Entries in State Department (11)
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(December 9, 2013) - At a recent event in New Hampshire, Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02), who seemed clueless on the issue, dodged a question regarding the attacks in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of four Americans. When pressed further, she explained that her reason for refusing to answer questions on Benghazi was because she "was not [there] to talk about it. We're here to talk about the Middle East."
It is important to note that the State Department has long included Benghazi, Libya a part of Near East Affairs, which covers the Middle East and North Africa.
Video of her refusal to answer the question can be viewed here.
It is also significant that there is a House Resolution, HR. 36, that Rep. Kuster is unaware of, which would create a Select Committee to investigate Benghazi.
Derek Dufresne, Spokesman for Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, released the following statement:
"The fact that Rep. Annie Kuster refuses to respond to questions about an event that resulted in the death of four Americans is indefensible. In addition, it also raises serious questions as to whether her seemingly puddle deep understanding of the attack in Benghazi extends to all foreign policy issues.
"Since being sworn into office, Rep. Annie Kuster has refused to host a Town Hall meeting to discuss the important issues facing our country with her constituents. Her abysmal attempt to dodge questions from Granite Staters regarding an attack in Benghazi is likely why she hides from any public forums, however that is no excuse. Residents of New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District deserve to know if their congresswoman actually understands the issues she votes on."
This week I joined several of my Republican colleagues in writing to the new FBI director and demanding that he update Congress on the Administration's progress in finding and holding accountable those responsible for the terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi. After more than 10 months since the attack, the Administration appears to be no closer to learning who was responsible – and that's unacceptable. We owe it to the families of the victims – and all Americans – to ensure that the terrorists who committed these horrific acts are brought to justice, and I will continue to push the Administration to fulfill this critical responsibility.
Gerard Direct - "State Dept Shows Weakness As It Warns of Credible Global AQ Threat, Shuts Embassies in 21 Countries"
To Our Readers:
It appears that our site has been hacked again and our home page has been trashed (we must be doing something right!). As of now, there is currently very little to see on our home page. So in lieu of our usual format, GerardDirect sends you our lead story in its entirety here in our newsletter, with links to other stories (with the usual commentary) on their specific website pages (which apparently, at least for the moment, are still available).
State Dept Shows Weakness As It Warns of Credible Global AQ Threat, Shuts Embassies in 21 Countries (full story)
On August 2, the State Department announced that as a result of unspecified, but credible threats about potentially imminent al Qaeda attacks, diplomatic missions in 21 countries will be closed beginning Sunday, August 4 and will remain closed at least until the end of August. So non-specific were the apparent threats that the US response was equally non-specific, affecting US missions from the Sudan to Asia, without any indication as to whether any specific sites were identified as targets. The move was apparently prompted by credible intelligence pointing to an al-Qaida plot “against American diplomatic posts in the Middle East and other Muslim countries.”
The State Department warned American travelers to “take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.” It also warned travelers in the affected countries that consular services might not be available to them in an emergency and that they should take that into account when making their travel plans.
The consequences of such dramatic actions are far reaching and send a message, once again, that America is weak and would rather pull back from a confrontation than face it with appropriate strength and conviction. In deciding how to respond to the intelligence, the State Department had two choices – to enhance security around the affected missions and to protect the personnel and property there, or to back away from the threat with our proverbial tail between our legs. They chose the latter. It was the wrong choice, because by showing our unwillingness to stand up to the threat, we have empowered the enemy to be even more bold, knowing that, just as in Benghazi, America will not respond or retaliate, but rather we will retreat. It left Americans traveling or living in those countries more vulnerable and helpless in the face of terrorism than citizens of the world's most powerful nation should ever be.
If our government understood the psychological perspective of our enemies, in this case al Qaeda, our leaders would be able to develop appropriate responses to threats of this kind, rather than exercise the knee jerk reaction to either ignore (as in Benghazi) or flee from the threat. In the Middle East, the one who deals from a position of strength is the one who has the upper hand. Negotiating with terrorists is dooming your side to failure. Bowing to their power is admitting defeat, even before the confrontation begins.
The State Department's action was not unlike Governor Duval Patrick’s decision to close the city of Boston for several days, following the Boston Marathon bombing, and will no doubt have a similar effect. It was a case study in what not to do. It disempowered the people of Boston and made them afraid. Moreover, that decision will undoubtedly be studied by future terrorists and will be used to embolden them for a long time to come, unless we get smarter and change our basic approach to dealing with terrorism - both before an attack and afterwards.
Today's decision underscored the principle displayed in Boston. Prior to a terrorist attack, the goal should be to present the strongest position possible to create the strongest deterrent. After an attack, the aim should be to return to normalcy as quickly as possible. It is not possible to guarantee that an attack will never take place, but in both cases, a strong and determined face against terrorism is the only effective approach to deter or prevent most of them. It empowers the people, and defeats the enemy. It also discourages future attacks by presenting stronger, not weaker, barriers to success.
From the beginning of the Obama administration’s feckless five years in office, America’s influence has been dangerously weakened throughout the world. Obama’s policy of appeasement and apology, which began with his apology tour to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Germany at the beginning of his first term, has weakened America’s ability to make a positive difference in a world that is slowly falling into economic and social chaos.
The administration’s approach to Iran’s developing nuclear weapons program has been to engage in open-ended ‘negotiations’, while giving Teheran the time it needs to complete the job. In thet mean time, the US has been gun-running SAM missiles from Libya to the Syrian opposition (which includes forces from al Qaeda), and no one has been held accountable. It has been ten months since the Benghazi attack on 9/11/12; four men died and over 30 were injured, but no one has been held accountable.
It is no wonder that al Qaeda now feels emboldened. If the State Department’s intelligence is credible and an attack against Americans is imminent, it is our own foreign policy and lack of cross-cultural understanding over the last five years that history will ultimately blame. And it will be President Barack Obama's unwillingness to keep America strong in the face of our enemies who will be held most accountable.
The full State Department travel alert.
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August. This Travel Alert expires on August 31, 2013.
Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.
We continue to work closely with other nations on the threat from international terrorism, including from al-Qa’ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.
We recommend U.S. citizens register their travel plans with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens Traveling abroad enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Internet website at travel.state.gov where the Worldwide Caution, Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. Download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes or Google Play, to have travel information at your fingertips.
In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from other countries, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).
Other stories you may find interesting:
Another day, another scandal. CNN broke a story on Thursday regarding dozens of CIA agents who were in Benghazi at the time of the 9/11/12 attacks. According to the report, at least five of these agents have been subjected to monthly lie-detector tests and required to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to keep them from speaking to Congress or to the press. . . Read more here.
According to the following article which appeared in the Guardian on July 31, the NSA claims to be using a program called XKeyscore, which it says has nearly limitless access to Internet activity. In their own presentations, the NSA shows how the program enables them to collect data at a scale that goes far beyond anything that was considered either possible or legal. The Guardian shows slides from an NSA presentation that not only support the story, but show how the program actually works. Read more here.
If you have any difficulty reading the additional stories, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with STORIES in the subject line, and you will receive a copy of the full article by e-mail.
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-------- Ilana Freedman, Editor
Congresswoman Shea-Porter - 80 Senators and Representatives Urge State Dept. to "Exhaust Every Option" in Release of Abedini
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Shea-Porter (D-NH), Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), Co-Chairman of the International Religious Freedom Caucus, Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), along with over eighty colleagues from the House and Senate, including Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL), sent a letter to Secretary of State John F. Kerry and urged him to exhaust every possible option to secure U.S. citizen Saeed Abedini’s release from Iran.
According to U.S. Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), “This letter informs both Secretary Kerry and the nation of Iran that the members of Congress, and the people we represent, refuse to silently accept this violation of human rights. We will continue to speak out until Pastor Saeed is free to come home to his two young children, his community of faith, and his country.”
U.S. Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) said, "The overwhelming bipartisanship of our congressional letter to Secretary of State Kerry demonstrates the serious implications of Saeed Abedini’s case in Iran and the need for swift action by our State Department. When a U.S. citizen is unjustly detained and imprisoned—particularly in Iran, a country with no respect for rule of law or fundamental human rights—the State Department should come vigorously to his or her defense. As Secretary Kerry assumes his new position at State Department, the Saeed Abedini case deserves his immediate and personal attention."
U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) stated, "Pastor Abedini’s case exemplifies Iran’s flagrant violation of human rights and religious freedom. We hope that this letter, with its deep support from all across America, will show Saeed Abedini that he is not alone and that we have not forgotten him.”
“The case of Saeed Abedini is one example of the continued, egregious violations of religious freedom in Iran, and he should be released immediately,” said U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), author of the Lautenberg Amendment on refugees. “This case also shows why programs like the Lautenberg Amendment are critical for religious minorities in Iran fleeing persecution, and Congress must act to reauthorize the Amendment. As President Ahmadinejad maintains his oppressive rule in Iran, we must continue to provide religious minorities with a safe means of exit and access to refugee status in the United States.”
U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) continued, “The Iranian regime must immediately and unconditionally release Pastor Saeed. Iran's decision to sentence a pastor to eight years in prison simply for practicing his religion reflects the regime's flagrant disregard for basic human rights. As Americans, we cannot tolerate such violations of personal freedom, especially against our own citizens. I am proud to join my colleagues in sending a strong message of solidarity to Pastor Saeed and all Iranian dissidents.”
“I am deeply dismayed and disturbed by the news from Iran that Pastor and American citizen Mr. Saeed Abedini has been sentenced by the Iranian government to eight years in prison for practicing the Christian faith,” wrote U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “Pastor Abedini’s case is symbolic of the gross injustice against all Christians in Iran today. I am encouraged that many of my colleagues feel the same way, as demonstrated by this letter but we need to add the voice of the President of the United States to the chorus of concern.”
U.S. Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) concluded, "Religious freedom is one of the most fundamental rights any human being should have. Pastor Abedini's wrongful conviction and imprisonment is the latest example of Iran's continued blatant disregard for religious freedom and the rule of law. Pastor Abedini is an American citizen, who has committed his life to Christ, his country and his family—none of which are punishable offenses. I am proud to join my colleagues in this bipartisan effort to continue calling for swift action from the State Department under Secretary Kerry's leadership to bring Pastor Abedini home."
The Honorable John F. Kerry, Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
February 12, 2013
Dear Secretary Kerry:
We write to thank you for your recent statement calling for the release of American citizen Saeed Abedini and we respectfully urge you to exhaust every possible option to secure Mr. Abedini’s immediate release.
We support your assessment that Mr. Abedini’s imprisonment represents a “violation of the universal right of freedom of religion.” We were also heartened by the State Department’s recent condemnation of the imprisonment and trial of Mr. Abedini.
While there are countless important issues that come before you, few are more sacred than defending the most fundamental human rights. It is even more incumbent upon us to stand against persecution when it is levied against our own citizens. As an American citizen, Mr. Abedini deserves nothing less than the exercising of every diplomatic tool of the U.S. government to defend his basic human rights.
Mr. Abedini was detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on July 28, 2012, during a lawful entry into Iran. Mr. Abedini’s detention occurred during his ninth trip to Iran since 2009. His frequent travel to Iran was for the humanitarian purpose of opening an orphanage in Rasht, Iran – an endeavor the Iranian Regime encouraged and supported. During his most recent trip to Iran, Mr. Abedini’s passports were confiscated and he was forced to remain in Iran and face charges relating to his Christian faith. On September 26, 2012, the Revolutionary Guard raided the home of Mr. Abedini’s parents and took Mr. Abedini into custody. In the following months, Mr. Abedini experienced solitary confinement, beatings, and aggressive interrogations in Evin Prison.
On January 21, 2013, Mr. Abedini stood trial in front one of the most notorious judges in Iran: Judge Pir-Abassi of Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court. Judge Pir-Abassi is known as the “hanging judge” and has been designated by the European Union for numerous violations committed during trials of human rights activists related to the 2009 Iranian elections. It is deeply disturbing that the human rights of an American citizen were decided by an Iranian judge of this repute.
Every American citizen traveling or living abroad should have the assurance that the U.S. government will come vigorously to his or her defense if they are unjustly detained or imprisoned. We respectfully request that you continue to use every diplomatic avenue possible, in cooperation with our allies and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, to secure Mr. Abedini’s unconditional release and personally and publically condemn his arbitrary detention in a statement.