ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

Trump Turns Total Hypocrite, Ducks Congressional Heat By Accusing Russia of “Subversion and Destabilization”

[Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act]

Trump accuses Russia of ‘subversion and

destabilisation’ as he signs sanctions bill

 

 

The new law forces the US president to get approval from Congress before making any significant changes to Russian sanctions

 

US president Donald Trump is seen here in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on August 2, 2017, the same day he signed a sanctions bill on Russia, Iran and North Korea into law. Evan Vucci / AP
US president Donald Trump is seen here in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on August 2, 2017, the same day he signed a sanctions bill on Russia, Iran and North Korea into law. Evan Vucci / AP

US president Donald Trump accused Russia of “subversion and destabilisation” on Wednesday in a rare display of public criticism towards Moscow, as he added his final signature to a bill relating to sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea.

The “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act”, which received overwhelming backing from members of Congress is now US law.

“America will not tolerate interference in our democratic process, and … we will side with our allies and friends against Russian subversion and destabilization,” Mr Trump said, adding also that he favoured tough measures to “punish and deter bad behavior by the rogue regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang”.

Mr Trump has so far been reluctant to publicly accept US intelligence conclusions that Russia interfered in the 2016 election which saw him elected to president.

Despite these remarks, in typical Trump fashion he also called the bill he had just signed “flawed” for constraining the White House’s ability to negotiate with or about these countries.

“The bill remains seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate,” he said.

Mr Trump also warned that the new law “will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together”. He justified signing it for the sake “of national unity”.

“It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States,” he said.

The new law forces Mr Trump to get approval from Congress before making any significant changes to Russian sanctions. Such changes would be contingent on Congress accepting or rejecting them within a period of 30 days. Such restrictions are only applicable, however, to projects where sanctioned Russian entities have at least a 33 per cent interest.

The legislation also imposes new sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile programme and Revolutionary Guard network, and goes after North Korea’s shipping industry as well as its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a margin of 419 votes to 3, and the Senate by 98 votes to 2 last week.

Mark Dubowitz, an expert on sanctions at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, told The National that “the overwhelming bipartisan support for the Iran, Russia and North Korea sanctions left the [Trump] administration little choice but to sign the legislation.”

If the White House had vetoed the bill, Congress would have had the numbers to override that veto.

Mr Dubowitz called the legislation “a step in the right direction against three dangerous regimes”, saying “the bill imposes tough sanctions against the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) and those supporting Iran’s missile programme while creating much greater risks for foreign companies engaging with an Iranian economy over which the IRGC has enormous control”.

“The legislation also squeezes the hard currency earnings of both Moscow and Pyongyang as both regimes continue to increase their threats against the US and our Middle Eastern and Asian allies,” he added.

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Pentagon Bored With Nukes Too Powerful To Use…All That Destructive Force Going To Waste!

Pentagon considering ‘mini-nukes’ for

maximum deterrence

 

 

Air Force Gen. Paul Selva argues that for nuclear deterrence to work in the 21st century, the U.S. may need a little less bang for the buck.

Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, confirmed has confirmed that as part of the Pentagon’s ongoing nuclear posture review, it is looking at a new generation of low-yield “mini-nukes” in order to ensure that the threat from America’s nuclear arsenal remains credible.

The whole idea behind having nuclear weapons is to ensure they are never used, under the notion that the prospect of worldwide destruction that would come from a nuclear exchange is so horrifying that no sane person would contemplate a war that could destroy the planet.

But that also presents a conundrum: If an adversary knows the U.S. would never use nuclear weapons because they would result in Armageddon, the deterrent becomes less credible, especially for terrorists or non-state actors who can’t be dissuaded by the Cold War doctrine of mutual assured destruction.

Enter the variable yield nuclear weapon, such as an upgraded version of the B-61 gravity bomb, which has a “dial-a-yield” feature that can take it down to a fraction of kiloton, small enough to take out, say, the White House, while leaving the Pentagon intact.

“We have stated a requirement across multiple nuclear posture reviews to have variable yield. So, that is a path we’re pursuing pretty quickly,” Selva told the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute at the Capitol Hill Club on Thursday.

The problem with much of America’s nuclear weapons is they are too big to shoot.

“If the only options we have now are to go with high-yield weapons that create a level of indiscriminate killing that the president can’t accept, we haven’t provided him with an option,” Selva said.

“As horrible as nuclear war is, we do still apply some of the rules of war to it. So, a proportional reaction to an enemy’s attack is actually a righteous and reasonable thing to do.”

Arms control advocates say the logic is faulty. There’s a reason so-called “tactical” or battlefield nukes were eliminated from the U.S. nuclear arsenal decades ago.

“We have had ‘mini’ nuclear weapons since the beginning of the atomic age, including bombs with a fraction of the yields that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki — and those 15-kiloton bombs are considered small by today’s standards,” said Joe Cirincione, of the anti-proliferation Ploughshares Fund, who argues making nuclear weapons more usable just makes them more likely to be used.

“Big or small, there has not been a military mission that justified the use of any nuclear weapon in over 72 years,” Cirincione said. “The truth is that we can accomplish any military mission with conventional weapons without suffering the negative consequences of nuclear use and running the risk of escalation to a global nuclear war. If you have to use a nuclear weapon, you have already lost.”

Selva said he’s familiar with that argument.

“I discount it,” Selva said. “I don’t think a conventional response to a nuclear attack would be sufficient to deter the kind of people that would contemplate a nuclear attack.”

Selva, the nation’s No. 2 military officer, is heading up the Nuclear Posture Review along with Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan, the No. 2 civilian in the Pentagon.

Selva says the goal is to produce a menu of choices that will give President Trump options to deter Russia, China, and the emerging threat from North Korea.

“Everything’s on the table” from “conservative strategic approaches to radical new approaches,” Selva said.

But for a deterrence to be effective it must be credible, he insists. “It’s the will, the capacity, and the capability. If you don’t have all of those, deterrence fails.”

Gen. “Disaster” McMaster, Trump’s Weakest Link

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A letter from H.R. McMaster said Susan

Rice will keep her top-secret security

clearance

 

 

 

“Basically, this letter which was signed in the last week of April undercuts the president’s assertion that Susan Rice’s unmasking activity was inappropriate. In essence, anybody who committed a violation as she did would not be given access to classified information,” said a senior West Wing official.

 

Almost one month after it was disclosed that former President Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice was unmasking members of President Trump’s team and other Americans, Trump’s own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, sent an official letter giving her unfettered and continuing access to classified information and waiving her “need-to-know” requirement on anything she viewed or received during her tenure, Circa has confirmed.

The undated and unclassified letter from McMaster was sent in the mail to Rice’s home during the last week of April. Trump was not aware of the letter or McMaster’s decision, according to two senior West Wing officials and an intelligence official, who spoke to Circa on condition that they not be named.

This is the letter from McMaster to Rice. Names, phone numbers and personal addresses have been blurred.

“I hereby waive the requirement that you must have a ‘need-to-know’ to access any classified information contained in items you ‘originated, reviewed, signed or received while serving,’ as National Security Adviser,” the letter said. The letter also states that the “NSC will continue to work with you to ensure the appropriate security clearance documentation remains on file to allow you access to classified information.”

Circa revealed in March that during President Obama’s tenure, top aides — including Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch — routinely reviewed intelligence reports received from the National Security Agency’s incidental intercepts of Americans abroad. They were doing so by taking advantage of rules Obama relaxed starting in 2011 to help the government better fight terrorism, espionage by foreign enemies and hacking threats, according to documents obtained by Circa.

In June, the House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Rice as part of the committee’s larger investigation into the unmasking of Americans under the Obama administration. Rice maintains that she never accessed the information inappropriately and has agreed to testify before the committee.

Under the law, and under certain conditions, it is common practice for some senior government officials to be given the unfettered access to classified information, and their “need to know” is waived under “Executive Order 13526 Section 4.4 Access by Historical Researchers and Certain Former Government Personnel.” But the White House officials told Circa that under the current congressional investigation, and given President Trump’s ongoing concern that members of his team were unmasked, Rice’s clearance should have been limited to congressional testimony only or revoked until the end of the investigation. Rice and Brennan have confirmed they sought the unredacted names of Americans in NSA-sourced intelligence reports, but insisted their requests were routine parts of their work and that they did nothing improper. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power also has legal authority to unmask officials.

In a June tweet, Trump called the revelation that Rice and other Obama senior officials were unmasking members of his team the “big story… the ‘unmasking and surveillance’ that took place during the Obama administration.”

“Basically, this letter which was signed in the last week of April undercuts the president’s assertion that Susan Rice’s unmasking activity was inappropriate. In essence, anybody who committed a violation as she did would not be given access to classified information,” said a senior West Wing official, who was shown the document by Circa and verified its authenticity. “In fact, they would have their security clearance and right to ‘need-to-know’ stripped.”

“The point is, is that it lowers the bar for her,” the Senior West Wing official said.

“This memo McMaster sent to Rice makes it so that she doesn’t have to prove a continuing ‘need-to-know’ to have access to classified information and in effect is a White House pardon of Susan Rice and could be used by other Obama officials who conducted targeted unmasking of the campaign as a defense,” the official added.

The White House has not responded to requests for comment.

An intelligence official told Circa “that the NSA decision to provide this level of access to the subject of several ongoing investigations and to waive her ‘need-to-know’ requirement raises serious legal, moral and ethical concerns.”

According to information obtained by Circa, dozens of times in 2016, those intelligence reports identified Americans who were directly intercepted talking to foreign sources or who were the subject of conversations between two or more monitored foreign figures.

Sometimes Americans’ names were officially unmasked; other times they were so specifically described in the reports that their identities were readily discernible. Among those cleared to request and consume unmasked NSA-based intelligence reports about U.S. citizens were Rice, his Brennan and Lynch.

Shortly after Circa released the redacted documents disclosing the change in rules, it was revealed that Power had also extensively requested permission to unmask American names in incidental foreign intercepts.

US Warns of Defeating ISIS In Idlib, Only To Hand the City Over To Al-Qaida Nusra Forces

 

US warns of ‘grave consequences’ if Syria’s

al- Qaeda dominates Idlib

 

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Militants of Nusra Front. File photo

The United States warned a takeover of rebel-held northwestern Idlib province by Syrian militants linked to a former al-Qaeda affiliate would have grave consequences and make it difficult to dissuade Russia from renewing bombing that recently stopped.

In an online letter posted late on Wednesday, the top State Department official in charge of Syria policy, Michael Ratney, said the recent offensive by Hayat Tahrir al Sham, spearheaded by former al-Qaeda offshoot Nusra Front, had cemented its grip on the province and put “the future of northern Syria in big danger”.

“The north of Syria witnessed one of its biggest tragedies,” said Ratney who was behind secret talks in Amman with Moscow over the ceasefire in southwest Syria announced by US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in July. It was the first such US-Russian effort under the Trump administration to end Syria’s civil war.

“In the event of the hegemony of Nusra Front on Idlib, it would be difficult for the United States to convince the international parties not to take the necessary military measures,” the top State Department diplomat said. Mainly Islamist rebels swept through Idlib province in 2015, inflicting a string of defeats on the Syrian army until Russia stepped in to reverse the tide of the civil war in favour of President Bashar al Assad.

Idlib province, the only Syrian province that is entirely under rebel control, has been a major target of Russian and Syrian aerial strikes that caused hundreds of civilians casualties. The agricultural region had a respite since a Russian-Turkish brokered accord reached last May approved four de-escalation zones across Syria, among them one in Idlib province.

Many locals fear the militants’ hold on Idlib will again make the province a target of relentless attacks by Russian and Syrian forces and turn it into another devastated Aleppo or Mosul. More than two million people live in Idlib, which has become an overcrowded refuge for many of the displaced, including rebel fighters and their families.

“Everyone should know that Jolani and his gang are the ones who bear responsibility for the grave consequences that will befall Idlib,” said Ratney, referring to former Nusra head Abu Mohammad al Jolani who effectively leads Hayat Tahrir al Sham.

In less than three days Jolani’s fighters overran their powerful rival, the more mainstream Ahrar al Sham group, seizing control of a strategic border strip with Turkey in some of the heaviest inter-rebel fighting since the start of the conflict. Ratney told rebel groups, who have been forced to work with the militants out of expediency or for self-preservation, to steer away from the group before it was “too late.”

He said Washington would consider any organization in Idlib province that was a front for the a part of al-Qaeda’s network. The expanding influence of the former al-Qaeda has triggered civilian protests across towns in the province with some calling for the group to leave towns and not interfere in how they are run.

Nusra and its leaders would remain a target of Washington even if they adopted new names in an attempt to deny Washington and other powers a pretext to attack them, the US official said.

Source: Reuters

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