Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April 24, 2013

Lawmakers Seeking Obamacare Exemption for Themselves

"Congressional leaders in both parties are engaged in high-level, confidential talks about exempting lawmakers and Capitol Hill aides from the insurance exchanges they are mandated to join as part of President Obama's health care overhaul," Politico reports.

"The talks -- which involve Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), the Obama administration and other top lawmakers -- are extraordinarily sensitive, with both sides acutely aware of the potential for political fallout from giving carve-outs from the hugely controversial law to 535 lawmakers and thousands of their aides."

New Yorker editor: Gun control would have made bombing harder to pull off

Editor of The New Yorker and former Washington Post reporter David Remnick suggested Monday night that the Senate gun control legislation would have made the Boston Marathon bombing “a hell of a lot more difficult to pull off.”
“I think a domestic question has to be asked is how do kids like [the Tsarnaev brothers] get guns?” Mr. Remnick asked host Charlie Rose. “Where are they getting side arms from?”

“It’s not, to me, and I don’t want to politicize an act of terrorism, but it’s, it is worth remarking upon, worth remarking upon, in that within a week’s time a very, very, very weak gun control bill gets defeated, in effect defeated in the Senate, we see yet another act which might have been a Hell of a lot more difficult to pull off with effective gun control,” he continued.
The Washington Times reported Tuesday that neither Tamerlan nor Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had valid permits to own firearms and neither of the brothers had obtained the handguns legally, according to authorities.

sorry to all my followers have to make a new blog do it the trolls

i am so sorry i hope you will find mt new blog i wont let trolls report me for my post when thety cause me prombles now i have to start over i love you all will keep this up regraudless

sorry to all my followers have to make a new blog do it the trolls

i am so sorry i hope you will find mt new blog i wont let trolls report me for my post when thety cause me prombles now i have to start over i love you all will keep this up regraudless

Obama, Clinton blew Benghazi response: Republican report

Follow Us On
House Republicans have concluded that the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies bear no blame for failing to halt the terrorist assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year, releasing a report Tuesday that said President Obama and the State Department set up the military for failure.
The report also found that plenty of intelligence presaged the attack, but the White House and State Department — including the secretary at the time, Hillary Rodham Clinton — failed to heed the warnings.

In the most damning conclusion, House Republicans said Mr. Obama’s team lied about the attacks afterward, first by blaming mob violence spawned by an anti-Muslim video, and then wrongly saying it had misled the public because it was trying to protect an FBI investigation.
“This progress report reveals a fundamental lack of understanding at the highest levels of the State Department as to the dangers presented in Benghazi, Libya, as well as a concerted attempt to insulate the Department of State from blame following the terrorist attacks,” the GOP investigation concluded in its 46-page report.
The White House dismissed the report as a rehash of questions the administration has answered, and said it has provided extraordinary cooperation.
The report was released after rank-and-file Republicans feared the pressure to get answers on the Benghazi attacks was subsiding.
Some House Republicans want to create a Watergate-style special committee to investigate the attacks, but leaders have resisted, saying the existing investigative, defense, foreign affairs, intelligence and judiciary committees can handle it. Tuesday’s interim report is the result.
The report also could dog Mrs. Clinton if she returns to politics.

The Sept. 11 attacks on the consulate in Benghazi left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
The GOP report said the White House was responsible for prohibiting the mention of terrorism, and the report said administration officials were trying to shield themselves from criticism that they had been too lax in security.
“It is clear that the State Department expressed concerns — and was backed by the White House — that the information be removed to avoid criticism for ignoring the general threat environment in Benghazi,” the report said.
Democrats on the five committees fired off a letter Tuesday saying they were left out of the report-writing entirely, and that the end result was biased.
“You are sacrificing accuracy in favor of partisanship,” the ranking Democrats on each committee said in a letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the report goes over old ground and that some of the conclusions conflict with the State Department’s internal review.
“The State Department’s Accountability Review Board — the independent body charged with reviewing the attacks and evaluating the interagency response — released its report which specifically found that the interagency response was ‘timely and appropriate’ and ‘helped save the lives of two severely wounded Americans,’ while also making important recommendations to improve security that we are in the process of implementing,” she said.
Story Continues →

Read more:
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter
[Congressional Record Volume 154, Number 112 (Wednesday, July 9, 2008)]
[Pages S6497-S6498]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office []


  Mr. LEVIN. Madam President, the New York Times recently published an 
article entitled ``Web Start-up a Joint Israeli-Palestinian Venture'' 
and, as the title suggests, it is a story about a group of Israeli and 
Palestinian entrepreneurs that have joined forces to start an internet 
business venture. Mr. President, I will ask to have the New York Times 
article printed in the Record. What is impressive about this story is 
that technology, in the form of Internet-based video teleconferencing, 
has been able to jump boundaries to allow people to work together while 
apart by enabling this business,, to use the Internet to 
complete many of the day-to-day tasks that ordinarily require actual 
face-to-face contact. More importantly, this business venture is yet 
another example of the good will that exists on both sides of the 
Israeli-Palestinian divide.
  In March 2005, I had the opportunity to travel with six Michiganders, 
three Palestinian-Americans and three Jewish-Americans, to Israel and 
the Palestinian territories to study the possibility of joint Israeli-
Palestinian business ventures. During this visit, we met with 
entrepreneurs active in a full range of industries, from agriculture to 
textiles to software development to manufacturing. While these joint 
business ventures cannot make peace, they do help foster good will, and 
they demonstrate the potential for effective, economic coexistence if a 
final peace agreement can be reached.
  More recently, during a trip to Israel to present the Senate 
resolution commemorating the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel, I 
learned of what I hope will be a major joint economic venture. During 
my meeting with President Shimon Peres, I learned about the Valley of 
Peace Initiative, a large-scale undertaking to construct a tourism 
corridor. The Valley of Peace is envisioned to stretch over the 500 
kilometers along the Israeli-Jordanian border, from the Red Sea to the 
Yarmuk River. Under the current plan, the Valley of Peace initiative 
includes several projects, ranging from a water conduit connecting the 
Red Sea and the Dead Sea in an attempt to prevent the latter from 
drying up, to an Israeli-Jordanian airport near Eilat and Aqaba, to a 
connection of the Jordanian and Israeli railway systems and a mutual 
Israeli-Palestinian Authority industrial zone. While the initiative is 
still in the idea stage, it could offer a major opportunity for joint 
economic cooperation between Israelis, Palestinians, and, in this case, 
  Employment and economic growth are critical to fostering stability 
for Israelis and Palestinians alike. is another example of a 
promising partnership that can benefit the region in ways that surpass 
the positive economic impact. Should their business model prove to be a 
success, it would bode well for building additional partnerships and 
fostering further much-needed goodwill in the region.
  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to have The New York Times 
article to which I referred printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                [From the New York Times, May 29, 2008]

             Israelis and Palestinians Launch Web Start-Up

                            (By Dina Kraft)

       Ramallah, West Bank.--Nibbling doughnuts and wrestling with 
     computer code, the workers at, an Internet start-up 
     here, are holding their weekly staff meeting--with colleagues 
     on the other side of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.
       They trade ideas through a video hookup that connects the 
     West Bank office with one in Israel in the first joint 
     technology venture of its kind between Israelis and 
       ``Start with the optimistic parts, Mustafa,'' Gilad Parann-
     Nissany, an Israeli who is vice president for research and 
     development, jokes with a Palestinian colleague who is giving 
     a progress report. Both conference rooms break into laughter.
       The goal of is not as lofty as peace, although its 
     founders and employees do hope to encourage it. Instead wants to give users a free, Web-based virtual 
     computer that lets them access their desktop and files from 
     any computer with an Internet connection., pronounced 
     ``ghost,'' is short for Global Hosted Operating System.
       ``Ghosts go through walls,'' said Zvi Schreiber, the 
     company's British-born Israeli chief executive, by way of 
     explanation. A test version of the service is available now, 
     and an official introduction is scheduled for Halloween.
       The Palestinian office in Ramallah, with about 35 software 
     developers, is responsible for most of the research and 
     programming. A smaller Israeli team works about 13 miles away 
     in the central Israeli town of Modiin.
       The stretch of road separating the offices is broken up by 
     checkpoints, watch towers and a barrier made of chain-link 
     fence and, in some areas, soaring concrete walls, built by 
     Israel with the stated goal of preventing the entry of 
     Palestinian suicide bombers.
       Palestinian employees need permits from the Israeli army to 
     enter Israel and attend meetings in Modiin, and Israelis are 
     forbidden by their own government from entering Palestinian 
       When permits cannot be arranged but meetings in person are 
     necessary, colleagues gather at a rundown coffee shop on a 
     desert road frequented by camels and Bedouin shepherds near 
     Jericho, an area legally open to both sides.
       Dr. Schreiber, an entrepreneur who has already built and 
     sold two other start-ups, said he wanted to create 
     after seeing the power of software running on the Web. He 
     said he thought it was time to merge his technological and 
     commercial ambitions with his social ones and create a 
     business with Palestinians.
       ``I felt the ultimate goal was to offer every human being a 
     computing environment which is free, and which is not tied to 
     any physical hardware but exists on the Web,'' he said. The 
     idea, he said, was to create a home for all of a user's 
     online files and storage in the form of a virtual PC.
       Instead of creating its own Web-based software, the company 
     taps into existing services like Google Docs, Zoho and Flickr 
     and integrates them into a single online computing system. also has a philanthropic component: a foundation 
     that aims to establish community computer centers in Ramallah 
     and in mixed Jewish-Arab towns in Israel. The foundation is 
     headed by Noa Rothman, the granddaughter of Yitzhak Rabin, 
     the Israeli prime minister slain in 1995.
       ``It's the first time I met Palestinians of my generation 
     face to face,'' said Ms. Rothman, 31, of her work with She said she was moved by how easily everyone got 
     along. ``It shows how on the people-to-people level you can 
     really get things done.''
       Investors have put $2.5 million into the company so far, a 
     modest amount. Employing Palestinians means the money goes 
     farther; salaries for Palestinian programmers are about a 
     third of what they are in Israel.
       But Dr. Schreiber, who initially teamed up with Tareq 
     Maayah, a Palestinian businessman, to start the Ramallah 
     office, insists this is not just another example of 
       ``We are one team, employed by the same company, and 
     everyone has shares in the company,'' he said.
       At's offices in Ramallah, in a stone-faced building 
     with black reflective glass perched on a hill in the city's 
     business district, employees say they feel part of an 
     intensive group effort to create something groundbreaking. 
     Among them are top young Palestinian programmers and 
     engineers, recruited in some cases directly from 
       The chance to gain experience in creating a product for the 
     international market--a first for the small Palestinian 
     technology community--means politics take a backseat to 
     business, said Yusef Ghandour, a project manager.
       ``It's good we are learning from the Israeli side now,'' 
     Mr. Ghandour said. The Israelis, he said, ``are open to the 
     external world, and there is lots of venture capital 
     investment in Israel, and now we are bringing that to 
       The departure of educated young people mostly to 
     neighboring Jordan and the Persian Gulf states is a major 
     problem for the

[[Page S6498]]

     Palestinian economy and has been especially damaging to its 
     technology industry. Since the Oslo peace process broke down 
     in 2000, a wave of Israeli-Palestinian business ties have 
     crumbled as well.
       Political tensions make it somewhat unpopular for 
     Palestinians to do business with Israelis, said Ala Alaeddin, 
     chairman of the Palestinian Information Technology 
     Association. He said the concept of a technology joint 
     venture across the divide was unheard-of until opened 
     its doors. A handful of Palestinian tech companies handle 
     outsourced work for Israeli companies, but most focus on the 
     local or Middle Eastern market.
       ``It's much easier to have outsourcing than a 
     partnership,'' Mr. Alaeddin said. ``A joint venture is a 
     long-term commitment, and you need both sides to be really 
     confident that this kind of agreement will work.''
       Benchmark Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm 
     with offices in Israel, invested $2 million in 
     Michael Eisenberg, a general partner at the firm, said 
     Benchmark was ``in the business of risky investments,'' but 
     that presented entirely new territory.
       Recalling his discussions with Dr. Schreiber, Mr. Eisenberg 
     said: ``Frankly, when he first told me about it I thought it 
     was ambitious, maybe overly ambitious. But Zvi is a 
     remarkable entrepreneur, and I started to feel he could 
     actually pull this off.''
       The video hookup runs continuously between the offices. 
     Chatting in the Ramallah conference room, two Palestinian 
     programmers wave hello to Israeli colleagues conferring over 
     a laptop in the Modiin office.
       ``We are doing something across cultures and across two 
     sides of a tough conflict,'' Dr. Schreiber said. ``I was 
     prepared for the possibility that it might be difficult, but 
     it hasn't been.''

Kerry Reportedly Reviving Peace Initiative Bill Clinton Called ‘A Heck Of A Deal’ For Israel

Kerry with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
Secretary of State John Kerry is in Israel and the West Bank this week — his third trip to the region in as many weeks — to explore possibilities for a new round of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians aimed at achieving a lasting peace agreement. For weeks, media outlets have been reporting that Kerry might seek to revive the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative as the basis for the new talks. The Saudi-proposed and Arab League-backed plan is a comprehensive peace deal calling for the Israelis to withdraw from the territories seized in the 1967 war in exchange for a normalization of relations.
And it appears that there is some validity to the reports. The AP says today a senior State Department official said Kerry “welcomes” the role the plan can play in his current push:
Kerry “welcomes efforts to enhance the constructive role the Arab Peace Initiative can play moving forward,” a senior State Department official said, while denying that he was proposing changes to the plan. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of Kerry’s orders not to brief reporters.
Bloomberg also reported that a unnamed Turkish official said Kerry discussed the Arab Peace Initiative with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in meetings ahead of his trip to Israel and the West Bank. Bloomberg says the Turkish official reportedly asked for anonymity “because talks about the plan are intended to remain private.”
If the reports are true, it’s worth noting that back in 2011, President Clinton told a blogger roundtable that the Israelis missed an opportunity for peace by not seizing on the Arab-backed plan, as Foreign Policy reported at the time:
Israel also wants a normalization of relations with its Arab neighbors to accompany a peace deal. Clinton said that the Saudi-inspired Arab Peace Initiative put forth in 2002 represented an answer to that Israeli demand.
“The King of Saudi Arabia started lining up all the Arab countries to say to the Israelis, ‘if you work it out with the Palestinians … we will give you immediately not only recognition but a political, economic, and security partnership,’” Clinton said. “This is huge…. It’s a heck of a deal.”
While the Israelis saw flaws in the plan, and obstacles on both sides remain today, CAP’s Matt Duss noted last month that “a number of liberal Israelis promulgated the Israeli Peace Initiative, which called on the Israeli government to ‘accept the Arab initiative of 2002 as a basis for negotiations for peace agreements in the area’”:
One of the leaders of this initiative is Jacob Perry, a former head of the Shin Bet security service who is now the number two man in Yesh Atid, the new party that made a surprising second-place showing in Israel’s recent elections, and is now a member of the governing coalition.
“I am convinced there is a road forward. I would say to everyone that I have no illusions about the difficulties, we’ve seen them,” Kerry said as he met Israeli President Shimon Peres this afternoon in Jerusalem.
“The two-state solution is the best solution and the parameters for that agreement already exist, two states for two peoples – a Jewish state, Israel and an Arab state, Palestine,” Peres said.

The Associated Press has since updated its story and removed the quote from the senior State Department official saying Kerry “welcomes efforts to enhance the constructive role the Arab Peace Initiative can play moving forward.” In its updated story, the AP did not note or explain the deletion.

Shimon Peres on Obama, Iran and the Path to Peace

Michal Chelbin for The New York Times
Shimon Peres, the 89-year-old president of Israel.
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Save
  • E-mail
  • Share
  • Print
  • Reprints
“This part of the conversation is highly sensitive,” said the spokeswoman for Israel’s president. “I want all cellphones taken out of the room.” It was July 25, 2012, and I was interviewing Shimon Peres in a wood-paneled suite at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. I handed my phone to one of the guards standing at the door, and Peres swiftly opened a scathing monologue against a potential Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear sites. “Israel cannot solve the problem alone,” he said. “There is a limit to what we can do.”

Readers’ Comments

Readers shared their thoughts on this article.
Referring to the continuing tension between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, Peres said: “I cannot tell you what Bibi’s considerations are on the subject of Iran. I am not his spokesman and also not [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak’s. That’s not my job. I am not looking for confrontations with them. I do think that I can explain the American pattern. America knows how to throw a punch when it has to, in order to keep the world balanced. But the punches follow a set procedure. They don’t begin by shooting. They try all the other means first — economic sanctions, political pressure, negotiations, everything possible.
“But in the end,” he added, “if none of this works, then President Obama will use military power against Iran. I am sure of it.”
I was surprised by Peres’s stridency. He had long been perceived as a moderating force on Netanyahu, a mediator between the prime minister and the international community that was losing patience with him. A month earlier, Obama awarded Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom — America’s highest civilian honor. But the ceremony served only to deepen the rift between Peres and Netanyahu, and three weeks later, as reports became more frequent that Netanyahu was planning to send bombers to Iran, Peres took advantage of his 89th-birthday celebrations to speak out publicly against an attack. The prime minister’s office responded with ferocity, proclaiming, “Peres has forgotten what the president’s job is,” and recalling that in 1981, Peres opposed Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s decision to bomb Iraq’s nuclear reactor, an act that many Israelis consider a great achievement.
There are those who see Peres’s confrontation with Netanyahu as one of the principal reasons that an attack on Iran has not yet materialized. “I will not attribute any such thing to myself,” Peres told me. “Let others say it. I expressed my opinion, and that was my duty. How influential was it? ‘Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth,’ ” he said, quoting the Book of Proverbs.
Peres’s clash with Netanyahu over Iran is only one of many disagreements between the two men. On the one hand, Netanyahu is a conservative prime minister who relies on a hard-line, hawkish coalition and who is likely to win next week’s Israeli elections by a landslide. On the other, Peres is Israel’s elder statesman, who, very late in his life, has attained a degree of popularity that eluded him throughout his earlier career. In a survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute, 84 percent of Jewish respondents said Peres was trustworthy, while 62 percent thought Netanyahu was.
It is a pleasure to spend time with this man, whom David Ben-Gurion took under his wing and who became a top official of the Israeli defense establishment at age 24. Peres is a man of the world, full of insights and curiosity that have not worn down over the years. Though he is about to enter his 90s, he recalls in vivid detail his encounters with central figures in the post-World War II era: a Soviet joke competition started by President Ronald Reagan, marathon drinking sessions with the German defense minister Franz Josef Strauss and what he learned from the founder of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. But it is Ben-Gurion, and the many years he spent in his proximity, that Peres returns to time and again.
Although he says, “I take no interest in history, it bores me,” he devotes much effort to clarifying how significant his own imprint on modern history has been. This may be in part because, despite his enormous contribution to the power of the Israel Defense Forces, Peres never served in the military. Moreover, he was not a native-born Israeli “Sabra,” having immigrated to Palestine with his family at age 11.
Peres has been Israel’s president since July 2007. He is a firm believer in the power of social networks. There is no move that he makes, no remark or observation that is not immediately reported by his staff (which is, with the exception of a military aide and a foreign-ministry representative, entirely female) on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. There was a time when Peres made frequent mention of his conception of “a new Middle East.” Today, a new Middle East is indeed taking shape, but it is not the one he envisioned. Over the past five months, we sat down half a dozen times to talk about the current state of Israel-Palestine relations, his relationship with and opinion of Netanyahu, and what he now sees as the future of the Middle East and Israel’s (and his) role in it. The following answers have been condensed from those talks.
“People usually tend to believe grim words, rather than positive ones,” he told me in December. “When you say, as I do, that you are a confirmed optimist, you are seen as unbalanced. But if you look at history, you will see that it is an ongoing failure for pessimism, not for optimism. It has befallen me to live for many years, and throughout them I have seen that faith triumphs more often than cynicism or skepticism. I think” — and here he expressed harsh criticism of Netanyahu without explicitly mentioning his name — “that if the people of Israel heard from the leadership that there is a chance for peace, they would take up the gauntlet and believe it.”
You don’t believe, then, that for now nothing should be done, as Prime Minister Netanyahu proposes?
He may do nothing, but that doesn’t mean that things won’t be done. This idea, that history is a horse that can be held by the tail, is a foolish idea. After all, the fire can be lit in an instant: another word, another shot, and in the end everyone will lose control. If there is no diplomatic decision, the Palestinians will go back to terror. Knives, mines, suicide attacks. The silence that Israel has been enjoying over the last few years will not continue, because even if the local inhabitants do not want to resume the violence, they will be under the pressure of the Arab world. Money will be transferred to them, and weapons will be smuggled to them, and there will be no one who will stop this flow. Most of the world will support the Palestinians, justify their actions, level the sharpest criticism at us, falsely label us a racist state. Our economy will suffer gravely if a boycott is declared against us. The world’s Jews want an Israel they can be proud of and not an Israel that has no borders and that is considered an occupying state.
What effect does the bad relationship between Obama and Netanyahu have on the immediate future of Israel and the Middle East?
The problem is not between individuals, but between those individuals’ policies. It’s not whether they can have coffee together or not. Neither one is going to kick the other.
Although perhaps they would like to.
It makes no difference. The problem is that Obama would like to reach peace in the Middle East and has to be convinced that Israel agrees with this.
And he isn’t convinced?
Of course, he’s not convinced. He demanded an end to settlements and got a negative response, and they [members of the Likud-led government] are to blame for the ongoing activity in the settlements. President Obama thinks that peace should be made with the Muslim world. We, the State of Israel, do not appear to be thinking along those lines. We must not lose the support of the United States. What gives Israel bargaining power in the international arena is the support of the United States. Even if the Americans do not take part in the negotiations, they are present at them. If Israel were to stand alone, its enemies would swallow it up. Without U.S. support, it would be very difficult for us. We would be like a lone tree in the desert.
What happened during the long period that you tried to mediate between Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas [also known as Abu Mazen, the president of the Palestinian Authority]?
Abu Mazen and I met for long talks, with Netanyahu’s knowledge, and even reached more than a few agreements. To my regret, in the end there was always some rupture, and I do not want to go into the reasons for that now. This is not a simple negotiation — but I thought the conditions exist to set out on the path. Like the Oslo process, it has to be secret.
And when you say this to Netanyahu?
He doesn’t argue with me on this. It’s not an issue of absolute agreement or absolute disagreement. After all, he accepted my proposal for economic peace to improve the standard of living of the Palestinians in a number of areas. He also made the Bar-Ilan speech [in which Netanyahu accepted the idea of a Palestinian state]. We do not agree in our evaluations of Abu Mazen. I do not accept the assertion that Abu Mazen is not a good negotiating partner. To my mind, he is an excellent partner. Our military people describe to me the extent to which the Palestinian forces are cooperating with us to combat terror.
Today, there are 550,000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. There are those who believe that the settlers have eliminated any chance of establishing a Palestinian state, because no one would be able to evacuate these politically motivated people from their homes, which is a necessary condition for any agreement with the Palestinians.
The settlers have not eliminated the chance for the establishment of a Palestinian state. The settlements today cover 2 percent of the entire area. The Palestinians have already accepted the Clinton parameters, which include leaving three blocs of Jewish settlements and exchanging other territory for them. In my opinion, many of the rest will leave of their own free will. The difficulty with us is similar to that of the man with a hammer who thinks every problem is a nail. Problems are not nails. If there is good will, they can all be overcome. This applies, for example, to the issue of water. Soon there will be a surplus of water in Israel, thanks to seawater desalination, and we will be able to make up the Palestinians’ shortage of potable water. Look, the whole world is in turmoil. The Palestinian problem isn’t the main problem in the Middle East. But there are a billion and a half Muslims. The Palestinian problem affects our entire relationship with them. If the Palestinian problem were to be solved, the Islamist extremists would be robbed of their pretext for their actions against us. Of course, this requires concessions. The problem in this case is not only the prime minister but also his coalition. I am not claiming that peace with the Palestinians will solve all the problems. People who think in sweeping terms are being superficial. There are two things that cannot be made without closing your eyes — love and peace. If you try to make them with open eyes, you won’t get anywhere. Peace is not an exciting thing, and it entails accepting many compromises and tedious details. A woman, too, can sometimes be exciting and sometimes less so. There’s no perfection. Making peace is complicated.
But what kind of peace are we talking about? Look how President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt sent you a personal letter in July and then denied writing it.
Why does that matter? President Morsi has to answer a great many questions inside his own party. I was surprised not by his denial but rather by the fact that he sent me the letter. The whole matter shows me that Morsi, like any leader taking office, faces tough dilemmas. It is very easy to play the role of the abiding Muslim when you are not in power, but things get complicated when you are. Take, for example, the Egyptian economy, which relies heavily on tourism. If they don’t allow tourists to come and spend their vacations the way they like, they won’t come. No bikini, no tourism.
What attitude should Israel adopt toward the Arab Spring?
You ask foolish questions. Israel is an island in an ocean. And when I ask myself, “What has a greater impact, the ocean on the island, or the island on the ocean?” I have to maintain a certain degree of humility. The important thing isn’t how we relate to it, but what is happening, why there is an Arab Spring. It isn’t a soccer match that we are refereeing. The young generation of the Arab world is suppressed and unemployed. That is what brought about the revolution and uprooted the dictatorships, not me and not you. The storm that has hit the Middle East obliges each state to choose whether to enter the scientific age or not. If it does not, it will have no growth. The great and intriguing debate in Egypt today is about the constitution, in effect about whether to give women freedom or not. It is here that the Arab Spring will be judged. President Obama asked me who I think is preventing democracy in the Middle East. I told him, “The husbands.” The husband does not want his wife to have equal rights. Without equal rights, it will be impossible to save Egypt, because if women are not educated, the children are not educated. People who cannot read and write can’t make a living. They are finished.
In Syria, the end of the Assad regime inches closer. Are you concerned about their arsenal of chemical weapons?
Assad knows that using chemical weapons will immediately invite an attack by outside elements. The whole world would mobilize against him. It would be a suicidal act. On the other hand, it’s obvious that his days are numbered. A situation in which, let’s say, his palace comes under fire, could put him in an irrational state and lead him to act out of despair. If the Syrians dare to touch their chemical weapons and aim them at us or at innocent civilians, I have no doubt that the world as well as Israel will take decisive and immediate action. No less important, Assad is liable to transfer the chemical weapons to Hezbollah, which from our point of view will constitute crossing a red line. It is incumbent upon Israel to prevent such a thing from happening, and it will take firm military action to do so.
During the several months
over which Peres and I spoke, the conflict between Israel and Hamas intensified. In response to rocket fire from Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip, Israel assassinated Hamas’s military commander and launched a bombing campaign that resulted in widespread international censure and ended in a cease-fire engineered by the United States and Morsi. In some cases in the past, Peres expressed opposition to Israel’s use of assassination as a weapon to achieve its goals. He opposed the killing of Khalil al-Wazir, the deputy of the P.L.O. leader Yasir Arafat, in Tunis in 1988, and the targeted elimination of the spiritual founder of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, in Gaza in 2004. He also protected Arafat from plots to kill or deport him. This time, Peres expressed strong support for the Israeli operation. “This wasn’t a war or a military operation, but rather an educational lesson for Hamas,” he told me. “We acted in order to explain to Hamas that it has to decide on one or the other. You want to build houses? No problem. You want to build missile bases inside those houses? Then we’ll relate to those houses as targets for our aircraft.
But during the campaign, civilians were killed on both sides, many more in Gaza.
We made a supreme effort not to harm civilians in Gaza, although it was very difficult to distinguish between Hamas militiamen and innocent civilians. We have no desire to spill blood, not ours and not that of others. The operation was short, and the moment the lesson was conveyed and deterrence was established, it was stopped.
What lesson do you think Hamas learned?
Hamas will now start taking care. Even there, the understanding must penetrate that there’s no such thing as a cocktail of gunfire and peace.
The political leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, came to Gaza in December to celebrate the organization’s 25th anniversary. He delivered a blunt speech, indicating that it’s not at all clear that deterrence was achieved. Perhaps the time has come to conduct a dialogue with Hamas?
If Hamas accepts international demands, forsakes terror, stops firing missiles at us and recognizes the existence of the State of Israel, it will be possible to open negotiations. Where did this Khaled Meshal suddenly pop out of, with his words that come straight from the Middle Ages? Precisely now, when the whole world is tired of wars and violence, he arises out of the dark of night with these sadistic desires to strike and to murder? Does he really think that they will be able to destroy the State of Israel, with the I.D.F. and our intelligence services? That we are a bunch of turkeys that will march in formation to a Thanksgiving feast?
You didn’t think that Arafat should be assassinated.
No. I thought it was possible to do business with him. Without him, it was much more complicated. With who else could we have closed the Oslo deal? With who else could we have reached the Hebron agreement? On the other hand, I tried to explain to him, for hours on end, a complete educational course: how to be a true leader. We sat together, with me eating from his hand. It took courage. I told him he must be like Lincoln, like Ben-Gurion: one nation, one gun, not innumerable armed forces with each firing in a different direction. At first, Arafat refused, he said, “La, la, la” [Peres does a fairly convincing imitation of Arafat saying “no” in Arabic], but later he said, “O.K.” He lied right to my face, without any problem [regarding promises to fight Palestinian militias and insurgencies].
You were asked by many important people to run against Netanyahu and reunite the center-left. Do you regret not doing it?
They pressed me hard, but I concluded that I should not run, for reasons I do not wish to elaborate on. I was elected president for a seven-year term, and I will carry out this commitment. My record is the only way to judge me honestly. I do not think there are many people in the world who can say they managed to bring down a 600 percent inflation rate, create a nuclear option in a small country, oversee the Entebbe operation, set up an aerospace industry and an arms-development authority, form deep diplomatic relations with France, launch a Sinai campaign to open the Straits of Tiran and put an end to terror from Gaza. I do not, perish the thought, claim to have done all this alone. I just think that perhaps without me it would not have happened. Yitzhak Shamir was prime minister for seven years. So what? I don’t think my record is inferior to his.
You have never spoken much about your wife, Sonia, and for decades she was absent from your public life. Why?
Sonia always told me that she married a kibbutz cowman, not a politician. She didn’t like appearing in public, and she didn’t like titles. In family life, you need two things. Both love and compromise.
You didn’t seem to compromise so much, but she did.
She compromised, and so did I. I never, ever insisted, never asked her, if it wasn’t necessary, for her to come. I never said, “Come for appearance’ sake.” If I’d said it was for appearance’ sake, she would never have come.
Still, I imagine that over all those years, you had arguments about when she would go with you and when not.
There were arguments, but there was very deep love, both from my side and from hers. It was the only love in my life. She gave me the greatest gift a wife can give a husband — she brought up our children exemplarily. She knew that sometimes I couldn’t come to a child’s party, and she forgave me. And if it served the state, she came with me. If it served my career: “No, sir. A family’s life is at home,” she would tell me. “Don’t mix things up.” She came to the Nobel Prize ceremony because she thought the prize was being awarded to the state and not only to me.
Five years ago, when you became president, she wanted you to not take office. What happened?
Sonia told me: “It’s enough. You’ve done your share. Come, let’s live these years together.” I told her: “First of all, I don’t know what to do with free time. Second, I think that I can fulfill a duty here, too, serve the country, unite it.” She said to me: “Go your way. I’m staying here.” There was nothing to do about it. Women get edgy about things men will never understand. I packed a bag, and I left home.
Peres moved into the president’s official residence in Jerusalem. Sonia stayed on in their modest apartment in north Tel Aviv. In January 2011, one of their grandchildren found her dead in her home, apparently from cardiac arrest. Peres rushed to the apartment and kissed her on the forehead before she was taken away.
You have surrounded yourself with female aides. You told me once that you had many fine male assistants who later went on to betray you. Looking back, are you sorry that from the beginning it wasn’t only women?
I have always had women around me. Women have a clear-cut advantage in their ability to read people, and I trust their eye a lot more. Each woman is born a mother, and every man dies a baby. There’s no woman who thinks a man is fully grown up.
Here, his spokeswoman says, “Good, now give a nonchauvinistic reply.”
“I’ve been chauvinistic?” Peres asked.
“It’s even irritating me,” she said. “You are having such a good time with this man-talk. Excuse me, you didn’t pick women because they treat you like a baby.”
“Ask anyone,” he said. “I had the best bureaus in the country. I never boycotted men, but I found women with remarkable managerial talent.”
“You’ve corrected yourself a little bit,” she said.
You are nearly 90 years old. Does the idea of death bother you?
No. It is only logical. Without death, there wouldn’t be life. I was given my life, those two and a half billion seconds: Young man, decide what you want to do with it. I did some reckoning, and I decided to do something with those seconds, to make a difference, to affect the lives of millions of people. I think I decided correctly. I got my life as a gift. I’ll give it up without an overdraft.
Will you live to see peace in the Middle East?
I think and believe so. If I have another 10 years to live, I am sure that I will have the privilege of seeing peace come even to this dismal and wonderful and amazing part of the world.

Ronen Bergman, an analyst for the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, is the author of ‘‘The Secret War With Iran’’ and a contributing writer for the magazine.

Former Homeland Security Assistant: ‘Obama Slashed Budget For Domestic Bombing Prevention By 45 Per Cent’

Apr 16, 2013 3 Comments Jake Hammer 0415-boston-marathon-bomb-13
Excerpted from DAILY MAIL
Barack Obama’s administration has cut the budget nearly in half for preventing domestic bombings, MailOnline can reveal.
Under President George W. Bush, the Department of Homeland Security had $20 million allocated for preventing the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by terrorists working inside the United States. The current White House has cut that funding down to $11 million.
That assessment comes from Robert Liscouski, a former Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15 that killed three Americans and injured at least 173 others.
He told MailOnline that the Obama-era DHS is, on the whole, about as well-positioned as it was during the Bush administration to handle the aftermath of the April 15 bombings in Boston, ‘but the Obama administration has continued to cut the budget for offices such as the Office for Bombing Prevention from $20 million started under Bush, to $11 million today.’
Countering IEDs
Robert Liscouski was the first Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection, and was responsible for creating the Office of Infrastructure Protection Directorate. That sub-agency’s job included protecting U.S. sites from improvised explosives, and it later spun off the Office for Bombing Prevention

‘Comparatively,’ he added, ‘the Defense Department’s Joint IED Defeat Organization had a budget of $1 billion per year focused on preventing IEDs in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters.’
‘Clearly more money needs to be focused on countering domestic IEDs,’ Liscouski concluded.
He is now a partner at Edge 360, a security and intelligence consultancy.
The Office for Bombing Prevention (OBP) was created in 2003 when the Department of Homeland Security was founded. Its original name was the WMD/Bombing Prevention Unit, and it was part of the department’s Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate.
The sub-agency was renamed the Office for Bombing Prevention in 2006, according to a 2009 DHS briefing booklet obtained by MailOnline and marked ‘FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY.’
Today the OBP describes its mission as ‘enhanc[ing] the Nation’s ability to prevent, protect against, respond to, and mitigate the terrorist use of explosives against critical infrastructure, the private sector, and Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial entities.’
Its website says it works to ‘coordinate national and intergovernmental bombing prevention efforts’ and ‘enhance counter-IED capabilities.’
In February, President Obama issued a National Policy for Countering Improvised Explosives that now governs OBP. ‘We must not become complacent,’ he wrote
Keep Reading

The World's Most Powerful Mercenary Armies

April 23, 2013
SEAL Night Vision

Its been a banner decade for modern military fighting. In 2010 alone there were more than 70 armed conflicts across the globe from Sangin to Ingushetia. As different as each of them were, they all had one thing in common, at some point one side wanted more troops.
Most battles eventually come down to boots on the ground and rifles in the field. So when commanders are building their ranks it's often with professional soldiers who know how to fight, and get paid well to do it.
The idea of a mercenary may seem a bit quaint in the 21st century, but those forces make a difference and are often all that stands between a leader and his fate.
Security giant G4S is the second-largest private employer on earth
With more than 625,000 employees, this listed security giant is the second-largest private employer in the world (behind Wal-Mart). While some of its business is focused on routine bank, prison and airport security, G4S also plays an important role in crisis-zones right around the world.
In 2008, G4S swallowed up Armorgroup, whose 9,000-strong army of guards has protected about one third of all non-military supply convoys in Iraq (it's also notorious for its wild parties and for having Afghan warlords on its payroll).
But the combined group has a security presence in more than 125 countries, including some of the most dangerous parts of Africa and Latin America, where it offers government agencies and private companies heavily-armed security forces, land-mine clearance, military intelligence and training.
Unity Resources Group is active in the Middle East, Africa, the Americas and Asia
With more than 1,200 staff worldwide, the Australian-owned Unity Resources has been able to grow its presence in Iraq as sovereign armies withdraw. Its management consists of veterans from Australia, the U.S. and Great Britain.
The private military firm is best-known for guarding the Australian embassy in Baghdad, where, as of 2010, it had trained Chilean soldiers to man gates and machine-gun nests. Unity personnel were also responsible for two controversial car shootings in Iraq: one killed an Australian professor, another resulted in the deaths of two civilian women.
Outside Iraq, Unity has assisted with security during parliamentary elections in Lebanon and helped evacuate private oil companies from crisis zones in Bahrain. The firm also operates throughout Africa, the Americas, Central Asia and Europe.
Erinys has guarded most of Iraq's vital oil assets
Erinys has also followed U.S. State Department contracts to Iraq. Its biggest mission in recent years took 16,000 of its guards to 282 locations around the country, where they protected key oil pipelines and other energy assets.
The group also maintains a presence in Africa, where it has traditionally focused its operations. Erinys was recently awarded two contracts in the Republic of Congo, for security at major iron ore and oil and gas projects.
Asia Security Group is a powerful Afghan force linked to president Karzai
Asia Security Group is a powerful Afghan force linked to president Karzai
Formerly owned by Hashmat Karzai, the first cousin of Afghan president Hamid Karzai, Asia Security Group is a major local force in the war-torn nation. It employs about 600 guards.
The private army, headquartered in Kabul, has been awarded millions of dollars in contracts from the U.S. military and is said to protect Coalition supply convoys traveling in Afghanistan's south. Mercenaries from Asia Security Group have also been recruited by DynCorp, a U.S.-owned contractor with a big footprint in the region.
DynCorp has battled Colombian rebels and drug-runners in Peru
DynCorp, based in Virginia, is one of eight private military firms specially chosen by the U.S. State Department to remain in Iraq as official American forces pull out.
But the huge group, which brings in about $3.4 billion in revenue every year, is also active throughout Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America, with a staff in excess of 10,000. The firm earned a trigger-happy reputation as its soldiers fought rebel groups in Columbia in the early 2000s. Its troops have also engaged in anti-drug missions in Peru and were sent to disarm fighters in Somalia, Liberia and southern Sudan.
Triple Canopy has won a security contract in Iraq worth up to $1.5 billion
Another of the eight contractors recruited to replace official U.S. forces in Iraq, Triple Canopy has an army of about 1,800 troops in the country — mostly from Uganda and Peru — on contracts worth up to $1.5 billion.
An official review of the firm's team in Iraq concluded it was a "well-trained, professional work force with significant prior experience." But the private military — whose name refers to the canopies in the jungles where its founding Army specialists received their training — also employs another 3,000 personnel globally.
Contracts in other parts of the world have taken Triple Canopy to Haiti, where it guarded the U.S. embassy, and to Israel, where agents provided personal protective services for the U.S. State Department.
Aegis Defense Services works with the UN, US, and oil companies
Aegis supplies forces for private clients, U.N. missions and the U.S. government, especially in Iraq.
But its staff, estimated to be as big as 5,000, is also spread across offices in Afghanistan and Bahrain, where the contractor offers emergency response, risk assessments, and protects private oil interests.
The private military contractor is probably best-known for a video that surfaced in 2005, which allegedly showed Aegis forces firing at Iraqi civilians.
Defion Internacional recruits thousands of fighters from developing countries
In the past, Triple Canopy has recruited heavily from the ranks of Defion Internacional, which sources and trains private military personnel from Latin America for jobs right around the world.
Headquartered in Peru, and with offices in Dubai, Iraq, Philippines and Sri Lanka, the firm contracts and trains bodyguards, drivers, static guards and logistics specialists from a number of developing countries. In some cases, these agents are paid as little as $1,000 per month, which has drawn international ire — especially for jobs linked to the U.S. State Department.
At one stage there were more than 1,000 Latin Americans guns-for-hire in the Middle East, although it is unclear how many of those fighters Defion was responsible for given that it is not required to disclose numbers.
Academi owns and runs one of the most advanced private military training facilities in the world
Academi owns and runs one of the most advanced private military training facilities in the world
Formerly Blackwater, then Xe Services, Academi runs a 7,000 acre training facility deep in the North Carolina wilderness — one of the biggest and most complex private military training grounds in the world.
According to a book written on Blackwater in 2007, the facility had by then produced an army of 20,000 troops, 20 aircraft, a fleet of armored vehicles and trained war dogs. Most of those resources were shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan on U.S. government contracts.
Academi probably scaled back after a number of wrongful shootings and other controversies angered the Iraq government and jeopardized important contracts.
Outside the Middle East, Academi was recruited to protect the streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. It has also protected Japan's missile defence systems and assisted with the war on drugs around the world.
Read more: