Insurgents inspired by al-Qaeda pressed ahead Wednesday with an offensive against collapsing security forces in northern Iraq, capturing the cities of Tikrit and Baiji and continuing to advance southward toward Baghdad.
For all his power and newfound notoriety, there are only two authenticated photos of a man now called the world’s “most powerful jihadi leader.” One shows a serious man with an olive complexion and round countenance. The other, released by the Iraqi government in January, depicts an unsmiling bearded figure in a black suit. The image is cracked and blurry, as though someone had taken a picture of a picture.
Though he’s “the world’s most dangerous man” to Time magazine and the “the new bin Laden” to Le Monde, the man who orchestrated the sacking of northern Iraq’s largest city and today controls a nation-size swath of land, is a relatively unknown and enigmatic figure.
Much of what is known of Baghdadi’s history is unconfirmed, while other information is disputed to such a degree that it’s nearly impossible to discern where fact meets Baghdadi’s rising myth.
Several facts, however, are clear: Baghdadi leads the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. He is a shrewd strategist, a prolific fundraiser and a ruthless killer. The United States has a $10 million bounty on his head. He has thrown off the yoke of al-Qaeda command and just took his biggest prize yet in Mosul, an oil hub that sits at the vital intersection of Iraq, Turkey and Syria. And in just one year of grisly killing, he has in all likelihood surpassed even al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in international clout and prestige among Islamist militants.
“The true heir to Osama bin Laden may be ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” wrote The Washington Post’s David Ignatius. He is “more violent, more virulent, more anti-American,” a senior U.S. intelligence official told the columnist, while the cautious and uncharismatic Zawahiri “is not coping well.” In fact, Baghdadi is now recruiting fighters from other Zawahiri affiliates, including al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch and the Somalia-based al-Shabab.
Re: The Big Ass Second Term/Politics thread part V
Originally Posted by KevinNYC
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel going to be testifying this week about the Bowe Berghdahl swap,
Didn't seem like anything big came out of Hagel's testimony, but there was some big news about Bergdahl. Was he going mad?
The Washington Post got hold of Bowe Bergdahl's journal. Apparently friends were concerned about his mental health.
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was discharged from the Coast Guard for psychological reasons, said close friends who were worried about his emotional health at the time.
The 2006 discharge and a trove of Bergdahl’s writing — his handwritten journal along with essays, stories and e-mails provided to The Washington Post — paint a portrait of a deeply complicated and fragile young man who was by his own account struggling to maintain his mental stability from the start of basic training until the moment he walked off his post in eastern Afghanistan in 2009.
Some of the stuff Bergdahl wrote in his journal does seem like someone worried they are slipping into mental illness. The closer I get to ship day, the calmer the voices are.
I will not lose this mind, this world I have deep inside. I will not lose this passion of beauty.
At one point he wrote two pages that just said
“velcro or zipper/velcro or zipper/velcro or zipper”
When the local Afghans saw him walking off base, they thought he was on hashish because he seemed out of it.
When he got a psychological discharge from the Coast Guard, he told his friends he faked it, but they didn't believe him because they knew something was going wrong with him and they were shocked he was let into the Army.
Re: The Big Ass Second Term/Politics thread part V
I think it's generally true that it becomes easy for presidents/governors to lose their agenda when they are faced with the second term.
while some may go overboard in trying to accomplish a legacy, others, try and do nothing until making the nessecary adjustments before they hand it off to the next guy. - unless they have been ambition enough to attempt for a 3rd term.
besides that of FDR. Perhaps the only way for a president to go over 2 terms, or to even have legitimate reasons to go beyond 2 terms. Would be wether or not he/she is capable of identifying the needs/adjustments the public ought to make due to private sectors innovation/investments, even that of before the house of representatives.
U.S. Special Operations forces captured one of the suspected ringleaders of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi in a secret raid in Libya over the weekend, the first time one of the accused perpetrators of the 2012 assaults has been apprehended, according to U.S. officials.
The officials said Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured Sunday near Benghazi by American troops, working alongside the FBI, following months of planning, and was now in U.S. custody “in a secure location outside Libya.” The officials said there were no casualties in the operation, and that all U.S. personnel involved have safely left Libya......
The Washington Post learned about the capture Monday but agreed to a request from the White House to delay publication of a story because of security concerns.
Other than the two jihadist militias ISIS and Ansar al-Islam, insurgents include a coalition of nearly 80 Sunni Arab tribes, known as the Military Council of the Tribes of Iraq. This coalition has strong presence in Sunni areas especially in Fallujah, Ramadi, and in various areas in Nineveh and Salaheddin. According to Arabic news site al-Araby al-Jadid, the coalition is estimated to include about 41 armed groups, among them soldiers and officers from the dismantled Iraqi army of Saddam Hussein.
Then there is the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order, a group allegedly headed by former Iraqi vice president Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. Formed in 2007, the group consists of thousands of former members of the Baath party, as well Sufi and Muslim Brotherhood-leaning fighters. At least in terms of numbers, the group is a strong rival to ISIS and has strong social roots in the community. In 2009, U.S. officials warned that the order might be more dangerous than Al-Qaeda because its members succeeded in establishing deep roots within Sunni Iraqi society.
The Naqshbandis, who operate mostly in Mosul, downplay their Sunni focus and claim to have Kurdish and Shiite members. Observers of the group say that it also operates under different names primarily provisional military and tribal councils. But it appears that loyalists to the dismantled Baath Party of Iraq dominate the army as they do in many of the Sunni groupings that emerged in the wake of the protest movement of 2011-2013, such as the General Military Council of the Iraqi Revolutionaries (GMCIR).
Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri is the last remaining member of the US most wanted "deck of cards."
International weapons inspectors have issued preliminary findings that chlorine gas was used in a “systematic manner” in Syria this year, long after the government of President Bashar al-Assad had pledged to give up other toxic weapons such as sarin.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) mission said this week that evidence “lends credence to the view that toxic chemicals, most likely pulmonary irritating agents such as chlorine, have been used.”
The OPCW investigation followed French and U.S. allegations that Assad’s forces may have used industrial chemicals against rebel-held areas this spring.
They are reportedly being used by the regime who take chlorine canisters and put them in a barrel bomb with other explosives and drop them from helicopters. They have been using barrel bombs for a couple of years now, but using them to deliver chlorine is new. You can see barrel bomb footage here.
Prosecutors in newly released court documents allege that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was at the center of a scheme to violate state election law by improperly coordinating campaign activities with outside groups.
The documents, part of a separate ongoing suit but released on Thursday, focus on one individual in particular: R.J. Johnson, who directed and ran the conservative organization Wisconsin Club for Growth, a tax-exempt “social welfare” group, during the 2011 and 2012 Senate and gubernatorial recall elections in that state. Prosecutors allege that Johnson used that group to fund and guide the activities of several other 501(c)4 organizations, the IRS designation for such nonprofit “social welfare” groups, and that he acted as a “hub for the coordinated activities” of Friends of Scott Walker, the governor’s campaign committee, and those groups.
Prosecutors also allege Johnson was coordinating with the Republican State Leadership Committee, the national organization that seeks to elect Republicans at the state level. The documents cite a key May 4, 2011, e-mail from Gov. Walker to political strategist Karl Rove, in which Walker allegedly acknowledges Johnson’s role in running the coordination campaign.
“Bottom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin,” Walker allegedly wrote. “We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like running 9 Congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities.)”
Johnson provided Walker with notes that August saying that Wisconsin Club for Growth’s efforts were run by “Johnson and Deborah Jordahl, who coordinated spending through 12 different groups,” according to the filing.
....“This is a shocking development,” Mike Tate, the Democratic Party chair in Wisconsin said. You have a Republican prosecutor saying Scott Walker is at the center of a criminal scheme. You’ve got communication between Scott Walker and Karl Rove dictating activity that by all appearances is in violation of Wisconsin law. We’re not New Jersey, we’re not Illinois. We don’t send our governors to jail. This is a shocking development.”
Esquire is reporting the NJ Federal Attorney is close to indicted 4 people in the Bridgegate scandal including David Samson who Christie went out of his way to vouch for when this first broke. The article reads very much like a deliberate leak by the prosecutor or his aides to ratchet up the pressure on Samson so that he will flip.
Federal charges in the bridge closures potentially include both intentional interference in interstate commerce and -- in the cover-up that ensued -- obstruction of justice. The use of Port Authority money, raised by issuing bonds, to pay for non-PA projects will likely result in charges of securities fraud and conspiracy to commit same; the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is also investigating on this front, along with the Manhattan District Attorney, who’s seeking evidence to support state charges of falsifying business records and official misconduct. Charges derived from David Samson’s numerous conflicts of interest while serving as a PA official could, in Hoboken’s case, include federal charges of extortion under the Hobbs Act, and New York state charges of official misconduct and corruption.
The clearest, quickest road to Christie, both sources agree, runs through David Samson, a former Attorney General of New Jersey who’s 74 years old and reportedly suffers from Parkinson’s disease. So: Will Samson flip?
“They’ve got him cold,” says one source. “He got sloppy, arrogant, and greedy. Samson will want a deal. This way, he’d get one or two years. He’d have a future on the other side. He won’t want to die in jail.”
This part in bold is obviously what they want Samson thinking about.
I wonder what the US Attorney code of conduct says about leaks like these.
Re: The Big Ass Second Term/Politics thread part V
Originally Posted by KevinNYC
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor just lost in the primary to a Tea Party candidate.
Cantor's replacement as majority leader was picked today. A friend of Cantor. Republicans elevate Boehner ally to No. 2 House job
U.S. House of Representatives Republicans on Thursday chose an ally of Speaker John Boehner for the No. 2 job in the chamber, a setback for some conservatives hoping to use a leadership election to boost their influence.
Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, already the third-ranking House Republican, was chosen to replace Eric Cantor as majority leader. He will control the House floor and help decide the party's legislative priorities.
Steve Scalise, a Louisiana lawmaker with backing from Southern Republicans, beat out two other lawmakers on Thursday to replace McCarthy as party whip, drumming up votes for bills.
Tea Party Republicans had pushed for one of their own to join the leadership after a little-known professor defeated Cantor in his Virginia primary by accusing the majority leader of not pursuing a conservative enough agenda. Cantor will leave his position at the end of July. The race brought fresh turmoil to the caucus, as Tea Party favorites argued that Boehner and other, business-friendly leaders gave in too easily to Democrats on spending disputes.
Tea Party-aligned Republicans said after the vote that they were disappointed with the outcome of the majority leader race, in which Representative Raul Labrador of Idaho lost to McCarthy.
But they said Scalise could push leaders to hold their ground on key issues for conservatives, such as immigration reform and spending cuts.