The United States Commission on Individual Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has again rated Indonesia as a Tier 2 country.
The Tier 2 designation indicates that “violations engaged in or tolerated by the government are particularly severe.” It means that the country is on the threshold of joining Burma, China, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea as the world’s worst violators of religious freedom.
While the Indonesian constitution supposedly protects religious liberty, blasphemy laws and other anti-discrimination laws restrict it. There are laws to protect property rights and religious freedom of the six officially recognized religions, but they often serve as a barrier to religious freedom for minority groups that are not recognized.
The Wahid Institute—founded by former Indonesian president, Islamic religious scholar, and civil society leader Gus Dur—stated that 2011 saw an 18 percent increase in intolerant activities against religious minorities. And according to the Jakarta-based Setara Institute, there were at least 274 documented incidents where Indonesians were denied religious freedom, 244 attacks on religious minorities, and 363 incidents of religious intolerance.
The campaign against the minority Muslim Ahmaddiya population is the latest in an ongoing dispute. The government has issued laws against the Ahmadiyya in 26 provinces, barring the minority group’s religious activities and further fueling violence against their community. Sixty Ahmaddiya mosques have been destroyed, 43 mosques have been closed, and one Ahmaddiya community in West Java was attacked by 1,500 Islamic militants, who killed three people and injured at least five.
Christians in Indonesia remain persecuted. The severe sectarian conflict that threatened Indonesia in the early 2000s may have subsided, but from church burnings to demolition of religious structures, the persecution is intensifying. International Christian Concern estimates that over 50 Christian churches have been shut down in the past year. Even house churches have felt the effects of growing tension between Muslims and Christians in some communities.
Most of the persecution against the Ahmadiyya and Christians is done under the auspices of official law. For example, closure of churches and mosques are largely attributable to the Revised Joint Ministerial Decree on the Construction of Houses of Worship enacted in 2006 that requires stringent standards in applying for building permits. The USCIRF states, “The decree mandates that religious groups obtain the signatures of at least 90 congregation members and 60 area residents on an application, as well as approval from both a local religious ‘harmony’ board and the local government.”
It is no surprise that many Indonesians and long-time friends of Indonesia are scratching their heads at the selection of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to receive the World Statesman Award from the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. The honor is to be awarded to a politician who upholds human rights and supports religious tolerance. But by most accounts, although Yudhoyono may not be intolerant himself, he has turned a blind eye to the abuse.
With so many good people in Indonesia and sound constitutional fundamentals, the country ought to do much better in terms of protecting religious freedom.
Iranian authorities on Tuesday announced the approval of eight candidates who will be allowed to compete in the June 14 presidential election. The Guardian Council, which vetted the candidates, made sure that Iran’s next president will be a pliable servant of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The regime hopes to repair its sagging popular legitimacy and avoid a rerun of the disastrous 2009 presidential election, which provoked widespread protests against vote-rigging when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was awarded a second term. This time the authorities eliminated all candidates even remotely connected to the opposition Green Movement and approved only 8 of the almost 700 declared contenders.
Among those eliminated was former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a pillar of the 1979 revolution who had criticized the 2009 crackdown, and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a protégé of current President Ahmadinejad, who is barred from seeking a third term. Both candidates were considered threats to the power of hard-liners backed by Khamenei.
Six of the eight remaining presidential candidates are closely linked to the Supreme Leader. The frontrunner appears to be Saeed Jalili, a longtime adviser to Khamenei who now serves as Iran’s negotiator on the nuclear issue. Jalili is an uncompromising revolutionary who lost a leg in the Iran–Iraq war. A western diplomat noted that Jalili “specializes in monologue”—not dialogue.
Other prominent hard-line candidates include Tehran Mayor Mohammad Qalibaf, former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, and former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezai.
Two centrists were also allowed to run: Hassan Rowhani, an ally of Rafsanjani, and Mohammad Reza Aref, who served as vice president under former President Mohammad Khatami. Both of them will be sure to mute their criticism of the hard-line establishment candidates. After all, Mir Hossain Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, reformist candidates who protested the 2009 rigged elections, are still under house arrest.
The election will have little impact on the issues that Washington is most concerned about: Iran’s nuclear program, terrorism, and hostile foreign policy. All of these policies are set by the Supreme Leader, who has the final say on all important issues in Iran.
Khamenei also controls the election process, as has been made clear once again this week. Six of the eight presidential contenders are closely associated with him. Iran’s next president will be determined far more by his selection than through a genuine election.
The post Iran’s Bogus “Election” Process appeared first on The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation.
In the midst of the tragedy that ravaged Oklahoma earlier this week, there are also stories of Good Samaritans—particularly local churches and charities—that have displayed the best of the spirit and power of civil society to help those in need.
“In the briefings today it was apparent there’s FEMA and then there’s the faith-based FEMA,” noted NBC News anchor Brian Williams. “There are no fewer—I counted—than 30 churches that are banding together, and that’s going to be a huge part of this recovery.”
One of the shelters first opened on Monday was St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City, where the church provided cots, blankets, showers, and toiletries for those who had lost their houses. Fellowship Church in Fort Worth, Texas, also immediately opened its doors as a place to hold the necessary items donated by volunteers. Volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse came from states around the country to immediately set up six shelters and set forth a fleet of trucks to search through the neighborhoods that were hardest hit.
The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief organization was immediately on the ground after the tornado hit, helping in search-and-rescue efforts and praying with people—regardless of faith background—for comfort and strength.
“[A]nywhere from 24 to 40 chaplains [will be] on the ground every day all across the storm track just to give emotional and spiritual care to people and give them hope because that’s where we find a great place to minister in disaster relief,” said Sam Porter, director of disaster relief for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
As Heritage’s Jennifer Marshall and James Carafano have explained, these organizations uniquely possess the situational awareness and physical proximity that are necessary in emergencies. They sprang to immediate action because they were already invested in Oklahoma. Because these charities are present before the disaster, they have intimate knowledge of how to best help those in need in disaster situations.
In times of distress, volunteers step up and charitable contributions pour forth. Moore, Oklahoma, is a vivid reminder of the importance of communities and neighbors supporting and sustaining one another.
Thankfully there were no fatalities in the collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge that crosses the Skagit River in Washington State last night. The thoughts and prayers of The Heritage Foundation are with the people injured and their families.
As is the case immediately following any tragedy, it is too early to know what caused the bridge to suddenly collapse. Initial news reports suggest an 18-wheeler with an oversized load hit the overhead structure of the bridge, triggering the collapse. Inspections by the National Transportation Safety Board will provide clarification in due time.
Yet what surely will come are the calls for more revenue and more infrastructure spending, as lawmakers, lobbyists, and other special interests seize the present political opportunity. This was the case following the tragic Minnesota bridge collapse in August 2007. Then, Members of Congress called for a higher federal gas tax, an infrastructure bank, and even additional funds for Amtrak, among other proposals.
As Heritage experts wrote then, these urgent calls for more spending—and revenue increases to pay for it—assume that insufficient funding for bridges was what caused the collapse in the first place. As reports revealed, a design flaw was chief among the problems.
It is also important to note that the Skagit bridge, built in 1955, is classified as functionally obsolete, which is another way of saying its design is outdated. A bridge can be functionally obsolete if its clearance is lower than required for newer trucks that might seek to pass over it, for example, or if the number of lanes on the bridge has not kept pace with an increase in the number of lanes of a connecting highway.
It doesn’t always make economic sense to update functionally obsolete bridges, either, if the number of vehicles that pass over it don’t lead to structural safety concerns or don’t justify the economic investment.
The growing chorus among some in the transportation community and on Capitol Hill has been to embark on an immediate and gargantuan spending spree to repair what they refer to as the nation’s “crumbling infrastructure.” Calling for sufficient repair and maintenance of the nation’s highways and bridges is not misguided. Much of this infrastructure—including the Skagit bridge—was built decades ago, is reaching the end of its useful life, and needs repair and modernization. And to their credit, even the alarmists point out that a safe, sound system of highways and bridges is essential to transporting goods efficiently across the country and facilitating economic growth.
But lawmakers should be wary when these alarmists and political opportunists let their cries suggest a national emergency of the acutest kind. In addition to waiting to see what inspectors find surrounding the Washington bridge collapse, lawmakers should consider the following questions before making any policy proposals:
- Is inadequate funding really the problem? No, but how available revenues are spent is. For decades, federal gas tax revenues deposited into the Highway Trust Fund have been diverted to pay for transit. In 2010, for example, 17 percent of these revenues went to transit, though it accounted for about 1 percent of the nation’s surface travel. This transit spending has done little to relieve congestion or improve safety. Other diversions have been to local activities, including bike and walking paths. In 2013, for example, Washington State must spend $12.3 million of its $655 million (about 2 percent) in apportioned highway funds on these activities. Given the constraints Washington, D.C., imposes, and its poor history of allocating resources, motorists and general taxpayers should rightly question whether Congress would wisely spend new revenues.
- What about the current fiscal crisis? While states and localities have infrastructure needs, including repairs and upgrades to their roads and bridges, the country cannot afford for federal lawmakers to write them a blank check. Washington, D.C., has seen four years of deficits over one trillion dollars, and though the Congressional Budget Office recently projected a smaller deficit for 2013 than originally anticipated, the reduction is a drop in the bucket when considering the coming entitlement spending crisis.
This bridge collapse should not give way to a frenzied search for new revenues, which will surely spawn so-called innovative and creative solutions to raise infrastructure funds. Rather, it should be a sober wake-up call to lawmakers that they must clean house—reexamine how they are spending available transportation dollars and redeploy them to programs that cost-effectively improve safety and mobility and reduce congestion.
Alan Pisarski is an independent consultant in Virginia.
President Obama refused to call the London terror attack terrorism yesterday in his major speech on countering terrorism. In fact, he did not even utter the word “London” once. There was no mention of the attack; no description of it as terrorism; no pointing out that the attack shows why we must stay resolute and vigilant.
Most worryingly, there was no sign of solidarity with the U.K. during this troubling time. Of course, 9/11 was mentioned and the recent Boston terrorist attacks were mentioned. Even Benghazi was mentioned. Yet, the most recent terror attack against America’s closest ally was ignored as if it didn’t happen. This makes the Special Relationship look just a little bit less special.
Three days after the horrific terrorist attack that left one British soldier dead on the streets of London, it is troubling that the Obama Administration still refuses to acknowledge the attack as terrorism.
There is no doubt that Wednesday’s attack in London was exactly that. The target was an off-duty British soldier—son, father, and combat veteran of Afghanistan. It was an act of brutality motivated by extreme religious and political beliefs with the aim of terrorizing the people of London. The blood-soaked killer, holding a bloodied meat cleaver and butcher’s knife, told the world:
We swear by the almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth—by Allah.
Anyone can see that this is terrorism. British Prime Minister David Cameron called it terrorism. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also called it terrorism. The Obama Administration’s refusal to call it terrorism is pitiful, spiteful, and divorced from reality.
As Heritage Foundation researcher Daniel Kochis pointed out, the U.S. State Department’s response has been equally pathetic. The State Department issued a curt statement only 40 words long that did not refer to the attacks in London as terrorism. To make matters worse, the statement was not put out in John Kerry’s name or even in the name of his official spokesman. It was released by an “acting deputy spokesman.”
The reluctance by the Obama Administration to call the attack in London terrorism is part of a continuing trend. Yesterday, President Obama declared that “[t]here have been no large-scale attacks on the United States, and our homeland is more secure,” yet only last month terrorists killed three and wounded 264. How much larger does it need to be?
The Administration refers to the Fort Hood terrorist attack that left 13 people dead and 32 wounded as “work place violence.” In addition, it was either in denial mode or cover-up mode over the terrorist attack in Benghazi last year, blaming it on a YouTube video.
The U.K. is America’s number one partner. Since 9/11, the British have fought side by side with the U.S. against terrorism. After all, the attacks on the World Trade Center killed 67 British citizens—making it the single largest terrorist attack against the U.K. Hundreds of British troops have made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is time for the Obama Administration to stand with Britain just as Britain stands with America.
It is not clear that Lois Lerner, the embattled head of the IRS’s tax-exempt organizations office, waived her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, as has been suggested by commentators including Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, when she briefly appeared before the House Oversight Committee investigating the targeting of conservative organizations.
Lerner proclaimed her innocence before asserting her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself and refusing to answer any questions from members of the committee. She then walked out of the hearing room. Lerner said this:
I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.
If this were a criminal prosecution, this would probably be an easier call. As the U.S. Supreme Court explained in 1951 in Rogers v. United States, a case involving a federal grand jury investigation of the Communist Party of Denver, a witness can waive her Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination by failing to assert it in a timely manner. That is why criminal defense lawyers advise their clients to provide their names to investigators but not answer any other questions. If after an investigation, Lerner had voluntarily agreed to testify in a criminal case brought against her by the Justice Department, no court would allow her to invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions from prosecutors during cross examination about her assertions during direct testimony that she had not done anything wrong, broken any laws or IRS rules, or provided false information to Congress.
But Lerner’s testimony was compelled by a subpoena. Furthermore, a congressional hearing is a civil proceeding, not a criminal prosecution. There is no question that the right against self-incrimination can be asserted in any civil proceeding, including a congressional hearing, whenever an answer in a deposition or direct testimony might subject the individual to criminal prosecution.
But would a court enforce the waiver rules as strictly in a civil proceeding such as a congressional hearing as in a criminal case? Probably not.
Lawyers usually allow their clients to answer questions in civil matters except for questions that raise potential criminal implications, in order to avoid having their client held in contempt for asserting the Fifth Amendment on matters in the civil proceeding that could not possibly be grounds for criminal prosecution. That is called “selective invocation.” Most courts that have applied the Rogers test have erred on the side of permitting a witness and her counsel to determine when an answer will incriminate the witness.
Rather than finding waiver and compelling a witness to testify, courts traditionally employ other remedies in a civil context. They will allow the decision-maker (be it a jury or, in this case, Congress) to draw an adverse inference from the privilege invocation or will strike the self-serving testimony that was offered prior to the invocation from the record. In 1981 in Klein v. Harris, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that waiver is not to be “lightly inferred” and that “every reasonable presumption against finding waiver” should be indulged.
Orin Kerr, a professor and expert on criminal procedure at George Washington University Law School, points out that “the tricky part is how to characterize Lerner’s testimony before she invoked the Fifth Amendment.” Was she simply expressing her opinion that she is innocent? Or was she asserting actual facts about a matter that could subject her to criminal prosecution by the Justice Department?
That difference is the key to a court’s eventual determination of whether Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights. Lerner’s short statement is open to interpretation on that issue, and there does not seem to be any clear-cut answer, which is all too often the case in the law.
Last week, a donor conference comprised principally of the U.S. and European nations pledged $4.22 billion for reconstruction efforts in war-torn Mali, most of which is contingent upon Mali holding elections on July 28. The size of the pledge indicates the myriad problems facing the African nation, problems that a United Nations Peacekeeping force will not be able to tackle alone, especially once French forces are gone.
Rather, the assistance is likely to be used by France as political cover to significantly reduce its armed forces in Mali at a critical juncture. The French intervention was critical in reversing gains by Islamist militants and their continued presence will be critical as a stabilizing force that helps to ensure future peace.
French forces have been battling a complex insurgency consisting of Islamist militants and separatist Tuareg tribesmen since the Malian government requested their military assistance in January. Unsurprisingly, the mission has highlighted the difficulties that will plague reconstruction efforts in Mali for years to come. While insurgents have been pushed to the geographic extremities of the country, they are by no means defeated, launching periodic suicide attacks in Mali’s cities and threatening the stability of the entire Sahel region.
France began withdrawing the majority of its 4,000 troops last month. The remaining French forces are leading a woefully under-resourced European Union mission tasked with training Mali’s Armed Forces to take over security for their own country once foreign troops leave.
Beyond the challenges of fighting a well-armed insurgency, the Mali military continues to combat a series of internal challenges that include serious mismanagement, rampant corruption, and questionable civilian control of the military, all drivers of the coup against former President Amadou Toumani Touré in 2012. In July, a U.N.-mandated peacekeeping force is scheduled to take over security for the nation; an African force of 6,300 is helping secure the nation in the interim.
Mali is not ripe for a U.N. peacekeeping mission, primarily because there isn’t yet a peace to keep, as Heritage’s Brett Schaefer points out. There is a requisite danger in deploying a peacekeeping mission where active conflict still remains:
U.N. peacekeeping operations can be useful and successful, but they are limited, specialized tools that can misfire badly when employed in the wrong circumstances.
Former French Defense Minister Hervé Morin said in April that French troops will be lucky to leave by the end of 2014. Considering the situation in Mali, a U.N. mission is unlikely to succeed without French forces remaining in Mali with enough strength of force to finish the job.
The post France Needs To See the Job Through in Mali appeared first on The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation.
On Tuesday, the Marketplace Fairness Coalition, a group supporting the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), released a “fact check” memo identifying no fewer than seven “myths” put forward by The Heritage Foundation concerning Internet sales taxes. As it turns out, none are myths at all. Here is our own fact check of the fact check.
1. MFA Is Taxation Without Representation.
Claim: The authors claim that in an op-ed Heritage president Jim DeMint, then a U.S. Senator, incorrectly asserted that the Internet tax plan would amount to “taxation without representation.”
Response: We have always recognized that ultimately consumers pay the tab for sales taxes. But under the MFA, there would also be a significant tax burden imposed on out-of-state sellers. Not only do they bear legal responsibility for remitting payments to 46 or more tax authorities, but they would be forced to bear a significant burden in administering and collecting the taxes. All of these new burdens would be imposed by states in which they have no physical presence and in which the owners and employees have no representation. That is not just taxation without representation; it’s regulation without representation.
2. MFA Will Harm “Small Businesses.”
Claim: The authors deny Heritage’s assertion that the MFA would harm small business, citing the $1 million revenue threshold.
Response: The MFA will undoubtedly burden small businesses. While $1 million might sound large to some, a firm with that much revenue is typically still quite small. For example, the Small Business Administration defines a small retail business as a firm with annual receipts of up to $5 million and sometimes as much as $21 million (depending on the particular product being provided). The MFA’s mandates would burden small businesses of this size.
3. Collecting Sales Taxes Is Too Complex.
Claim: The authors claim that software, to be provided free to businesses, would eliminate burdens.
Response: The promise of free software hardy eliminates the burden on small businesses. They would still have to integrate the data into their sales and accounting system, ensure that over 46 sales tax forms are properly completed and filed, handle specific customer requests and inquiries, ensure that the software is regularly updated, and deal with potential audits from each state tax authority. Complying with all those burdens would require additional man hours from employees and paying costly tax compliance firms. Both will impact the bottom lines of small businesses.
4. The MFA Will Threaten the Economy.
Claim: The authors take issue with a quote from an MFA opponent saying that it would “threaten a fragile economic recovery.”
Response: The MFA may not, by itself, sink the economy, but to argue that a tax increase will help it grow faster is preposterous. Tax increases are not pro-growth.
5. Small Businesses Will Be Audited.
Claim: The authors take issue with our assertion that small businesses will be subject to audit, citing the $1 million revenue exemption, the promise of free software, and a limitation on liability for software users.
Response: This argument is a complete non sequitur. It does not address in any way the fact that online retailers, under the MFA’s explicit language, would be subject to audits by each of 46 states, the District of Columbia, all U.S. territories and possessions, and Native American reservations.
6. Conservatives Do Not Support MFA.
Claim: The authors deny that a growing chorus of conservative voices is opposing this legislation.
Response: Allowing states to require out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes for them is opposed by a broad range of conservative analysts and organizations. We believe the concept is fundamentally inconsistent with the principles of limited government.
7. MFA Has Been “Rushed Through” Congress.
Claim: The authors take issue with a statement in a Heritage blog that the MFA was “rushed” through the Senate.
Response: The Senate did not follow regular order with MFA, instead skipping over the committee of jurisdiction on the issue and bringing the bill straight to the floor. That qualifies as rushing.
Recent events involving perceived restrictions on religious liberty within the Army, Air Force, and the Pentagon have many concerned about the military’s stance toward people of faith. These concerns have even prompted Members of Congress to send a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, seeking answers and clarifications around such circumstances.
In early April, an Army official, in a slideshow presentation to an Army Reserve group in Pennsylvania, compared evangelical Christians and Catholics to “extremists” in the same vein of the terrorist group al-Qaeda.
Army spokesman George Wright said this was an “isolated incident not condoned by the Dept. of the Army,” according to news sources.
“This slide was not produced by the Army and certainly does not reflect our policy or doctrine,” Wright said. “It was produced by an individual without anyone in the chain of command’s knowledge or permission.”
In early May, news outlets reported that military officials at the Pentagon met with activist Mikey Weinstein, who heads the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Weinstein is notorious for his inflammatory remarks about Christians. The Washington Post reports that the meeting was held to discuss Weinstein’s concerns about proselytizing in the military.
Weinstein met on April 23 with officials to discuss an August 2012 document titled “Air Force Culture, Air Force Standards,” which discussed government neutrality on religion, free exercise, and religious accommodation, according to Fox News.
Many have expressed concerns over an individual such as Weinstein getting an audience with high-ranking military officials on the subject of religious liberty, which he aggressively seeks to curb through offensive characterization. Ron Crews of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty told Fox News:
Why senior leaders in the Air Force would be meeting with someone to talk about religious liberty, whose sole purpose it appears is to squash religious liberty; that’s a question we have for Air Force officials.
Bigger concerns came after the Weinstein meeting when news reports alleged soldiers could potentially face a court martial for sharing their faith.
Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization).
Still, many express concern over what they believe to be an arbitrary distinction between “proselytizing” and “evangelism.”
“What does the military define as proselytization and evangelization?” asked Ron Crews. “We need to know that, because the vast majority of chaplains come from evangelical backgrounds and part of their mission is to share their faith. A great number of our military forces come from evangelical homes where part of their mandate is to share their faith. We need to know what the military means when they use these terms.”
Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and North American Mission Board (NAMB) issued a joint letter of concern over what they see as “potential threats to religious liberty.”
According to the ERLC and NAMB:
What incidents have taken place, we wonder, that would call for this seemingly arbitrary distinction between “evangelizing” and “proselytizing”? Proselytizing, after all, includes a range of meaning, encompassing a definition of “seeking to recruit to a cause or to a belief.” With a subjective interpretation and adjudication of such cases, we need reassurance that such would not restrict the free exercise of religion for our chaplains and military personnel.
After all, who defines what is proselytizing and what is evangelism? What could seem to be a friendly conversation about spiritual matters to one serviceperson could be perceived or deliberately mischaracterized as “proselytizing” to the person on the receiving end. The fact that this has been raised at all in such a subjective fashion could have a chilling effect on service personnel sharing their faith at all.
These recent actions lack sensitivity to the sincerely held beliefs of military members.
Moving forward, Pentagon officials should repudiate the over-the-top rhetoric of Weinstein and reconsider the merits of meeting with such a virulent opponent of religious expression, especially on issues related to religious tolerance.
While the Pentagon has thankfully denied that evangelism is against military code, military officials should carefully communicate and delineate how “evangelism” and “proselytizing” are to be distinguished. They should also reaffirm respect for people of faith and their freedom of expression, rather than allowing a climate of intimidation against religious liberty to prevail.
“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…”
These were words President Obama never used during his speech at the National Defense University yesterday. Rather, he said anything but anything that sounded like Winston Churchill’s immortal speech about defiance in the face of the march of tyranny.
In large part, there was nothing new in the counterterrorism strategy the President announced. Flash back to 2011—that was the real turning point. Before then, Obama really followed what was called “Bush-lite,” pretty much the same tactics as the previous Administration—just dropping all the rhetoric.
The war of ideas was completely banned from the Obama lexicon. Islamist terrorism became “violent extremism.” Terrorism became “senseless violence.” In 2011, however, Obama shifted course dramatically. More than dumping the war of words, the White House signed off on a new counterterrorism strategy that amounted to running away from Iraq and Afghanistan as quickly as possible and limiting the offensive campaign to whacking top-level al-Qaeda with drone strikes.
The new strategy was bound to fail, fighting the last war while al-Qaeda evolved into a global insurgency that has spread from Pakistan to Nigeria.
Yet, even as the new fronts in the war on terrorism sprang up, the Administration continued to argue that it was winning. After Islamist terrorists murdered Americans and burned a U.S. consulate to the ground in Benghazi, the President claimed he was winning. As homegrown terrorists kill in Boston and London, he claims he is winning. As the Taliban mocks the U.S. standing down in Afghanistan, he claims he is winning.
Rather than admit failure and change course, faced with criticism here at home, the President has decided to declare victory, hoping this will reenergize support from the left. In his speech, he promised to do even less and make the less more transparent. This will no doubt please progressives who were unhappy that Obama carried over any vestige of the Bush policies.
While this speech may make the President more popular with the progressive caucus, it amounts to Maginot Line strategy: The U.S. won’t go after them if they don’t come after us. If they do come after us—we will treat them like any other criminal. If they do get through—it won’t be our fault; it will be the result of addled minds and “senseless” violence. Obama has warped backed to the Clinton counterterrorism strategy of the 1990s without remembering that was the strategy that led to 9/11.
Obama framed the challenges we face today as a false choice between sitting back and global, endless, borderless war. In reality, there is much that the U.S. can to defend itself: dismantle global terrorist networks; push back on political Islam; and champion freedom in the world. There are options between doing nothing and invading countries. President Obama has decided to ignore them. He is sick of fighting. Unfortunately, America’s enemies are not.
Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.
- The Boy Scouts of America voted to accept openly gay scouts, though its ban on openly gay leaders remains.
- NBC News reports that Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a search warrant for a Fox News correspondent’s personal email.
- Yesterday, the Obama Administration refused to characterize the London attack on a solider as terrorism.
- House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says the House won’t simply pass the Senate’s version of immigration legislation.
- Lois Lerner, the IRS official in charge of the tax-exempt organizations division, has been placed on administrative leave. One Senator says it’s because she refused to resign.
Today, President Obama acknowledged the myriad terrorist threats around the world during his remarks at the National Defense University. Yet his description was much rosier than reality: “Today, the core of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on a path to defeat.”
That point is debatable by itself, but it more importantly glosses over the numerous affiliated terrorist groups that have risen to fill the void in the Middle East and Northern Africa—groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Haqqani network, and Boko Haram.
The President later said, “We must take these threats seriously, and do all that we can to confront them.” However, throughout this Administration’s tenure, it has continually done less than what is necessary—and what the U.S. is capable of—to provide security. Special operations forces were deemed unnecessary in responding to disruption in Benghazi. America’s military presence in Europe is being systematically drawn down despite those forces’ critical role in the Libyan conflict in 2011 and both Iraq and Afghanistan. Overall, our security forces are shrinking at an alarming rate.
Obama also claimed, “Our alliances are strong, and so is our standing in the world.” As The Heritage Foundation’s Dr. James J. Carafano countered, “Nothing could be farther from true. In the Middle East most of America’s friends see us declining, uncertain, and increasingly a power that can’t be depended on.”
The President also fails to realize that the enemy gets a vote. As he continues to withdraw U.S. presence from the world, adversaries grow emboldened. They see America leaving as an opportunity to act without consequence against peaceful people and even U.S. allies.
President Obama concluded with a story of one runner who pledged to enter next year’s Boston Marathon as a statement of American resolve. The President said, “Now, we need a strategy—and a politics—that reflects this resilient spirit.” But he simply has no security strategy. The U.S. cannot continue to provide for the common defense by receding from the world and only reacting when we have been attacked. A true national security strategy involves a long-term commitment to our armed forces—one that enables them to project power throughout the world, assure our allies, and deter our enemies.
The post President Wishes Away Terrorism appeared first on The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation.
Crop insurance is probably not the first thing you want to talk about at a cocktail party. It isn’t sexy. However, it starts looking a lot prettier when common-sense reforms to crop insurance could save taxpayers billions of dollars.
The Senate is currently debating its bloated farm bill. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that it would cost $955 billion over the next 10 years. This will inevitably be a conservative estimate. When trillion-dollar bills are being discussed in Congress, we all need to pay attention.
The direct payments program gets all the negative publicity—and rightfully so. After all, taxpayers are paying farmers to grow nothing. Yet, the costliest farm program is crop insurance.
Basics of Crop Insurance Costs
From 2000 to 2006, the average annual cost of the crop insurance program was $3.1 billion per year. For 2013–2022, that number is expected to grow to $8.9 billion. That’s almost triple the cost.
In 2000, taxpayers paid 37 percent of the premium subsidies for farmers. In 2011, that number was 62 percent. This doesn’t even include the administrative fees that taxpayers pay to insurance companies that participate in the crop insurance program.
Does the Senate Farm Bill Rein in Costs?
Not even close. In fact, the CBO projects that the Senate bill would increase crop insurance costs by about $5 billion from 2014 to 2023.
What Can Be Done?
Here are two simple, common-sense reforms that would save taxpayers a lot of money:
- Place a cap on premium subsidies. Unlike other farm commodity programs, the crop insurance program does not place a limit on how much farmers can receive in subsidies. Even the egregious direct payment program, which the Senate bill would eliminate, has a cap of $40,000 per farmer. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that a $40,000 cap on premium subsidies would have saved taxpayers $1 billion in 2011. Further, for anyone concerned about any harm to the small farmer, there’s little need to worry. If a farmer receives more than $40,000 in premium subsidies, he isn’t a small farmer. Further, only 3.9 percent of participating farmers would have had their subsidies reduced by such a cap. These farms wouldn’t have lost all premiums—they just wouldn’t have received as much in premium subsidies courtesy of the American taxpayers. This cap would essentially mean that instead of a Rolls-Royce, these large farmers would have to settle for a Cadillac (fully loaded, with sunroof).
- Reduce the percentage of the subsidy that taxpayers have to pay. Right now, taxpayers have to pay 62 percent of the premium subsidy. The GAO found that, by simply reducing that number to 52 percent, taxpayers would have saved $1.2 billion in 2011. However, such a proposal would still require taxpayers to pay most of the premium costs for farmers, but such a modest change would still have saved taxpayers more than $1 billion in 2011.
Taxpayers Need to Be Considered
When it comes to the farm bill, taxpayers are often ignored. Crop insurance reform would keep taxpayers in mind: Even President Obama is pushing for a reduction in the percentage of the subsidy that taxpayers have to pay. The Senate should take major steps to reform the farm bill. At the very least, it should take these common-sense steps that would save billions of dollars.
Yesterday’s appalling attack on a London street in the middle of the day, which left a British solider dead, was a barbaric act of terrorism perpetrated by Islamist fundamentalists. British Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged the motivations behind yesterday’s cowardly act by saying:
This country will be absolutely resolute in its stand against violent extremism and terror. We will never give in to terror—or terrorism—in any of its forms. Second, this view is shared by every community in our country. This was not just an attack on Britain—and on our British way of life. It was also a betrayal of Islam—and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country. There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act. We will defeat violent extremism by standing together.
In stark contrast, the Obama Administration’s response has been to avoid calling the attack terrorism, let alone terrorism motivated by a radical Islamic ideology. Instead the Administration, via the State Department, said it stood with the U.K. in the face of “such senseless violence.”
Senseless violence? One can hardly term a targeted attack on a U.K. soldier in broad daylight — where the assailants gleefully admit the radical motivation behind their attack — “senseless violence.”
Yet, use of this terminology is nothing new for the Obama Administration. “Senseless violence” is the Administration’s catch-all phrase loyally called upon whenever motivations for a despicable act should not be ascribed, lest someone take offense.
Particularly troubling is that “senseless violence” is the same terminology the Administration used when describing the terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed the American Ambassador and three other U.S. citizens.
The terrorist attack in London was indeed a senseless act of violence; however, in refusing to admit the nature and motivations behind the attack, the Obama Administration does disservice to the men and women killed in terrorist attacks. As Heritage’s Nile Gardiner advises in The Telegraph:
It’s time for President Obama to acknowledge reality. This is a global war between the free world and the forces of Islamist terror. These are not acts of “senseless violence.” They are acts of brutal terrorism aimed against Great Britain, the United States and all who defend the principles of liberty, freedom and Western-style democracy. It is important that political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic identify exactly who the enemy is, what their aims are, and why they must be emphatically defeated.
For the Administration to do otherwise would be, well, senseless.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has resumed its cyber attacks against the U.S., according to The New York Times.
When news surfaced months ago that elements of the PLA were engaged in cyber attacks, there was a hope in some quarters that the Chinese government might be “shamed” into suspending such attacks. It was hoped that, coupled with comments by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon that Chinese cyber attacks were jeopardizing U.S.–Chinese ties, Beijing would suspend such activities. Instead, after only a brief pause, the Chinese appear to have renewed their cyber activities, although they have modified some of their methods.
This renewed set of attacks highlights the flawed assumption that Beijing can be coerced into suspending its broad range of computer network penetrations, which span the gamut of government, commercial, civilian, and private computers and networks. This naïve assumption presumes that publicizing Chinese cyber activities will somehow outweigh the evident benefits China gains from hacking—including access to key American intelligence databases. Is it really credible to believe that the Chinese will forgo opportunities to learn the identities of American agents in China, because its activities will be highlighted?
Indeed, the entire American approach seems to start from questionable assumptions. General Martin Dempsey, in his recent trip to China, reportedly told Chinese leaders that it was against their strategic and economic interests to allow cyber intrusions to continue—as though Chinese cyber activities were the product of independent hackers, rather than the Chinese military itself. Indeed, he seems to accept at face value Chinese denials that they have anything to do with computer attacks.
It should be remembered, though, that General Dempsey has previously stated that, “should China’s military be found to be behind hacks into the U.S. infrastructure, it would not necessarily be a ‘hostile act.’” It is therefore perhaps not surprising that, despite evidence that the PLA is in fact behind various computer attacks, he remains open to cooperation with China, rather than viewing them as the source of attacks, i.e., “hostile.”
Yet, with Donilon’s comments as a backdrop, the impending summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping offers an opportunity to make clear to Beijing the serious consequences of its cyber activities. The question is whether the Obama Administration will seize it.
The post China Renews Cyber Attacks Against U.S. appeared first on The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation.
Yesterday’s horrific daylight terror attack in London, which left one British soldier dead, is another reminder that Islamic fundamentalists will stop at nothing to terrorize free societies.
The two terrorists, covered in blood and carrying meat cleavers, were filmed after the attack calmly waiting for London police to arrive. They asked bystanders to take photos of their atrocity. They even took time to speak to a camera trying to justify their macabre acts:
We swear by the almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth—by Allah.
Thankfully, although it took up to 20 minutes for armed police to respond, both terrorists were shot by police—preventing further bloodshed.
Although information about the two terrorists involved in yesterday’s attack has not been forthcoming in great detail, a picture is already developing. It has been reported that both suspects were known by the British security services. At least one has been named as Michael Adebolajo. Reportedly, he is British–Nigerian, born in London, and a Muslim convert who became radicalized at the age of 15.
Other U.K. media reports claim the men have ties to al-Shabaab—an al-Qaeda-linked terror group fighting in Somalia. It has been reported that the attackers were previously prevented from travelling to Somalia to join al-Shabaab.
The threat to the U.K. emitting from al-Shababb is clear. A Heritage Foundation report last summer warned about the threat al-Shabaab poses to Britain’s security:
Even more worrying in the British context is al-Qaeda’s franchise in Somalia, al-Shabaab. [Jonathan] Evans [former Director General of the Security Service, better known as MI-5] is “concerned that it is only a matter of time before we see terrorism on our streets inspired by…al-Shabaab.” When a senior al-Qaeda figure based in Somalia was killed last June, his laptop contained proposals to attack London hotels and a British department store. Additionally, dozens of British subjects are currently fighting alongside al-Shabaab in Somalia, and dozens are feared to have returned already to the United Kingdom. The large Somali population in the U.K. (estimates start at 250,000 individuals) allows al-Shabaab to recruit British Muslims, train them, and send them back into the West without causing excessive suspicion.
The British have had a long history of confronting terrorism. In fact, the U.K.’s 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review stated terrorism as the U.K.’s number one threat.
The Irish Republican Army’s (IRA) campaign of murder and terror, at its highest in the 1970s and 1980s, has not completely disappeared either. For example, U.K. bomb disposal responded on 318 occasions to incidents in Northern Ireland in 2012 alone. Two British soldiers were killed and two more wounded in 2009 when IRA fanatics shot them while they were ordering pizza in Northern Ireland.
However, homegrown Islamic fundamentalism is probably the single biggest threat to the U.K. On July 7, 2005, four British Muslims committed suicide attacks on the London public transport system, killing 52. Last month, three members of a Birmingham terror cell were jailed for planning a terrorist attack that would have “rivaled” the July 2005 attacks. British intelligence sources believe that a minimum of 200 potential terrorists are actively planning suicide attacks in the U.K.
As the recent terror attacks in Boston and London demonstrate, the threat from political and religiously motivated terrorism is far from over. The U.S. and the U.K. must stay vigilant and resolute. Intelligence sharing and counterterrorism cooperation should remain the heart of the Anglo–American Special Relationship.
After Lady Thatcher survived an IRA assassination attempt in 1984 she proclaimed that “all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.”
Once again, the Iron Lady is right.
In recent days, it has been disclosed that the Department of Justice (DOJ) subpoenaed telephone records from Fox News reporters, including chief Washington correspondent James Rosen, and obtained a search warrant for the content of Rosen’s email in connection with another leak investigation. State Department adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim has been charged with leaking classified information to Rosen.
This is ominous because the Privacy Protection Act generally makes it “unlawful for a government officer…to search for or seize any work product materials possessed by a person reasonably believed to have a purpose to disseminate to the public a newspaper, book, broadcast, or other similar form of public communication” with an exception when “there is probable cause to believe that the person possessing such materials has committed or is committing the criminal offense to which the materials relate.”
This is precisely what the FBI agent who sought the warrant alleged, claiming that probable cause existed to believe Rosen was a co-conspirator or aider and abettor of criminal activity, which would make him just as guilty as the principal who committed the offense. The judge who issued the warrant in May 2010 seemingly agreed.
There is no question that the DOJ’s actions here may well cause reporters to hesitate before contacting their sources through conventional communications devices and would-be sources to think twice before contacting reporters. While this chilling effect is problematic enough, it is another thing altogether to allege that the reporter who receives classified information is himself a criminal. Although Rosen has not (yet) been charged with a crime, such an allegation by a government official conducting a criminal investigation is, perhaps, the ultimate chilling effect.
It is important, however, to remember that leaking classified information is serious business—especially when national security is implicated. Spies and leakers such as Robert Hanssen, Aldrich Ames, Bradley Manning, and possibly Stephen Kim are rightly excoriated and subject to prosecution for their actions. But that is not the issue.
The affidavit supporting the search warrant application cites e-mails between Rosen and Kim in which Rosen cajoled Kim to provide him with information, asking for things such as “internal memos” and “internal State Department analyses,” some or all of which may have been classified. While Kim may have leaked classified information, characterizing Rosen as an active participant in the leak, rather than as merely a beneficiary of the leak, is a bridge too far.
In an attempt to justify the government’s conduct, an anonymous Administration national security official wrote on a blog site:
If a reporter finds Justin Bieber’s private diary on the street and publishes it, that’s journalism (of a sort). But if she pays someone to break into Bieber’s house to steal the diary, hasn’t she aided and abetted, or conspired in, a crime, even if her intent is to get material to publish? That’s exactly what the Government says happened here—a reporter soliciting, and aiding and abetting criminal activity.
Really? Reporters cajole sources all the time. It is grist for the mill, and analogizing such encouragement to paying someone to steal is quite troublesome. The government protects classified information by having strict internal oversight (of the sort that identified the leak in this case) and by criminalizing the leaking of classified information, not by prosecuting reporters as leakers themselves.
Rather than treading heavily into areas of constitutional concern, the DOJ should recognize that, in the words of former Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black: “A free press is a condition of a free society.”
The post DOJ Blows a “Chill” Wind Through the Media appeared first on The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released its report on the impact of a carbon tax. (Disclaimer: I provided comments to the CBO on a draft of the report, earlier this year.) The economic parts were pretty sensible and conclude that (be sure you are sitting down)—there are no free lunches.
Here is their flow chart showing the impacts of a carbon tax:
Notice all paths eventually end up at the box called “Lower Output,” which is a bad place to be.
In its analysis of a carbon tax, the CBO discusses a variety of scenarios for disposing of the carbon-tax revenue. They note that some scenarios can partially offset the negative impact of the carbon tax. However, using that revenue to offset the impact on lower-income households, who suffer the tax effects most out of proportion to their income, is a pure transfer and does not moderate the tax’s negative impact on the economy. Any tax revenue used to offset the impact on income and energy prices for low-income earners must come from others who are also suffering from lost income and higher energy costs.
A carbon tax puts everybody in the “Lower Output” box. Transfers to help some can only make the others even worse off.
So here is the story. A carbon tax will be bad for the economy and will disproportionally harm low-income households. The revenues can, theoretically, be used to cut taxes elsewhere to reduce (but not eliminate) the negative effects on the economy or the revenues can be used to offset the impacts for a subset of households. The same revenue cannot be spent twice.
A little perspective on the tax swap or offset makes it clear that even this option for partial mitigation is not realistic.
The first option discussed by the CBO uses the revenue to cut the deficit. It doesn’t actually do an economic analysis. Instead the CBO points to one of its earlier studies showing the income tax cuts a decade ago, alone, would reduce national income. Since this implies that raising an income tax while holding spending constant would be good, the CBO argues that a tax can reduce the deficit and be good for the economy. Without debating the analysis of that particular tax cut, we can simply note the lack of examples where Washington raised taxes without spending any of it. So, forget that option.
The CBO later discusses the option of cutting taxes on capital with the carbon tax revenue. They don’t specifically analyze this case either, but point to studies showing that swapping a higher income tax for a lower tax on capital would have a positive net impact on the economy.
In theory maybe this could be an efficient swap, but why, then, haven’t we seen any such swaps to lower taxes on capital? Here’s why: It is much easier to demagogue the issue of rich capitalists versus average income earners than it is to make the economy better for everyone. (To be sure, taxes on capital are not just taxes on the rich. However, demagoguery easily sidesteps this fact.) This is why you are not going to see an explicit tax on average earners linked to a cut on capital taxation—it is red meat for liberal redistributionists.
One of the possibilities that the CBO did not analyze is using the carbon-tax revenue to fund wasteful projects for crony capitalists. Think Solyndra, Fisker Automotive, A123 Batteries, etc. This is the most likely use of big chunks of any carbon-tax revenue and only strengthens the already strong argument against levying a carbon tax.
In short, the CBO gets right the basic question: Will a carbon tax, however clever you are with it, improve the economy?
The answer: No.
The Obama Administration’s “culture of intimidation,” as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–KY) has called it, has affected the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). In a power grab that is as outrageous as it is brazen, the Obama Administration is proposing to replace the only remaining Republican and one of the few members of the BBG who cares enough to take an active role on the BBG, Victor Ashe.
The consequence, for one thing, will be a severe imbalance on the bipartisan board in favor of the Democrats. Secondly, employees of Voice of America and the other U.S. international broadcasting organizations (which the BBG oversees) could lose one of their few remaining and most effective champions. The Senate has confirmation power over these BBG appointments and must block this plan.
The BBG, which was established legislatively in 1994, is supposed to be bipartisan with nine members, four Democrats and four Republicans with the last seat being held by the Secretary of State or his designee. It has the executive power to oversee the running of Voice of America, Radio/TV Marti, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and other parts of U.S. international broadcasting.
With all these responsibilities, the BBG meets just once a month and often with less than a quorum to make decisions. The BBG’s current state, in other words, is dysfunctional, as demonstrated by the State Department’s Inspector General’s (IG) report published in February.
The Chairman of the Board, Democrat Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment, has not attended a board meeting since December 14. Other Democrats are former Secretary of State John Kerry staffer Michael Meehan and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) staffer Susan McCue. One more Democrat has been nominated—Jeff Shell, chairman of NBC Universal.
The Republican side is being help up by one man right now, Victor Ashe, who has served since 2010. One other Republican has been nominated, Matt Armstrong, director of the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. That means there are two Republican vacant slots to be filled.
Even so—with two empty Republican slots—the Obama Administration is planning to replace Victor Ashe with Republican Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who recently served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and last week was nominated by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Crocker is an excellent choice, but should join Ashe, not replace him. This gambit would leave the board with a four–two imbalance in favor of the Democrats, and what should be a bipartisan foreign policy endeavor, a centerpiece of U.S. public diplomacy, could be accused of becoming a political tool.
In addition, terminating Victor Ashe’s appointment would be a real loss for the agency’s mission and its employees. Despite being singled out as a troublemaker by the State Department’s IG, he has been an outspoken activist determined to resolve long-term problems, improve morale, and obtain necessary resources. Thanks to Ashe, who has advocated transparency, BBG meetings are now shown on the BBG website. He was highly instrumental in reversing the unjust firing of Radio Liberty’s Moscow employees last September.
Senators must take action to remedy the loss of credibility and effectiveness that the termination of Ashe would cause the BBG. A hold on other nominees until bipartisan balance is restored would be one way.
In a brutal murder committed on the streets near the Royal Artillery Barracks in South London, a British soldier became the latest victim of an act that Prime Minister David Cameron described as having “strong indications” that it was linked to terrorism.
Two men were shot and wounded by London police after attacking and savagely murdering the soldier with what witnesses described as a machete and knife. Reports indicate that the soldier was merely walking along the street when his assailants attacked him.
Further reports suggest that the assailants calmly waited by the soldier’s body until police arrived and at one point were talking to shocked bystanders. An ensuing confrontation with police resulted in both suspects being shot and transported to local hospitals.
At one point onlookers filmed one of the suspected assailants stating, “We swear by Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.” The unidentified perpetrator added, “This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth. We apologize that women had to see this today, but in our lands our women have to see the same.”
At a press conference in Paris, Cameron acknowledged the nature of the attack:
Britain has suffered terrorist attacks before, terrorist attacks from the IRA, terrorist attacks from Islamic extremists.… We have suffered these attacks before and we have always beaten them back.
The attack in London is reminiscent of the attack against a Little Rock, Arkansas, military recruiting center in 2009 that took the life of Private William Long, 23. American-born Carlos Bledsoe, having adopted the name Abdulhakim Muhammad, admitted to having killed Private Long and injuring others in a drive-by shooting motivated by a desire to wage war against America.
Following his arrest, Muhammad stated in a pre-trial letter to Judge Herbert Wright Jr., “This was a jihadi attack on infidel forces.” Muhammad also described himself as a soldier in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Muhammad ultimately pleaded guilty and received a life sentence without parole.
The attack in London and the 2009 Little Rock shooting, along with other events such as the Fort Hood shooting in 2009, remind us that the dangers facing our nation’s brave military personnel don’t begin and end overseas.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill on Tuesday. It will go to the Senate floor after the Memorial Day recess. Heritage has pointed out the problems with this “comprehensive” approach — including the staggering costs of amnesty and a failure to secure the border.
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- Two “terrorists wielding a machete and a cleaver hacked a soldier to death on a busy London street Wednesday while yelling ‘Allahu Akbar,’” reports Fox News.
- President Obama will give a national security speech today addressing drones and Guantanamo Bay.
- Lois Lerner, head of the IRS division that approves tax-exempt status for groups, is facing scrutiny that reaches into her past.
- The IRS scandal raises serious questions about the Internet sales tax.
- Heritage’s Derrick Morgan responds today to criticism of Heritage’s study on the cost of amnesty.
- Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will speak at Heritage today about his new book, Rumsfeld’s Rules. Watch live at noon ET.