Iran says it warned away US spy plane intent on overflight

A US U-2 spy plane intending to fly over Iran was chased away by the Middle Eastern country’s air defense troops, an Iranian general has said.
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The incident, which was not immediately commented on by the Pentagon, happened “in recent days,” according to General Farzad Esmaili, as cited by Iranian state television on Friday.

The general didn’t disclose any details of the alleged attempted violation of Iranian airspace.

Last week Tehran accused the US of provocatively testing Iranian air defenses by flying within a mile of its border. Iran reportedly threatened to shoot down American surveillance aircraft, should they cross into Iranian airspace, with the Pentagon allegedly wanting to test the Iranians’ reaction to a close flyby.

Tehran regularly voices irritation over the US military presence close to its borders. In August Iranian gunboats intercepted a US destroyer in the Strait of Hormuz, in what Washington described as an “unprofessional maneuver.”

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Obama kept military out of loop on cash payments to Iran…

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BY ELI LAKE

One might think President Barack Obama would have asked his top military officials to weigh in on his administration’s  decision in January to send $400 million in cash to Iran. After all, Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and terrorists prefer cash to wire payments because it’s so difficult to track. And its armed forces have both directly and indirectly threatened the U.S. military in the Middle East.

But Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry did not consult Secretary of Defense Ash Carter or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford.

This news came out of a hearing Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In response to a question from Republican Senator Ted Cruz about the cash payment to Iran, Carter made it clear that he had been out of the loop.

“We weren’t involved in this,” Carter said, adding that it was part of the settlement of a decades-long legal dispute  between Iran and the U.S. over arms sales. “I don’t know all the details of it, and the chairman and I were not involved in that. It is a decision that was taken by the law enforcement and diplomatic and I would refer you there.”

When Dunford was asked about the cash payments, he responded: “I am not trying to be evasive but I don’t know the details of that arrangement and it really was a political decision that was made to provide that money and I don’t think it’s appropriate that I comment on that.”

Christopher Sherwood, a press officer at the Pentagon, later told me pretty much the same thing. “It was worked out through the administration. The Department of Defense had nothing to do with that.”

All of this is important for a few reasons. For starters, in response to repeated questions about the cash payment, which coincided with an intricate deal to release Americans detained in Iran, the State Department defended the decision by saying it went through an inter-agency process. At an August 4 briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner was asked about whether the payment was a form of ransom. Toner began by saying, “There’s always an interagency discussion around any decision like this, and every relevant agency weighs in.”

The disclosure that the Pentagon did not participate in the decision-making process also comes after reports that at least some lawmakers were not consulted about other payments to Iran. This week, the Weekly Standard reported that key members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including its chairman Senator Bob Corker, were not told about wire payments to Iran, even after Obama last month said the U.S. had to send cash because such wire payments were not possible. Politico reported this week that the U.S. had been wiring cash to Iranian banks long before the cash payments were flown to Iran.

The disclosure is also the latest example of how U.S. military leaders have been distancing themselves from Kerry’s Middle East diplomacy. Senior military leaders could barely disguise their opposition to Kerry’s latest cease-fire plan for Syria, which would have resulted in the U.S. cooperating with Russia to select bombing targets had a cessation of hostilities held for a week. It didn’t. At the hearing Thursday, Dunford said the Pentagon had no plans to share any intelligence with Russia.

Most important in all of this, though, is that the fissures between the military and the White House, which have been growing since Obama’s first term, are coming out in the open in his presidency’s final months. Since leaving office, all three of Obama’s prior defense secretaries have talked publicly about their frustrations with the White House.

Robert Gates, who was Obama’s first secretary of defense, wrote a scathing memoir where he complained about being ordered around by senior White House staff. Leon Panetta, who headed the Pentagon between 2011 and 2013, told the New York Times Magazine earlier this year that he never saw the letters Obama sent to Iran’s Supreme Leader, when he served as CIA director or secretary of defense. Panetta’s successor, Chuck Hagel, told Foreign Policy last December that he believed the White House had set out to destroy him.

We’ll have to wait, but if recent public testimony is any indication Ash Carter will write a lively memoir once he leaves office.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Disgusting: Obama Continues Importing Radicals Despite NYC Bombing

Published on Sep 20, 2016
Serious blunders by the Department of Homeland Security gave citizenship to over 800 people with pending deportation orders. Hillary Clinton parrots Donald Trump in speech regarding New York City and New Jersey bombing, calling for a “tougher vetting” process for immigrants entering the US. Trump is called out by liberal media for calling Ahmed Kahn Rahami’s bombing in manhattan an actual “bombing.” It was revealed the president has given 33 billion to Iran in the past three years. One in five Syrian immigrants are place in the NYC/ Northern New Jersey area, in the same location where terrorist attack took place over the weekend. Lee Ann McAdoo and Margaret Howell discuss these topics.

Debi Reader

Obama is a muslim, he has an agenda
Aids Skrillex

We need Obama out of the FUCKING WHITE house, and we can’t afford four more years of the same.
No One

Wooow now its not a bomb people…. Its not a bomb.. And 5..4..3..2..1.. Ok its a bomb
Jesse Lopez

This is Our Country No more muslims in America.Obunghole is the Enemy.Wake up.Hitlery is 3rd. term of obunghole.
Jawl Bone

arm yourselves someone will shoot first
James Chieftain

what Obama and shitlery don’t grasp is Donald has eyes all over. so yea he was informed about the actual issue and cause before the media did it.. stupid globalists.. SMH

State Department Finally Admits: Nuke Deal Might Be Making Iran’s Behavior Worse

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Posted: Sep 14, 2016 9:30 AM

Since the nuclear deal between the White House and Iran was officially completed and signed in July 2015, the Iranians have engaged in an number of alarming actions including the launch of ballistic missiles in violation of U.N. sanctions, the unlawful arrest and taking hostage of Americans in the country, threats of U.S. plane shoot downs while flying in international airspace, increased harassment of U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf and detainment of U.S. sailors who were forced to make an apology, which was used as propaganda on Iranian state television. 

Before the Iranian nuclear deal was agreed upon, critics repeatedly warned the deal being negotiated (and eventually signed) would only embolden Iran’s bad behavior, not improve relations. Based on the evidence, it is clear Iran is emboldened, not deterred, and now the State Department is finally admitting the connection.

This admission comes just one week after we learned from congressional testimony the U.S. may have paid Iran up to $33 billion in cash and gold as part of the nuclear agreement. Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror and the State Department still officially classifies the regime as such.

US military: Iranian behavior getting worse in Persian Gulf…

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BY KRISTINA WONG

Iran has stepped up its harassment of U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf, angering the U.S. military and members of Congress.

Since the international nuclear deal with Iran was implemented in early January, the number of incidents involving U.S. and Iranian ships in the Gulf has approximately doubled.
The Navy has counted at least 31 interactions with Iranian naval forces deemed “unsafe,” “unprofessional,” or both, according to a defense official.
That’s about as many such interactions that occurred all of last year, according to statistics provided to Fox News.

And those are also only counting interactions that have met the criteria of “unsafe” or “unprofessional.”

Overall, there were more than 300 interactions between U.S. and Iranian forces last year.

That figure includes incidents in which Iranian vessels waited for and followed U.S. ships transiting in the Persian Gulf, or sailed by with their weapons uncovered, in addition to other incidents of muscle flexing considered routine.

Military officials say there is no question that the behavior is getting worse.

“We’ve seen an uptick in confrontations by Iranian vessels in the Arabian Gulf,” Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the top U.S. commander in the region, said on Aug. 30. U.S. military officials refer to the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf.

Votel also issued a rare warning to Iranian forces: “Ultimately if they continue to test us we’re going to respond and we’re going to protect ourselves and our partners.”

The last confrontation occurred just last Sunday, when seven Iranian fast attack boats confronted a U.S. Navy coastal patrol boat in international waters in the Persian Gulf.

When one of the Iranian vessels stopped directly in the path and within about 100 yards of the USS Firebolt, the U.S. vessel had to swerve to avoid a collision, defense officials said.

The confrontations are fueling anger on Capitol Hill and providing new arguments for lawmakers to enact anti-Iran legislation.

Earlier this week, a group of Republican senators introduced legislation that would ban any further U.S. government payments to Iran from a Treasury Department fund, until Iran returned $1.7 billion the administration sent to Iran earlier this year to settle a dispute over an arms deal from the 1970s.

“Iran’s harassment of a U.S. naval vessel is just the latest example of troubling and unsurprising behavior by the regime following the Obama administration’s parade of serious policy blunders that have emboldened Tehran and invited increased belligerence,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), one of the bill’s sponsors, in a statement Thursday.

Ayotte, who faces a tough reelection contest this year, also expressed concern that the money would buy “additional Iranian ships to harass U.S. Navy vessels,” among other weapons.

“I am deeply troubled that this large infusion of U.S. taxpayer-funded cash into the defense coffers of the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism is going to further embolden Iran and result in our troops and our allies confronting more lethal and better equipped adversaries and potential adversaries,” she said.

The administration has insisted that any money going to Iran as a result of the Iran nuclear deal is not going to Iran’s military.

“What they’ve told us but also what we see, instead of going to the military, the money is being poured back into the economy because this is an economy that was suffering terribly,” Antony Blinken, U.S. deputy secretary of State, said Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day.”

However, Blinken also said he could not guarantee that none of the money reached Hezbollah and other terrorist allies.

“We can’t say not one single dollar. But what we can say, based on what we’ve seen so far, is that virtually all of it is going into the economy, not into the military,” he said.

“The bottom line is this, this agreement that we’ve reached has made us safer. It’s put far into the future the day when Iran could enough material for nuclear weapons,” he said.

U.S. officials say they can’t divine Iran’s intentions with the stepped up confrontations, but indicate the regime is directly behind them.

“What I see is this is principally the regime leadership trying to exert their influence and authority in the region,” Votel said.

Votel also said that “90 percent” of the unsafe, unprofessional activities come not from the “general Iranian navy,” but from the Iranian Quds Force, which experts say has close ties to the Iranian regime.

Experts also expect that the confrontations will get worse.

“During the final phases of the nuclear deal negotiations, they toned it down a bit just so they wouldn’t throw the negotiations too far off track,” said the Institute for the Study of War’s Chris Harmer.

“Now that the deal is done, my expectation is that the harassment is going to escalate and probably increase beyond anything that we’ve seen,” Harmer said.

US made entire $1.7 bn payment to Iran in foreign cash – Treasury

Not only the $400 million debt, but also the $1.3 billion interest on it was paid by the US to Iran in foreign currency and in cash this year, the US Treasury acknowledged.
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Two planeloads full of Swiss francs, euros, and other currencies followed the initial cash payment to Iran to settle the debt dating back to 1979, the Obama administration confirmed. The planes flew on January 22 and February 5 from Europe, the White House reportedly said in a briefing it gave lawmakers after they returned from their summer recess.

Earlier the US Department of State said the money was transferred through a third party in 13 separate payments of $99,999,999.99, with the final payment amounting to about $10 million. The administration however did not reveal that the interest settlement was in cash like that of the original debt.

The US payment “flowed in the same manner” as the original $400 million that an Iranian cargo plane picked up in Geneva, Switzerland, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing anonymous congressional officials. The original sum was converted into non-US currencies by the Swiss and Dutch central banks, the report said.

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The Treasury Department said the cash transaction was necessary because of the US-championed sanctions against Tehran.

“The form of those principal and interest payments – made in non-U.S. currency, in cash – was necessitated by the effectiveness of US and international sanctions regimes over the last several years in isolating Iran from the international financial system,” Treasury spokeswoman Dawn Selak said.

Washington’s debt stems from a 1970s purchase by the Shah government of military aircraft parts that were never delivered. It was paid in January this year, shortly before Iran released some American prisoners. The White House said the payment was used to put leverage on Tehran while its critics described it as paying ransom for US citizens.

The Obama administration said it decided to cover the debt because it expected to lose arbitration in The Hague and be ordered to pay as much as $10 billion due to accumulated interest. Washington and Tehran agreed on a $1.7 billion settlement, which includes $400 million of original debt and $1.3 billion of interest.

The release of US prisoners coincided with the signing of a breakthrough deal between Iran and six leading world powers, which addressed concerns over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. Many Republicans, and some officials from Israel, criticized the Obama administration for signing the deal, saying it was bad.

READ MORE: Ransom after all? $400m to Iran was ‘contingent’ on Americans’ release

A bill introduced in Congress by Republican lawmakers on Tuesday would block the US Treasury Department from making any payments to Iran until it returns the $1.7 billion it received to the US and to citizens who the US considers victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism.

“President Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran was sweetened with an illicit ransom payment and billions of dollars for the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism,” Senator Marko Rubio, who sponsored the bill, said.

“The US government should not be in the business of negotiating with terrorists and paying ransom money in exchange for the release of American hostages,” he added.

Both the House and Senate are planning to hold hearings on the controversial payments.