CNN on the Border Crisis: ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’

Capture

By Ryan Lovelace
July 15, 2014 12:17 PM

A columnist for CNN says that when it comes to the influx of unaccompanied alien children at America’s southern border, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

“We should stop looking for an endpoint. This story has no end in sight,” writes Ruben Navarrette at CNN.com. “We will be dealing with this crisis not for weeks or months but probably for years.” Navarette explains that it’s foolish for U.S. officials to believe that any one plan of attack will solve the problem and this crisis has no simple solution or finish line.

As for the first group of illegal immigrants deported back to Honduras, he says not to expect them to even bother unpacking. “They will soon return to the United States,” he writes.

US FLYING ARMED DRONES IN IRAQ

US FLYING ARMED DRONES IN IRAQ

Armed U.S. drones have started flying over Baghdad

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) — Iraqi security forces retook the city of Tikrit on Saturday, a local tribal leader and state media said, as they went on the offensive against the Sunni extremist militants who have seized swaths of northern and western Iraq.
Sheikh Khamis al-Joubouri, a key tribal leader in Tikrit, told CNN that the Iraqi security forces entered the city supported by special forces and fighters from among the local tribes, and had gained control.
He said that fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) retreated in the direction of Kirkuk and Nineveh provinces.
However, amid claim and counter-claim, a combatant told a CNN freelance reporter that ISIS fighters remained in control of Tikrit, but that there are fierce clashes in an area about 20 kilometers from the city center, toward Samarra.
State-run Iraqiya TV reported that the Iraqi army and volunteer militia groups had cleared ISIS fighters from what was former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s hometown.
The Iraqi army forces, equipped with tanks and backed up by the Iraqi air force, advanced on the city from four directions, the station said, citing the Salaheddin Military Command.
Sabah Numan, a Counter Terrorism Unit spokesman, told the station that 120 militants had been killed and 20 vehicles destroyed in a large scale operation that began Saturday morning.
“We are mainly busy defusing booby-trapped houses and cars on the main roads leading into Tikrit,” he said.
CNN cannot independently confirm the reports.
Al-Joubouri said that the tribes were not aligned with the government or with ISIS and had stayed out of the fight until now.
But, he said, when ISIS fighters who arrived in Tikrit robbed banks and carried out executions, as well as bringing the local economy to a standstill, the tribal leaders offered their help to the Iraqi security forces poised outside the city.
The tribal leaders shared their knowledge of the city, including routes and known ISIS positions, he said.
On Friday, Human Rights Watch reported that two mass graves believed to contain the bodies of Iraqi soldiers, police and civilians killed by ISIS and their militant allies had been discovered in Tikrit.
Mosul airstrikes
Iraq’s air force also targeted locations held by in the northern city of Mosul with airstrikes Saturday morning, a senior Iraqi military official told CNN.
The official, who could not be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said the strikes were carried out by Iraqi jet fighters firing Hellfire missiles.
Pentagon: US ‘very prepared’ to take ISIS Armed U.S. drones fly over Baghdad
Photos: Iraq under siege Photos: Iraq under siege
Seven civilians were killed in Mosul’s Bashtabia neighborhood and two were injured, according to Dr. Salaheldin Al-Naimi, general director of the Health Directorate of Nineveh province.
Iraq’s military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Qassim Atta, told a news briefing Saturday that Iraq’s forces had regained the upper hand against ISIS and were now being supported by the tribes.
“We are advancing in all our fights,” he said.
Atta said that a total of 125 ISIS fighters had been killed across Iraq in multiple operations, with 57 vehicles destroyed and 96 attack sorties flown by the air force.
In one setback for the military, seven Iraqi soldiers were killed and 29 others were wounded on Saturday in clashes between Iraqi security forces and ISIS at a military base in the town of Jurf al-Sakhar, about 85 kilometers (53 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraqi security officials said.
‘Baghdad is safe’
ISIS has taken over swaths of northern and western Iraq in its quest to create an Islamic state stretching from Syria to Iraq. And the crisis has embroiled countries around the world.
Armed U.S. drones have started flying over Baghdad to provide additional protection for 180 U.S. military advisers in the area, a U.S. official told CNN on Friday.
But using the drones for any offensive strikes against ISIS would require approval from U.S. President Barack Obama.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in a speech during a visit Friday to the Baghdad Operations Command, insisted the capital was not in danger.
“We have an army to respond to the catastrophe that has occurred, and Baghdad is safe and cannot be exposed to instability,” he said, according to a statement released by his office.
“We will punish anyone making problems in the city of Baghdad.”
The Prime Minister, who is widely blamed for fostering sectarian division, is under pressure to allow the formation of an inclusive government. Iraq’s newly elected Parliament is due to meet on Tuesday.
Mass graves, executions
Meanwhile, reports continue to emerge of atrocities committed by both sides.
Besides the reported Tikrit executions, Human Rights Watch said Saturday that ISIS fighters kidnapped at least 40 Shia Turkmen, dynamited four Shia places of worship, and ransacked homes and farms in two Shia villages just outside Mosul, citing displaced residents and local activists and journalists.
The few Sunni villagers who remained told those who fled that at least some of the kidnapped men had been killed, the rights group said. However, they had not seen bodies and could not give more information.
ISIS destroyed seven Shia places of worship in the predominantly Shia Turkmen city of Tal Afar, about 30 miles west of Mosul, earlier in the week, Human Rights Watch added, citing local sources.
“The ISIS rampage is part of a long pattern of attack by armed Sunni extremists on Turkmen and other minorities,” said Letta Tayler, senior terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The killing, bombing, and pillaging threatens to displace entire communities, possibly forever.”
The two villages, Guba and Shireekhan, were initially seized by ISIS on June 10, during their advance on Mosul.
On Friday, Amnesty International said it had gathered evidence pointing to a pattern of “extrajudicial executions” of Sunni detainees by government forces and Shiite militias in the northern cities of Tal Afar, Mosul and Baquba.
“Reports of multiple incidents where Sunni detainees have been killed in cold blood while in the custody of Iraqi forces are deeply alarming,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser, who is in northern Iraq.
“The killings suggest a worrying pattern of reprisal attacks against Sunnis in retaliation for ISIS.”
Kurdish crossings closed
The government of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region has closed crossings from Irbil and Duhuk to Mosul, spokesman Gen. Hilgord Hikmet told CNN on Saturday.
This means that no one can now cross from Mosul into the Kurdish region, he said. Refugees can go back to Mosul but will not be able to reenter the Kurdish region.
“This measure is taken to preserve security and for the region’s stability,” he said.
Hikmet said the step had been prompted by a car bomb two days ago that killed and injured some members of the Kurdish fighting force known as the Peshmerga.
Masoud Barzani, the Kurdish region’s president, said on Friday that disputed areas of northern Iraq, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, will from now on be part of the Kurdish autonomous region, after Iraq’s central government failed to hold a long-awaited referendum.
“We have waited for more than 10 years for the Iraqi federal government to address and solve the issue of these areas … but it was to no avail,” Barzani said at a joint press conference with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague in Irbil.
Under Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, drawn up two years after Saddam Hussein was ousted, several disputed areas such as Kirkuk and small villages in Nineveh, Diyala and Salaheddin provinces, claimed by both the central government and the Kurdistan regional government, are to be determined by a referendum.
The vote never took place due to instability in most of these disputed areas.
More than a week ago, when the Iraqi army withdrew from Kirkuk, the Peshmerga took control of the city, as well as many of the disputed villages.

FRESH OFF MOSUL VICTORY, MILITANTS IN IRAQ WREST CONTROL OF TIKRIT

FRESH OFF MOSUL VICTORY, MILITANTS IN IRAQ WREST CONTROL OF TIKRIT

Heavy fighting erupted inside Tikrit — the hometown of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein

A day after taking over Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, militants gained nearly complete control of the northern city of Tikrit, witnesses in the city and police officials in neighboring Samarra told CNN.
Heavy fighting erupted inside Tikrit — the hometown of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein — as the military tried to regain control, the sources and a police official in Baghdad said.
According to the witnesses in Tikrit and the Samarra police officials, two police stations in Tikrit were on fire and a military base was taken over by militants, believed to be from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an al Qaeda splinter group also known as ISIS and ISIL.
The governor of Salaheddin province, of which Tikrit is the capital, was missing, according to the Tikrit and Samarra sources.
Suspected ISIS militants raided the Turkish Consulate in Mosul on Wednesday, capturing 48 people, including diplomats. They also seized parts of Baiji, the site of Iraq’s largest oil refinery, police officials in Tikrit told CNN earlier.
Mosul: Militants storm Turkish consulate Militants seize Iraqi city of Mosul What’s next for Iraq?
Map: Unrest in IraqMap: Unrest in Iraq
Meanwhile, explosions struck three Shiite areas in Baghdad, killing 25 people and injuring 56, police officials told CNN. The deadliest attack was in Sadr City, where a car bomb exploded near a funeral tent, killing 15 people, police said.
The clashes come on the heels of a sudden and danger-fraught exodus from the fighting in Mosul, which fell to militants Tuesday.
More than 500,000 people have fled the fighting there, the International Organization for Migration said Wednesday.
The group said there were many civilian casualties. The city’s four main hospitals are inaccessible because of fighting, and some mosques have been converted for use as clinics, the IOM said.
Those fleeing the fighting — some on foot, some bringing only what they can carry in plastic bags — were heading to the city’s east or seeking sanctuary elsewhere in Nineveh province or in Iraq’s Kurdish region.
Mosul, a predominantly Sunni city with 1.6 million residents, collapsed swiftly. American-trained Iraqi forces ran in the face of the onslaught.
The heavily armed radicals overran police stations, freed more than 1,000 prisoners from the city jail and took over the city’s international airport.
Iraq’s parliamentary speaker was scathing, saying commanders fled and troops left behind weapons and armored vehicles.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered that all military leaders who fled be court-martialed.
The Defense Ministry said the air force killed a group of ISIS militants along a highway leading south toward Samarra. The ministry also said it would push back the militants.
“This is not the end, we are very confident that we will be able to correct the path and to overcome mistakes,” the ministry said on its website.
The Interior Ministry said that military commanders have started deploying fighters from local Shiite militias on the western outskirts of al-Nasiriya to protect that city.
Forces from the Kurdistan regional government took up positions in southwest Kirkuk after militants took over several villages and districts north and west of the city and the Iraqi army withdrew, police officials there told CNN.
The Kurdish regional prime minister — whose ethnic Kurdish forces reach the eastern outskirts of Mosul, capital of Nineveh province — blamed Iraq’s leadership for the city’s collapse.
“Over the last two days, we tried extremely hard to establish cooperation with the Iraqi Security Forces in order to protect the city of Mosul. Tragically, Baghdad adopted a position which has prevented the establishment of this cooperation,” Nechirvan Barzani said in a statement Tuesday.
Turkish consulate targeted
Turkish special forces members, consulate workers and three children were among those detained and taken to the ISIS headquarters following a raid on the Turkish Consulate in Mosul on Wednesday morning, Turkish officials told CNN.
“The condition of the Turkish citizens is fine, developments are being monitored,” the officials said.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said consulate staff had been urged to leave this week, but the decision to evacuate was left up to individuals.
Photos: Iraqi civilians flee Mosul Photos: Iraqi civilians flee Mosul
Militants take over Iraqi city Militants take control of Iraqi city Iraq violence leaves more than 100 dead
“We were told that it would be more risky for our 48 people to go outside than to stay inside,” Davutoglu said, speaking on Turkish television.
“If any harm is done to any of our citizens, it will not go unanswered. No one should test Turkey.”
Oil town under attack
Meanwhile, suspected ISIS militants seized parts of Baiji, a small Iraqi town in Salaheddin province about 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of the capital, Baghdad, police officials in Tikrit told CNN.
The Baiji oil refinery is still under the control of Iraqi security forces, officials said.
The fact that ISIS forces are trying to take the town suggests a wider strategic aim besides oil. Baiji sits on the main highway north from Baghdad to Mosul that passes through rural areas in which ISIS has much influence.
For the government to reinforce its troops in Mosul, it needs to drive them through Baiji. If ISIS controls the town, the government’s task will be much harder.
Discontent feeds violence
In his weekly address to the nation Wednesday, al-Maliki described the assault on Mosul as a “conspiracy” to destabilize the country and called on Iraqis to “stand as one united front.”
He also praised the people of Nineveh province for volunteering to take up arms against ISIS and promised to “cleanse Nineveh from these terrorists.”
A day earlier, the Prime Minister asked parliament to declare a state of emergency, for volunteers to bolster the army, and for help from the international community.
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said in a statement Wednesday that he is ready to form a “peace brigade” to work in coordination with the Iraqi government “to defend the holy places” of Muslims and Christians.
But this brigade probably would be viewed by many as a resurgence of al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, the powerful Shia militia that disbanded at the end of 2008.
Its formation could risk worsening the country’s underlying problem — festering sectarian division.
The country’s minority Sunni population, which prospered under Hussein, feels shut out by al-Maliki’s Shia majority-dominated government.
The devastating ISIS advance is proving an object lesson of much that is wrong in Iraq and the region — with a festering civil war over the border in Syria adding fuel to the growing sectarian tensions at home.
ISIS is exploiting this to expand its influence, from cities like Falluja and parts of Ramadi that it wrested from the government in Anbar early this year, and from Syrian towns like Raqqa it controls over the border.
A U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN that ISIS had been active in Nineveh province “for a long time and clearly sensed that Mosul was vulnerable now after engaging in sporadic attacks earlier this year.
“Strategically, the group looks at Syria and Iraq as one interchangeable battlefield, and its ability to shift resources and personnel across the border has measurably strengthened its position in both theaters.”
However, the official said ISIS still “has shown little ability to govern effectively, is generally unpopular and has no sway outside the Sunni community in either Iraq or Syria.”
Too radical for al Qaeda
The more the Sunnis feel they are being abandoned by their Shia-dominated government, the harder any political rapprochement, and therefore peace, will be.
ISIS is considered too radical even for al Qaeda and in the past months has withstood and emerged from a jihadist backlash from within the ranks of its erstwhile radical Islamist allies in Syria’s civil war.
That it is capable of fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on one hand, its fellow radicals on another and the Iraqi government on top of that is an indication of the depth to which ISIS has established itself in the region.
Fighting skills
ISIS grew out of al Qaeda in Iraq. In the west of Iraq, its militants were responsible for the deaths and maiming of many U.S. troops. In 2006, their commander — the bloodthirsty Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — was killed in a U.S. strike.
In the ensuing years, with American help, Iraqi tribal militias put the al Qaeda offshoot on the defensive.
But when U.S. troops left, the extremist militants found new leadership, grew stronger while in Syria, and returned to Iraq, making military gains often off the backs of foreign fighters drawn to Syria’s conflict.
They came to Syria’s civil war better equipped and trained than most jihadists, with skills learned fighting in Iraq. They used their advantage, charting a course directed by a vision for a regional caliphate.
Mosul has not just helped fill their war chest, it has made them the single most dangerous destabilizing radical group in the region — something the Iraqi government seems ill-equipped to deal with.
The siege of Mosul: What’s happening? Why is it significant?
How ISIS and Iraq upheaval threatens the wider world

CNN Admits: ‘Tea Party is Alive and Well’ … Now We Have Them ALL Scared

CNN Admits: ‘Tea Party is Alive and Well’ … Now We Have Them ALL Scared

Unlike Democrats, Republicans refuse to follow the party line like sheeple. We will vote according to the principles we hold. Never has this been more evident than after Eric Cantor got his butt handed to him in a historic loss for a majority speaker.

CNN:

Remember all those stories earlier this spring about the demise of the tea party. Forget about that.

The five-year-old anti-establishment grassroots conservative movement suffered a string of high profile defeats to incumbents and other mainstream Republicans earlier in the primary season.

But the tide may be turning a bit. And with a bunch of tea party vs. establishment primary battles yet to come, what happened in Virginia will only embolden the grassroots.

Cantor becomes the second member of Congress running for re-election this year to go down to defeat in the primaries, following Republican Rep. Ralph Hall of Texas, who lost a runoff contest two weeks ago. Hall is 91.

Alert to all you RINOs out there: you will be voted out of Congress if you forget the American people.

CNN Anchor: Michelle Obama Can Sign Bills Into Law

CNN Anchor: Michelle Obama Can Sign Bills Into Law

Remember when we elected Michelle Obama so that she could tell us what to feed our children?

Yeah, me neither…

On Tuesday, CNN rose to its typical level of journalistic excellence when CNN’s Carol Costello played a 2010 clip of Michelle Obama speaking of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act. After the clip, Costello reminded viewer that the preceding clip was of when Michelle Obama signed into law the act.

Of course, Michelle did not sign the act since… well, she wasn’t elected president.

The clip shows Michelle Obama saying,
“We can all agree that in the wealthiest nation on earth all children should have the basic nutrition they need to learn and grow and to pursue their dreams because in the end nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children. Nothing. And our hopes for their future should drive every single decision that we make.”
Putting aside, for a moment, that her husband has been instrumental in creating disastrous policies that have saddled our children with a humongous national debt that will leave them with a decidedly worse-off America, Michelle’s campaign to make our children’s food taste terrible has mirrored the success of Obamacare.

Costello narrated: (emphasis added)
“That was Mrs. Obama back in 2010 when she signed the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act into law. Well now some members of Congress and the food industry want to roll back that initiative and loosen requirements to cut costs. Today the First Lady takes the unusual step of delivering White House remarks speaking out against that House measure and in another twist, a one-time ally of Mrs. Obama’s initiative is now a critic.”
Michelle Obama has been critical of a Republican-backed House measure that would scale-back the food requirements to which schools must adhere and even gave the White House remarks.

Michelle Obama, undoubtedly, holds influence in the White House; most First Ladies do. But let’s not forget one important fact: nobody elected her. She’s not a president; she’s not a lawmaker. She’s an advocate for a cause that, quite frankly, has failed and is rife with hypocrisy and egomaniacal soundbites.

It’s incredible that we live in a time when the President has dismissed the Supreme Court’s importance as “an unelected group” of people, but has offered his wife a chance to combat Congress on a measure in the House from the bully pulpit of the White House.

Director of Phoenix VA Hospital Where Vets Died from Delays Received $8,500 Bonus in April

Director of Phoenix VA Hospital Where Vets Died from Delays Received $8,500 Bonus in April

2:00 PM, MAY 21, 2014 • BY JOHN MCCORMACK

The director of the Phoenix VA hospital where 40 veterans died while waiting for care received an $8,500 bonus last month, according to Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System, “got an $8,500 bonus last month while there was an open [inspector general] investigation into Phoenix,” Chairman Miller told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview Wednesday.

It had been previously reported that Helman received more than $9,000 in bonus pay in 2013 on top of her annual salary of $169,900. The VA office of inspector general began investigating the Phoenix VA for wrongdoing in December 2013, months before Helman received the additional $8,500 bonus.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Secretary Eric Shinseki “is the final decision maker regarding performance ratings and awards.” VA spokesmen did not immediately respond to an inquiry from THE WEEKLY STANDARD asking if Shinseki signed off on Helman’s $8,500 bonus in April.

Chairman Jeff Miller said that VA officials told him that the Helman’s new bonus was the result of “an administrative error” made by a “low-level person” in the department.

Update: The VA announced this afternoon: “Secretary Shinseki today exercised his authority to rescind Sharon Helman’s fiscal year 2013 performance award immediately. Previously, Ms. Helman received the performance award due to an administrative error.”