U.S. now sees Iran as pursuing nuclear bomb – Los Angeles Times

Funny how Obama now sees that Iran is a threat and is persuing nuclear weapons… I wonder what would have happened had he been privy to this level of intel when the decision to take out Saddam was made… I bet he would have sang a different tune, but then again he was just a state senator in IL and did not have access to intel this level of intel when he spoke out against going into Iraq.

Reporting from Washington — Little more than a year after U.S. spy agencies concluded that Iran had halted work on a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration has made it clear that it believes there is no question that Tehran is seeking the bomb.

In his news conference this week, President Obama went so far as to describe Iran’s “development of a nuclear weapon” before correcting himself to refer to its “pursuit” of weapons capability.

Obama’s nominee to serve as CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, left little doubt about his view last week when he testified on Capitol Hill. “From all the information I’ve seen,” Panetta said, “I think there is no question that they are seeking that capability.” 

The language reflects the extent to which senior U.S. officials now discount a National Intelligence Estimate issued in November 2007 that was instrumental in derailing U.S. and European efforts to pressure Iran to shut down its nuclear program.

As the administration moves toward talks with Iran, Obama appears to be sending a signal that the United States will not be drawn into a debate over Iran’s intent.

“When you’re talking about negotiations in Iran, it is dangerous to appear weak or naive,” said Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear weapons expert and president of the Ploughshares Fund, an anti-proliferation organization based in Washington. 

Cirincione said the unequivocal language also worked to Obama’s political advantage. “It guards against criticism from the right that the administration is underestimating Iran,” he said.

Iran has long maintained that it aims to generate electricity, not build bombs, with nuclear power. But Western intelligence officials and nuclear experts increasingly view those claims as implausible.

U.S. officials said that although no new evidence had surfaced to undercut the findings of the 2007 estimate, there was growing consensus that it provided a misleading picture and that the country was poised to reach crucial bomb-making milestones this year.

Obama’s top intelligence official, Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, is expected to address mounting concerns over Iran’s nuclear program in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee today.

When it was issued, the NIE stunned the international community. It declared that U.S. spy agencies judged “with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.”

U.S. intelligence officials later said the conclusion was based on evidence that Iran had stopped secret efforts to design a nuclear warhead around the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Often overlooked in the NIE, officials said, was that Iran had not stopped its work on other crucial fronts, including missile design and uranium enrichment. Many experts contend that these are more difficult than building a bomb.

Iran’s advances on enrichment have become a growing source of alarm. Since 2004, the country has gone from operating a few dozen centrifuges — cylindrical machines used to enrich uranium — to nearly 6,000, weapons experts agree.

By November, Iran had produced an estimated 1,400 pounds of low-enriched uranium, not nearly enough to fuel a nuclear energy reactor, but perilously close to the quantity needed to make a bomb.

A report issued last month by the Institute for Science and International Security concluded that “Iran is moving steadily toward a breakout capability and is expected to reach that milestone during the first half of 2009.” That means it would have enough low-enriched uranium to be able to quickly convert it to weapons-grade material.

Tehran’s progress has come despite CIA efforts to sabotage shipments of centrifuge components on their way into Iran and entice the country’s nuclear scientists to leave.

Iran still faces considerable hurdles. The country touted its launch of a 60-pound satellite into orbit this month. Experts said Iran’s rockets would need to be able to carry more than 2,000 pounds to deliver a first-generation nuclear bomb.

And there are indications that the U.S. and Iran are interested in holding serious diplomatic discussions for the first time in three decades. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said this week that his nation was “ready to hold talks based on mutual respect,” and Obama indicated that his administration would look for opportunities “in the coming months.”

Hassan Qashqavi, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, on Wednesday warned the U.S. not to wait for Iranian presidential elections this year, because ultimate authority rests with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

He also said Iran would be patient.

“Since a new administration came to power in the U.S., we do not want to burn the opportunity of President Obama and give him time to change the reality on the ground,” Qashqavi said.

But experts said Iran was now close enough to nuclear weapons capability that it may be less susceptible to international pressure.

“They’ve made more progress in the last five years than in the previous 10,” Cirincione said.

via U.S. now sees Iran as pursuing nuclear bomb – Los Angeles Times.

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Newly Published: Threats in the Age of Obama by Michael Tanji

A must read… Check the link at the bottom of the post to check out the book

If you are on a mission to change the way government works, particularly in the national security arena, this is one a place where some independent and intellectually diverse thinking is to be found. In these essays, we offer our view of some of the more pressing threats the Obama administration will have to deal with in these early days of the 21st century.

via Amazon.com: Threats in the Age of Obama: Michael Tanji: Books.

Obama Lays Ground Work For Direct Negotiations With Iran

Direct diplomacy without preconditions I am sure… Just wait and see. Pretty soon we will be bending over for these asshats while they builds some nukes… Remember what happened with N. Korea under the Clinton administration… 

Change You Can Believe In!

President Obama did a quick pivot Monday, shifting his focus to foreign policy by contacting a handful of major world leaders — including Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nikolas Sarkozy — as his new U.N. ambassador restated the desire for vigorous and “direct diplomacy” with Iran.

President Obama did a quick pivot Monday, shifting his focus to foreign policy by contacting a handful of major world leaders — including Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nikolas Sarkozy — as his new U.N. ambassador restated the desire for vigorous and “direct diplomacy” with Iran.

Obama spoke with the foreign leaders ahead of a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and his Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who was leaving immediately afterward for a trip to the region. Mitchell will go to Cairo, Egypt; Jersusalem, Israel; Ramallah in the West Bank; Amman, Jordan; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He will also visit Paris and London.

Back in the U.S., U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who was confirmed last week for the post, said Monday that Iran’s refusal to meet international obligations will increase pressure on Tehran to drop its nuclear ambitions and cooperate with the United States and global community.

Besides pursuing nuclear weapons, Iran has called for the destruction of Israel and support for Hamas, a terror group designated by the U.S., Israel and the European Union. 

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Rice’s remarks are not a departure from statements made previously by Obama the candidate. She merely restated the administration position that no forms of communication should be off the table with the Islamic regime. 

“Whether you were on the campaign trail or not, clearly this was something that generated a lot of coverage over the past two years. And I think Ambassador Rice was simply restating the position that the president had,” he said.

Gibbs did not offer any specific initiatives on dealing with Iran, but said Rice’s remarks should come as no surprise.

“This administration is going to use all elements of our national power to address concerns” about Iran’s nuclear program. 

As for the Mitchell trip, Gibbs said Mitchell was ahead overseas “to begin the process that the president promised to be actively engaged in, the peace process there in the Middle East.”

State Department Spokesman Robert A. Wood said the purpose of the trip is to consult with regional leaders on a range of issues, including trying to contain smuggling into Gaza to prevent the rearming of Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules Gaza. He said Mitchell will not meet with any Hamas leaders.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

via Obama, Iran Talks Next? – First 100 Days of Presidency – Politics FOXNews.com .

Chavez Possibly Supporting Hamas And Hezbollah

Not really that much of a surprise… I wonder how much support and the types he is providing… 

Now let’s not forget Chavez is looking to start up a nuke program, allegedly for power, but I would suspect with a little Iranian help this could very easily be a weapons program…

Wonder if Obama will watch his own backyard or if they will be given the Socialists pass…

A new book published in the United States alleges that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is an active and open supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, providing the Lebanese Shi’ite militia with training for its fighters.

In “The Threat Closer to Home: Hugo Chavez and the War Against America,” authors Douglas Schoen and Michael Rowan write that through his support of terror organizations and by providing safe refuge for terrorists, Chavez constitutes a real, concrete threat to the United States.

Venezeula earlier this month cut ties with Israel to protest its military offensive in the Gaza Strip. The move came shortly days after Chavez called the attacks on the Hamas-ruled coastal territory a “holocaust.”

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Last August the Los Angeles Times reported that Western governments fear that Hezbollah is establishing a growing number of operational cells in the South American country.

Iran is long believed to have undertaken covert activity in South America in concert with Hezbollah. The LA Times reported that the U.S. State Department believes Iranian operatives were behind two terrorist attacks in Buenos Aires – the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires and the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center building. Both attacks killed dozens of civilians and wounded scores more

via Chavez providing aid to Hamas and Hezbollah, says new book – Haaretz – Israel News .

Anti-Israel Samantha Power Is Back

A few months ago about the anti-semite, Samantha Power, that stepped down from Barack Obama’s campaign, only after Hillary got mad that she called her a monster, I predicted then that she would be back once Obama won… Well she is, she is on the transition team, soon I suspect will also be given an administration post… He job right now is to help Hillary build her team… Monsters Inc… This is very disturbing news as Powers has already advocated the US invade Israel on behalf of the Palestinians… The Clinton’s were overly friendly with Arafat and his terrorist ilk… Not good news for Israel or peace in the Middle East…

Why on earth would Barack bring back a member of his team that was forced to leave in the first place. That is not part of the healing process, it shows that he did anything to win the election and now that it is over and he won, he will do whatever he wants.

More Change You Can Believe In!

A former adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign who once called Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton a “monster” is now working on the transition team for the agency that Clinton may lead.

State Department officials said Friday that Samantha Power is among foreign policy experts the president-elect’s office selected to help the incoming administration prepare for Clinton’s anticipated nomination as secretary of state.

The Obama transition team’s Web site includes Power’s name as one of 14 members of the “Agency Review Team” for the State Department.

During the Democratic primary campaign, Power called Clinton “a monster” in an interview. She then resigned, calling her remarks inexcusable and contradictory to her admiration for Clinton.

Liberal Left’s Wrath Unleased On Obama

The “progressive” liberals are getting really pissed off at Obama… His promises of change have become a memory of the past as far as his appointments go… He has transformed himself what his campaign slammed John McCain for being… More of the same… Bowers is correct though, Democrats can’t run the military… However I would expand that to national security as well.

Obama does not know how to handle the job of President and is setting himself up with insiders to mask his inexperience. The majority of his picks so far are nothing more than the Clinton Administration, which is very grave considering they were a major contributing factor to today’s economic crisis…

Change You Can Believe In!

More than a month before he takes the oath of office, President-elect Barack Obama already is testing the loyalty of his liberal base.

On Monday, he is expected to announce his national security team, which will include Robert Gates as his defense secretary, a carry-over from the Bush administration, and retired Gen. Jim Jones, who supported John McCain for president, as his national security adviser.

Liberal blogger Chris Bowers of The Open Left says the message sent by the selection of Gates undermines Democrats.

“The message would be clear,” he writes in his blog. “Even Democrats agree that Democrats can’t run the military.”

Obama’s outspoken opposition to the Iraq war before he became a U.S. senator was one of the reasons he was embraced early in the presidential race by the anti-war faction of the Democratic Party’s base, so his apparent decision to keep a Bush adviser as defense secretary for at least a year has raised some eyebrows within that faction.

Bowers, a member of the Pennsylvania state Democratic committee, argues that Gates provided support and cover for practices from waterboarding to the use of psychotropic drugs on terror detainees. The blogger isn’t as negative toward Jones but still called it “very disappointing.”

“It is just so very frustrating,” Bowers writes. “It seems like the only place progressives are making any gains is in the House. We are being entirely left out of Obama’s major appointments so far. I guess everyone gets to play in Obama’s administration, except progressives.”

Democratic blogger Brent Budowsky, who served as a congressional assistant in the 1970s and 1980s, said he would have preferred to see Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska or former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia get the nod for defense secretary.

Budowsky said he fears that Obama’s national security team will steer him toward a longer military commitment than the one he made on the campaign trail.

“It is unfortunate that on an issue so momentous as who runs the Pentagon at time of war, the views that were stated in the campaign, and supported so deeply by the base of the Democratic Party and the new voters and small donors who were the heart of the Obama campaign, are sacrificed so quickly, for Bob Gates,” he writes in his blog.

GOP strategist Dave Winston told FOX News that some pushback was to be expected.

“The base is clearly going to say, where are you headed in terms of this policy?” Winston said. “And I think it will cause him some headaches with the base, although for the overall country, I think they will see it quite favorably.”

Democratic consultant Bob Beckel told FOX News that objections from liberals over Obama’s Cabinet selections isn’t all bad.

“Not so sure, from Obama’s standpoint, it’s bad politically,” he said. “It helps him in his negotiation with Congress.”

Obama’s national security team also will include several former members of Bill Clinton’s administration, eliciting some complaints about recycling people from the Clinton White House. And Obama is expected to pick Hillary Clinton to be his pick for secretary of state.

But Beckel says Obama needs experience from the last Democratic White House.

“If he went to a Democratic administration before that, he’d have to go to the nursing home,” he said.

FOX News’ Wendell Goler contributed to this report.

Holy Land Foundation Members Guilty Of Providing Over $12 Million To Hamas

Finally some good news on the fight against terror. The Holy Land Foundation and five of its workers have been found guilty of funneling at least $12 million to Hamas. Now our government needs to look into CAIR’s connections to the Holy Land Foundation and start working a case there.

Just in from DMN. Counting down until CAIR Islamophobia cries begin. In 3, 2, 1…

A jury on Monday determined that the Holy Land Foundation and five men who worked with the Muslim charity were guilty of three dozen counts related to the illegal funneling of at least $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

The unanimous verdicts are a complete victory for the government, which streamlined its case and worked hard to carefully educate jurors on the complex, massive evidence presented in the trial.

The prosecution victory is also a major one for the lame duck administration of President George Bush, whose efforts at fighting terrorism financing in court have been troubled, even though the flow of funds seems to be effectively shut down.

It was the second trial where the government attempted to convict the men and the now defunct Richardson-based Holy Land Foundation itself. It took the jury eight days of deliberations to reach its decisions — less than half the time it took jurors to deadlock end up with an almost complete mistrial last year on the first go-around.

“My dad is not a criminal!” sobbed one courtroom observer after the verdicts were read. “He’s a human!”

Before he read the verdict, the judge had ordered all observers to remain civil and respect the proceedings.

By 3 p.m. Monday, jurors had been sent back to the jury room to determine if Holy Land assets should be forfeited to the government because of several convictions on money laundering charges related to the case.