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Transfer brings number of Afghans still held to eight of 132 detainees overall


WASHINGTON — The United States transferred four detainees from the Guantánamo Bay prison to Afghanistan late Friday, the Defense Department announced Saturday, fulfilling a request from the new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, in what officials here characterized as a show of good will between the United States and the government in Kabul.

The four men will likely not be subjected to further detainment in Afghanistan, an Obama administration official said. The transfer brings the number of Afghans still held at the American military prison in Cuba to eight of the 132 detainees over all.

The transfer is the latest in a series of detainee releases and reflects a quickened pace, as President Obama has been pushing to make good on his goal of shutting the military prison at Guantánamo, a pledge that dates to the earliest days of his presidency. One administration official said more transfers are expected in the coming weeks.T

Fawzi al OdahKuwaiti Released From Guantánamo Under New Review System NOV. 5, 2014
Delays by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in signing off on transfers that had been approved by Mr. Obama’s national security staff contributed to tensions between the exiting Pentagon chief and the White House, particularly with the national security adviser, Susan Rice. But Mr. Hagel, who resigned under pressure last month, has maintained all year that he would not be rushed in releasing prisoners.

In May, Ms. Rice sent Mr. Hagel a memo pressuring him to pick up the pace, and Mr. Hagel told reporters during a flight to Alaska at the time that he was in no hurry to approve deals. “My name is going on that document; that’s a big responsibility,” Mr. Hagel said. He added: “What I’m doing is, I’m taking my time. I owe that to the American people, to ensure that any decision I make is, in my mind, responsible.”

Some military officers have expressed worry that prisoners released from Guantánamo may return to the battlefield and harm American troops who remain in Afghanistan.

But the Pentagon statement released Saturday said that “the United States has full confidence in the ability of the Afghan government to mitigate any threats that may be posed by these individuals, and to ensure humane treatment. The Afghan government, including its judiciary and security forces, is fully prepared to repatriate these detainees in a responsible manner.”

The statement also noted that “over 90 percent of the Guantánamo detainees transferred during this administration are neither confirmed nor even suspected of having re-engaged in any terrorist or other hostile activity.”

Although Mr. Obama vowed in 2013 to revive his efforts to close the prison, the military in the first months of this year had transferred just one low-level detainee, back in March. Since November, though, 17 more have been transferred. There have now been 34 transfers under Mr. Hagel’s watch as defense secretary; by comparison, only four were transferred by Leon E. Panetta, the former defense secretary.

In its statement announcing the transfers, the Pentagon identified the men as Shawali Khan, Khi Ali Gul, Abdul Ghani and Mohammed Zahir. The four men were “unanimously approved for transfer by the six departments and agencies” that review such cases, the Pentagon said.

“This repatriation reflects the Defense Department’s continued commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantánamo in a responsible manner,” Paul Lewis, the Defense Department’s special envoy for the closure of Guantánamo, said in a statement.

All four men released have been considered to be low-level prisoners who pose little threat. Mr. Khan is believed to be 50 or 51 years old; the administration’s review board recommended his transfer in January 2010. Mr. Gul, also believed to be 50 or 51, and Mr. Ghani, believed to be 41 or 42, were all also recommended for transfer in January 2010.

The three men had been held for almost 12 years. It was unclear how long Mr. Zahir had been held.

The administration is hoping that if it can shrink the inmate population to below 100, Congress will revoke a law that bars the transfer of detainees into the country. The White House argues that closing Guantánamo would eliminate a propaganda symbol used by terrorists to generate anger at the United States.


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Cuban communist leader lectures Obama for 30 minutes


Barack Obama apologized to Cuban president Raul Castro during their phone conversation after the American commander in chief’s opening remarks. Speaking to reporters at his final White House press briefing of 2014 Friday afternoon, Obama gave more details about his phone call with the communist leader of Cuba earlier this week before the announcement of a change in U.S. policy on the Caribbean island nation.

Obama began the phone call with Castro with what he described as 15 minutes of opening comments. It was the first conversation between the heads of state in both countries since 1961.

“I apologized for taking such a long time,” Obama said. Castro responded by reminding Obama that the American president was still young enough to beat Castro’s brother, former Cuban president and revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who once gave a 7-hour-long speech.

According to the president, Raul Castro proceeded to speak to Obama uninterrupted for 30 minutes.


Company and stockholders have duty to forego profit and “protect America’s freedoms”

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told Newsmax on Friday Sony Pictures has an obligation to “go beyond profits” and release its controversial movie about the assassination of Kim Jong-un for free.

“We have to make sure that whoever did this pays a heavy consequence and they have to know that it can’t ever succeed and the best way to make it fail is for all the studios to get together now and to release the film free, on the Internet, so that not 10 to 20 million people will see it, but hundreds of millions of people will see it,” Dershowitz said. “North Korea or whoever is behind this has to learn, you try to censor in America more people will see your film than ever before.”

He said the company and it stockholders have a duty to forego profit and “protect America’s freedoms.”
It is estimated the company will lose $90 million if it fails to market the film.

The subsidiary of transnational Sony pulled the film after alleged hackers threatened to attack people who view it during the holidays. Cryptic messages urged people to “remember the 11th of September 2001.”

The U.S. concluded on Friday North Korea was responsible for attacking Sony Pictures with malware after the film was released.

There is, however, scant evidence the communist regime in Pyongyang is responsible for the hack.

“I still don’t see anything that in a court would convict North Korea beyond reasonable doubt,” security researcher Brian Honan told the BBC after the FBI said North Korea is responsible.


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What’s in the spending bill? We skim it so you don’t have to

By Ed O’Keefe December 10 at 10:30 AM

This item has been updated and revised.

The $1.01 trillion spending bill unveiled late Tuesday will keep most of the federal government funded through next September — and it’s packed with hundreds of policy instructions, known on Capitol Hill as “riders,” that will upset or excite Democrats, Republicans and various special interest groups.

So, what’s in the bill? We’ve sifted through the legislation, consulted supporting documents from Democratic and Republican aides, and called out some of the more notable and controversial elements below. (If you want to review detailed reports on all 12 parts of the spending bill, click here.)

Please note: This is a fluid report that will be updated to add more detail or correct errors. What notable changes did we miss? What notable changes did you spot? Contact us or share details in the comments section below:

The bill once again bans using federal funding to perform most abortions; blocks the use of local and federal funding for abortions in the District of Columbia; and blocks the use of federal dollars for abortions for federal prisoners. Republicans say that there’s also new language directing the secretary of health and human services to ensure that consumers shopping for health-care coverage on the federal exchange can tell whether a plan covers abortion services.

The law is still funded, but there’s no new money for it. There’s also no new ACA-related funding for the Internal Revenue Service and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the two agencies most responsible for implementing the law. The bill also would cut the budget of the Independent Payment Advisory Board — what Republicans have called “the death panel” — by $10 million.

Congress withholds funding for the Afghan government “until certain conditions are met,” including implementing the bilateral security agreement reached with the United States.

The nation’s rail passenger service earns $1.39 billion, the same amount it currently receives. The rail service carries passengers through 46 states and hit an all-time high of 31.6 million passengers during the last fiscal year, according to Democratic aides.


The bill would dramatically expand the amount of money that wealthy political donors could inject into the national parties, drastically undercutting the 2002 landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance overhaul. Bottom line: A donor who gave the maximum $32,400 this year to the Democratic National Committee or Republican National Committee would be able to donate another $291,600 on top of that to the party’s additional arms — a total of $324,000, ten times the current limit. Read more on this here.

The agency would get more than $6.9 billion, an increase of about $42.7 million. The nation’s leading disease-fighters also get $30 million to help fight Ebola (see below).

In a win for Republicans, the spending bill blocks the Environmental Protection Agency from applying the law to certain farm ponds and irrigation ditches — a move that GOP aides said would benefit farmers.

Democrats agreed to make some of the biggest changes yet to the 2010 financial regulatory reforms. In a deal sought by Republicans, the bill would reverse Dodd-Frank requirements that banks “push out” some of derivatives trading into separate entities not backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporations. Ever since being enacted, banks have been pushing to reverse the change. Now, the rules would go back to the way they used to be. But in exchange, Democrats say they secured more money for the enforcement budgets at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Roughly $5.4 billion is provided across several agencies to combat the spread of the disease in the United States and around the world. The amount is less than the $6 billion Obama requested.


The beleaguered country gets $1.3 billion in military aid and $150 million in economic aid — but the money is subject to “democracy and human rights conditions,” while the secretary of state can make exceptions for counterterrorism and border security operations.

There’s $5.4 billion for security at U.S. embassies worldwide, $46 million more than Obama requested. The total includes new money to implement recommendations from the Benghazi Accountability Review Board. The bill also once again bans any embassy construction money to be spent on the lavish new U.S. embassy in London.


The agency gets $8.1 billion, down $60 million from the last fiscal year. The agency’s budget has been slashed by $2.2 billion, or 21 percent, since fiscal 2010, according to GOP aides. The cuts mean that EPA will have to reduce its staffing to the lowest levels since 1989.

Well, kind of. The former House majority leader stunned the political world by losing in a GOP primary last summer. But Congress agreed to provide $12.6 million for his signature legislative achievement — the Gabriella Miller Kids First Act, which authorizes new federally-funded pediatric research. The bill was paid for by slashing federal funding for political conventions.


The bill allows a 1 percent pay raise ordered by Obama to take effect in January. And the legacy of embarrassing spending scandals at federal agencies persist as Congress once again banned or put limits on certain conferences, official travel and some employee awards.


There’s $2.589 billion for the Food and Drug Administration, a $37 million increase from last year. There’s $27 million in new funding for the Food Safety Modernization Act. The Food Safety and Inspection Service would receive $1.016 billion, a $5 million increase.


Once again the Obama administration is banned from transferring terrorism detainees to the United States from the U.S. military facility in Cuba. There’s also a ban on building or buying any facility in the U.S. to house detainees. But the bill allows for the ongoing transfer of detainees to other countries.

In a modest attempt to address a growing crisis with the illicit drug, lawmakers are adding $7 million for a new anti-heroin task force run out of the Justice Department’s COPS Office. The money will be used as part of a competitive grant program for drug enforcement, including investigations and operations to stop the distribution or sale of the drug, according to Democrats.

The bill only funds the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees most immigration policy, until February. But negotiators gave new money for immigration programs at other federal agencies. There’s $948 million for the Department of Health and Human Service’s unaccompanied children program — an $80 million increase. The program provides health and education services to the young migrants. The department also gets $14 million to help school districts absorbing new immigrant students. And the State Department would get $260 million to assist Central American countries from where of the immigrant children are coming.

One of the GOP’s favorite targets will see its budget slashed by $345.6 million. The nation’s tax agency also would be banned from targeting organizations seeking tax-exempt status based on their ideological beliefs.

There’s $3.1 billion in total aid for the country, including $175 million for successful “Iron Dome” missile defense system. Defense aid totals $619.8 million.

The legislation once again enacts a pay freeze for the vice president “and senior political appointees.”

The troubled country cannot receive any U.S. aid until the secretary of state confirms the country is cooperating with ongoing investigations into the September 2012 attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The Arab kingdom would receive $1 billion in economic and military aid, in addition to U.S. humanitarian aid for millions of Syrian refugees.

The bill once again prohibits new standards that would ban the use of cheaper, less energy efficient incandescent bulbs. The proposal was first introduced and set in motion by the Bush administration, but the Obama White House allowed the change to continue, despite sustained consumer demand for older bulbs.

The District of Columbia will be prohibited from legalizing marijuana for the much of the coming year. The development — upending a voter-approved initiative — shocked elected D.C. leaders, advocates for marijuana legalization and civil liberties groups. The bill also would block the Justice Department from interfering with state-level medical marijuana measures and prohibits the Drug Enforcement Agency from interfering with industrial hemp production.

The D.C. region’s subway and bus system would earn $150 million in federal dollars for continued improvements. That’s part of $10.9 billion set to be doled out for transit programs nationwide, including the construction of new rail and rapid bus projects in California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina and Texas. But Republicans stress that the bill has no new federal funding for high-speed rail projects, especially the ambitious Los Angeles-to-San Francisco routes envisioned by California Democrats.


Military service members will receive a 1 percent pay increase next year. But there’s a pay freeze for generals and flag officers. The bill also ends a five percent discount on tobacco and tobacco-related products sold at military exchanges.

The agreement includes $24 million to complete the federal government’s contribution to the new museum being built on the Mall. The rest of the money will be raised through private donations.


The nation’s premier medical research agency would receive $30.3 billion, a $150 million overall increase. Democrats noted that the new funding helps especially for ongoing Alzheimer’s and brain research programs.

You’re a government official and want an official portrait? You’ll have to pay for it (or raise the funds). The bill bans taxpayer funding for official portraits of any Executive Branch employees, lawmakers and heads of legislative agencies.

There’s $1.3 billion for a new Counterterrorism Partnership Fund; $5 billion for military operations to combat the Islamic State, including $1.6 billion to train Iraqi and Kurdish forces; $500 million for a Pentagon-led program to train and equip vetted Syrian opposition fighters; $810 million for ongoing military operations in Europe, including requirements that at least $175 million is spent in support of Ukraine and Baltic nations.

The bill stops assistance to the Palestinian Authority if it becomes a member of the United Nations or UN agencies without an agreement with Israel. It also prohibits funds for Hamas.

For the first time, the benefits of current retirees could be severely cut, part of an effort to save some of the nation’s most distressed pension plans. The change would alter 40 years of federal law and could affect millions of workers, many of them part of a shrinking corps of middle-income employees in businesses such as trucking, construction and supermarkets. Read more on this here.

You like your mail on Saturdays? You’ll keep your mail on Saturdays. The bill requires the mail service to continue six-day deliveries, despite a years-long attempt to cut back on service to save money.

White potatoes, to be exact. The Women, Infants and Children program that provides food aid to low-income families would receive $6.6 billion, a $93 million cut from the last fiscal year. But the program will be required to ensure that “all varieties of fresh vegetables, including white potatoes, are eligible for purchase” through the program, said Republicans. The change is a big victory for the potato lobby, which has long fought to be part of the food assistance program.

The bill cuts funding for Obama’s signature education initiative — a big blow to his education legacy, according to The Post’s Valerie Strauss. Overall, the Education Department would take a slight hit in funding; at $70.5 billion, down $133 million below the fiscal year 2014, but special education grants to states would get $25 million more than last year, up to $11.5 billion. There is also no funding for the controversial Common Core State Standards in this legislation.

Among other things, there’s $3 million to expand inspections along the roughly 14,000 miles of track used by trains hauling oil tankers.

In a victory for the GOP, the bill would ban the Fish and Wildlife Service from adding the rare bird found in several Western states to the Endangered Species List. Republicans argue that adding the bird to the list “would have severe economic consequences on Western states and the nation’s efforts to become energy independent.” But there’s also $15 million for the Bureau of Land Management to conserve sage-grouse habitats.

The school lunch nutritional changes sought by First Lady Michelle Obama take a hit. The bill allows more flexibility to school districts to implement new whole grain nutrition standards “if the school can demonstrate a hardship” when buying whole grain products, according to Republicans. The bill also relaxes new sodium standards until they are “supported by additional scientific studies.”

There’s $257 million for the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs, including $25 million more to expand the Sexual Assault Victims’ Counsel program. But Democrats, led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), are expected to make a final push to expand the program this week.

In a victory for the trucking industry, the bill blocks new Transportation Department regulations requiring truckers to get two nights of sleep before starting a new work week. The regulation slashed a typical trucker’s work week to 70 hours, down from 82 hours.

The perennial ban on providing money for the ongoing renovation of U.N. Headquarters in New York remains intact.

There’s $21 million to continue restoring the cast-iron Capitol Dome. And $348 million for the U.S. Capitol Police (a force with 1,775 officers). Lawmakers also plan to save $10,000 by allowing the congressional Office of Compliance to email congressional staffers about their employment rights. Old rules required the office to send such notices by snail mail. Finally, for the first time the agency formerly known as the Government Printing Office is now officially known as the Government Publishing Office.

After a year of embarrassing scandals at the sprawling Department of Veterans Affairs, lawmakers are making good on promises to provide more money and oversight. There’s a total of $159.1 billion in discretionary and mandatory spending. Of that, $209 million was added to address new costs related to the bipartisan veterans’ reform bill passed last summer. The legislation calls for adding medical staff and expanding dozens of facilities. In order to specifically addressing the “wait list” scandal, the VA’s inspector general is getting a $5 million budget increase to continue investigating lapses in patient care.

The bill includes language ensuring that government contractors are not barred from reporting allegations of waste, fraud or abuse if they sign a confidentiality agreement. And the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would receive a $500,000 increase for its enforcement of existing whistleblower laws.

There’s $222 million for executive mansion operations, a $10 million increase. The money pays for the National Security and Homeland Security councils, the Council of Economic Advisers, the vice president’s office and the executive residence. The bill doesn’t provide any new funding “to address security weaknesses at the White House complex,” according to Democrats. But the U.S. Secret Service would be allowed to use some of its funding “to prepare and train for the next presidential election campaign,” Democrats said.

Well, only if you’re attacked. There’s $1 million in the bill “to compensate ranchers for livestock killed by wolves.”

There’s no new money for the site, but current money for it must be spent pursuant to a recent court decision. Republicans say that the bill continues to leave open the possibility that the site could be used someday to store nuclear waste — but that won’t happen as long as Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) is around.

Michael Fletcher, Matea Gold, Christopher Ingraham, Valerie Strauss and Eric Yoder contributed to this report.

Obama has no enumerated power to release GITMO prisoners, but here we go again!

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Written by Allen West on December 8, 2014

Sure seems we’ve come to a point where the rule of law means little to the Obama administration — or the oath taken to faithfully execute our laws.

With that in mind, Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the United States Constitution, at times referred to as the War Powers Clause, vests in the Congress the power to declare war, in the following wording: “[The Congress shall have Power…] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.”

I searched Article II to see if there was anything to contradict these enumerated powers bestowed upon the U.S. Congress — and found nothing. Now, I can immediately draw your attention to President Obama’s ill-conceived venture into Libya — which we have addressed several times, most recently here discussing the involvement of ISIS there — and where was the “humanitarian crisis? I could also alert you to the fact that we are deploying troops back into Iraq, but there has been no declaration from Congress on war — and we are dropping bombs and folks are shooting — a basic definition of war, as far as I know.

But it is the last words that are the topic of this missive — and will continue to be: “make rules concerning captures on land and water” — that power is invested in the Congress. Currently, it appears everything this executive branch doesn’t care to abide by falls into the category of “prosecutorial discretion.” We shall see if the progressive socialists and media accomplices will agree with that when there’s a Republican in the White House…

And so while y’all were out Christmas shopping, we got yet another violation of the Constitution by President Obama. But here is the point: how can we have a focus on policies doing what is right per the rule of law, when one side refuses to respect and regard the rule of law? Case in point: rules concerning captures.

As Fox News reports, “The U.S. government said early Sunday that it had transferred six detainees held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for over 12 years to Uruguay for resettlement as refugees” And when did Islamic terrorists who fought against our men and women become “refugees?”

All six men had been detained as suspected militants with ties to al-Qaida, but had never been charged – and therein lies the problem. This is not a law enforcement issue, they are unlawful enemy combatants captured during a combat operation.

Fox says, “a Pentagon statement on Sunday identified the men as four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestinian. They are the first Guantanamo Bay prisoners to be sent to South America. They had been cleared for release since at least 2010 but they could not be sent home — if they were so safe, then why would their own Countries not want them back — and languished as the U.S. struggled to find countries willing to take them. Among those transferred is 43-year-old Syrian Abu Wa’el Dhiab, who was on a long-term hunger strike at Guantanamo to protest his confinement. He was at the center of a legal battle in U.S. courts over the military’s force-feeding of prisoners who refuse to eat.”

What a catch-22 for our military. If the prisoners are allowed to starve, they are guilty of human rights violations. But if the prisoners are forcibly fed, they are subject to lawsuits from lawyers who share Hillary Clinton’s perspective on empathy.

Let me reiterate a simple point. The president of the United States does not have the power to release these “captures” and they are not entitled to any constitutional rights or legal proceedings – as a matter of fact, the Geneva convention states that non-uniformed, non-state belligerents are only entitled to food and shelter — so why a legal battle for feeding this guy?

Slowly but surely, Barack Obama is unconstitutionally shutting down GITMO — while we are distracted. And let us all remember that the rate of recidivism for these released “detainees” — unlawful enemy combatants is the correct definition – is around 30 percent.

Also, those five senior Taliban leaders who were exchanged for U.S. Army SGT Bowe Bergdahl (a deserter about whose location we know nothing or the status of the completed investigation) shall be free to return to Afghanistan from Qatar in 2015 — just a few weeks away!

And Uruguay? If you know your history, it was to Uruguay that many former Nazis fled post World War II.

Fox says “the other Syrians sent to Uruguay on Saturday were identified by the Pentagon as Ali Husain Shaaban, 32; Ahmed Adnan Ajuri, 37; and Abdelahdi Faraj, 39. Also released were Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Abdullah Taha Mattan, 35, and 49-year-old Adel bin Muhammad El Ouerghi of Tunisia. “We are very grateful to Uruguay for this important humanitarian action, and to President Mujica for his strong leadership in providing a home for individuals who cannot return to their own countries,” U.S. State Department envoy Clifford Sloan said.”

Mr. Sloan why are these cheeky fellas not allowed to return to their own countries? Could it be that their own countries recognize them as Islamic terrorists and would take the proper action against them – similar to the woman in Abu Dhabi who stabbed to death 47-year-old American Ibolya Ryan and is facing the death penalty in UAE? I’m quite perplexed about a “policy” that calls for releasing the enemy (while the enemy is still fighting us) to countries not of their origin where they are reclassified as “refugees.” Is this good policy or just dangerous politics affecting our long-term national security? You be the judge.

Fox writes, “Obama pledged to close the prison upon taking office but was blocked by Congress, which banned sending prisoners to the U.S. for any reason, including trial, and placed restrictions on sending them abroad.”

Let’s be clear here, Barack Obama simply does not possess the constitutional authority or power to shut down GITMO. Therefore he wasn’t blocked by Congress, it was Congress acting within its prescribed constitutional power.

You see, the problem in America is that we are becoming oblivious to the rule of law and totally devoid of any understanding regarding what it states. As a result, we have a demagogue who can use the bully pulpit — supported by a complicit media — to advance ideas antithetical to our Constitutional Republic, i.e. a “fundamental transformation.”

Don’t forget the admissions of one Jonathan Gruber regarding the American people and why that enabled the passing of Obamacare done in complete violation of standard legislative process and procedure — after all “we have to pass the bill in order to find out what’s in it.” Then again, there may be some folks reading this post who have no idea who Jonathan Gruber is — or have ever read the U.S. Constitution for that matter.

On September 17, 1787 after the Constitutional Convention, a Mrs. Powell asked Benjamin Franklin what sort of government America now had. Franklin laid down a challenge, “a Republic if you can keep it.”

A Republic requires an informed electorate. So please wake up and realize that President Obama has no enumerated authority to continue to release unlawful enemy combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay. As a matter of fact, he has little power or authority to do much of what he has and continues to do.