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Posts tagged ‘United States Department of State’

State Dept. Whistleblower’s Emails Destroyed by Hacker.


A State Department whistleblower’s computer has had four years of emails deleted by a hacker, including messages detailing alleged wrongdoing at the agency, according to the New York Post.

The Gmail account of Diplomatic Security Service criminal investigator Richard Higbie was hacked earlier this month, confirmed his lawyer Cary Schulman. And now Higbie has asked the FBI in Dallas, where he lives, to investigate the hack attack.

Schulman said that the e-mails included Higbie’s proof of misconduct by leading department officials, his correspondence with other potential whistleblowers at the agency, and his communications with members of Congress investigating the allegations.

“They took all of his e-mails and then they deleted them all,” said Schulman, adding that he had no evidence to suggest the hacker’s identity or whether he or she was working in collusion with anyone else.

Calling the hacking “sophisticated” and saying Higbie’s targeting was “alarming,” the lawyer added, “Obviously, somebody is not happy with something he’s doing and wanted to get that information and also cause him an inability in the future to have ready access to that.”

Higbie, the second-highest-ranking agent in the Dallas office, played a vital part in helping fellow whistleblower Aurelia Fedenisn, a former investigator for the department’s Inspector General, lift the lid earlier this year on a series of coverups by leading officials, the Post reports.

The alleged coverups included keeping an Inspector General investigation under wraps that confirmed members of then-Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s security detail had paid for hookers and that the Belgian ambassador had solicited underage prostitutes.

The Post says that several investigations by the service, which protects dignitaries and investigates crimes at the agency, were allegedly derailed by senior officials, including one case in which Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills allegedly interfered.

Higbie has claimed in an employment lawsuit against the department that it took revenge against him for being a whistleblower.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Drew MacKenzie

Kerry Returns to Middle East Next Week for Peace Talks.


Secretary of State John Kerry will return to the Middle East next week to continue prodding Israel and Palestinians to forge a long-elusive peace deal.

The State Department said Kerry is to leave on New Year’s Day for Israel and the Palestinian territories, where he will discuss ongoing negotiations with leaders from both sides.

The parties relaunched direct talks over the summer with the goal of forging an accord within nine months.

The target date expires at the end of April, and there has been little if any tangible sign of progress so far.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Obama Might Avoid Keystone Pipeline Decision.


Image: Obama Might Avoid Keystone Pipeline DecisionPresident Barack Obama speaks at the southern site of the Keystone XL pipeline on March 22, 2012 in Cushing, Oklahoma.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

The State Department may have to restart its analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline, which could delay a decision on the controversial project until after President Barack Obama leaves office.

According to The Washington Times, some House Democrats are complaining about a suspected conflict of interest involving a contractor hired to work on the environmental study of the project being done under the State Department. If the current analysis has to be scrapped and a new one started it could delay the pipeline project, which would carry crude oil from the tar sands of Canada to Gulf Coast refineries, for perhaps another five years.

“I’ve been of the mind that there’s no way it makes any kind of sense [for the president to avoid a decision on Keystone]. But it’s been well over five years and yet he keeps proving me wrong,” Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the conservative Institute for Energy Research, told the Times. “In my experience, a lot of times what happens is the way that the environmental community works, and the political community aligned with them, they will put all kinds of speed bumps in the way [of a project] and when the car falls apart because it takes one more speed bump they say, ‘Look at that. The car couldn’t make it.'”

State contracted a top consulting firm, Environmental Resources Management (ERM), to conduct an analysis of the $7 billion pipeline. The job of reviewing the project was put under state because the pipeline crosses an international border.

The firm’s preliminary review apparently concluded that the pipeline would not contribute to any increase in greenhouse gas emissions, but would create tens of thousands of jobs, a claim the Obama administration questions as overblown.

Critics of ERM, including environmentalists and House Democrats, say that the firm joined with other companies and groups, including the American Petroleum Institute, to lobby for the pipeline, an action they say taints its supportive review of the project.

According to the Times, the State Department Office of the Inspector General is now to conducting a review to determine whether there was conflict involved on the part of ERM. Until a decision on that question is made, Arizona Rep. Raul M. Grijalva and other Democrats are urging that a final decision on whether to approve the project be delayed while another analysis is conducted.

“It would be unwise and premature for State to release a study prepared by Environmental Resources Management while it remains under investigation for lying to federal officials about its business connections and practices,” Grijalva wrote in a letter, co-signed by two dozen other House Democrats, to President Obama.

TransCanada, the primary company behind the Keystone project, has not commented on the potential of a further delay. The project has already been on hold for five years, and the Canadian government has begun considering other ways to export its crude, including building a pipeline west to the Pacific Coast so oil can be sent to markets in Asia.

If that happens, Kish told the Times, that would also give Obama an out from having to make a decision on the pipeline before he leaves office.

“I’ve seen this over several decades with these environmental battles. First they say you need to study it, to do this and to do that. It delays it, delays it, delays it,” Kish said. “And all of a sudden the project becomes uneconomic or they have sent a political signal to the market that they ought to back out.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

State Dept: African-Based Terror Group Poses Greatest US Threat.


The State Department says the Africa-based Murabitoun terror group, led by Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar, poses the “greatest near-term threat to U.S. and Western interests” in the Sahel region of Africa, The New York Times reported.

ObamaCareYou Can Win With The Facts 

Belmokhtar is described as “adventurous,” “reckless” and with a “penchant for carrying out headline-grabbing attacks against Western interests,” according to the Times.
The notorious Belmokhtar who lost an eye to shrapnel, fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan and returned to Algeria in the 1990s where he became a leader of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
He broke with the al-Qaida affiliate in 2012 to form the Mulathameen Battalion. Over the years, Belmokhtar has been behind the kidnapping of a Canadian diplomat, the attack on an Algerian gas plant that killed 38 civilians, among them three Americans, and other deadly attacks in Mali and Niger.
In August 2013, Belmokhtar merged the Mulathameen Battalion with the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa to form Al Murabitoun or “Those Who Sign in Blood Brigade.”
In declaring the merger, the groups said they wanted to unite jihadists from the Nile to the Atlantic “to confront the Zionist campaign against Islam and Muslims,” according to the Guardian.
“Splinters can become even more consequential than their parent organization,” terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman told the Times.
This new Al Murabitoun group “concerns us more than any in the region,” a State Department source told the Times.
Some analyst think Belmokhtar still takes orders from the central al-Qaida leadership despite breaking with its North African branch, according to The Long War Journal.
Belmokhtar’s new faction has been officially designated as a foreign terrorist group by the United States. No decision on targeting Belmokhtar militarily has yet been made by the Obama administration, the Times reported.
Meanwhile, Fox News reported that the reward for Belmokhtar stands at $5 million. His precise whereabouts are not known.

ObamaCare: You Can Win With The Facts 

Belmokhtar’s zone of operation, the Sahel, stretches across the African continent from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Chad and Eritrea in the east and is home to 50 million inhabitants.
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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Elliot Jager

US: Chinese Warship Nearly Struck Navy Cruiser.


U.S. military officials say a Chinese warship nearly collided with an American Navy guided missile cruiser operating in international waters.

U.S. Pacific Fleet says it happened Dec. 5 in the South China Sea, and that the USS Cowpens maneuvered to avoid the collision.

The State Department has raised the matter at a high level with the Chinese government.

The incident comes amid heightened tension over China’s growing assertiveness in the region.

Despite strenuous objections from Washington, Beijing recently declared a new air defense zone over parts of the East China Sea.

Pacific Fleet says it’s not uncommon for navies to operate in close proximity and that’s why it is paramount they all follow international standards for maritime “rules of the road.”

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

CIA Benghazi Team Clash Led to ‘Stand Down’ Report.


CIA officers who testified privately to Congress about the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, revealed a disagreement about how quickly they could help the besieged U.S. ambassador and others.

That’s according to a congressman and others who heard or were briefed on the testimony. The CIA officers also revealed a standing order to avoid violent encounters.

Complaints that the White House, Pentagon, and State Department may not have done enough to save U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other men, along with accusations that it engaged in a cover-up after the attack, have continued to dog the Obama administration.

None of those who testified said that a quicker response would have saved the lives of Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glenn Doherty.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Hillary ‘Inconsequential’ as Secretary of State.


Image: Hillary 'Inconsequential' as Secretary of State

By Melanie Batley

Experts are re-evaluating Hillary Clinton’s effectiveness as secretary of state, saying she left little evidence of a lasting legacy and was notable for her unwillingness to take risks.

Though Clinton was widely praised in the media in the days and weeks immediately after she stepped down, comparisons with current Secretary of State John Kerry have prompted growing questions about her leadership, reports Politico Magazine.

“Hillary was risk-averse; Kerry isn’t. He’s risk-ready,” Aaron David Miller, former Middle East peace negotiator for five presidents and scholar at the Wilson Center, told Politico. He suggests that political maneuvering for the 2016 presidential election “explains partly why she didn’t own a single issue of consequence.”

“She was a fine secstate but not consequential,” Miller said.

Republicans continue to criticize the former first lady for her handling of the 2012 Benghazi attacks, but overall, experts from both parties agree her service was of little consequence, according to the magazine.

“Certainly, even many of her most ardent defenders recognize Hillary Clinton had no single accomplishment at the State Department to her name, no indelible peace sealed with her handshake, no war averted, no nuclear crisis defused,” writes Susan Glasser, editor of Politico Magazine.

American Enterprise Institute‘s vice president of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, Danielle Pletka, reinforces that view.

“The Washington consensus is that she was enormously ineffective… [though] no one was quite sure whether she was ineffective because she wanted to avoid controversy or because she wasn’t trusted by the president to do anything,” Pletka told Politico.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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