House Select Committee On Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy On Face The Nation


Face The Nation

ThinkProgress reports:

“Of the seven previous investigations, two were bipartisan investigations conducted by the U.S. Senate. But the majority were GOP-led investigations by Gowdy’s fellow Congressional Republicans.

“They included the House Committee on Armed Services, chaired by then-Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA); the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, lead by then-Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI); the House Committee on the Judiciary, chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA); and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).

“When he announced that he was appointed Gowdy’s Benghazi committee, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) praised the five other investigations for their ‘extraordinary work, using their subpoena power, holding dozens of hearings, and conducting hundreds of interviews.'”

Above is an interview on the show Face The Nation with the Chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Trey Gowdy.

(Updated to add link)

http://thinkprogress.org/world/2015/10/22/3715046/trey-gowdy-benghazi-slams-gop/

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Leak Shows Former British Prime Minister Blair Knew About Iraq Invasion A Year In Advance

All sewn up: President George Bush and UK prime minister Tony Blair at the infamous 2002 summit at Bush's ranch house in Crawford, Texas, where the two men spoke about invading IraqA White House leak shows that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had given George W. Bush an unqualified pledge to join the Iraq War a year before the invasion started.

The document – a memo – was written by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell to then-President George W. Bush.

The memo goes against Blair’s public claims that he was seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis at that time.

Blair said to Parliament: “We’re not proposing military action” – in contrast to what the secret email now reveals.

The classified document also discloses that Blair agreed to act as a type of spin doctor for the President by presenting “public affairs lines” to convince a skeptical public that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction when none existed.

However, Bush would flatter Blair’s ego and give the impression that Britain was not America’s dog but an equal partner in a special relationship.

The memo was written on March 28, 2002, a week before Bush’s famous summit with Blair at his Crawford ranch in Texas.

In it, Powell tells Bush that Blair “will be with us” on military action. Powell assures the President that “The UK will follow our lead.”

The disclosure is certain to lead for calls for the Brits to reopen his inquiry into the Iraq War.

A second explosive memo from the same cache also reveals how Bush used “spies” in the British Labour Party to help him to manipulate British public opinion in favor of the war.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3277402/Smoking-gun-emails-reveal-Blair-s-deal-blood-George-Bush-Iraq-war-forged-YEAR-invasion-started.html

http://qz.com/527088/this-is-the-memo-that-suggests-blair-backed-the-iraq-war-a-year-before-invading/

Iranian Ground Troops Are In Syria Fighting Rebels And ISIS

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah and Iranian fighters launched an offensive south of Aleppo province in Syria on Friday.  The groups expanded a counter-attack against rebels across western Syria with support from Russian air strikes.

This assault means the army is now pressing insurgents on several fronts near Syria’s main cities in the west, control of which would secure President Bashar Assad’s hold on power even if the east of the country is still held by Islamic State.

The city of Aleppo is only 30 miles from the Turkish border. Aleppo, a commercial and industrial hub near the border with Turkey, was Syria’s largest city before its four-year civil war, which grew out of protests against Assad’s rule.

Control of the city, still home to some two million people, is divided between the government and rebels.

“This is the promised battle,” a senior military source in Syria said of the offensive. The group is backed by “hundreds of Hezbollah and Iranian forces which he said had made some gains on the ground,” according to Haaretz.

Other sources such as Al-Arabia News state that “thousands” of Iranian troops are in the area.

This was the first time Iranian fighters had taken part on such a scale in the Syrian conflict, said the military source, according to Haaretz.

Hezbollah has supported Assad in several battles during the civil war, and said the army was carrying out a “broad military operation”, with support from Russian and Syrian jets, across a front at least 10 miles (15 km) wide from the southwest to southeast of Aleppo. It made no mention of Hezbollah fighters in its statement.

Hezbollah is a Shia Islamist militant group and political party based in Lebanon, writes Wikipedia.

Two senior regional sources said this week that Iran sent thousands of troops to Syria to bolster an offensive already underway in Hama province and ahead of the Aleppo attack, according to Haaretz.

Iran says it has sent weapons and military advisers to support its ally Assad, but has denied providing troops.

In the last week Iranian media have reported the deaths in Syria of three senior officers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. Hossein Hamedani, a corps deputy commander, was killed near Aleppo and two other officers have also died fighting Islamic State forces in Syria, Iran’s Tasnim news agency said.

Two senior Hezbollah officers have also been killed in Syria in the last week, a Lebanese security source said.

Rami Abdulrahman, director of UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said there were heavy clashes near the Jebel Azzan region, about 12 km (8 miles) south of Aleppo city.

The area that the army and Russian jets were targeting was close to a main road heading south towards the capital Damascus, Abdulrahman said.

The army had recaptured the village of Abtin from rebel fighters, he said, as well as a tank battalion base close to Sabiqiya village. Both villages lie close to Jebel Azzan. Rebels had hit one army tank with a U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missile.

The U.S. is attempting to support “moderate” rebels.  Unfortunately, sources claim that many “moderate” rebels collaborate with ISIS and al Nusra and have exchanged weapons.

The military source said the rebel fighters were mainly from the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham and al Qaeda’s Syrian wing, the Nusra Front, as well as the Suqour al-Sham and Failaq al-Sham insurgent groups.

(Updated post)

http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/1.680814

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2015/10/15/The-Iranians-are-on-Turkey-s-border.html

What Is The Situation With The Bombs In Turkey?

On Saturday, there were two bomb explosions at a “peace rally” in Ankara, the Turkish capital.

The number of killed varies in the news, but most outlets are reporting that “more than 100 people” died as a result of the blasts. Some news organizations call it the deadliest terror attack in Turkey’s history, others state it is the deadliest terror attack in recent history in Turkey.

Who organized the peace rally?

The BBC states that the pro-Kurdish HDP party organized Saturday’s rally. The Guardian writes that in addition to the HDP, pro-union and left-wing groups also took part.

Who is responsible for the bombing?

According to The Guardian, no group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, and the Turkish government has denied any part in it.

To make things worse, as thousands later gathered near the scene to mourn, brief scuffles broke out as police used teargas to prevent people from laying flowers at the site of the attack.

The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic party (HDP) said some members of its delegation sustained injuries from the police.

Witnesses and victims’ families felt that the government should have done more to protect the peace rally and that security should have been better. Mourners shouted anti-government slogans, and denounced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a “murderer” and a “thief”. Many blame his Justice and Development (AK) party for security failures at Saturday’s peace march.

According to the HDP, the number of people killed in the bombing stands at 128, all but eight of whom have been identified and their names published by the HDP’s crisis desk.

Security analysts have pointed out the similarities to a suicide bomb attack in the Turkish border town of Suruç that killed 33 Kurdish and Turkish activists in July, which the Turkish government blamed on ISIS.

According to The Guardian, the peace march was organized to call for an end to the escalating violence between the Turkish government and the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s party (PKK).

Saturday’s bomb attack in Ankara came three months after the breakdown of a mutual ceasefire between the Turkish government and the PKK. Hundreds of people have been killed in the escalating violence since then.

According to The Guardian, hours after the Ankara bombing, the PKK announced an expected unilateral ceasefire, in order to avoid acts that could obstruct a “fair and just election” on November 1st in Turkey.

On Saturday night, Turkish fighter jets launched airstrikes against PKK positions in Turkey and northern Iraq. The Kurds and the Kurdish PKK have been known for fighting against ISIS and other Islamic jihadists.

A statement by the general chief of staff said 49 militants were killed and shelters and gun positions were destroyed. Security operations were also reported from the predominantly Kurdish province of Diyarbakir.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/11/turkey-bomb-blasts-ankara-mourning-scores-killed

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/turkey/11923935/Turkey-Ankara-bomb-kills-30-at-pro-Kurdish-rally.html

Russian Plane ‘Shot Down’ By Turkish Fighters: British News

Syrian warplane

The International Business Times and several British newspapers are reporting that Turkey (part of the NATO alliance) shot down a Russian fighter plane over its airspace.

They report that social media users said there was a large explosion in Huraytan, northern Syria.

Last week Turkey said its jets had intercepted a Russian fighter in its airspace and the prime minister threatened to shoot down any plane that strayed in future.

Two Turkish F-16s forced the plane back into Syrian airspace on Saturday and Ahmet Davutoglu called in the Russian ambassador to protest.

He said on TV: “The Turkish armed forces have their orders. The necessary will be done even if a bird violates Turkey’s border. Rules of engagement are clear.”

Russia said the plane had entered Turkey “by mistake” and assured Ankara it would not happen again. Putin’s forces are currently supporting the Syrian regime by targeting President Bashir al-Assad’s opponents, including ISIS.

The US does not believe the violation was an error and officials held emergency talks.

Last Monday, Turkey’s military said a MIG-29 jet had harassed two Turkish F-16s for five minutes and 40 seconds on Sunday by locking its radar on to them.

The incident comes amid concerns over Russian air strikes in Syria against foreign-backed rebels.

The former chief of MI6 in England, Sir John Sawers, has warned there was a “real danger” of clashes between Russian and coalition warplanes if they mount rival operations in the skies over Syria.

(Updated article)

https://journaltelegraph.com/2015/10/10/russian-jet-shot-down-turkey-airspace/

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/russian-jet-shot-down-turkish-161036631.html#i9JLw4W

Marco Rubio’s Idea For Syria


Secular Talk

(Someone once said, “It’s always possible to make things worse…the challenge is making things better” – Ed.)

On Monday on CNBC, presidential candidate Marco Rubio discussed a new idea for the war in Syria that may or may not be appealing to most Americans: creating no-fly zones that Russia is likely to violate.  And what if they violate them?  War with Russia?

In a Monday interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, the presidential candidate argued that doing nothing would only strengthen terror groups like the Islamic State and increase the number of refugees coming out of Syria, writes The Huffington Post.

“I am confident the Air Force can enforce that,” Rubio said of a hypothetical safe zone in Syria. “I believe the Russians would not test that. I don’t think it’s in the Russians’ interest to engage in an armed conflict with the United States.”

Asked what he would do if Russian forces decided to enter the safe zone anyway, Rubio responded, “Well, then you’re going to have a problem. But that would be no different than any other adversary.”

http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/05/cnbc-transcript-cnbc-chief-washington-correspondent-john-harwood-speaks-with-florida-senator-marco-rubio-today-on-cnbcs-fast-money-halftime-report.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/marco-rubio-russia-no-fly-zone_5612e38ae4b0368a1a60ad06

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2015/10/marco-rubio-wants-us-to-risk-war-with-russia-over-syria/

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/syria-putin-obama-showdown-214477

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/10/07/marco-rubio-vows-challenge-vladimir-putin-syria/

TPP Trade Framework Agreed Upon; It Must Still Pass Legislatures

The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries have reached a deal on the most sweeping trade liberalization pact in a generation – the TPP trade deal.

Details of the pact were emerging in statements by officials after days of negotiations in Atlanta.

The agreement first needs to be ratified by Congress. Lawmakers in other TPP countries must also approve the deal, according to The Huffington Post.

The TPP trade deal is a pact that includes the nations of Brunei, Chile, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States, and Vietnam.

The TPP has been controversial because of the secrecy in the negotiations that have shaped it over the past five years and the perceived threat to interest groups like Mexican auto workers or Canadian dairy farmers.

The basic agreement must still be passed in Congress and signed into law by the President.  President Obama said that Americans would have months to read the deal before he signs it into law.

One of the snags of the deal had to do with the question of how long a monopoly period should be allowed on next-generation biotech drugs.

Some publications question the deal, as well as past free-trade agreements.  The Huffington Post says the U.S. has “a job-destroying trade deficit that has grown despite a long series of free-trade agreements.”

The Huffington Post calls the TPP a “profoundly anti-democratic agreement which signs away our right to govern our own economy.”

They claim that the TPP contains provisions which interfere with areas well beyond the bounds of trade.  It would:

• Limit how U.S. federal and state officials could regulate foreign firms operating within U.S. boundaries, with requirements to provide them greater rights than domestic firms.

• Extend the incentives for U.S. firms to offshore investment and jobs to lower-wage countries.

• Establish a two-track legal system that gives foreign firms new rights to skirt U.S. courts and laws, directly sue the U.S. government before foreign tribunals and

• Demand compensation for financial, health, environmental, land use and other laws they claim undermine their TPP privileges.

• Allow foreign firms to demand compensation for the costs of complying with U.S. financial or environmental regulations that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms.

The tariff reduction schedules cover hundreds of imported items from pork and beef in Japan to pickup trucks in the United States.  The issue of the length of the monopolies awarded to the developers of new biological drugs had threatened to ruin the talks until the end.

Negotiating teams had been deadlocked over the question of the minimum period of protection for the rights for data used to make biologic drugs made by companies like Pfizer Inc., Roche Group, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.

The United States had sought 12 years of protection.  Australia, New Zealand and public health groups had sought a period of five years to reduce drug costs and the burden on subsidized medical programs.

Negotiators agreed on a compromise on minimum terms that was short of what U.S. negotiators had originally sought.  The two-track process would grant biologic drugs a minimum period of 5 years and up to a minimum of 8 years of time free from the threat of competition from generic versions of drugs.

A set of issues surrounding protections for dairy farmers was also addressed in the final hours of talks.

The United States, Mexico, Canada and Japan agreed rules governing the auto trade that dictate how much of a vehicle must be made within the TPP region in order to qualify for duty-free status.

The Huffington Post’s Kevin Kearns makes the assessment that “the agreement negotiated by President Obama is completely inadequate to serve the interests of America’s manufacturers, industrial workers, farmers,” and other groups.

The North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico mandates that vehicles have a local content of 62.5 percent. The way that rule is implemented means that just over half of a vehicle needs to be manufactured locally. Credit has been given to this rule for a boom in auto-related in investment in Mexico.

But the TPP would give Japan’s automakers, led by Toyota Motor Corp, a freer hand to buy parts from Asia for vehicles sold in the United States.

Also, The Huffington Post states that a key problem is that the Obama administration has refused to include enforceable currency manipulation provisions in the final deal, despite an overwhelming bipartisan request from both houses of congress. This means there will still be no reprisals if a countries devalues its currency or otherwise manipulates its exchange rate.

(Updated post)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tpp-deal-reached_561267dae4b0dd85030c7933

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jared-bernstein/making-sense-of-the-tpp-d_b_8250922.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/10/04/is-canada-joining-a-big-new-trade-deal-answer-could-be-a-few-hours-away_n_8240714.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-fletcher/the-transpacific-partners_5_b_8246364.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ilana-solomon/more-than-a-dozen-environ_b_8253990.html