News from North America, Thursday 16th May 2013

Wall Street Journal (subscription required): ‘Suspect Raised No Red Flags: Tsarnaev’s Seeming Lack of Ideology Exposes Possible Gap in Anti-Jihad Strategy.’

Washington Post: “The Obama administration released 100 pages of e-mails Wednesday that reveal differences between intelligence analysts and State Department officials over how to initially describe the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

The internal debate did not include political interference from the White House, according to the e-mails, which were provided to congressional intelligence committees several months ago.

Since the assault that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Republicans have accused President Obama and his senior advisers of mischaracterizing the attack, largely to prevent political repercussions during what was then a close reelection campaign.

Much of the Republican concern has focused on whether administration officials acknowledged early enough that an Islamist terrorist organization was behind the attack, rather than groups of protesters participating in anti-American demonstrations that were taking place outside many U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Reuters: “Washington’s top tax official was fired on Wednesday as President Barack Obama sought to stem a rising tide of criticism over the Internal Revenue Service’s improper targeting of conservative groups for special scrutiny.

With three congressional probes of the IRS looming and Republicans’ calls for firings at the agency growing louder, Obama said he told Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to demand the resignation of Steven Miller, the acting IRS commissioner. Lew had done so, the president said.

‘I’ll do everything in my power to make sure nothing like this happens again by holding the responsible parties accountable, (and) by putting in place new checks and new safeguards,’ Obama told reporters in the White House’s East Room.”

Huffington Post: “Ironing swastika armbands, drinking beers, getting tattoos and tasering each other.

This is how neo-Nazis from America’s National Socialist Movement relaxed as they geared up for a national convention in Atlanta.

The jarring, yet strangely intimate images were shot – after months of negotiation – by photographer Johnny Milano, who battled hard for access to the NSM.

The group, which fights for white civil rights, held its annual meeting and rally in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 19 and 20.

Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Detroit, the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the NSM as a hate group.

Its website claims it is ‘the political party for every patriotic white American.’”

SPLC: “Last week, a major Heritage Foundation report about the supposed costs of illegal immigration was pilloried after the revelation that one of its authors, Heritage Foundation senior fellow Jason Richwine, had earlier claimed that there are deep differences in intelligence among races (with Latinos toward the bottom). Richwine resigned from the conservative think tank amid the outcry.

Now, this week, we discover that ProEnglish, a group with white nationalist ties, has launched an ad campaign against immigration reform. The first target is Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, according to BuzzFeed. The group’s minute-long radio ad features a Spanish-speaking character, apparently representing an undocumented immigrant, thanking Graham ‘for not requiring him to learn English in exchange for amnesty.’

ProEnglish, founded in 1994, is part of the network of organizations founded by anti-immigrant movement architect John Tanton, a Michigan ophthalmologist who, over the years, has corresponded with white nationalists, eugenicists and Holocaust deniers, and written that in order to maintain American culture, ‘a European-American majority is required.’”

Homeland Security Today: “The threat of ‘homegrown’ and foreign jihadist groups and individuals plotting mass casualty attacks on US soil has not weakened, despite degradation of Al Qaeda Central (AQC), senior US counterterrorism officials and authorities told Homeland Security Today in recent wide-ranging interviews.

Authorities said there is an exceptionally ‘heightened concern’ regarding intelligence that the radicalization of Muslims and new converts to jihad in the US and throughout the West has resulted in the creation of a legion of ‘inspired’ new jihadists, many of whom are ‘quite willing’ to carry out mass casualty attacks, including suicide martyr attacks…

‘The threat posed by jihadists in general has changed,’ but ‘it has not gone away,’ said Charles Faddis, a former career CIA Clandestine Services officer who led the agency’s and National Counterterrorism Center’s WMD counterterrorism unit. The veteran terrorist hunter said ‘Al Qaeda Central has been severely degraded,’ but said ‘lots of other regional affiliates have sprung up and are prepared to give battle.’”

Video: Huffington Post Live: ‘Terrorism And The Public Imagination’. “At a Mother’s Day parade in New Orleans 19 people were shot by two gunmen. It hasn’t been labeled as terrorism nor has it truly captured the public imagination. What actually defines terrorism, and why isn’t this it?”

Comment: New York Times: ‘Don’t Expand the War on Terror’ By Jennifer Daskal and Stephen Vladeck. “Even as ground zero burned in those first terrifying days after Sept. 11, Congressional leaders from both parties rejected a Bush administration proposal for an authorization to go to war against all international terrorists. Instead, Congress passed a tailored resolution, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, against ‘those who planned, authorized, committed or aided’ the Sept. 11 attacks: Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Twelve years later, the Taliban have been removed from power; the core of Al Qaeda has been decimated; and most United States combat troops are set to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of next year. Amid talk of an increasing mismatch between the law and the nature of the terrorist threat today, Congress appears poised to do exactly what it assiduously avoided in 2001: authorize a broad, open-ended war against groups unconnected to those responsible for Sept. 11. The Senate Armed Services Committee is holding hearings on the issue on Thursday.

One leading proposal, put forward by the Hoover Institution, would have Congress delegate to the executive branch broad-based authority to create a list of terrorist groups against which the United States is at war. This designation process would supposedly be transparent and subject to the constraints of international law.

But it would essentially concentrate within the executive branch the power to both declare and wage war — authorities that our founding fathers rightly separated. It would effectively allow the use of military force as a matter of first resort against members of any terrorist group that the president so designates. And it would eliminate the requirement that we could use force only against those who had some nexus to the groups that attacked us in 2001.”

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