christie held the press conference above was in response to the bill pulled on January 1, not the amended versions passed later in January.
And to Christie's claim the final and passed version of the Sandy Relief bill had all the pork stripped out of it, he's wrong on that too.
The House added another $33 billion in unrelated spending that includes $10 million for FBI salaries, $2 billion for road construction across the country, as well as funding for the Head Start program, and roof repairs at the Smithsonian.
House Republicans were successful in cutting some pork, including $500 million for weather forecasting and to help create an ocean zoning plan, one of Obama’s pet projects.
Christie used the Sandy Hurricane Relief bill as a convenient political opportunity to slam his own party. Now, he's backtracking and trying to rewrite history. The facts of his tantrum speak for themselves.
"I understand it's challenging as a politician it's hard to stop playing politics but we have jobs to do," Christie said during the press conference. "Politicians in Washington D.C. will say whatever they need to say to get through the next day."
And apparently so will you, Governor.
During a press conference Tuesday at the White House, President Obama renewed his failed promise to close Guantanamo Bay prison [GITMO].
"I continue to believe we need to close GITMO," Obama said in response to a question about a detainee hunger strike currently going on at the prison. "I'm going to go back at it."
Obama said he didn't want detainees engaging in a hunger strike to die, said the prison is a recruitment tool for extremists and that "Guantanamo is not necessary to keep Americans safe."
When he campaigned for President in 2007, Obama promised to close GITMO. Today he pointed to Congress as the reason it is still open and said terrorists have been successfully prosecuted and detained inside the United States.
"Congress determined that they would not let us close it," Obama said.
As a reminder, at least one of the men behind the September 11 Benghazi terrorist attack was released from GITMO and rejoined the Jihad, resulting in the murder of four Americans including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Intelligence sources tell Fox News they are convinced the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was directly tied to Al Qaeda -- with a former Guantanamo detainee involved.
Sufyan Ben Qumu is thought to have been involved and even may have led the attack, Fox News' intelligence sources said. Qumu, a Libyan, was released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007 and transferred into Libyan custody on the condition he be kept in jail. He was released by the Qaddafi regime as part of its reconciliation effort with Islamists in 2008.
His Guantanamo files also show he has ties to the financiers behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The declassified files also point to ties with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a known Al Qaeda affiliate.
The attack on the consulate in Benghazi came just months after President Obama claimed Al Qaeda was "on the run."
UPDATE: As a reminder, 70 percent of Americans want GITMO open.
70 percent of Americans say they approve of President Obama’s decision to keep open the Guantanamo Bay prison. The Post said 53 percent of self-described liberal Democrats and 67 percent of moderate or conservative Democrats support keeping it in operation.
Speaking today to reporters at the White House, President Obama denied knowing anything about Benghazi survivor claims that their testimony and efforts to become whistleblowers have been blocked.
"I'm not familiar with this notion that anybody has been blocked from testifying," Obama said in response to a question from FoxNews' Ed Henry. "I'm not familiar with it."
President Obama said he would "find out" what was going on and that of course he is dedicated to making sure U.S. embassies around the world are secure and safe for diplomats.
Fox News reporter James Rosen revealed yesterday that Benghazi whistleblowers have been threatened by the Obama administration according to their attorneys.
At least four career officials at the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency have retained lawyers or are in the process of doing so, as they prepare to provide sensitive information about the Benghazi attacks to Congress, Fox News has learned.
Victoria Toensing, a former Justice Department official and Republican counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee, is now representing one of the State Department employees. She told Fox News her client and some of the others, who consider themselves whistle-blowers, have been threatened by unnamed Obama administration officials.
“I'm not talking generally, I'm talking specifically about Benghazi – that people have been threatened,” Toensing said in an interview Monday. “And not just the State Department. People have been threatened at the CIA.”
“It's frightening, and they're doing some very despicable threats to people,” she said. “Not ‘we're going to kill you,’ or not ‘we're going to prosecute you tomorrow,’ but they're taking career people and making them well aware that their careers will be over [if they cooperate with congressional investigators].”
Whistleblower retaliation is status quo for the Obama administration. This is the same thing that happened in the Fast and Furious scandal. Careers of whistleblowers were ruined and their lives were deliberately negatively changed.
Back in October, Kerry Picket wrote about the Obama administration's use of the Espionage Act to silence whistleblowers, which they would justify in the Benghazi case due to national security being at the center of the controversy.
In light of Americans who are demanding answers from the Obama administration on why four Americans were denied help for military assistance when the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi was under attack, there is little chance that any whistle-blower with first hand information will step forward as long as President Barack Obama is still in office.
Republicans are demanding the administration turnover material, including video, that explain what happened in Benghazi, but the President is more likely to cite executive privilege and use the hammer of his Justice Department to keep anybody who knows anything quiet.
Bloomberg News reported on October 17 that Attorney General Eric Holder “prosecuted more government officials for alleged leaks under the World War I-era Espionage Act than all his predecessors combined, including law-and-order Republicans John Mitchell, Edwin Meese and John Ashcroft.”
The Espionage Act, bans unlawful disclosure of national security information to individuals not authorized to get it. The act was signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1917 and has been used to prosecute double agents like Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen.
But of course, the administration is only interested in punishing whistleblowers exposing corruption and lies.
However, when leaks to the press benefit the administration, prosecutions from the Justice Department are absent. For example, AG Holder was not prosecuting anyone over who leaked information about the killing of Oasma bin Laden. The Justice Department has yet to charge anyone over leaking information regarding the U.S. involvement in cyberattacks on Iran as well as an al Qaida plan to blow up a U.S. bound airplane. In fact, the Justice Department ended up appointing one of two attorneys to the cyberattacks investigation who was an Obama donor.
As a reminder, retaliation against whistleblowers is illegal and against the Whistleblower Protection Act which was reinforced last year.
A new poll conducted by the Left leaning Huffington Post shows Fox News, not CNN, is America's choice for trustworthy news. The survey questions were based on the Boston Marathon bombing coverage of both networks. Newsbusters has the details:
During the poll, which was based on interviews of 1,000 adults last Friday and Saturday, the bad news for CNN began when people were asked how believable the news was from that channel during the Boston bombings. The biggest response was 35 percent stating “I don't watch CNN.”
As a result, 38 percent of the respondents said the channel was “very” or “somewhat” believable, and 21 percent said it was “not very” or “not at all believable.”
Also, MSNBC had no reason to smile since the poll indicated that 42 percent of the people polled “don't watch” the channel. In addition, the liberal channel fared poorly in the “very” or “somewhat” believable category with 35 percent.
However, the survey brought good news for the Fox News Channel, which had a 50 percent rating in the categories of “very” and “somewhat” believable even though 28 percent of those polled said they don't watch the cable news outlet, which is far less than its competitors.
During the week of the Boston Marathon bombings, Fox News topped all cable in ratings, further verifying the polling above.
Fox News beat out all other cable programming in total viewership last week during its coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings.
In both total day and primetime totals for the week of April 15-21, Fox beat out cable powerhouses like the USA Network (which typically ranks first), the History Channel, A&E, and Nickelodeon. Election coverage notwithstanding, the last time a news network ranked first among all cable was nearly a decade ago during coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Standing atop the primetime total viewership rankings, Fox accrued 2.87M average for the week, beating out second-place USA’s 2.62M. CNN also experienced a ratings boost, finishing third among all primetime cable with 1.99M average. MSNBC, however, finished in 19th-place with 923k average.