An annual security assessment presented to the U.S. Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, has excluded Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah from its list of terror threats to U.S. interests, despite both being consistently included as threats in previous years.
. . .
In a previous report from January 2014, Clapper included Iran and Hezbollah in the ‘Terrorism’ section, writing that both “continue to directly threaten the interests of U.S. allies. Hizballah [sic] has increased its global terrorist activity in recent years to a level that we have not seen since the 1990s”. Iran was also given its own sub-heading in the ‘Terrorism’ section of such assessments in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Any evidence that Iran and Hezbollah have changed their ways?
“I think that we are looking at a quid pro quo, where Iran helps us with counter-terrorism and we facilitate their nuclear ambitions and cut down on our labelling of them as terrorists,” says [professor of political science at Northeastern University and member at the Council of Foreign Relations Max] Abrahms.
Last December, the government fired a powerful spy chief who was Nisman’s lead investigator. The prosecutor retaliated with a bombshell: He accused the president, her foreign minister and other political figures of conspiring to absolve the accused Iranians in exchange for commercial deals. Iranian diplomat Mohsen Rabbani, a top suspect in the 1994 attack, participated in secret talks, according to Nisman’s criminal complaint.
Argentine spies “negotiated with Mohsen Rabbani,” an indignant Nisman said in a television interview on Jan. 14. “Not just with the state that protects the terrorists, but also with the terrorists.”
The Argentine government denied his allegations.
Indeed, back in 2006,
Nisman charged senior Iranian officials and leaders of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah with plotting the AMIA attack
flew from Caracas carrying cocaine to be distributed to Hezbollah in Damascus and sold. The plane then went to Tehran carrying Venezuelan passports and other documents that helped Iranian terrorists travel around the world undetected.
This week’s issue of the Economist reduces the vast diversity of Hispanic Americans to a single fruit: chili peppers.
The administration’s flagrant violations of the Constitution, the push to favor illegal aliens over anyone who’s a legal immigrant (I can go on all day) don’t fire up Vox’s belly, but chili peppers do.
Venezuela blogger Alek Boyd has been investigating Derwick Associates’ connection to Venezuelan officials’ money laundering for years. Today Spain’s El Mundo’s front-page story catches up as The world is shrinking for Derwick Associates
One of Spain’s newspapers of record, El Mundo, published in its front page today about corrupt officials from Venezuela using the subsidiary of a little bank in Andorra to launder billions of dollars. The news may come as a surprise to some. Readers of this and other blogs of mine will, I hope, share a feeling of vindication with me today, for as extraordinary as El Mundo’s decision to name names is, we have known this for a while. In fact, I alerted Spain’s money laundering authorities (SEPBLAC) about it in April 2012.
About 1.5 million protesters hit the streets across Brazil on Sunday in a major show of anger against leftist President Dilma Rousseff, who faces crises from a faltering economy to a massive corruption scandal at state oil giant Petrobras.
Many called for the impeachment of Rousseff, less than six months after she was narrowly returned to power in the most bitterly fought presidential race since the end of a military dictatorship in 1985.
The biggest demonstration took place in Sao Paulo, where a million people rallied — according to police estimates — many in the distinctive yellow and green of Brazil’s national football team. The city — South America’s biggest, and Brazil’s business and industrial hub — is a stronghold of opposition to Rousseff.
Peaceful demonstrations also took place in 83 cities and towns around the country, including major protests in the capital Brasilia and in Rio de Janeiro.
The latest protests coincide with the 30th anniversary of the year in which Brazil’s military dictatorship ended and democracy was restored. In recent days, Brazilians have debated whether the demonstrations would mark a milestone for democratic expression and free speech or, conversely, signal the country’s unwillingness to obey the verdict of the ballot box when times turn tough.
Will the protests make a difference? Only if the people of Brazil are deteermined to strengthen the institutions that guarantee transparency and the rule of law.
The whole world was wondering where Vladimir Putin went for a few days. I’m glad to say I didn’t misplace him with the things I took to Goodwill on Saturday; he was in Switzerland for the birth of his secret daughter, availing himself of Swiss healthcare (and possibly Swiss law regarding investments by Swiss nationals? Are people born in Switzerland Swiss citizens by birth?).
In late November, the director of cardiovascular surgery at the University Hospital sent out letters to the cardiology ward’s patients, telling them they were being discharged. The reason cited: a dearth of operating-room supplies—no catheters, no working blood-processing machine, no heart valves.
A comment on the following graph: Any information on Cuba’s spending is provided by the government, and, therefore, dubious,
Yesterday Gen. John F. Kelly of the U.S. Southern Command, testified before Congress (pdf file here) on national security risks at the open southern border:
Transnational Organized Crime.
The spread of criminal organizations continues to tear at the social, economic, and security fabric of our
Central American neighbors. Powerful and wellresourced,
these groups traffic in drugs—including cocaine, heroin, marijuana, counterfeit pharmaceuticals, and methamphetamine—small arms and explosives, precursor chemicals, illegally mined gold, counterfeit goods, people, and other
contraband. They engage in money laundering, bribery, intimidation, and assassinations. They threaten the very underpinnings of democracy itself: citizen safety, rule of law, and economic prosperity. And they pose a direct threat to the stability of our partners and an insidious risk to the security of our nation.
While there is growing recognition of the danger posed by transnational organized crime, it is often eclipsed by other concerns. Frankly, Mr. Chairman, I believe we are overlooking a significant security threat. Despite the heroic efforts of our law enforcement colleagues, criminal organizations are constantly adapting their methods for trafficking across our borders. While there is not yet any indication that the criminal networks involved in human and drug trafficking are interested in supporting the efforts of terrorist groups, these networks could unwittingly, or even wittingly, facilitate the movement of terrorist operatives or weapons of mass destruction toward our borders, potentially undetected and almost completely unrestricted. In addition to thousands of Central Americans fleeing poverty and violence, foreign nationals from countries like Somalia, Bangladesh, Lebanon, and Pakistan are using the region’s human smuggling networks to enter the United States.
While many are merely seeking
economic opportunity or fleeing war, a small subset could potentially be seeking to do us harm. Last year, ISIS adherents posted discussions on social media calling for the infiltration of the U.S. southern
border. Thankfully, we have not yet seen evidence of this occurring, but I am deeply concerned that smuggling networks are a vulnerability that terrorists could seek to exploit.
I am also troubled by the financial and operational overlap between criminal and criminal networks in the region.