Monthly Archives: August 2013

An Unconstitutional Military Strike

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
By Alan Caruba

I don’t know why the White House doesn’t just send Syria’s Bashar al-Assad a map of where it intends to attack with Tomahawk and other missiles. The bottom line, however, is that this much heralded military adventure is unconstitutional. The President has no authority to initiate the use of the military against Syria.

This has not stopped presidents from engaging the nation in wars, but the last declaration of war, as specified in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11, occurred on December 11, 1941 against Germany as a response to its formal declaration of war against the United States. Three days earlier Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor initiating a state of war.

As the Tenth Amendment Center points out, “Unless fending off a physical invasion or attack, the president is required to get a Congressional declaration of war before engaging in military hostilities in another country.”

Let us be clear about this. Syria has not declared war on the United States and, while the use of gas goes against an international convention against it, the Assad regime has already killed 100,000 Syrians in a civil war. Nor is Syria the only nation in the Middle East known to have used gas. Saddam Hussein gassed several thousand Kurds in Halabja, Iraq in 1988 and used it in his eight-year war against Iran. The West’s response was to do nothing except to condemn it.

As Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, points out, “Warfare is a very serious business whose first imperative is to deploy forces to win—rather than to punish, make a statement, establish a symbolic point, or preen about one’s morality.”

President Obama’s first mode of governance is to make a speech and then to assume the problem is solved. From his very first speech in Cairo in 2009, those in charge in the Middle East interpreted his policies as weakness.

When President Clinton lobbed a few missiles by way of retaliation for al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa, Osama bin Laden concluded the U.S. was weak and set about planning the two attacks on the Twin Towers.

Dr. Pipes warns that “Bashar al-Assad’s notorious incompetence means his response cannot be anticipated. Western strikes could, among other possibilities, inadvertently lead to increased regime attacks on civilians, violence against Israel, an activation of sleeper cells in Western countries, or heightened dependence on Tehran. Surviving the strikes also permits Assad to boast that he defeated the United States.”

The Wall Street Journal opined that “there is no good outcome in Syria until Assad and his regime are gone. Military strikes that advance that goal—either by targeting Assad directly or crippling his army’s ability to fight—deserve the support of the American people and our international partners. That’s not what the Administration has in mind.”

What Obama has in mind is a symbolic attack in much the same way killing bin Laden was both necessary and symbolic. In making the announcement Obama declared “Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort.  There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us.  We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad,” adding that ”As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam.”

Islam, however, is at war with the United States and the West. That is the declared aim of both al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The war in Syria is a civil war. There is no good outcome no matter whether the Assad regime wins or is overthrown. There is no strategic or tactical victory to be achieved by the United States in either case. Simply punishing the regime for using gas achieves nothing except to expend several million dollars’ worth of missiles.

The Tenth Amendment Center points out that “As they did in the war against Libya, those violating these strict constitutional limitations will like refer to an attack on Syria as something other than ‘war.’ But, changing the words they use to describe their actions doesn’t change the constitutional ramifications. Under the Constitution, a war is a war whether you call it a war or something else.”

The time is long past when America must address whether our military interventions in the Middle East have demonstrated any success. To date, they have not. The majority of Americans are opposed to an attack on Syria and both the Constitution and the collected wisdom of the public argue strongly against it.

We are, however, too far down the road thanks to the administration’s declared intention to do so. War it has been said is to be an extension of politics. We will witness a political gesture and one that is intended to demonstrate Obama is a leader internationally and domestically. He is neither.

It will be an attack on the constitutional powers of Congress as much as an attack on Syria.

Source: © Alan Caruba, 2013

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U.S. :: Al Qaeda-linked Group Behind Benghazi Attack Trains Jihadists for Syrian Rebel Groups

Ansar al-Sharia running training camps in Benghazi and Darnah

 
August 28, 2013
BY: Bill Gertz

U.S. intelligence agencies earlier this month uncovered new evidence that al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Benghazi are training foreign jihadists to fight with Syria’s Islamist rebels, according to U.S. officials.

Ansar al-Sharia, the al Qaeda-affiliated militia that U.S. officials say orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound and a CIA facility in Benghazi, is running several training camps for jihadists in Benghazi and nearby Darnah, another port city further east, said officials who discussed some details of the camps on condition of anonymity.

The officials said the terror training camps have been in operation since at least May and are part of a network that funnels foreign fighters to Syrian rebel groups, including the Al-Nusra Front, the most organized of the Islamist rebel groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus.

The officials said the jihadist training is a clear indication that Ansar al-Sharia continues to conduct terrorist activities and is linked to jihadists in both Syria and North Africa.

Disclosure of the terror training camps also bolsters earlier intelligence assessments that Libya, following the death of Muammar Qaddafi, is now a focal point for al Qaeda terrorist activity in North Africa.

Information about the terrorist training camps in northeastern Libya was uncovered after the arrest of several jihadists near the port city of Darnah in early August.

Other information about the camps appeared online at jihadist social media outlets around the same time.

Two men identified as Tunisians disclosed the existence of the training camps in Benghazi after they were interrogated by a local militia group in northern Libya.

At the time of their arrest, the Tunisians stated that they were trained in small arms use and were on their way to join Syria rebels by traveling first to Benghazi, then Istanbul, and over land across Turkey and into northern Syria.

According to the officials, the Tunisians were arrested Aug. 3. Inside their car, the militia found six passports, an AK-47 assault rifle, and foreign currency. A total of four people traveling in the car, including two Libyans, clashed with guards at a security checkpoint at the time of the arrest.

One of the men said he was an associate of Ansar al-Sharia’s leader Sufian Ben Qumu, an al Qaeda terrorist released from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007.

Details of the number of jihadist training camps and jihadists was not disclosed, but the officials said there are several training camps.

The Ansar al-Sharia Brigade in Benghazi was formed in early 2012 from several Islamist militias that fought during the 2011 revolution that ousted Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. The group was forced to relocate its operating bases based on local opposition to the group’s role in attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound.

Ansar al-Sharia is engaged in overt charitable activities and armed patrols in Benghazi, in addition to the covert terrorist training. The group has sought to play down its role in jihadist activities to avoid both the Libyan government and international scrutiny.

Ansar al-Sharia in Darnah was founded by former members of the terrorist Salim Martyrs Brigade and operates a base west of Darnah.

Libyan officials told Britain’s Arabic language newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat earlier this month that some type of covert U.S. military action was taken against al Qaeda bases in Darnah. However, Pentagon spokesmen said they had no information about such attack that reportedly took place Aug. 11.

U.S. intelligence agencies believe Libya has produced more jihadist rebels for the Syrian conflict than any other outside nation. Some 20 percent of foreign jihadists in Syria came from Libya and that several hundred are currently in the country.

Over 100 Libyans were reported killed in Syrian fighting for such rebel groups as Al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Umma Brigade, Muhajirin Brigade, and Ahrar al-Sham, an Al-Nusra offshoot.

The jihadist training highlights the danger that Libya is becoming a breeding ground for al Qaeda terrorists. Officials said the weak central government in Tripoli has allowed Islamist militias to flourish, including in Benghazi and Darnah where the two factions Ansar al-Sharia groups operate.

The Ansar al-Sharia Brigade was blamed by U.S. officials for carrying out the deadly Benghazi terrorist attack Sept. 11.

The Obama administration sought to cover up the terrorist attack in the weeks before the presidential election by initially claiming the action was the result of a spontaneous demonstration triggered by an anti-Islamic Internet video.

Four Americans were killed in the attack, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

A Pentagon report from August 2012 published by the Library of Congress stated that al Qaeda senior leaders and the group al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) “have sought to take advantage of the Libyan Revolution to recruit militants and to reinforce their operational capabilities in an attempt to create a safe haven and possibly to extend their area of operations to Libya.”

The report said al Qaeda is developing a “clandestine network” in Libya that could be used in the future to destabilize the government and offer logistical support for al Qaeda activities in the region.

The report said that AQIM has formed sleeper cells that “are probably connected to an al Qaeda underground network in Libya, likely as a way, primarily, to secure the supply of arms for its ongoing jihadist operations in Algeria and the Sahel.”

“The al Qaeda clandestine network is currently in an expansion phase, running training camps and media campaigns on social-media platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube,” the report said. “However it will likely continue to mask its presence under the umbrella of the Libyan Salafist movement, with which it shares a radical ideology and a general intent to implement sharia in Libya and elsewhere.”

To avoid attacks, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya “could be the new face of al Qaeda in Libya despite its leader’s denial.”

Source

“Kosovo and Syria: Two Convenient Lies” an essay by Norma Brown

Posted on August 28, 2013
Asylum Watch

When I contacted Norma Brown about her writing an opinion on this administrations plans to attack Syria in response to Syria’s apparent use of chemical weapons in their civil war (posted here yesterday), I sent her a link to the New York Times article, Air War In Kosovo Seen as Precedent in Possible Response to Syria Chemical Attack. I knew from some of her first posts at Ooobie on Everything that she had been in Kosovo in her capacity as a then US Foreign Service Officer and that she had strong opinions about NATO’s interdiction there. I was interested in what she would have to say about Kosovo being used as a precedent for sojourn into the Syrian conflict.  So, let’s see what Norma Brown has to say on the subject.

Read Here:  “Kosovo and Syria: Two Convenient Lies” an essay by Norma Brown | Asylum Watch.

Evidence: Syrian Rebels used Chemical Weapons (not Assad)

Saudi Chemicals in hands of Syrian Rebels

August 27, 2013
By  

By Walid Shoebat and Ben Barrack

Recent news of a chemical weapons attack in Syria smacks of desperation. The question comes down to who is most desperate right now, the Assad regime or the Muslim Brotherhood rebels? Consider that since June, Assad’s forces have been winning. According to a CBS News report from last month, victories for the rebels had become “increasingly rare” and that the Muslim Brotherhood-backed opposition fighters were sustaining “some of their heaviest losses” near Damascus.

The New York Times echoed this sentiment, even saying that before gaining the upper hand, concerns were that Assad would use chemical weapons; he did not.

In fact, even before Assad’s forces gained the momentum, a UN official reportedly found evidence of rebels using chemical weapons but no evidence Assad’s regime did. This, from a Washington Times article by Shaun Waterman dated May 6, 2013:

Testimony from victims strongly suggests it was the rebels, not the Syrian government, that used Sarin nerve gas during a recent incident in the revolution-wracked nation, a senior U.N. diplomat said Monday.

Carla del Ponte, a member of the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, told Swiss TV there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” that rebels seeking to oust Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad had used the nerve agent.

But she said her panel had not yet seen any evidence of Syrian government forces using chemical weapons, according to the BBC, but she added that more investigation was needed. {emphasis ours}

Today, while the rebels are more desperate than they were at the time of that article, evidence of rebels using chemical weapons is available; evidence Assad’s regime has used them is not.

Waterman wrote…

Rebel Free Syrian Army spokesman Louay Almokdad denied that rebels had use chemical weapons.

That doesn’t square with a video uploaded on August 23, 2013, in which Free Syrian operatives threatened to launch chemical weapons:

Read More & Video: Evidence: Syrian Rebels used Chemical Weapons (not Assad) | Walid ShoebatWalid Shoebat.

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