This is life in the US with a reality TV star running the show

During Trump’s interview with NBC’s worm “both sides do it” Chuck Todd for Meet the Press, scheduled to be fully broadcast on Sunday, he said that if he declares war on Iran (surprise he can’t legally do that), it will mean “obliteration like you’ve never seen before.” He almost immediately tried to qualify this by saying that “I’m not looking to do that” and that there were no pre-conditions on talks with Tehran. This is the same dumb script as his lame “fire and fury” North Korea TV drama.

Earlier this week, Trump was supposedly on the verge of launching a strike on Iran following the downing of a U.S. drone that the Pentagon claims was over international waters, but supposedly aborted the mission minutes before it was to be carried out. Ya right! (How can we believe anything coming from this criminal, he lies when he breathes)

Trump’s administration has been provoking Iran at every turn, including breaking the multilateral nuclear agreement with the country and declaring the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group. Some members of Trump’s inner circle, particularly National Security Adviser and full-time warmonger John Bolton, have been itching for a military conflict with Iran. In recent weeks, however, Trump himself wants to have dinner with the Iranian leader.

Now even the conservative hawkish Wall Street Journal has scorched Trump for getting played by Iran in a brutal editorial. In a scathing column from the editors of the Journal, Trump received a dressing down for his aborted attack on Iran with the piece saying the Middle Eastern country “called his bluff” and he will come to regret it. The editors took idiot Trump to task for not only ordering an attack and changing his mind at the last minute — but for also for his lame attempt to lay the blame on the Pentagon.

“It’s important to understand how extraordinary this is. The Commander in Chief ordered ships and planes into battle but recalled them because he hadn’t asked in advance what the damage and casualties might be? While the planes were in the air, he asked, oh, by the way? This is hard to take at face value,” they wrote.

No shit, in our opinion this was no doubt another one Trumps stupid good cop bad cop negotiating ploys to get a sit-down meeting with the Iranians to try and bully and charm them simultaneously. That tactic will never work. Clearly, this imbecile has never done business with any Iranians. They don’t play like that.

Is Trump ready to fight Iran by using Israel as his surrogate?

Trump in the past gave the green light to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister to go after Iran

Yesterday Israel launched air attacks  that reportedly hit an airport on the outskirts of al-Suwayda, in southern Syria, and a weapons depot near the capital, Damascus.

Netanyahu has described his country’s most significant air attacks on Syria in decades as a heavy blow to Syria and Iran. 

Is this beginning of a more serious conflict with Iran, with Israel acting as the surrogate for Trump?

Israeli soldiers on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the border with Syria, February 10, 2018. Syrian air defenses repelled an Israeli raid on a military base in the center of the country, hitting more than one warplane, state media said. The report came after the Israeli military said one of its fighter jets had crashed during strikes against ‘Iranian targets’ in Syria after intercepting a drone. JALAA MAREY/AFP/GETTY

Here’s an opinion piece from Newsweek on the topic:

If you were an Israeli living in Northern Israel, you were awakened yesterday morning by sirens and sounds of explosions.

If you were in the rest of the country, you learned of attacks as you woke up, to news reports and notifications on your phones of missile warning in the North.

This morning Israeli intelligence spotted an Iranian drone taking off from an Iranian base T-4, near Tadmor Syria. Israel tracked the drone as it approached Israel’s border. Waiting at the border was a group of Israeli Apache attack helicopters that swiftly downed the drone.

The Iranian action was not totally unexpected and the Israeli Air Force was ready with a quick response — a response that included attacking the Iranian base, as well as destroying the command and control vehicle that sent the drone.

According to some Israeli sources, the attacks took place using stand-off advanced weaponry that did not require Israeli planes having to actually enter Syria.

The Syrians fired an unprecedented number of anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli aircraft. One of the Israeli planes, an F-16i flying over Northern Israel, was struck by a missile. It tried to reach the Israeli air base in the Galilee, but the crew realized they would not make it and ejected.

The plane crashed into an empty field. The pilot was seriously injured, seemingly from the missile attack on the plane, and the navigator was only slightly injured. It was the first Israeli fighter aircraft that has been shot down since 1982.

Israel responded with a much larger strike in Syria, attacking 12 targets including 4 Iranian targets, and at least four Syrian missile emplacements destroying all of the sites that fired on the Israeli planes. According to Israeli sources, it was the largest and most successful attack on the missile system in Syria since the Lebanon War of 1982.

Israelis are now asking themselves whether we have been living in a period of false peace? Have things fundamentally changed? The answer seems to be yes.

The major change is the fact that the Iranians directly sent a drone into Israel. It is not clear if the drone was on an attack mission, or merely an intelligence mission — but the nature of the mission is not really relevant. The Iranians have taken a strategic decision to confront Israel directly, and that constitutes a change.

Israel has made it clear that it will not allow the Iranians to establish advanced bases in Syria and the Iranians are determined to establish those bases. Additional confrontations can be expected.

The downing of an Israeli F-16i came as a surprise. While the Israeli Air Force never believed that its planes were untouchable, the fact that the plane was hit, while over Israel, clearly came as a surprise. Clearly some of the built-in advance defensive systems of the F-16 failed to work.

In reality, one should not be shocked, as no systems work 100 percent of the time. Still, the Syrians are celebrating the downing of the first Israeli planes in decades.

It should be noted that according to Israeli sources, the Iranian drone was one with an advanced semi-stealth design, based on the technology of the American RQ-170 drone, captured by the Iranians in 2011. The fact that this drone has been recovered mostly intact, should provide important intelligence about the Iranian abilities.

An additional lesson learned today was the complete absence of the United States. Not since the 1950s has America been such an irrelevant actor in events in this part of the Middle East.

Yesterday morning, the President of the United States was busy with irrelevant tweets. In an unusual move the Department of Defense was the department issuing a statement- defending Israel’s right to defend itself.

Marc Schulman Newsweek

Trump has put the C.I.A.’s “Dark Prince Ayatollah Mike” in charge of provoking Iran into a conflict

A centerpiece of the Trump “so called America First” foreign policy position since he first announced his a candidacy is to set up Iran is the big-time middle east boogie man and start a conflict with them. This position has endeared him with Israeli strong man Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and the Christian far right in the US.

Sunni or Shiite???

 

WASHINGTON — He is known as the Dark Prince or Ayatollah Mike, nicknames he earned as the Central Intelligence Agency officer who oversaw the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the American drone strike campaign that killed thousands of Islamist militants and hundreds of civilians. (also known in the agency as “the undertaker” for aggressively stepping up the CIA’s use of drone warfare)  

Now the official, Michael D’Andrea, has a new job. He is running the C.I.A.’s Iran operations, according to current and former intelligence officials, an appointment that is the first major sign that the Trump administration is invoking the hard line the president took against Iran during his campaign.

Mr. D’Andrea’s new role is one of a number of moves inside the spy agency that signal a more muscular approach to covert operations under the leadership of Mike Pompeo, the conservative Republican and former congressman, the officials said. The agency also recently named a new chief of counterterrorism, who has begun pushing for greater latitude to strike militants.

Iran has been one of the hardest targets for the C.I.A. The agency has extremely limited access to the country — no American embassy is open to provide diplomatic cover — and Iran’s intelligence services have spent nearly four decades trying to counter American espionage and covert operations.

The challenge to start carrying out President Trump’s views falls to Mr. D’Andrea, a chain-smoking convert to Islam, who comes with an outsize reputation and the track record to back it up: Perhaps no single C.I.A. official is more responsible for weakening Al Qaeda.

“He can run a very aggressive program, but very smartly,” said Robert Eatinger, a former C.I.A. lawyer who was deeply involved in the agency’s drone program.

The C.I.A. declined to comment on Mr. D’Andrea’s role, saying it does not discuss the identities or work of clandestine officials. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because Mr. D’Andrea remains undercover, as do many senior officials based at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Va. Mr. Eatinger did not use his name. The New York Times is naming Mr. D’Andrea because his identity was previously published in news reports, and he is leading an important new administration initiative against Iran.

Mr. Trump called Iran “the number one terror state” and pledged throughout the campaign to dismantle or revise the landmark deal between Iran and six world powers in which Tehran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The president has not gone through with that threat, and his administration has quietly recertified Iran’s compliance with the deal. But he has invoked his hard line on Iran in other ways. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has described the deal as a failure, and Mr. Trump has appointed to the National Security Council hawks eager to contain Iran and push regime change, the groundwork for which would most likely be laid through C.I.A. covert action.

Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, was an infantry commander during the early years of the war in Iraq, and he believes that Iranian agents who were aiding Iraqi insurgents were responsible for the deaths of a number of his soldiers. Derek Harvey, the senior director for the Middle East at the council, is also considered an Iran hawk.

And Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the council’s senior director for intelligence — the main White House liaison to intelligence agencies — has told other administration officials that he wants to use American spies to help oust the Iranian government, according to multiple defense and intelligence officials.

Mr. Pompeo, who represented south-central Kansas in the House, was among the fiercest congressional critics of the Iran deal. Two months before the election, he published an essay in Foreign Policy magazine titled, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Do Business With Iran.”

He pledged during his Senate confirmation hearing in January that should the deal remain in place, he would keep a fierce watch to ensure Tehran was sticking to the terms.

“The Iranians are professionals at cheating,” he said.

In Mr. D’Andrea, the director has found a workaholic to be his Iran sentinel. Mr. D’Andrea grew up in Northern Virginia in a family whose ties to the C.I.A. span two generations. He met his wife, who is Muslim, on a C.I.A. posting overseas, and converted to Islam to marry her, though he is not known to be particularly observant.

At the C.I.A., Mr. D’Andrea’s reputation for operational acumen is matched by his abrasive demeanor. “Surly” seems to be the most popular description, say those who have worked alongside him, and some people at the agency have refused to work for him.

A former agency official said that he had once asked Mr. D’Andrea, who has been known to keep a hideaway bed in his office, what he did for fun.

Mr. D’Andrea’s reply: “Work.”

Asked whether Mr. D’Andrea’s appointment was a sign that the C.I.A. planned to take up a more aggressive line toward Iran, Mr. Eatinger said, “I don’t think it’s the wrong read.”

Mr. D’Andrea’s personal views on Iran are not publicly known. It is also not his job to make policy but to execute it, and he has demonstrated that he is an aggressive operations officer.

In the years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. D’Andrea was deeply involved in the detention and interrogation program, which resulted in the torture of a number of prisoners and was condemned in a sweeping Senate report in 2014 as inhumane and ineffective. Only the executive summary of the 6,700-page report has been made public; the Trump administration has begun returning copies of the full document to Congress, which is not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, raising the prospect that it will never be released.

Mr. D’Andrea took over the agency’s Counterterrorism Center in early 2006 and spent the next nine years directing the hunt for militants around the world.

Operatives under his direction played a pivotal role in 2008 in the killing of Imad Mugniyah, the international operations chief for Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group based in Lebanon. Working with the Israelis, the C.I.A. used a car bomb kill to Mr. Mugniyah as he walked home in Damascus, where Hezbollah enjoys strong ties with and support from the Syrian government.

At the same time, Mr. D’Andrea was ramping up the drone program inside Pakistan. Drones became the preferred counterterrorism tool of President Barack Obama, who personally approved strikes targeting militant leaders.

When Mr. D’Andrea took over as the counterterrorism chief, only a handful of the agency’s drones were operational in Pakistan, and there were only three strikes that year, according to the Long War Journal, which keeps a tally of drone activity. By 2010, when the drone campaign was at its height, the agency launched 117 strikes against Qaeda militants and other jihadists sheltering in the mountainous tribal areas that run along Pakistan’s northwestern border with Afghanistan.

The agency also expanded its drone program to Yemen under Mr. D’Andrea’s direction, and many in the C.I.A. credit him with playing an instrumental role in impairing Al Qaeda.

But there were also setbacks. Mr. D’Andrea was at the helm when a C.I.A. source secretly working for Al Qaeda blew himself up at an American base in Afghanistan, killing seven agency operatives. It was the single deadliest attack on C.I.A. personnel in more than a quarter-century.

And in January 2015, a drone struck a Qaeda compound in Pakistan where, unbeknown to the C.I.A., the militants were holding two hostages: Warren Weinstein, an American aid worker and economic adviser, and Giovanni Lo Porto, 37, an Italian. Both men were killed in the strike.

A few months later, Mr. D’Andrea moved to a new post reviewing the effectiveness of covert action programs.

Former agency officials said Mr. D’Andrea’s new job overseeing Iran operations was better suited to his talents.

“A lot of people I know were scared of him and thought he was reckless, but he really wasn’t,” Mr. Eatinger said. “He was very precise and held people to very high standards.”

from New York Times

Here we go again; The Congressional Carnival of Quotes:

Dick Cheney

“I was a strong supporter then of going into Iraq, I’m a strong supporter now. Everybody knows what my position is. There’s nothing to be argued about there,” “But if we spend our time debating what happened 11 or 12 years ago, we’re going to miss the threat that is growing and that we do face.”

“Rand Paul, with all due respect, is basically an isolationist. He doesn’t believe we ought to be involved in that part of the world,” “That didn’t work in the 1930s, it sure as heck won’t work in the aftermath of 9/11, when 19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters came all the way from Afghanistan and killed 3,000 of our citizens.”

“Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many,” “Too many times to count, Mr. Obama has told us he is ‘ending’ the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — as though wishing made it so. His rhetoric has now come crashing into reality…he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.” ….“Mr. Obama invited the chaos in Iraq by withdrawing all of America’s troops in 2011 and that he’s failing to stop it now by dithering and dissembling in his public response”.

…………..Dick Cheney
 

 

“You’re kidding, right?” “That is sick, when you really look back at the record “The fact is, what we’re seeingbarbra boxer now is an outgrowth of that bad policy the neocons got us in, that crowd, on false pretense that said, go in there. and, as a result, ISIS was born. Let’s face that fact,” “It was Vice President Cheney and Condi Rice working for George W. Bush and Rumsfeld and all those folks — that’s just like, you know, a nightmare come back to haunt me, just frankly — who are basically telling us, get right back in there again. The American people don’t want it.”

………Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif

 

 

” that it is “beyond troubling” to see the “revisionist history” from neoconservatives who pushed the 2003 invasion but now blame the president for the chaos.

……….PBS host Tavis Smiley

keith

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn

“Cheney is singularly unqualified to advise anyone on Iraq” “Why don’t we go get the guy who wrecked the Exxon Valdez and ask him about, you know, how to run an oil tanker,” “I mean, there couldn’t be a worse person to offer views on what to do next.”

………Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.

 

“Those who have questioned the president’s approach to the recent surge in violence should ask the same questions of those who supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq” “Were they right in their predictions? Were there weapons of mass destruction there? Was the war won in 2005, when many of those people said it was won?”…”They didn’t, really, I think understand the civil war that would break out,”

“There’s chaos in the Middle East, and I think the chaos is because we have created a vacuum. Before the Iraq war, I think there was somewhat of a standoff between Sunni and Shiite, had been for maybe 1,000 years off and on.” “The United States needs to first see what the Shiites in Iraq will do to defend themselves against militants before it decides whether to launch airstrikes.” “If the Shiites aren’t willing to fight for their country, it may be that their country is not going to exist,”

…………Rand Paul

ISIS is or could become a threat to U.S. national security.”I believe it can be. I believe that they’re recruiting in Europe,”

………… Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

“We’ve got another Benghazi in the making here,” “What I heard in there scared the hell out of me.” “The stronger they are over there, the weaker we are here. So now is the time to blunt their strength. If they have a safe haven in Syria and Iraq, they will use that safe haven to attack America. There is some hope to turn Iraq around. But Jordan is next.”

…………….Lindsey Graham R-SC

“Everybody in his national security team, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ought to be replaced,”  “It’s a colossal failure of American security policy.”

…………………Sen. John McCain R-Ariz

“Without a doubt, I think this is an urgent counterterrorism matter. I know a lot has been talked about the future of Iraq itself as a country, and that’s a very legitimate issue that needs to be looked at, but for me this is not about nation-building, or imposing democracy — this is a counterterrorism risk that we need to nip in the bud. It is my view that we will either deal with ISIS now or we will deal with them later. And later they are going to be stronger and harder to reach.

…………….Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

rand paul“I don’t blame President Obama,” “Has he really got the solution? Maybe there is no solution. But I do blame those who are for the Iraq War for emboldening Iran. These are the same people now who are petrified of what Iran may become, and I understand some of their worry.” “I personally believe [ISIS] would not be in Iraq and not be as powerful if we had not been supplying their allies in the war,” “ Without American aid Assad might have wiped these people out months ago.” ” countries like Iraq and Libya have become a “jihadist wonderland” and I predict the same fate for Syria if Assad falls.

…………Rand Paul