Sunday, June 30, 2013

All Countries Gather Foreign Intelligence, DNI Spokesman Says Amid EU Protests

“The United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations,” a spokesman for the office of the director of national intelligence said Sunday, in response to a wave of criticism from European Union officials over claims of National Security Agency surveillance on E.U. facilities. Read

Friday, June 28, 2013

U.S. Afghan Envoy Expects Taliban to Continue Attacks Alongside Talks

The administration’s point man for Afghanistan said Thursday he does not expect the Taliban to end violence before reconciliation talks begin, since the militant group will want to make it look like U.S. forces are withdrawing from the country under pressure. Read

McDonald’s Faces Boycott Over Its Refusal to Open Store in Jewish Settlement

Fourteen years after Burger King closed an outlet on disputed Mideast territory under Arab boycott threats, McDonald’s is making headlines for its refusal to open a store there – and this time Israelis are leading calls for a retaliatory boycott. Read

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Putin Succeeds in Getting Kyrgyzstan to Close a Key U.S. Airbase

The president of Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday signed a bill finalizing the closure next July of a U.S. airbase that has been a key hub for troops and supplies moving to and from Afghanistan since shortly after 9/11. Read

State Dep’t Urges Calm in Egypt, or Else-–What?

Ahead of demonstrations expected to be the biggest since Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi took office a year ago, the State Department urged restraint and said the Muslim Brotherhood leader had “a special responsibility to reach out to all political groups.” But once again, the U.S. would not comment on potential consequences if he does not. Read

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

US Taxpayers Fund UN Human Rights Council Activities Which the US Opposes

The Obama administration’s decision to support and generously fund the U.N. Human Rights Council means that U.S. taxpayers are not only paying for council activities the administration supports, but also those the U.S. opposed and voted against. Read

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kerry: No Saudis Fighting in Syria

Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion Tuesday that no Saudis are fighting in Syria raised eyebrows, but the State Department said later the point he was making was that the kingdom is not actively involved in the conflict in the same way Iran is on the regime’s side. Read

Taliban Suicide Attack Near Presidential Palace Deals Blow to Precarious Talks

The Taliban claimed responsibility for an assault early Tuesday morning outside the presidential palace in Kabul, putting fresh strain on already shaky efforts to get some kind of peace talks underway. Read

Monday, June 24, 2013

U.S. Catholic Bishops: Don't Arm Syrian Fighters

Amid growing awareness of the effect the conflict in Syria is having on the country’s Christians, some church leaders in the West are warning that providing arms to combatants in Syria will only worsen the crisis – both overall and for religious minorities in particular. Read

Sectarian Killings Erupt in Egypt As Anti-Morsi Rallies Loom

Hours after Egypt’s army chief on Sunday warned that the military was ready to intervene if necessary in the face of dangerous divisions in Egyptian society, a mob led by Salafist Sunni sheikhs attacked a group of Shi’ites, killing four. Read

US Warns Russia Not to Harbor NSA Leaker Snowden

Secretary of State John Kerry warned Monday that Russia was “on notice” with regard to the U.S. request to hand over the indicted former National Security Agency consultant Edward Snowden, even as Chinese officials played down concerns about soured relations with the U.S. over the decision to let the fugitive leave Chinese soil. Read

Friday, June 21, 2013

Syrian Christians Plan 'Sit-In' to Protest Syrian Rebel Kidnapping of Bishops

Two months after two senior church leaders in Aleppo were kidnapped by rebels, their whereabouts and condition remain unknown at a time when Christians in Syria’s largest city are increasingly fearful about the future. Read

On ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ Website, No Sign of Goodwill Ahead of Talks With U.S.

As the Obama administration tries to salvage its Taliban talks initiative, the group continues to boast of – and exaggerate – the battlefield exploits of the “Islamic emirate’s” holy warriors as they face “the invading terrorist forces” of the U.S.-led coalition and their Afghan “puppets.” Read

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Obama Suggests Further Cuts to U.S., Russian Nuclear Arsenals As China’s Buildup Continues

President Obama’s offer in Berlin Wednesday for sweeping further cuts to the U.S. and Russian deployed nuclear weapons arsenals has raised many questions, including one that has House Republicans and the Kremlin in rare agreement on one point at least – what about China? Read

Human Trafficking: U.S. Demotes China, Russia to Bottom Tier

For the first time since the Trafficking Victims Protection Act set up an office to monitor and combat human trafficking in 2001, China was relegated Wednesday to its lowest ranking for compliance with efforts to eliminate the practice sometimes dubbed “modern-day slavery.” Read

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Notorious Haqqani Network to be Represented at Taliban-US Talks

A Taliban delegation that will enter formal talks with the United States in Qatar later this week will, according to a U.S. official, also represent the Haqqani network, a group that has existed far longer than either the Taliban or al-Qaeda and has played a key role of terror enabler to both. Read

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Battle Lines Harden in Syria As Egypt Wades In

The decision by Egypt’s president to throw the support of the Arab world’s biggest country behind the anti-Assad opposition in Syria is a significant development in an increasingly complex crisis that is inflaming sectarian divisions across the region. Read

China Scorns Suggestions NSA Leaker May Have Cooperated With Beijing

The Chinese government and state media have reacted with scorn to suggestions that former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden may have collaborated with Beijing in exposing secret NSA surveillance programs. Read

Syrian Leader Again Warns West of Terror Blowback

Iran reportedly is preparing to deploy another 4,000 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps troops to Syria in support of the Bashar al-Assad regime, while Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has vowed to continue “to defend Syria and the Syrian people.” Read

Monday, June 17, 2013

Iran’s Election: White House Sees ‘Hopeful Sign,’ Israel Warns Against Wishful Thinking

As supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued “necessary guidelines” Sunday to Iran’s new president-elect, Israel urged against wishful thinking following the election of a man described variously as a “moderate,” a “centrist” – even a “reformist.” Read

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Putin Cites Syrian Rebel Mutilation Video: ‘Are These The People You Want to Support?’

On the eve of a G8 summit with Syria high on the agenda, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a harsh assessment Sunday of the nature of the Syrian rebellion, signaling that Moscow has no intention of softening its opposition to Western support for the anti-Assad opposition. Read

Friday, June 14, 2013

U.N. Human Rights Bodies Urged to Take Up NSA Spying

Groups that advocate privacy and digital freedom -- troubled by leaked revelations of widespread National Security Agency phone and Internet surveillance -- are urging the U.N. Human Rights Council to take up the matter. Read

Thursday, June 13, 2013

White House: Syrian Regime Has Used Chemical Weapons, Crossing Obama’s ‘Red Line’

Declaring its “red line” crossed, the Obama administration said Thursday U.S. intelligence agencies believe the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons in the conflict there, at the cost of up to 150 lives. Read

CIA Deputy Director Steps Down 'To Spend More Time With His Family'

CIA deputy director Michael Morell, who played a key role in editing the administration’s controversial talking points on last September’s terror attack in Benghazi, announced his retirement on Wednesday after 33 years of service. Read

Kerry Has ‘Nothing to Announce’ on Arming Syrian Rebels as Regime Gains Ground

Recent gains by Syria’s Assad regime and its allies prompted a warning from France Wednesday that the key rebel-held city of Aleppo could be next to fall, but at a meeting in Washington with his British counterpart Secretary of State John Kerry said he had “nothing to announce” on their discussions about arming the opposition. Read

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Security Tightens, Field Shrinks Ahead of Iran’s Presidential Election

Three days before Iran’s presidential election, the field of candidates approved by the top religious hierarchy has been whittled down from eight to six, leaving the race – and its likely implications for relations with the West – still murky. Read

No Word From Kerry on State Dep’t Sexual Misconduct and Coverup Claims

Amid continuing fallout over allegations that senior State Department officials tried to stop investigations into personnel misconduct, Secretary of State John Kerry kept a low profile Tuesday, making no public comment on the controversy. Read

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pope Urged to Declare Islam a Peaceful Religion

Seven years after Sunni Islam’s foremost institution severed dialogue with the Vatican over remarks by Pope Benedict XVI, the Cairo-based Al-Azhar wants the new pontiff to open the door to resuming interfaith discourse by declaring Islam to be a peaceful religion. Read

Prostitution, Drugs, Coverup? Obama’s State Dep’t Under Fire

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Ed Royce said Tuesday he will question Secretary of State John Kerry about claims that the State Department covered up allegations of personnel misconduct, including the solicitation of prostitutes by a U.S. ambassador and members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail. Read

Monday, June 10, 2013

U.S. and China Among 15 Countries Agreeing That the U.N. Charter Applies in Cyberspace

While lawmakers were eyeing China last week over cyber spying and theft, the U.S. joined a small group of countries – including China – in U.N.-hosted cyber security talks that ended with an affirmation that international law, especially the United Nations Charter, applies in cyberspace. Read

Karzai: US Must ‘Explain’ to Muslims Why Radicalism Is Growing Amid War on Terror

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is asking whether an increase in radicalism across an Islamic world “in turmoil” is the result of the U.S.-led campaign against terror. In a speech on Sunday, he said the U.S. “needs to explain itself” to Muslims. Read

Friday, June 07, 2013

Hezbollah Provokes Arab Anger by Joining Syrian Conflict

Hezbollah has hailed the retaking of a strategic rebel stronghold in Syria as a blow to the U.S. and Israel, but behind the bluster, the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group has taken a huge gamble in providing open and substantial military support to the Assad regime, fueling sectarian sentiment across the volatile region. Read

Clapper Insists Internet Data Mining Deliberately Targets Only ‘Non-US Persons’

The covert mining of data from the world’s major Internet firms provides invaluable intelligence information and deliberately targets only “non-U.S. persons,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said late Thursday. Read

Thursday, June 06, 2013

U.S. Says Deadly MERS Virus Could Affect Nat’l Security

As Saudi and U.N. health authorities report new infections from a troubling new respiratory disease, there are concerns that the approaching Hajj – the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca – could increase the risk of spreading the virus as pilgrims return to their home countries. Read

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Ahead of US-China Summit, Beijing Says It’s a Victim of Cybercrime

China has been the victim of cybercrimes as serious as those the U.S. accuses it of carrying out, Chinese state media charged Wednesday, ahead of an informal summit between China’s new leader and President Obama at which cybersecurity is expected to feature prominently. Read

Kerry Protests NGO Convictions in Egypt, But No Hint of Consequences

An Egyptian court on Tuesday convicted 43 non-governmental organization employees, including 16 U.S. citizens, accused of using foreign funds to promote unrest. The move drew strong condemnation in Washington and elsewhere, but Secretary of State John Kerry gave no hint that America’s substantial funding could be at risk. Read

Obama Appoints Another Interventionist to His National Security Team

President Obama’s national security reshuffle announced Wednesday not only moves Susan Rice out of the Senate firing line – national security advisors do not require confirmation – but also marks the promotion of another advocate of humanitarian intervention in his team. Read

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Kerry Welcomes U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, Ignoring Senate Opposition

As nations lined up to sign the newly-negotiated global conventional arms trade treaty on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would do so once translation issues were resolved. He did not mention the significant opposition on Capitol Hill. Read

China Spurns U.N. Criticism After Sending N. Korean Refugees Back to Uncertain Fate

China’s longstanding refusal to treat North Koreans who have fled their homeland as refugees is getting new scrutiny, after Beijing last week sent a group of young North Koreans back to a regime with a history of submitting repatriated defectors to torture or even execution. Read

Monday, June 03, 2013

American Pastor Jailed in Iran Accused of Spying, Brainwashing Young Muslims

Amid growing international calls for Iran to release an imprisoned Iranian-American pastor, a regime mouthpiece reportedly has accused Saeed Abedini of spying for the U.S. government and brainwashing young Iranian Muslims to convert to “Zionist Christianity.” Read

Turkish PM, Protesters Accuse Each Other of Undermining Democracy

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused protesters who took to the streets of Turkey’s main cities of undermining democracy – precisely the same charge the demonstrators are directing at his Islamist government. Read