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Posts tagged ‘Victoria Nuland’

Putin Assembles Blacklist of US Leaders for Asset and Travel Ban to Russia.


President Vladimir Putin has reportedly assembled a blacklist of Obama administration officials and U.S. senators, including Majority Whip Dick Durbin, banning their travel and freezing any assets there.

Putin’s sanctions are expected to come Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported, citing diplomatic sources.

The retaliatory slap comes in the wake of President Obama’s asset and travel ban Monday on seven Russian officials and four Ukrainian officials.

At the top of Putin’s tit-for-tat list is the Illinois Democrat, who with fellow Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen.Jeffrey Flake, R-Ariz., passed a measure last week to give Ukraine financial aid and impose sanctions on Russia.

“Are we going to stand by and say this is acceptable conduct? Because this isn’t the end of his ambition,” Durbin said on NBC’s Meet the Press” Sunday.

Durbin’s listing would mirror that of Valentina Matvienko, the head of the upper chamber of the Russian Duma, who wound up on Obama’s sanction list, The Daily Beast pointed out.

“My Lithuanian-born mother would be proud her son made Vladimir Putin’s American enemies list,” Durbin said in a statement to the newssite.

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who’s been to Kiev to meet with Ukrainian leaders, said he fully expects to be on the Putin enemies list — and couldn’t be more pleased.

“You think I’m not going to be on it?” McCain asked The Daily Beast. “I would be honored to be on that list,” then joked: “I guess I’m going to have to try to withdraw my money from my secret account in St. Petersburg.”

The Daily Beast said other names that may be listed, but that the news site had not confirmed, include Sens. Robert Menendez , D-NJ,  and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., also members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee leading a sanctions drive, and Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for Europe, who’s been been working with the Ukrainian opposition.

McCain told The Daily Beast the U.S. cannot bend to any of Russia’s sanctions.
“If we acquiesced to that, that would be a green light for him to go for Moldova, where there are also Russian troops,” he said. “That’s the problem with this appeasement policy.”
McCain wants even stronger measures against Putin to thwart any possible expansion of the invasion.

“… Putin has put everything in place for a de facto partition of Eastern Ukraine,” he told The Daily Beast. “Will he do it? I don’t know. But I don’t think he can be discouraged from that by these limited actions by the United States…. We must commit to the ultimate return of Crimea to Ukraine, just as we promised to the so-called captive nations that they would eventually be free of Soviet domination.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

CNN: Obama Shares Blame in ‘Political Circus’ Around Benghazi.


President Barack Obama is at least partly to blame for what he calls a “political circus” surrounding last year’s attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, says CNN’s John King.

In a CNN special, “The Truth About Benghazi,” that aired Tuesday, King responded to Obama’s complaints that political motivations are behind Congressional investigations into what happened during the attack and the administration’s initial response.

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

“There is no denying this: The explanations have at times been inconsistent, conflicting and inaccurate,” King said.

“Exhibit A” in the debate is the Benghazi talking points then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used on all five Sunday talk shows, blaming the attack on a spontaneous protest that was sparked by an anti-Muslim video made by an American.

“We now know the National Security Council staff was behind several edits and the State Department vigorously pushed others,” King says in the special. “The first draft referenced Islamic extremists with ties to al-Qaida. The second noted repeated CIA warnings about al Qaida’s presence in Benghazi. But administration emails show State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland objected to naming terror groups. She also pushed to delete reference to those threat warnings.”

“Not being transparent feeds people’s fears and suspicions,” Gen. Michael Hayden, former CIA and NSA director, told CNN.

“There are legitimate questions about why repeated and specific warnings about the Benghazi security situation were undervalued or ignored,” King writes on the CNN website. “Both lawmakers and intelligence professionals point to this weekend’s unprecedented wave of Middle East and African embassy closings as, at least in part, a lesson learned from the September 11, 2012, attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Greg Richter

Senate Panel OKs Samantha Power as UN Ambassador.


Image: Senate Panel OKs Samantha Power as UN Ambassador

Declan Power Sunstein hugs his mother, Samantha Power.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved Samantha Power, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations, clearing the way for a vote in the full 100-member Senate.

All but three of the panel’s 18 members voted in favor of Power, who was expected to win confirmation easily by the full Senate.

Venezuela said last week it was ending efforts to improve ties with the United States after Power vowed during her confirmation hearing to oppose what she called a crackdown on civil society in the “repressive” OPEC nation.

In an echo of the many bust-ups between the two countries during the late Hugo Chavez‘s 14-year rule, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro demanded an apology and said the United States had no moral right to criticize his government.

The issue did not come up during Tuesday’s committee meeting.

Power had been criticized by some conservatives for seeming to suggest, in a 2002 interview, that the U.S. Army might be needed to police the Middle East conflict if either Israel or the Palestinians move toward genocide. Power, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her study of U.S. failures to prevent genocide, has disassociated herself many times from that comment.

There was some pointed questioning about past statements during her confirmation hearings, but Power was praised by many Republicans, as well as by Obama’s fellow Democrats. Several senators said they looked forward to her U.N. tenure.

The committee also overwhelmingly approved Victoria Nuland, a U.S. foreign policy official in both Democratic and Republican administrations, as an assistant secretary of state.

Nuland had faced questions over her role in State Department communications after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on American diplomatic outposts in Benghazi, Libya, in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

 

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: NEWSmax.com

Obama’s Europe Envoy to Face Benghazi Questions.


A confirmation hearing Thursday for President Barack Obama’s choice as chief American diplomat for Europe could provide some surprising fireworks on the administration’s handling of the Benghazi attack, its plan to arm Syria’s rebels, and more.

Rarely is a potential assistant secretary of state expected to expound on such politically sensitive policy issues.

But Victoria Nuland‘s prominence as spokeswoman and adviser to secretaries of state Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Kerry placed her in the middle of some of Obama’s biggest foreign policy challenges recently, including last year’s attack in Libya, which killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

Some Republicans say they hope to get answers from Nuland to their questions about the Benghazi attack at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“There are still some things that need to be known,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who told Clinton earlier this year he would have fired her after Benghazi. Paul told The Associated Press he hoped to learn what weapons were used in the attack and whether they had any connection to U.S. intelligence operations in Libya or Syria. Nuland, he said, “was Hillary Clinton’s spokeswoman and I’m guessing she was in the room for a lot of conversations.”

As a Russia expert, Nuland also probably will be called on to give her view of Moscow’s continued protection of American secrets leaker Edward Snowden and the overall trajectory of the “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations under Obama. That effort has stumbled over many issues, including Syria’s civil war and a Kremlin crackdown on pro-democracy organizations.

Benghazi presents greater unpredictability.

Leading Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have come out in favor of Nuland despite accusations by some in their party that she helped State Department superiors water down the now-infamous talking points used by the administration to inform Americans about the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission.

“There are many questions still unanswered,” McCain told reporters Wednesday. He said he saw nothing wrong with how Nuland acted but he still wants the administration to provide more information about those who survived the attack and those who ultimately signed off on the talking points.

It’s unclear whether everyone shares that view.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the senior Republican on the committee, said he wouldn’t raise the issue Thursday.

But Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who had a heated exchange with Clinton at her final Senate hearing in January, said only some of his Benghazi concerns were allayed in private discussions with Nuland. “We’ll see what happens at the hearing,” he said.

Republicans have focused on the administration’s talking points since they were used by Susan Rice, then Obama’s U.N. ambassador and now his national security adviser, for her public explanation five days after the attack. Rice blamed it on extremists hijacking a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam video.

As officials rescinded that account, some Republicans accused the administration of trying to mislead the country about an act of terrorism in the heat of a presidential campaign. Ten months later, congressional investigations continue.

As the talking points were being edited, Nuland insisted on removing a reference to a CIA warning about the potential for anti-American demonstrations in Cairo and jihadists trying to break into that embassy. In emails released by the administration, she warned that such wording “could be abused” by lawmakers to criticize her department. She specifically cited the concerns of her “building’s leadership.”

Few accuse the three-decade-long foreign service officer — a one-time adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and a former NATO ambassador — of instigating any sort of cover-up. But with Clinton weighing a possible run at the presidency in 2016, some Republicans want to hear more about why the points were edited and at whose insistence.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, in May subpoenaed all Benghazi-related correspondence from Nuland and several other State Department officials.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations European affairs subcommittee, said he’d focus on U.S.-European trade talks, rebalancing the military burden among NATO allies, instability in Turkey and Russia’s crackdown on civil society groups. But he added, “I’m resigned to the fact that the Republicans are going to use any and every opportunity to talk about Benghazi.”

Benghazi isn’t the only possible flashpoint for the hearing.

Nuland was Clinton’s spokeswoman when she and former CIA Director David Petraeus lobbied Obama to send weapons to vetted, moderate units of the Syrian opposition.

A year later, administration officials say the president has approved such military assistance but the operation’s details are still being worked out. Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces, backed by Russia, Iran and the militant group Hezbollah, have made considerable gains on the battlefield and firmed up their grip over much of the country.

Many in the Senate, Democrats and Republicans alike, believe the administration has acted too slowly on Syria.

As Obama’s top diplomat for Europe, Nuland also would be entrusted with coordinating U.S.-Russian cooperation on preventing Iran from reaching nuclear weapons capacity and combatting terrorism in places such as Chechnya. The suspected Boston Marathon bombers were ethnic Chechens.

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

Darrell Issa Subpoenas Benghazi Documents:


Image: Darrell Issa Subpoenas Benghazi Documents

 

By Bill Hoffmann

The State Department has been subpoenaed to produce all documents related to Benghazi to and from 10 current and former employees, Rep. Darrell Issa announced Tuesday.

Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the subpoena is necessary because the State Department has refused multiple requests to provide the communications and documents on a voluntary basis.

“The State Department has not lived up to the administration’s broad and unambiguous promises of cooperation with Congress. Therefore, I am left with no alternative but to compel the State Department to produce relevant documents through a subpoena,” Issa said in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.

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

“In a series of letters, my colleagues in Congress and I have requested documents and information related to the ongoing investigation. To date, the administration has largely ignored these requests, despite various pledges both you and the president have made to cooperate with Congress.”

According to the letter, the committee originally asked for the documents on May 15, but the State Department responded by forwarding emails previously released by the White House.

“The documents … did not answer outstanding questions about who at the State Department, other than spokesperson Victoria Nuland, expressed reservations about certain aspects of the talking points,” the letter states.

“[That includes] language that made clear the State Department had received prior warnings of threats in the region and was aware of previous attacks on foreign interests in eastern Libya, and that extremists linked to al-Qaida may have participated in the attacks.”

The letter continues that Nuland’s correspondence to the interagency suggests she “did not raise these concerns in a vacuum.”

“For example, after changes were made to address State Department concerns, Nuland responded that the changes did not ‘resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership.'”

The documents the subpoena covers “will help the Committee understand why, although on the day after the attacks senior State Department leadership believed that Islamic extremists were involved, there were reservations about publicly acknowledging any such involvement just three days later,” the letter states.

“Publicly available information about the talking points creates the appearance that administration officials were interested in sparing the State Department from political criticism in the wake of the attack. … This issue is at the heart of the committee’s ongoing investigation.”

The subpoena sets a deadline of June 7 for Kerry to provide all documents and communications referring to Benghazi to or from:

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

William Burns, deputy secretary of state; Elizabeth Dibble, principal deputy assistant secretary for near eastern affairs; Beth Jones, acting assistant secretary for near eastern affairs; Patrick F. Kennedy, under secretary for management.

Also, Cheryl Mills, counselor and chief of staff to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton; Thomas Nides, deputy secretary for management; Victoria Nuland; Philippe Reines, deputy assistant secretary; Jake Sullivan, director of policy planning; and David Adams, assistant secretary for state for legislative affairs.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Obama Taps Nuland, of Benghazi Talking Points Fame, For Asst. Secretary of State.


Image: Obama Taps Nuland, of Benghazi Talking Points Fame, For Asst. Secretary of State

Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman who played a key role in changing the talking points used after the Benghazi attack, has been nominated for the post of Assistant Secretary of State, Politico reports.

Nuland is a career foreign service officer and would have to be confirmed by the Senate for the new position. That could be problematic, considering her role in altering talking points given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.

In confirmation hearings, Republicans would likely grill her over her actions following the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead.

Initial talking points from the CIA stated that an al Qaida-linked group was likely involved and that the event was pre-planned. Among the back-and-forth between agencies and the White House, Nuland said she had “serious concerns” about the talking points, which eventually were edited.

Nuland has served for 30 years under both Republican and Democratic administrations and has long been expected to be nominated for the post. If confirmed, Nuland would be over European and Eurasian affairs.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Petraeus Email Objected to Shortened Benghazi Talking Points.


Then CIA-Director David Petraeus objected to the final talking points the Obama administration used after the deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, because he wanted to see more details revealed to the public, according to emails released Wednesday by the White House.

Under pressure in the investigation that continues eight months after the attacks, the White House on Wednesday released 99 pages of emails and a single page of hand-written notes made by Petraeus’ deputy, Mike Morell, after a meeting at the White House on Saturday, Sept. 15. On that page, Morell scratched out from the CIA’s early drafts of talking points mentions of al-Qaida, the experience of fighters in Libya, Islamic extremists and a warning to the Cairo embassy on the eve of the attacks of calls for a demonstration and break-in by jihadists.

Petraeus apparently was displeased by the removal of so much of the material his analysts initially had proposed for release. The talking points were sent to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to prepare her for an appearance on news shows on Sunday, Sept. 16, and also to members of the House Intelligence Committee.

“No mention of the cable to Cairo, either?” Petraeus wrote after receiving Morell’s edited version, developed after an intense back-and-forth among Obama administration officials. “Frankly, I’d just as soon not use this, then.”

Petreaus’ email comes at the end of extensive back-and-forth between officials at the CIA, White House, State Department and other agencies weighing in on a public explanation for the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans

The emails were partially blacked out, including removal of names of senders and recipients who are career employees at the CIA and elsewhere.

The emails show only minor edits were requested by the White House, and most of the objections came from the State Department. “The White House cleared quickly, but State has major concerns,” read an email that a CIA official sent to Petraeus on Friday, Sept. 14.

Critics have highlighted an email by then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland that expressed concern that any mention of prior warnings or the involvement of al-Qaida would give congressional Republicans ammunition to attack the administration in the weeks before the presidential election. Fighting terror was one of President Barack Obama’s re-election strong points

That email was among those released by the White House, sent by Nuland on Sept. 14 at 7:39 p.m. to officials in the White House, State Department and CIA. She wrote she was concerned they could prejudice the investigation and be “abused by members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to agency warnings so why do we want to feed that either? Concerned.”

After Nuland sent several more emails throughout that Friday evening expressing further concerns, Jake Sullivan, then-deputy chief of staff at the State Department, said the issues would be worked out at a meeting at the White House on Saturday morning.

A senior U.S. intelligence official told reporters Wednesday that Morell made the changes to the talking points after that meeting because of his own concerns that they could prejudge an FBI investigation into who was responsible for the attacks.

The official said Morell also didn’t think it was fair to disclose the CIA’s advance warning without giving the State Department a chance to explain how it responded. The official spoke on a condition of anonymity without authorization to speak about the emails on the record. Petraeus declined to be interviewed Wednesday.

The intelligence official said Morell was aware of Nuland’s objections but did not make the changes under pressure from the State Department but because he independently shared the concerns.

That is contradicted in an email sent to Rice on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 1:23 p.m. by a member of her staff whose name was blacked out. The email said Morell indicated he would work with Sullivan and Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser, to revise the talking points. The intelligence official disputed that assertion and insisted Morell acted alone.

An email from Morell also says he spoke to Petraeus “about State’s deep concerns about mentioning the warnings and the other work done on this.”

The emails were shared with Congress earlier this year as a condition for allowing the nomination of John Brennan for CIA director to move forward. An interim report last month from the Republicans on five House committees criticized the Obama administration and mentioned the emails, but the issue exploded last Friday when new details emerged.

Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee read some of the emails aloud last Wednesday at a hearing with State Department officials. The next day, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called on the White House to release the emails.

A Boehner spokesman said Wednesday the emails released by the White House only confirm the interim report.

“They contradict statements made by the White House that it and the State Department only changed one word in the talking points,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said in a statement. “The seemingly political nature of the State Department’s concerns raises questions about the motivations behind these changes and who at the State Department was seeking them.”

The White House released the full set of emails sent to Congress under the pressure in hopes of putting an end to the controversy that has dogged the administration for months. White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Wednesday that “these e-mails have been selectively and inaccurately read out to the media.”

“To make clear what is and is not in these e-mails, today the White House took the extraordinary step of releasing these e-mails,” Schultz said in a statement. “You can now see what the Congress has seen — collectively these e-mails make clear that the interagency process, including the White House’s interactions, were focused on providing the facts as we knew them based on the best information available at the time and protecting an ongoing investigation.”

An official with the CIA’s office of congressional affairs whose name was blacked out sent the final version to Petraeus on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 12:51 p.m. Petraeus responded at 2:27 saying he’d prefer not to even use them in that form.

But he said the decision was up to the White House’s national security staff.

“NSS’s call, to be sure; however, this is certainly not what Vice Chairman (Dutch) Ruppersberger was hoping to get for unclas use. Regardless, thanks for the great work.”

Ruppersberger is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

At a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said there has been “very, very substantial progress” in the investigation into who was responsible for the twin nighttime attacks in Benghazi. Earlier this month, the FBI said it was seeking information on three people who were on the grounds of the diplomatic mission when it was attacked. The FBI posted photographs of the three people and said they may be able to provide information to help in the investigation.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, said, “I didn’t find anything that looked like a smoking gun in terms of political cooking of the talking points. There is very little input from the White House.”

But he added, “There are some things to criticize in here. The State Department looks like it is trying to avoid blame.”

 

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

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