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Posts tagged ‘Kelly Ayotte’

Report: Ex-CIA Deputy Director May Have Altered Benghazi Talking Points.


Image: Report: Ex-CIA Deputy Director May Have Altered Benghazi Talking PointsMichael Morell

By Lisa Barron

The recent Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi suggests that the former deputy director of the CIA played a role in shaping the official “talking points” about the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Michael Morell may have altered the government’s explanation for the assault to benefit the Obama administration, reports Fox News.

Editor’s Note: Govt Prohibited From Helping Seniors (Shocking) 

The panel’s reports showed that on Sept.15, four days after the attacks and one day before U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on various Sunday talk shows, Morell received an email from the CIA station chief in Libya stating that they were “not/not an escalation of protests.”

But that same day, according to Fox News’ chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge, although Morell cut the word “Islamic” from the talking points, he left the word “demonstration.”

And despite the fact that the CIA and the FBI on Sept. 18 reviewed the closed circuit footage showing there were no protests, President Obama still referred to a demonstration two days later, reported Fox.

Intelligence analysts stayed with the explanation “without sufficient intelligence or eyewitness statements to corroborate that assertion. The IC (intelligence community) took too long to correct these erroneous reports,” said the Senate report.

In November 2012, as the controversy over the talking points escalated, Morell accompanied Rice to a meeting with Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Morell defended Rice’s TV appearances and maintained there was confusion about what happened in Benghazi, Graham told Fox.

“What I found curious is that he did not accept responsibility for changing the talking points. He told me the FBI had done this. I called the FBI — they went ballistic. And I am sure somebody from the FBI called Mike Morell, but within 24 hours, his statement was changed where he admitted the CIA had done it,” Graham said.

Herridge pointed to an interview Morell gave to The Wall Street Journal last August in which he spoke about his interest “in advising future presidential campaigns,” and noted that The Journal, citing unnamed officials, also reported that Morell “is close to Hillary Clinton.”

“He’s put himself out there as a political player,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. Judicial Watch is reportedly suing in federal court for the talking points documents and recently obtained 70 heavily redacted pages.

“You have to wonder what he was thinking at the time he was deleting these talking points in a way that benefited the Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton personally,” Fitton said.

Since leaving government Morell has joined Beacon Global Strategies, a government relations firm founded by Philippe Reines, whom the New York Times magazine recently described as “Clinton’s principal gatekeeper.”

Morell issued a written statement to Fox saying that the Senate report “…strongly supports the CIA’s long-standing position that neither the unclassified talking points nor the classified analysis on which they were based were in any way politicized. While not perfect, neither the talking points nor the analysis were produced with any political agenda in mind. None.”

“I think given what was said by him and others, and where they’re headed, down the political road, would justify revisiting this issue,” Graham told Fox.

Editor’s Note: Govt Prohibited From Helping Seniors (Shocking) 

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Ayotte: Why Was $29M Army Recruiting Fraud Not Spotted Earlier?.


Image: Ayotte: Why Was $29M Army Recruiting Fraud Not Spotted Earlier?

By Todd Beamon

Sen. Kelly Ayotte pressed Army officials on Tuesday on why a massive scheme involving a National Guard recruiting program that has been estimated to cost taxpayers at least $29 million was not spotted earlier.

“Where was the oversight of this?” the New Hampshire Republican asked at meeting of a Senate Homeland Security oversight subcommittee charged with investigating the scandal. “How were we … conducting oversight of these contractors?”

The top Army officials disclosed the massive fraud to legislators on Tuesday. Hundreds of soldiers and civilians are under criminal investigation in the scheme, which involved taking fraudulent payments and kickbacks from a National Guard recruiting program.

The fraud cost the U.S. at least $29 million and possibly tens of millions dollars more, the officials said.

The investigation involves as many as 200 officers, including two two-star generals and 18 colonels, who are suspected of participating in schemes to take advantage of the Army National Guard’s Recruiting Assistance Program, a referral program that paid out cash bonuses of $2,000 to $7,500 per recruit.

None of those top National Guard officers has been been imprisoned, lost benefits or resigned for fraud, said Maj. Gen. David Quantock, head of the Army’s Criminal Investigation and Corrections commands. So far, however, 16 people have been convicted and jailed in the scandal.

Overall, more than 1,200 people — including civilians with military ties and men and women in uniform — are being examined by at least 60 full-time investigators. The program began in 2005 to boost flagging enlistment during the Iraq War.

Only nine cases were investigated from 2007 to 2009, Quantock said. It wasn’t until 2010, when 10 cases indicated “that we have a major problem here,” USA Today reports.

“That’s a long time when you’ve got fraud going on,” Ayotte said.

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, the subcommittee’s Democratic chairwoman, called the inquiry “one of the largest that the Army has ever conducted, both in terms of the sheer volume of fraud and the number of participants.”

“These are criminals that have dishonored the uniform we are all so proud of,” she said.

Lt. Gen. William Grisoli, director of Army Staff, told the panel of a “fundamental breakdown” in establishing and executing the program, which had relied on contractors.

Officials told legislators that the fraud was believed to be so widespread that they may not complete their inquiry until as late as 2016 because of the number of potential cases.

The Recruiting Assistance Program was created to increase enlistment when wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had left the military below recruitment goals, the officials told the subcommittee. The program offered cash bonuses to civilian recruiting assistants for referrals.

Uniformed recruiters were supposedly prohibited from receiving the cash payments. But investigators have since found recruiters worked around that prohibition by myriad means, and for several years did so virtually undetected.

In addition, some recruiting assistants eligible for the payments were coerced into splitting their bonuses with military recruiters. Other military recruiters did not inform civilian assistants about the bonuses but registered them for the program.

The military recruiters would then substitute their own bank information for that of the civilian assistants.

In one case alone, Quantock told legislators,  five people split about $1 million.  Investigators have clearly identified $29 million in fraudulent bonus payments and were investigating another $66 million in potential cases.

Officials said the program brought in more recruits, so much so, that they were furious when allegations of fraud threatened that success.

Auditors shut down the program in 2012 after watchdogs found evidence of widespread abuse.

In all, the Army National Guard paid upward of $300 million for roughly 130,000 enlistments, the officials said.

Besides Grisoli and Quantock, Ayotte also questioned Joseph Bentz, the Army’s chief auditor, as to why the fraud was not detected sooner.

“When the money starts going out the door a lot faster, how was it within the command structure that we didn’t pick up on that as a raw indicator, right there, that something wasn’t quite right — as oversight within the system?” she asked, according to a transcript provided by her office.

Bentz acknowledged that “oversight of the contract was insufficient.”

“The contracting officers’ representatives that were responsible for that oversight — they believed that the contractor was responsible for the oversight and control of the program,” he added.

“They thought the contractor [was responsible for oversight and] they didn’t realize that … we had to oversee the program?” Ayotte asked.

“Correct,” Bentz responded.

Grisoli, in his written remarks to the subcommittee, acknowledged that, “funds were lost due to systematic weaknesses, a general breakdown in sound business processes and wrongdoing.”

Ayotte then asked: “How can we have confidence that the Army doesn’t have similar problems in other programs when we’re talking about systematic problems?”

He noted that the Army was investigating whether similar problems existed in other programs.

“The way we prevent something like this happening in the future is we have what we call program management reviews,” Grisoli said. “We had our procurement executive do a program management review on the overall contracting system of the National Guard Bureau.

“We are working very closely with them to implement that now,” he added. “They’ve provided us a corrective action plan. We have accepted that plan and now they are implementing that plan.”

The senator then returned to questioning Quantock about the lax oversight.

“Why is it [that] … when the money started going out the door on a faster rate and that wasn’t flagged … , why wasn’t it that somebody before it got to you all asked the question, ‘Well, why is this money going out the door so much faster than we thought it would last us?'”

He acknowledged that the internal controls regarding the program “and properly providing that oversight to track that … that was another weak area.”

“So, someone just wasn’t tracking that … or was it not flagged?” Ayotte asked.

Quantock said that the Army’s contracting officer’s representative examined the “burn rates” — meaning how quickly the funds were being paid out — but that “they just did not call flags based on what they saw … on the burn rates.”

“That didn’t flag for them?” Ayotte asked.

“That didn’t flag,” Quantock responded.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Obama Battered by Healthcare, Shutdown, Surveillance Scandals.


Image: Obama Battered by Healthcare, Shutdown, Surveillance Scandals

By Todd Beamon

From Obamacare to sequestration to Iran to the 16-day government shutdown that cost American taxpayers $1.4 billion, 2013 marked the year of the scandal — domestically and internationally — for President Barack Obama.

The president’s year was so riddled with troubles because “the Obama White House isn’t nearly as transparent as they had bragged during two different campaigns,” Tobe Berkovitz, an associate professor of advertising at Boston University, told Newsmax. “The White House is so tight with letting any information out that once negative information goes out, the press and the public start to take more interest in it because usually there’s such tight control on everything.”

But the worst problem of all is Obamacare, Berkovitz said.

“That affects everybody — and healthcare and a family’s health, along with their economic security, are the most important things to Americans,” he told Newsmax. “You start messing with people’s health and their healthcare, that gets right to the core of what people care about.”

Here are some of the major scandals that rocked the Obama administration:

The Obamacare Rollout

After delaying the mandate for large companies under Obamacare, President Obama decided to proceed with the mandate for individuals on Oct. 1. The rollout was plagued by a dysfunctional website, HealthCare.gov, which serves 36 states that lack their own exchanges.

The site has experienced a plethora of technological glitches — and HealthCare.gov was shut down its first weekend to address these issues, and again in November.

Americans continue to have problems accessing the site — and concerns surrounding whether applications have been processed sufficiently, even whether Americans’ personal information is safeguarded, continue to dog the website.

President Obama promised that the site would be improved by Nov. 30 — and then even that deadline was extended by a day. HealthCare.gov crashed during a visit by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to a Miami hospital in November.

The glitches led the White House to postpone deadlines for Americans to apply for insurance that would start on Jan. 1 — from Dec. 23 to 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

The Big Obamacare Lie

In touting his signature domestic policy achievement, President Obama declared, “If you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan, period.” He also said, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period.”

But millions of Americans have lost their healthcare coverage because the policies did not meet Obamacare’s requirements. The Heritage Foundation reported that 4.7 million insurance policies have been canceled or changed in 32 states.

The cancellations led Obama to apologize to Americans who lost their coverage due to the healthcare law and later urged Americans to not be discouraged in using Healthcare.gov.

But Americans have seen both their premiums and deductibles skyrocket.

Republicans continue to charge that Obamacare cannot be fixed and should be repealed. Last month, the GOP-controlled House passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan that would allow insurers to continue continue for another year selling policies that don’t meet Obamacare requirements.

It passed on a 261-157 vote, with 39 Democrats breaking ranks and supporting the bill. The day before the vote, President Obama promised that he would grant a one-year reprieve to Americans whose health policies had been canceled.

The Benghazi Coverup

The controversy surrounding the deaths of four Americans on Sept. 11, 2012, at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya spilled into 2013, as Republicans charged the Obama administration with covering up the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. citizens, including two former Navy SEALs.

News reports later surfaced that dozens of CIA operatives were on the ground during the attacks and that they were being polygraphed every month since January to determine whether anyone might be talking to Congress or the media.

The efforts were described in the news reports as intimidation — and even included threats that the careers of unauthorized leakers would be terminated.

Led by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire — all members of the Senate Armed Services Committee — Republicans relentlessly pressured President Obama to make Benghazi survivors available to Congress for questioning.

Several CIA personnel, including former contractors, gave a closed-door briefing to the House Intelligence Committee last month. They told lawmakers they were well aware that the 9/11 anniversary could be a flashpoint and could spur increased hostilities against Western targets during that period, Fox News reports.

The new testimony apparently countered the findings of the Accountability Review Board, which concluded that the Benghazi annex and the State Department “were well aware of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but at no time were there ever any specific, credible threats against the mission in Benghazi related to the Sept. 11 anniversary,” Fox reports.

That testimony has not quieted Republican calls for an investigation by a special prosecutor.

Five days after the 2012 attacks, Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, went on five Sunday morning talk shows and said that the incident began as a peaceful protest against an anti-Muslim film that was later “hijacked” by militants.

In addition, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained in her congressional testimony in January that her department was unable to obtain reliable information as the assaults were unfolding.

This week, Rice called Benghazi “a false controversy” in an interview with “60 Minutes”on CBS.

The IRS-Tea Party Scandal

In May, a Treasury Department Inspector General’s report revealed that tea party, conservative, and religious groups had been singled out for special scrutiny by the IRS for their applications for tax-exempt status between 2010 and through the 2012 presidential election.

The scrutiny involved IRS agents placing groups with words like “tea party and “patriot” in their names on a “be on the lookout” list for additional screening of applications for tax-exempt status.

President Obama fired Steven Miller, the head of the IRS, who apologized in testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, calling it “horrible customer service.”

At least three other IRS officials were replaced or were put on administrative leave.

Lois Lerner, who oversaw the IRS division that targeted the groups, invoked her Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination in May and refused to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

She was placed on administrative leave with pay, and retired in September.

The IRS and the Obama administration were sued by 25 conservative groups in federal court over the additional scrutiny. An IRS agent told congressional investors in August that the agency was still targeting the groups.

NSA Surveillance

Widespread spying on Americans and world leaders was revealed in stolen documents that were leaked to news organizations in June by Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor.

Snowden, 30, who now is living under temporary political asylum in Russia, smuggled the classified information out of the NSA’s operations center in Hawaii.

The leaks disclosed that the agency collected billions of data on Americans’ telephone and Internet activities daily. The NSA began the surveillance after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — and the activities were broadened under Obama.

Snowden’s disclosures prompted a maelstrom of criticism of the NSA and the White House.

They’ve even split the GOP — with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, author of the Patriot Act, attacking the NSA while Rep. Peter King of New York vocally supported the surveillance efforts.

In a public hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that the NSA “not wittingly” collected data on millions of Americans.

Clapper later called the statement “clearly erroneous” and apologized to committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Seven House Republicans, including Sensenbrenner, have since called on the Justice Department to begin a criminal investigation into whether Clapper lied to Congress.

The firestorm led Obama to form an advisory panel that recommended this month that the NSA should have access to some records but that it should not be able to store them and should get court approval to search individual data.

The day before the report was released, a federal judge ruled that the NSA’s secret collection of telephone records was unconstitutional and that it violated privacy rights.

Budget/Sequester/Shutdown

Various budget battles with Congress dogged President Obama all year — from the Jan. 1 approval of the “fiscal cliff” deal to this month’s signing of the bipartisan two-year budget agreement.

The deal was sponsored by GOP Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, who heads the Senate Budget Committee.

In the interim, however, Capitol Hill Republicans fought against the deep budget cuts scheduled to take effect through sequestration. The cuts were expected to slash the Pentagon’s budget so severely that even outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta decried them.

Other battles included the stalemate over defunding Obamacare in a continuing resolution to finance the government in which Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas spoke for 21 hours and 19 minutes against the healthcare law during a Senate floor debate and the skirmish over extending the nation’s debt ceiling, which led to a 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government in October that cost American taxpayers $1.4 billion.

The shutdown tarnished both Congress and the White House, with Republicans bearing the brunt of the ire from Americans in surveys. Obama did not escape culpability, either, as poll respondents attacked him for refusing to negotiate with Congress.

Putin-Syria

On the international front, President Obama was upstaged by Vladimir Putin in September when his Russian counterpart brokered a deal that led to Syria giving up its nuclear weapons stockpiles to international control.

Putin seized on an off-hand comment by Secretary of State John Kerry that Syria could avoid a U.S. missile attack by turning over the chemical weapons. The Russian president insisted that the deal would only work if the United States agreed not to use force.

The deal, signed last month, vaulted Putin into the world spotlight — Forbes magazine recently named him as the most influential person in the world. A Russian group even nominated the ex-KGB strongman for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Two days after proposing the Syrian deal, Putin slapped Obama again in an op-ed piece in The New York Times, saying Americans should oppose U.S. strikes in Syria. The article was published the morning after Obama made his case for limited strikes against Syria in a prime-time televised speech.

Iran

Critics continued to slam President Obama’s ineptitude in international affairs with the signing in November of the deal between Iran and world leaders requiring Tehran to curb some of its nuclear activities in return for $7 billion in sanctions relief.

The deal would lead to further talks on a final deal to ends Iran’s nuclear program.

Most Americans surveyed opposed the deal while Israel charged that it was a “historical mistake.” Republicans and Democrats blasted the accord as enabling Iran to continue its nuclear program while leaving the United States with less leverage.

Despite assurances from President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry that Iran would honor the agreement, a bipartisan group of 26 senators this month introduced legislation to toughen sanctions on Iran and compel the United States to support Israel if it launches a pre-emptive attack on the Iranian nuclear program.

Obama has threatened to veto the legislation.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Scarborough: Military Retirement Cuts are ‘Sick’ and ‘Obscene’.


Former Rep. Joe Scarborough Wednesday called the proposed cuts to military retirement benefits in the bipartisan budget bill before Congress “obscene” and accused lawmakers of ignoring the tremendous sacrifices military personnel have made over the course of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and long before.

“That is sick. It’s obscene. You look at what these people have done for us over the past 12 years. Look what they’ve done for us over the past 50 years. 100 years,” the former Florida Republican, now a television talk show host, said on his MSNBCMorning Joe” program.

“We got, what, a $4 trillion budget every year? And, the only place these people can find to cut spending comes from military retirees?” he asked.

Editor’s Note: 5 Reasons Stocks Will Collapse . . . 

The budget plan brokered by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray calls for a one percent cut to military retirement benefits. Over time, it’s estimated that could translate to $83,000 in lost compensation for an enlisted service member.

Scarborough, a former GOP Congressman from Florida, maintained there were other areas in the budget that could be trimmed, such as the pay for lawmakers.

“If they’re going to cut the benefits, why doesn’t Congress cut the retirement benefits of themselves?” Scarborough argued.

“A promise was made to these men and women” when they sign up to serve in the military,” he continued.

Scarborough added that if the nation’s lawmakers really believe that benefits to the military are too expensive, then they should “stop sending kids off to war for multiple tours” to save money.

Navy veteran Jeremy Hilton voiced similar concerns Wednesday on “Fox & Friends.” Cutting military benefits represents a break in trust between the government and those who serve, he said.

“Military families and the men and women that serve in our military consider this a massive breach of faith with the service that we’ve rendered to America,” Hilton said.

“We have to find a better way of cutting and balancing our budget, other than on the back of our military veterans,” he added.

Hilton noted that military service members generally don’t speak out politically. But he said many are now taking to Twitter, telling lawmakers, “Whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, know that in 2014, you vote for this, we’re not voting for you.”

Editor’s Note: 5 Reasons Stocks Will Collapse . . . 

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Wanda Carruthers

3 GOP Senators: Ryan-Murray Budget ‘Unfairly Targets’ Military.


By Melissa Clyne

A bipartisan budget deal that has passed the House is facing some Republican opposition because it penalizes members of the military while protecting civilian federal employees, according to three GOP senators.

letter sent to their Senate colleagues by Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi said the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 “unfairly targets” working-age military retirees.

The proposed budget calls for a 1 percent reduction in the annual cost-of-living adjustment for working age military retirees, according to The Washington Post.

The cost-of-living reduction plan would start in December 2015.

The budget “disproportionately and unfairly targets those who have put their lives on the line to defend our country,” argue Ayotte, Graham and Wicker, all of whom sit on the Senate Committee on Armed Forces.

The budget agreement, which would save $6 billion over 10 years, impacts military members’ retirement, but protects all civilian federal employees hired before Jan. 1, 2014,  from an increase in their contribution rate to the Federal Employees Retirement System, according to a news release published on Wicker’s website.

“If budgets and legislation reflect our nation’s priorities, what would it say about us if we pass a bill that turns to our veterans and says ‘thank you for deploying to war and enduring the hardships of military life — but we are going to need you to sacrifice again and give back $72,000 of the retirement you have earned,'” the letter continues.

A 42-year-old sergeant first class retiree who served 20 years would lose approximately $72,000, according to the senators’ calculations.

Ayotte, Graham and Wicker argue that future military retirees should receive equal treatment as current federal employees, who are grandfathered in and thus protected in the budget.

“That is unacceptable and we cannot support legislation that sends such a message to our current military retirees and future retirees currently protecting our country and serving in harm’s way in Afghanistan and around the world,” they write, underscoring that they are willing to work to figure out how to offset the $6 billion provision.

The Air Force Times reports that GOP Sen. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who crafted the bill with Washington Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat, defends the provision, saying, “it is only fair that hardworking taxpayers, who pay for the benefits that our federal employees receive, be treated fairly as well.”

The budget deal includes $85 billion in fee hikes and other deficit reduction measures, along with increases in airline passenger fees, resulting in a net deficit reduction of $23 billion over 10 years, according to Fox News.

Passing the budget as it reads currently could result in “a mass exodus of mid-career enlisted and officers because they no longer feel welcome or in control of their military careers,” VFW National Commander William Thien told The Washington Post.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Sen. Levin: We’ll Review Budget Deal’s Military Cuts.


After howls of protest from military groups over pension cuts in a House budget deal, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Friday promised to review the slash, the Military Times reported.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said his committee review along with an ongoing survey by a military commission may “further bear on this issue,” the newspaper said.

Editor’s Note: 75% of Seniors Make This $152,000 Social Security Mistake 

“A number of concerns have been raised about the provision in the Murray-Ryan budget agreement,” Levin said in a statement.

“The Senate Armed Services Committee is going to review this change after we convene next year, before it takes effect in December 2015.”

The provision would restrict the annual pay adjustment of military pensions for working-age military retirees to 1 percentage point less than the rise in consumer prices.

The cut saves $6 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office — but military retirees could lose up to $124,000 in retirement income.

The Military Officers Association of America estimates the provision amounts to a nearly 20 percent gouge in retired pay for soldiers who retire at 20 years, the Military Times reported.

“A 20 percent reduction in retired pay and survivor benefit values is a very substantial cut in military career benefits, and does not represent good faith to our men and women in uniform,” the officers’ association president and retired Vice Adm. Norb Ryan told the newspaper.

In an opinion piece for CNN.com Friday, Army wife and writer Rebekah Sanderlin chastised lawmakers for putting military families through a “trying” year.

“With its budget cuts, sequestration and government shutdown, this year has been more trying for military families than the worst of the war years,” she wrote. “I’m afraid that after all that my community has given in time, tears and lives, the country we served might be trying to skip out on the check.”

It’s not just current troops who are affected, Veterans of Foreign Wars national commander William Thien warned — the cut could also jeopardize the nation’s all-volunteer military.

“Although Iraq is over and the war in Afghanistan is winding down, we can’t allow Congress to dismantle the programs they created over the past 12 years,” he said.

The cut has also drawn the ire of a number of senators who will next vote on the pact that sailed through the House Thursday.

They include Republicans James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, but Thien said the VFW will press its case to the rest of the upper chamber.

“We know the federal government needs to curb its spending, balance its budget, and put an end to the sequester, but penalizing military retirees is not the solution,” he said.

Editor’s Note: 75% of Seniors Make This $152,000 Social Security Mistake 

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

Calls Mount in Congress for Cutting Off Aid to Egypt.


Image: Calls Mount in Congress for Cutting Off Aid to Egypt

By Greg Richter, Amy Woods and Sandy Fitzgerald

Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison joined the call to suspend aid to Egypt on Sunday following the crackdown by the military last week that left hundreds dead.

The United States gave the military-installed interim government time to take appropriate actions, but now it’s time to use the funds as bargaining chip, said Ayotte, who had previously supported continuing aid to Egypt.

Appearing Sunday on NBC’sMeet the Press,” Ayotte of New Hampshire said President Barack Obama was right to suspend joint military exercises and condemn violence last week, but he didn’t go far enough.

“I think he fell short when he really didn’t come out and call out the real question on the suspension of aid, because that is the real influence that we have with Egypt,” Ayotte said.

Ellison of Minnesota said that the United States should pull back on aid to Egypt until the bloodshed stops and the strife-torn country returns to a path toward democracy.

“I would cut off aid,” Ellison said on ABC’s “This Week.” “In my mind, there’s no way to say that this was not a coup. It is. We should say so. And then we should follow our own law, which says we cannot fund the coup leaders.”

Ellison said the administration needs to engage in “intense diplomacy” with Egypt, and Congress needs to “suspend aid” to the country until its leaders establish a set of Democratic protocols and stop the violence.

Ellison and Ayottte joined with the call being made by influential Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to end the aid to Egypt.

Graham warned on Sunday that Egypt could become a “failed state” and a safe haven for al-Qaida.

“The [Muslim] Brotherhood will go underground, al-Qaida will come to their aid, and you’re going to have an armed insurgency, not protesters, on your hands in the next 60 days or 90 days,” said Graham on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“We’re going to have to suspend our aid because we can’t support the reaction of the military, even though the Brotherhood overplaying their hand started this, we can’t support what the military’s doing in response,” Graham said.

Graham, who just returned from a trip to Egypt with McCain, said, “What would happen if we cut off the aid is that Western tourism ends in Egypt for the foreseeable future for as far as the eye can see. Western investment comes to a standstill. Egypt becomes a begger client state of the Arab Gulf states. Egypt’s future is really damned.”

McCain renewed his call on Sunday to stop the aid. “For us to sit by and watch this happen is a violation of everything that we stood for,” said McCain on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We’re not sticking with our values.”

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul said on “Fox News Sunday” that U.S. aid to Egypt was more likely to “buy a chateau in Paris” for an Egyptian military leader than “bread in Cairo” for the poor.

“I don’t think we’re buying any friendship with the Egyptian people,” Paul said, especially when people see tanks supplied by the U.S. to the Egyptian military on the streets of Cairo.

“We are not winning the hearts and minds of the Egyptian people,” said Paul. “The aid has to end.”

But Republican Rep. Pete King of New York said on “Fox News Sunday” cutting aid could reduce U.S. influence over Egypt’s interim government.

“I’m reluctant to cut off aid,” said King.
Audrey Hudson contributed to this report.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Newsmax Exclusive: The 25 Influential Women of the GOP.


Who are America’s most influential Republican women? Newsmax magazine has the answer.

Newsmax looked at leading women in politics, the media, and other fields to compile a list of the 25 most influential Republican women for the August issue’s cover story “The GOP 25.

Leading off is Kelly Ayotte, the senator from New Hampshire who is an emerging force in Congress. Ayotte won by a landslide in 2010 even though New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s group Mayors Against Illegal Guns spent nearly $2 million in attack ads against her.

No. 2 on the list is former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Although she is not currently in office, Palin still holds sway with evangelical women, and her endorsements in GOP primaries reflect an ability to back winning candidates. A single Palin tweet can still shake up the political landscape.

Another political heavyweight among the 25 is Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. As chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, she holds the No. 4 position in the House leadership hierarchy and is one of the most powerful GOP women on Capitol Hill.

Media figures on the list include author and commentator Peggy Noonan, whose Wall Street Journal columns consistently provide an informed, intelligent defense of conservative ideals.

Another commentator on the list is Laura Ingraham, author and permanent guest host on the highest-rated cable news talk program, “The O’Reilly Factor.” Ingraham also is arguably the most successful woman in the male-dominated arena of political talk radio.

Among the political consultants in the 25 is Mary Matalin, who helped run George H.W. Bush’s campaign and served as an adviser to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Business leaders on the list include Meg Whitman, president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard and a former candidate for governor in California. Many observers believe it is only a matter of time before Whitman is asked to put together a winning team at some level in Washington.

Other women in the GOP 25, in addition to those mentioned, are New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez; Sen. Susan Collins of Maine; former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; political-law attorney Cleta Mitchell; Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; former Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao; South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley; Tennessee Rep. Diane Black; former Deputy Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Liz Cheney; Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer; business executive Carly Fiorina; GOP strategist Ana Navarro; Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser; “The View” former co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck; former RNC Deputy Chairwoman Maria Cino; and commentators Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin.

Newsmax also looks at the “Up & Comers” among Republican women, and the trailblazers like Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush, who set the bar for exceptional first ladies.

Newsmax magazine is one of the most popular and influential news publications in America. It has been honored with a Gold Eddie Award in the News/Commentary category of Folio magazine’s prestigious journalism awards, the Eddies, and a Charlie Award, the highest honor from the Florida Magazine Association, in each of five categories including Best In-Depth Reporting.

Ben Stein says Newsmax reveals the “unafraid, uncomplicated, bare-knuckles truth about today’s dangerous world.”

Among the other articles in the August issue:

• An excerpt from author and columnist Conrad Black’s new book “Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadership.”

Black asserts that America seems to have lost its vocation for greatness in the absence of any rivals, but he is confident that with better leadership, the American eagle will rise again.

• Newsmax magazine looks at the impact that revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance program could have on the economy. Privacy advocates are calling for restrictions on the type and amount of personal information the online companies are allowed to collect and share. Given that the online sector accounts for nearly 6 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, the potential impact is huge.

• Political strategist Douglas Schoen’s “Unconventional Wisdom” column maintains that Vice President Joe Biden could be a real contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, and previews the Hillary Clinton-Biden battle that may be brewing.

• “Cold War Heats Up in the Arctic” examines the struggle over which nations will control the Arctic’s coveted oil reserves and rare-earth metals.

• And an article on zero-interest credit cards discloses how Americans can take advantage of the boom in card offers, which feature zero interest on both purchases and balance transfers.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Jim Meyers

Administration Intends to Send Two Gitmo Detainees to Algeria.


The Obama administration said on Friday it plans to repatriate two inmates to Algeria from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, resuming the transfer of detainees from the controversial prison for the first time in nearly a year.

The step is the latest by President Barack Obama’s administration to show his commitment to closing the prison, which has held dozens of prisoners – most without charge – for more than a decade.

Obama promised to do away with the facility during his 2008 presidential campaign, citing its damage to the U.S. reputation around the world, but he has been unable to do so in 4 1/2 years in office.

Congress put tough restrictions on detainee transfers in January 2011. The administration considers the rules too onerous but had not attempted to use its ability to pursue case-by-case waivers even though 86 of the 166 men still held at Guantanamo were cleared for release years ago.

But some members of Congress, mostly his fellow Democrats but also some influential Republicans, have been pushing Obama to make good on his pledge to close the base, which he reiterated in a major national security speech this spring.

A hunger strike that has involved a majority of the inmates – and daily force-feeding of dozens – has fueled the calls to shut the detention center. This week lawmakers blasted its cost, about $2.7 million per prisoner per year, compared with $70,000 per inmate at maximum-security federal prisons.

Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a leading advocate for resuming transfers, ending the force-feeding and closing the prison, renewed her call to send home the 84 others cleared to leave.

“It is in the national security interests of the United States to transfer these detainees to their home countries rather than keep them at our isolated military base in Cuba,” she said in a statement supporting the two transfers.

Administration officials declined to provide personal information about the two Algerians being sent to their home country or discuss diplomatic arrangements.

“Over the past few months, a very senior interagency team conducted an intensive review of this matter,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said. “Based on their recommendations, and as mandated by Congress, (Defense) Secretary (Chuck) Hagel signed off on the legal requirements to move forward with the transfer of these detainees.”

Hagel backs Obama’s desire to close Guantanamo.

William Lietzau, the top Pentagon official who deals with detainees, said this week he was leaving his post, according to a copy of his farewell note to colleagues obtained by Reuters.

A transfer decision is only made after a receiving country provides assurances it will take measures to mitigate threats posed by the individual and provide him with humane treatment.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the transfer was being carried out in a manner that protects U.S. national security.

“We continue to call on Congress to join us in supporting these efforts by lifting the current restrictions that significantly limit our ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo, even those who have been approved for transfer,” he said in a statement.

The announcement came ahead of a trip to Washington next week by Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi that will include a visit with Obama at the White House and a trip to Capitol Hill. Roughly 90 of those locked up at Guantanamo are from Yemen, where al Qaeda has a dangerous presence.

The United States began repatriating Yemeni prisoners after Obama’s election in 2008 but halted the practice in 2010 after a man trained by militants in Yemen attempted to bomb a U.S.-bound plane in 2009 with a bomb concealed in his underwear.

Washington could decide to resume transfers to Yemen if it finds that its new government has taken adequate measures against al Qaeda and made the country stable.

The Yemeni government says it wants the detainees and is building a facility to hold them for rehabilitation.

But stiff opposition remains. Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, like McCain a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said she opposed the transfers.

“Rather than releasing detainees who could potentially return to the battlefield, the administration should focus on developing a coherent policy for the long-term detention of foreign terrorists – something it has failed to do after four and a half years,” she said.

The White House said the transfer of the Algerian detainees was possible under current, “highly restrictive” U.S. law. The transfer would happen when all necessary conditions were met in Algeria, spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

The last prisoner transferred out of Guantanamo was Omar Khadr, the youngest inmate and last Westerner held at the base. He was sent in September to finish his sentence in his native Canada. (Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington and Jane Sutton in Miami; Editing by Bill Trott)

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Ayotte: Legislation Likely in Military Sexual Assault Scandal.


Image: Ayotte: Legislation Likely in Military Sexual Assault Scandal

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Tough bipartisan legislation is likely coming to help combat sexual abuses in the military, said Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte Sunday, but the military chain of command will still need to be involved in discipline and investigations.

“No problem in the military gets solved without the chain of command,” said the New Hampshire Republican on CBS’Face the Nation” Sunday. “But they need to be held accountable — they can’t be let off the hook.”

Ayotte, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said that as the wife of an Iraq war veteran, she respects the military, but its leaders “need to be fired” if they can’t bring the pervasive problem of sexual assaults under control.

Urgent: Is Obama Telling the Truth on IRS, Benghazi Scandals? 

Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, also an Armed Services Committee member, said on the show that the military may understand that there is a problem, but “what we have here is a crisis. We have 26,000 unwanted sexual contacts a year. Seventy percent of them are sexual assaults and rape.”

But victims across the board fear retaliation for reporting the incidents, and Gillibrand has put together a legislative proposal to prosecute sexual-assault crimes separately from the typical military chain of command.

“Until you have transparency, you are not going to have accountability,” said Gillibrand.

California Rep. Jackie Speier, who is proposing the STOP Act in the House, which is similar to Gillibrand’s proposal, agreed.

“The military is an enabler,” said the Democratic lawmaker, who said there needs to be a distinction between disciplinary measures and violent crimes.

“They’re enablers because this has been a problem for 25 years,” said Speier. “The scandals keep happening.”

Gillibrand noted that in other countries, such as Israel and the United Kingdom, prosecution of serious crimes has been removed from the chain of command and handed over to trained military prosecutors.

“We believe the same change would make a big difference,” said Gillibrand.

Prosecuting sexual assault crimes are particularly difficult within the chain of command, Speier said, because “typically with the chain of command, you have someone who knows the assailant, or may even be the assailant.”

This often results in non-judicial punishment that leads to the victim losing his or her military career through an honorable discharge, said Speier. But when the decision lies with a military prosecutor, the decision about how to pursue and prosecute sexual assault cases can be made without pressure from the chain of command.

“This not just a women’s issue,” said Gillibrand. “Half the victims are men.”

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If the problem isn’t brought under control, the military could lose strength, and “won’t be as strong as you would be without this in your ranks,” she said.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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