Archive for category National Defense
Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution – which our “progressive” judges and justices are attempting to re-write.
We affirm the promise of our democracy – when it suits our needs.
We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” – Life when it is wanted. Unalienable rights with the exclusion of religious freedom.
Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time – revisionist reality according to secular humanists.
For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. – The people whose rights are trashed by my HHS mandate.
The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed. – until I arrived here to destroy that.
And for more than two hundred years, we have. – My mob friends with SEIU and other unions are enforcing my wishes.
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.
Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers.
Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. – The rules of socialism and excessive government regulation and control.
Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune. – Except for the preborn, the disabled, and the elderly (who should think about hospice).
Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. – But they can be dictated by government, against the will of the people.
Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character. – But which we rejected in the last election campaign when we promised government control from cradle to grave.
But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. – Or better yet, collectivist actions at the expense of those founding principles.
For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. – Nor can the people be left alone to take initiatives through churches, ministries and charitable organizations to feed and clothe the poor, the destitute, the starving, and those whose lives have been uprooted by natural disasters. Nor can all meet the demands of today’s world with rising taxes and unsustainable debt, amidst excessive government regulation and control. Now you must overlook liberal fascism here at home.
No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. – No person has ever suggested building the transcontinental railroad or reaching the moon alone. And now innovation and achievement is being denigrated, discouraged, and hampered by the growing tentacles of big government.
Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people. – Actually, comrades, as one growing centralized government bureacracy.
This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. – American and allied forces have substantially reduced the capabilities of Islamic terrorists. Yet no real recovery has begun except in the campaign mode mind of the president.
America’s possibilities are limitless, — with the freedom from excessive government regulation
…. for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands – Especially the southern U.S. border which I’m attempting to dissolve.
youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. – Especially for those industries moving out of the reach of tax monsters in California and New York.
My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together. – Or I’ll seize it alone as I enact policies and executive orders unpopular with the people.
For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. – Courtesy of tax increases and demonization of the achievers who take risks investing their wealth to create jobs allowing many to feed their families.
We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. – Micromanaged by my ever-growing administration, undermined by my demolition of America’s business climate.
We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; — Despite my demands that all be dependent on government their entire lives, “independent” people like Julia. For when I refer to America, I’m talkin’ big government, baby.
when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. – But not from overly burdensome taxation.
We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own. – If she is allowed to leave her mother’s womb without dismemberment, and to experience a life directed by the “god” of big government.
We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. – Such as government programs encouraging dependency, teen pregnancy, and risky, life-altering behavior.
So we must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, reach higher. – So they can give more of what’s theirs to a government which will waste the fruits of their hard-earned labor on failing businesses. So they can more fully indoctrinate students in schools failing to educate, so citizens can settle for mediocrity while surrendering their God-given, Constitution-affirming rights to big government.
But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. – Yes, I thought this line would get a laugh!
That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed. – The creed I learned from Frank Marshall Davis and Saul Alinsky.
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. – Unless they oppose my secular worldview and my policies and executive orders. As long as you give more of your money to Planned Parenthood. As long as more of you substitute pain pills and hospice for medical treatment.
We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. – While I continue to raise the debt ceiling and put deficit reduction out of reach forever.
But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. – Wait a minute. I’m the first person to suggest this.
For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. – And now we proudly observe that 90 percent of preborn children with Down syndrome are not allowed to live.
We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. – Or those who take risks and invest their resources to create industries employing millions and feeding families.
We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. – Or job-killing fines for not funding abortion pill mandates.
The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. – Especially those of us raiding those funds!
They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great. – Though some would argue that those who took the risks, who employed people who provided for their families, now have a right to their social security as retired folks.
We, the – GOVERNMENT — people, still believe that our obligations as – CONTROL OF — Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, — No matter how well it’s been proven a fantasy.
knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. – And fail to increase tax coffers and close down the coal industry.
Some may still deny the overwhelming –UNDERWHELMING — judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging
fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms. – Fires caused by arsonists and by lightning. We still haven’t slowed the rise of the oceans and healed the planet; how can we control the weather?
The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. – And cost taxpayers billions to reward Solyndra and other green companies even though we knew they were going under.
But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it. – We will lead by downsizing our military and economic capacities. By killing jobs and increasing food stamp rolls.
We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise. – I don’t care how many Solyndras I give your money to.
That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality – And sustain this slumping economy while repeating the myth of recovery ad nauseum.
and our national treasure — our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. – It’s okay to bring religion into this now, even though I’ve long entertained doubts about my faith.
That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared. We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. – But our Army has recognized conservatives as terrorist threats and we will stockpile bullets and take their guns and religious freedom away.
Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. – And the raging passions of homosexual lust in the barracks.
Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. – Not counting those Islamic forces I’ve befriended and given hundreds of millions of your dollars to.
But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war; who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends — and we must carry those lessons into this time as well. – Like my Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood buddies.
We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. – Starting by gutting the United States Navy and refusing to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act. By befriending the detainees at Gitmo.
We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully –- After the election, since I have more flexibility now.
not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. – So don’t worry about any appropriate responses to future Benghazis.
America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. – Except for the Middle East, Fort Hood, Pakistan and a few other strategic locations
And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. – That would be the nation of Russia, which I’ve entrusted to take over as the world’s leading power.
We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. — And we’ll support communism in Cuba, Venezuela, and Kenya.
And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice –- not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice. – With the exceptions of the preborn, the Christian owners of businesses, my domestic enemies, and all who oppose the homosexual agenda.
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall – Stonewall, where lawless homosexuals threatened the lives of police officers doing their duty
just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth. – And where people, even my white grandmother, should be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.
It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. – Unless they work for me and accept our pay scale: 18 percent less for women.
Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law –- for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. – And our heterosexual brothers and sisters are treated equally as well, until anti-bullying laws and hate crime laws apply equally to all.
Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. – I promise an executive order allowing everyone voting for me to go to the head of the voting line, even if they arrived 10 minutes prior to the closing of the polls. And even if they can’t prove they are a citizen.
Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity – And who still come here legally and assimilate, unlike those cheating and flouting immigration law by entering the country illegally, or those who smuggle humans or drugs across our borders.
until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. – Never mind the law; I need voters now!
Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit – who escape the murder and violence
to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm. – Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses, your guns. Your government will guarantee you a chicken in every pot and continued safety from all evil-doers.
That is our generation’s task — to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American. – Pursuant to the laws cheapening life and liberty and polarizing this great nation.
Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. – Especially the First Amendment.
It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness. – Certainly not us Alinskyites.
Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time. – And act with impunity against the will of the people.
For now decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay. – We must proceed with the worst possible “solutions” to the problems of our time. We cannot take the time to actually read the bills that will impact your lives for decades to come. We must pass them to see what is in them and then move forward and act upon them.
We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, — If you don’t count my refusal to negotiate with Republicans, grandstand, or diss Supreme Court justices to their face.
or treat name-calling as reasoned debate – Even if I do identify my opponents as ENEMIES. I’m justified doing that. You’re not.
We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. – I’ve never spoken truer words!
We must act, knowing that today’s victories – Well they are actually ATTACKS on life, liberty, Republicans and successful business owners.
will be only partial and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years and 40 years and 400 years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall. – And which were just rejected by about 99 percent of the voters from inner Philly.
My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God – BUT AS MY OWN PARTY DETERMINED LAST SUMMER, IT WILL NOT BE THE GOD MOST AMERICANS WORSHIP. NO. IT WILL BE MINE: ALLAH — and country, not party or faction.
And we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. – Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar!
But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride. – The same flag I refuse to look at.
They are the words of citizens and they represent our greatest hope. You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. – To set it correctly despite my radical agenda.
You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – Though my friends and I actually know the debate is over.
not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals. – Those ancient values and enduring ideals I set into motion four long years ago.
Let us, each of us, now embrace with solemn duty and awesome joy what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom. – The freedom to worship your federal government. Long live the government!
Thank you. MY GOD, NOT YOURS – ALLAH — bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America. – And the great downsizing project we are today embarked on today, some with us, many not.
President Barack Obama has signed the $633 billion defense bill into law, but has criticized one of its provisions protecting conscience rights.
The provision exempts chaplains from ceremonies like same-sex weddings that they oppose based on their faith.
It also says the military cannot punish chaplains or other service members for their religious beliefs and must accommodate them unless the individual’s speech or actions threaten good order and discipline.
In a signing statement, Obama called the conscience provision “unnecessary and ill-advised” and said his administration remains committed “to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members.” (Reaction from retired chaplain and from member of Congress)
Here is the president’s full statement:
“Section 533 is an unnecessary and ill-advised provision, as the military already appropriately protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains and service members. The Secretary of Defense will ensure that the implementing regulations do not permit or condone discriminatory actions that compromise good order and discipline or otherwise violate military codes of conduct. My Administration remains fully committed to continuing the successful implementation of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members; Section 533 will not alter that.”
The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Libertyresponded that “the president is not at liberty to disregard the law” he signed. “Chaplains should be able to stand by their faith traditions and honor their commitments to God’s Word,” said Alliance executive director Ron Crews.
Rush Limbaugh, Nov. 7, 2012
RUSH: Greetings, my friends. What happened? That’s what we’re going to try to find out. We’re not gotta be able to explain this away in one day. We’re gonna get close. We are not gonna be able to come up with all the answers and solutions in one day, but I want to try to take you through the night for me last night, various thoughts that I had as things happened, beginning with my getting and receiving the exit polls at five o’clock.
But first, let me tell you, small things beat big things yesterday. Conservatism, in my humble opinion, did not lose last night. It’s just very difficult to beat Santa Claus. It is practically impossible to beat Santa Claus. People are not going to vote against Santa Claus, especially if the alternative is being your own Santa Claus.
Now, everybody is jumping on Romney’s chain today, getting in his chili. Look, he may have not been the most optimal candidate, but he’s a fine man. He would have been great for this country. Mitt Romney and his family would have been the essence of exactly what this country needs. But what was Romney’s recipe? Romney’s recipe was the old standby: American route to success, hard work. That gets sneered at. I’m sorry. In a country of children where the option is Santa Claus or work, what wins? And say what you want, but Romney did offer a vision of traditional America. In his way, he put forth a great vision of traditional America, and it was rejected. It was rejected in favor of a guy who thinks that those who are working aren’t doing enough to help those who aren’t. And that resonated.
The Obama campaign was about small stuff. War on Women, binders, Big Bird, this kind of stuff. The Romney campaign was about big things, was about America. It’s mind-boggling to go through these exit polls. You want to hear a statistic that is somewhat surprising? Romney received two and a half million fewer votes than McCain did. Now, who would have called that? Who in the world would have? I think Obama’s vote tally was down ten million from 2008, and we still lost. We lost 50 to 48 nationally. We were not able to build a turnout model that looked like 2004. Very puzzling.
Something else. Just stream of consciousness here. The usual suspects are out, and they’re saying, “Rush, we gotta reach out now to the Hispanics and reach out to the minorities, blacks.” Okay, let me remind you of something. Just ask you a question. And we will be getting your phone calls of course today, you weigh in on this, 800-282-2882 is the number. Let me take you back to the Republican convention. We had Suzanne Martinez, female Hispanic governor, New Mexico. We had Condoleezza Rice, African-American, former secretary of state. Both of those people imminently qualified, terrifically achieved. They have reached the pinnacles of their profession.
We had Marco Rubio. We had a parade of minorities who have become successful Americans. And they all had a common story: up from nothing, hard work, their parents sacrificed for them. Now, why didn’t that work, folks? The answer to that is our future. Why didn’t it work? Some people say, “Well, Rush, we pandered.” No, we didn’t pander. Everybody says that we need to reach out to minorities. We have plenty of highly achieved minorities in our party, and they are in prominent positions, and they all have a common story. They all came from nothing. Their parents came from nothing. They worked hard. They told those stories with great pride. Those stories evoked tears. It didn’t work. And don’t tell me that people didn’t watch the convention or people didn’t see it. I mean, there’s a reason it doesn’t work.
I went to bed last night thinking we’re outnumbered. I went to bed last night thinking all this discussion we’d had about this election being the election that will tell us whether or not we’ve lost the country. I went to bed last night thinking we’ve lost the country. I don’t know how else you look at this. The first wave of exit polls came in at 5 p.m. I looked at it, I read the first two pages, and I said to myself, “This is utter BS.” And I forwarded the exit poll data that I had to three or four people, and my message to each of them, “This is utter BS, and if it isn’t, then we’ve lost the country.” Let me take you through some of it.
Based on early exit polls, Obama is locked in a tight race with Governor Romney. Nationally we believe the race to be as tight as it could be, and to the extent that Obama is running strong and can win, it is because they see him as someone who cares about people like them. They feel he did a very good job in the response to Hurricane Sandy. When I saw that, I thought this thing is starting to read like a Democrat campaign speech, this exit poll data. Hurricane Sandy and the aftermath and the way Obama handled that, what did Obama do? He showed up one day, he bear hugged Chris Christie, and then he left. The situation on the ground is devastating, and yet Obama triumphs in the exit polls with that.
He successfully painted Romney’s policies as caring primarily about the rich. He successfully convinced roughly half the country that his policies will favor the middle class. Now, measure that against reality. The reality is that the economy of this country is crumbling. The unemployment situation is worsening. The debt situation is worsening. Everything for the very people who think Obama’s gonna help them is getting worse, and yet they told the exit poll people that they thought Obama’s the best guy to handle Obamacare.
A majority of people like Obamacare in the exit poll. That goes against everything we’ve ever heard in any poll. Voters trust him more than Romney in an international crisis. What? How in the world can that be? In a rational, intelligent world, how can that be? “He’s running very strong with African-Americans, Latinos, and women. If he wins, this data will be consistent with stories about the changing nature of US demographics.”
And I saw this next one. This is the one that made me think this exit poll was BS. I just, intellectually, had trouble with this one. “More than half the people who voted yesterday said that they still blame Bush for the economy.” More than half the people who…? After four years! Well, now, what is the answer to this? How in the world do you deal with this? There are ways, and we didn’t do them. There were too many assumptions made about what the American people thought, about what they knew.
Too many assumptions were made. But look, I don’t want to nitpick the campaign today. That’s not the point. There are larger things here at work. “Roughly half voters want the health care law as it is or expanded, and they are voting for Obama.” Really? I haven’t seen a poll like that anywhere. Every poll — every poll! — I have seen on Obamacare features a majority and close to 60% who don’t like it, but this is an exit poll of people who voted.
“People who say they are looking for a strong leader and someone who has more of a vision for the future support Romney. Romney even wins among voters voting for ‘a candidate who shares my values.’ Voters believe the economy’s weak and Romney will be better able to manage the economy.” Now, this is for people the exit pollers say, this is the reason if Romney wins. This is why. Well, obviously, those people were vastly outnumbered, which is where we are today.
One of the greatest misunderstandings in this country, if you boil all this down, is what creates prosperity. The Romney campaign was essentially about that, and the Romney campaign was devoted to the traditional American view and history — vision, as well — of what creates prosperity. The old capitalism, the old arguments of hard work, stick-to-itiveness, self-reliance, charity, helping out in the community.
All of these things that define the traditional institutions that made this country great, that’s what the Romney campaign was about. It was rejected. That way, or that route to prosperity was sneered at. That route to prosperity was rejected. The people who voted for Obama don’t believe in it. They don’t think it’s possible. They think the game’s rigged. They think the deck is stacked against them.
They think that the only way they’re gonna have a chance for anything is if somebody comes along and takes from somebody else and gives it to them. Santa Claus! And it’s hard to beat Santa Claus. Especially it’s hard to beat Santa Claus when the alternative is, “You be your own Santa Claus.” “Oh, no! I’m not doing that. What do you mean, I have to be my own Santa Claus? No, no. No, no, no. I want to get up every day and go to the tree. You’re the elves,” meaning us.
You throw Hurricane Sandy in here. I must admit, I am genuinely puzzled that Hurricane Sandy and the aftermath helped Obama and hurt Romney. But it did. According to the exit polls. I mean, what they say is what they say. The polls were right on the money, as it turned out. But until people understand why and how big government reduces prosperity for all, they’re gonna continue to be fooled by little things.
By marketing, by smooth talkers, by faux compassion. So we’ll see what happens with the economy as we go forward. Some people think, “Hey, Rush, the economy is resilient in this country, and it’s gonna naturally rebound. No matter what.” There are people today scared the economy is going to rebound despite what’s happening in the stock market today and Obama’s policies are gonna get credit for it.
A bunch of libs are salivating over that. They think the economy is gonna come back no matter what, and that Obama’s big government is going to end up being the explanation for the rest of our lives as to how that happened. Just like in Japan, just like in Greece. But look, you bring up Greece and you bring up Europe, and they’re where we’re headed. Their problems are acute.
The difference is that none of those European countries are anywhere near the leading economy of the world like we are. The world depends on what happens here. The world does not depend on what happens in Spain or Greece or Italy. Not to put them down. But regardless, wherever you go… Look at Greece. Whenever necessary austerity measures are proposed, what happens?
“No, you don’t! You’re not taking it away from me!” There is no rising to responsibility. There is no accepting responsibility. There’s just a demand that the gravy train continue, and we have an administration that’s promising an endless gravy train. All you have to do to stay on that gravy train is vote. But it doesn’t matter.
The thing that’s mind-boggling is that there is no new prosperity in America. There is no improved standard of living. It’s all going down. “But Obama cares. He really cares! He cares much more than Romney. He really, really cares. In fact, he cares so much, we’re gonna give him a do-over. We’re gonna give him a second term to do what we know he wanted to do in the first term but wasn’t able to for whatever reason.”
By Jerry Seper and Chuck Neubauer, The Washington Times
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General on Wednesday blamed the failure of the “Fast and Furious” gunrunning operation on a series of “misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment and management failures” that permeated the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives‘ Washington, D.C., headquarters and Phoenix field office, and said “questionable judgments” by Justice Department officials in Washington marred the department’s response to Capitol Hill inquiries.
The long-anticipated 471-page report also found no evidence that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. knew of the operation prior to its public unraveling in January 2011. The investigation had come to light after two AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles purchased as a part of Fast and Furious were found at the scene of the killing nearly two years ago of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. The report recommended that 14 department employees be reviewed for possible sanctions or other disciplinary actions.
The report also said Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, Mr. Holder’s chief of staff, received a briefing about Fast and Furious in March 2010, but that the briefing “failed to alert Grindler to problems in the investigation.” The report said Mr. Grindler learned three days after the Dec. 14, 2010, death of Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry of the link between weapons found at the murder scene and Furious but did not tell Mr. Holder. It said he should of “informed the attorney general as well as made an appropriate inquiry of ATF or the U.S. attorney’s office about the connection.”
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, who reviewed Fast and Furious wiretap applications, resigned Wednesday in the wake of the report, which said he should have asked more questions about Fast and Furious given his knowledge of a similar 2006 program known as “Operation Wide Receiver.” Former Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson, named in the report as failing to maintain “appropriate oversite” of Fast and Furious, announced his retirement Wednesday effective immediately.
According to the report, both Fast and Furious and Wide Receiver were “seriously flawed and supervised irresponsibly” by ATF’s Phoenix field division and the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona, “most significantly in their failure to adequately consider the risk to the public safety in the United States and Mexico.” It said both investigations sought to identify the higher reaches of firearms trafficking networks by deferring any overt law enforcement action against the individual straw buyers — such as making arrests or seizing firearms — even when there was sufficient evidence to do so.
“The risk to public safety was immediately evident in both investigations,” the report said. “Almost from the outset of each case, ATF agents learned that the purchases were financed by violent Mexican drug trafficking organizations and that the firearms were destined for Mexico.”
Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which investigated Fast and Furious, said Wednesday the report confirmed findings by Congress of a “near total disregard for public safety in Operation Fast and Furious contrary to the denials of the attorney general and his political defenders.” Mr. Issa said the report noted that information in wiretap applications approved by senior Justice Department officials in Washington “did contain red flags showing reckless tactics” and they fault Mr. Holder’s inner circle for their conduct.
Mr. Holder said Wednesday the report’s key conclusions are “consistent” with what he and other Justice Department officials have said for many months now: The inappropriate strategy and tactics employed were field-driven and date back to 2006; the leadership of the department did not know about or authorize the use of the flawed strategy and tactics; and the department’s leadership did not attempt to cover up information or mislead Congress about it.”
“I want to assure the American people that I, and my colleagues at the department, will continue to focus on our mission of protecting their rights and their security, and doing so in a manner that is consistent with the high standards of the Department of Justice,” he said.
The report identified persons ranging from field agents and prosecutors in Phoenix and Tucson to senior ATF officials in Washington who “bore a share of responsibility” for ATF’s failures in both Fast and Furious and Wide Receiver to interdict firearms illegally bound for Mexico, and for pursuing “this risky strategy without adequately taking into account the significant danger to public safety that it created.”
“We operated with complete and total independence in our search for the truth, and the decision about what to cover in this report and the conclusions we reached were made solely by me and my office,” Mr. Horowitz said. “I am pleased that we are able to put forward a full and complete recitation of the facts that we found, and the conclusions that we reached, with minimal redactions by the department to our report.”
He also said the Obama administration made no redactions for executive privilege, even though the report evaluates in detail and reaches conclusions about the department’s actions in responding to Congress, adding that Justice has agreed to seek court authorization to unredact as much of the wiretap information as possible.
According to the report, Fast and Furious and Wide Receiver were “seriously flawed and supervisedirresponsibly” by ATF’s Phoenix field division and the U.S. attorney’s Office, “most significantly in their failure to adequately consider the risk to the public safety in the United States and Mexico.” It said both operations sought to identify the higher reaches of firearms trafficking networks by deferring any overt law enforcement action against the straw buyers — such as making arrests or seizing firearms — even when there was sufficient evidence to do so.
“The risk to public safety was immediately evident in both investigations,” the report said. “Almost from the outset of each case, ATF agents learned that the purchases were financed by violent Mexican drug trafficking organizations and that the firearms were destined for Mexico.”
But the report said investigators found that no one responsible for the operations at either the ATF Phoenix field division or the U.S. attorney’s office raised a serious question or concern about the government not taking earlier measures to disrupt a trafficking operation that continued to purchase firearms with impunity for many months. It said investigators did not find persuasive evidence that any supervisor in Phoenix, at either the U.S. attorney’s office or ATF, raised serious questions or concerns about the risk to public safety posed by the continuing firearms purchases or by the delay in arresting persons who were engaging in the trafficking.
The report said that failure reflected a “significant lack of oversight and urgency” by both ATF and the U.S. attorney’s office, and a “disregard by both” for the safety of persons in the United States and Mexico.
According to the report, Mr. Holder was notified immediately of the Terry death, but was not told about the connection between firearms found at the scene and Fast and Furious. It said he learned of the connection sometime in 2011, after he received a letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, asking about the Terry death.
“Had the department’s senior leadership taken immediate action after learning that weapons found at the scene of a federal law enforcement agent’s murder were linked to a straw purchaser in an ATF firearms trafficking investigation, the department likely would have gathered information about Operation Fast and Furious well before it received the inquiry from Sen. Grassley about the very same issue in late January 2011. The Department, however, did not do so,” the report said.
The report said Mr. Grindler and former Deputy Chief of Staff Monty Wilkinson should have told Mr. Holder about the connection between Fast and Furious and the Terry shooting. It also singled out Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who heads the Justice Department’s criminal division, for possible disciplinary action for failing to alert Mr. Holder or his deputy when he learned in April 2010 that ATF had allowed guns to walk in Wide Receiver.
In addition, the report said Mr. Weinstein should have asked more questions about Fast and Furious given his knowledge of Wide Receiver when he was reviewing Fast and Furious wiretap applications. Both Mr. Breuer and Mr. Weinstein were criticized for failing to draw a connection between the allegations in Mr. Grassley’s letters and their knowledge of gun walking in Wide Receiver.
In his resignation letter posted on his lawyer’s website, Mr. Weinstein said he found it “personally painful” to read the report’s “completely false conclusion” that he knew about and failed to act on Fast and Furious guns being allowed to walk to Mexico. He said he had been assured by the ATF and prosecutors in Arizona that guns were not being transported south of the border.
According to the report, a poorly executed information gathering and drafting process, as well as questionable judgments by department officials, contributed to Justice’s inclusion of inaccurate information in its Feb. 4 response letter to Mr. Grassley. It said that in preparing the letter, department officials relied on information provided by senior officials that was not accurate, primarily from U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson and his deputy, William Hoover. It said they failed to exercise “appropriate oversight of the investigation, and to some extent were themselves receiving incorrect or incomplete information from their subordinates.”
Mr. Holder said officials within ATF and the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona identified in the report as having been responsible for designing, implementing or supervising Fast and Furious have been “referred to the appropriate entities for review and consideration of potential personnel actions.” He declined to elaborate.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s ranking Democrat, said the report “debunks many of the extreme allegations made by Republicans,” instead confirming conclusions reached in a minority report issued nearly a year ago that said neither the Mr. Holder nor senior Justice Department officials authorized or approved of gunwalking in Fast and Furious, that gunwalking started under the Bush administration in 2006, and that ATF agents in Phoenix and the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona shared responsibility for “misguided operations spanning five years.”
Mr. Grassley said the report confirmed that Fast and Furious was the “height of irresponsibility on the part of a number of people from the ATF Phoenix field office all the way up to the Justice Department headquarters.” He said he was “glad” Mr. Horowitz was joining with him and Mr. Issa in urging the Justice Department to unseal Fast and Furious wiretap applications “so the American people can read them and make up their own minds.”
ATF shut down Fast and Furious after two AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles purchased by straw buyers from a gun shop in Glendale, Ariz., were found near Terry’s body. The agent had been killed during a shootout with Mexican drug smugglers just north of the U.S.-Mexico border, south of Tucson. The killing led to public testimony by ATF agents opposed to the operation, who said more than 2,000 weapons had been walked to drug smugglers in Mexico, about 1,400 of which are still unaccounted for.
Washington Times Editorial
The Obama administration is reportedly in talks with Egypt’s government to transfer convicted terrorist Omar Abdel Rahman back to his home country. This would be a major foreign-policy blunder and an insult to the counterterrorism professionals who put the terror leader behind bars.
Rahman, known as the “Blind Sheikh,” was the leader of the terrorist group Al-Gama’a al-Islamiya, which conducted a series of attacks in Egypt in the early 1990s. Rahman was in exile in New York at the time, preaching at mosques, fundraising, building a radical following and conspiring to create mayhem in America. Rahman and nine of his acolytes were arrested after the February 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In 1996, he was sentenced to life in prison for his part in the plot.
Securing Rahman’s freedom is a cause celebre among Islamists. The “Abdel Rahman Brigades” have mounted a series of attacks in his name in Libya and may have motivated the Sept. 11 murder of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The Blind Shiekh’s family organized the demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo on the same day during which a mob breached the embassy perimeter, tore down the American flag and raised the black banner of jihad. The pre-planned event was billed as, “The real terrorist — America or Omar Abdel Rahman?” Rahman’s son Abdullah said that sheikh’s return would be “the start of real reconciliation” between the United States and Egypt, and the family is confident Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will keep his campaign promise of working to secure the sheikh’s release. The issue is expected to come up when Mr. Morsi meets with President Obama next week in New York.
Rahman’s Islamist supporters portray the sheikh as a man of peace who was innocently caught up in events in which he was not involved. The Egyptian government isn’t challenging Rahman’s conviction but instead is seeking his release on humanitarian grounds. The sheikh is 74, in ill-health and being held at Butner Federal Medical Center in North Carolina. The model for the transfer would be the release of Abdelbasset al-Megrahi, who was convicted of 270 counts of murder for his role in the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. In 2009, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, al-Megrahi was transferred from Scotland to Libya on “compassionate grounds.” There he lived another three years. Islamist radicals would like the blind sheikh to receive the same compassion al-Megrahi did, but that is more solicitude than Rahman showed his victims.
The White House should balk at any early release for the sheikh. Given the current level of anti-American violence in the region, it would look like — and in fact be — a concession to terrorism. Rahman’s transfer, if it comes, would have to wait for Mr. Obama’s flex time after the election. Mr. Obama and Mr. Morsi may also discuss transferring accused al Qaeda explosives expert Tarek El Sawah, the last Egyptian detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Releasing the blind sheikh on any grounds would embolden radicals abroad and demoralize America’s counterterrorism efforts. It would also undermine the Obama administration’s argument that terrorists be tried in civilian courts. Rahman’s case is a model for this type of justice. He and his co-conspirators were afforded full due-process rights, given their days in court and convicted. He did the crime here; he should serve the time here.