Tag Archives: fight against terrorism

Former CIA Chief, Major General, Govt Official Contrast Clinton Counterterrorism Strategy with Republicans

Hillary Clinton campaigning for president. Clinton has offered a detailed strategy for defeating terrorism while attacking Republican opponents saying,“Slogans aren’t a strategy. Loose cannons tend to misfire. What America needs is strong, smart, steady leadership to wage and win this struggle.”  © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Hillary Clinton campaigning for president. Clinton has offered a detailed strategy for defeating terrorism while attacking Republican opponents saying,“Slogans aren’t a strategy. Loose cannons tend to misfire. What America needs is strong, smart, steady leadership to wage and win this struggle.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and candidate for president, declared  “Slogans aren’t a strategy. Loose cannons tend to misfire. What America needs is strong, smart, steady leadership to wage and win this struggle.”

Today, Hillary for America held a press call to contrast the differences in the former Secretary of State’s approach to that of GOP hopefuls Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in counterterrorism and offer a strong argument that Clinton brings the skills, experience and judgment to be president and commander-in-chief. The call featured former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta, Major General Tony Taguba (ret.), and former senior U.S. government official Rand Beers built upon the address Clinton delivered yesterday at Stanford University, in which she detailed her strategy to defeat ISIS and terrorism. The officials addressed more broadly the challenges the nation faces, arguing that Clinton brings the experience and steady leadership that will be vital, in contrast to  the dangerous rhetoric and plans being peddled by the leading Republican presidential candidates.

“We are living at a time in the 21st century when the United States is facing an unprecedented number of threats and challenges in the world – serious flash points that threaten the security of the US – including a growing threat from ISIS-aligned terrorists who have proved a capability to strike at heart of Western Europe and who are a clear and present danger,” stated former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta.

“In addition, there are failed states such as in Yemen, breeding grounds for extremists. The regime in Iran which in spite of the nuclear agreement, continue to test missiles with “death to Israel’ painted on the side, which violate the ban. Iranians use cyberattacks to go after infrastructure. There is an unpredictable leader in North Korea, renewed challenges from Putin’s Russia, China’s territorial claims in South China Sea. And no question, we need to worry about battlefields of the future: cyberattacks that can be used by nation-states and terrorists to virtually cripple our country.

“To confront these challenges, US must provide strong leadership and must have a commander-in-chief with experience,  judgment, steady hand to keep us safe. The most qualified person to assume the duties and provide the necessary world leadership on Day 1 is Hillary Clinton. Her speech at Stanford [ about countering ISIS and terrorism],  which built on 5 previous speeches, outlined key objectives: intensify the military campaign against ISIS in Syria; go after their people, territory, infrastructure in Iraq. Keys to defeating ISIS include go after their leadership (announced today, ISIS’ #2 commander was killed, which is encouraging because we have to decimate ISIS leadership and remove them from territory, from Mosul to Rakka.

“We need a surge in intelligence and law enforcement to penetrate before there is an attack – beefing up intel is absolutely critical. We need to attack the global financial networks, recruitments networks. Lastly, we need to counter the narrative that brings new individuals to their cause.

“We don’t yet know the scope of network that carried out Brussels attacks, but American network, in close coordination with allies in Europe, NATO and the Mideast will be critical in the long term to defeat ISIS.

“[In this strategy], there is a clear contrast between Sec. Clinton’s approach which is serious, comprehensive and tough, to those proposals that are being proposed Republican candidates.

“The choice for president is the most important decision the American people will make, largely because the next president will be commander in chief and have the ability to decide between war and peace

“What we are hearing from the Republican side are dangerous, irresponsible proposals that will put our national security at risk, further divide us from the very allies we need to win war against ISIS.

“Trump’s plan is to torture people, bomb families, walk away from NATO, build walls around Muslims, keep Muslims out of the country. These are not serious proposals,  they are political slogans, not strategies for dealing with this threat. Reckless and won’t work.

“Ted Cruz’ recommendation that police officers infiltrate Muslim neighborhoods is hard to understand, sounds like violation of 4th amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, and further antagonizes those who we need on our side.

Both [Republican] candidates offer  shoot-from-the-hip slogans that demonstrate a stunning lack of knowledge about security and our values.

“Thomas Jefferson believed a president’s first duty was to protect the nation. We need a president who will protect the nation, take the fight to terrorists in smart, effective way. I believe Secretary Clinton understands her first duty as president will be to protect the American people.”

Former Senior U.S. Government Official Rand Beers, who spent 42 years in government in counter insurgency, counter terrorism, counter narcotics, said, “I have deep concern with the remarks from Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. I find the statements that Cruz is making about increased surveillance in Muslim neighborhoods is completely wrong headed . He thinks he’s found a solution for catching terrorists? His is a strategy that will create more terrorists.

“We know from the array of information about terrorist individuals who have been captured and brought to trial in this country that in each and every instance, there is some behavior that is noticed by a family member or friend or someone in religious community that is in fact a precursor of mobilization toward violence. What we need to do is create environment where those individuals will come forward, know who to come to. – law enforcement community and community leaders. Putting more enforcement, fomenting more reactions by the rest of America to the Muslim community is counter-productive. Our Muslim Americans are part of our critical line of defense, and need to be part of strategy.

“As a country, we are capable of keeping our people safe and living up to our values at the same time.

“What we are hearing from this election from the Republican opposition is simply appalling – banning Muslims, cordoning them off will simply not result in a successful strategy. Sec. Clinton understands this, has spoken out. Her comments make very clear that all these solutions proposed by other side will make matters worse.

“I have sat with Sec. Clinton in the Situation Room discussing counter-terrorism issues, and seen the steady, knowledgeable hand of a person who has studied these issues. Without a doubt, she is  the best candidate for president of US.”

Major General Tony Taguba (ret.), who led the investigations into torture by US personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, addressed his horror over the topic of torture once again entering the conversation. “It took this country almost 12 years, before the Senate Select Committee found use of torture is not very effective, and actually is counter productive. It led Senators McCain and Feinstein to co-sponsor landmark anti-torture legislation that reinforced the ban on torture, including waterboarding and enhanced interrogation techniques, that Republican candidates are [now] saying is a tool.

“We cannot go back in time where we clearly violated our own laws, the Constitution, international laws – and broadcast throughout the world, especially to our enemies that a candidate, a future Commander-in-Chief  is more than happy, if not condone, torture and waterboarding in violation of our law and international law. It puts more of our troops, our nation in danger. I believe that Sec. Clinton’s approach of having a steady, measured hand in leadership – not use torture – but the strategy she has indicated is the way to fight terrorism…”

Asked what responsibility President Obama and Secretary Clinton might have for the “perils we see in the world,” Panetta said, ““These threats have developed over these last number of years, terrorism has metastasized. You can’t lay blame on any person. You have to confront the threat. We’ve been dealing with threat from North Korea for 60 years – you can’t lay that at anyone’s feet. Challenge from Russia, China. Look at the threats out there, everybody has to accept some responsibility but more importantly, accept the responsibility for having to deal with that. We need a president, a commander in chief, who can build relationships with other countries to confront these threats. These are not just threats against security of US, all are threats against the world.” The next commander in chief, he said, needs to be somebody who can build alliances to confront this very threat. “The only person is Sec. Clinton.”

Are Obama and Clinton responsible for the rise of terrorism? Panetta said, “Whether Boko Haram, al Shabaab, ISIS, Al Qaeda….. Terrorism has developed in those countries because of the conditions present in those countries – that kind of terrorism is something we need to confront not just on the military battlefield, but the root causes of what creates that kind of attraction to terrorism. One area we haven’t been as effective is how we go after the narrative, the root causes in the world that contribute to development of terrorism. That is something Clinton has said is important to defeat ISIS.”

Asked to comment on candidate Bernie Sanders’ plan to combat terrorism, Beers said, “Sen. Sanders has a very distinct focus on the economy and a limited focus and perspective on international issues. Sec. Clinton has given a number of foreign policy speeches, specifically on terrorism, and has responded immediately in that arena to the major attacks that have occurred. Sen. Sanders does not have that background. Is more focused on the economy, and that is clearest indication – Sen. Clinton is the most capable candidate in terms of addressing the full range of issues, but particularly, the national security issues that face this country.”

Asked whether there is any validity to the claim that the rhetoric coming from Cruz and Trump is troubling to world leaders, Panetta said, “Almost everywhere I go, responsible leaders express deep concerns about the kind of rhetoric that they are hearing in campaigns from Trump and Cruz and it deeply concerns them that that kind of rhetoric is divisive and hurts our ability to develop the kinds of alliances we absolutely need in order to confront a dangerous enemy. I know the candidates sometimes think they are just talking to their voters in this country, but that is the worst mistake they can make, because the rhetoric they are using is damaging the US abroad, creating concerns about where this country is going in the future.”

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President Obama Reports Progress in Fight against ISIS, Stepped Up Activities

President Barack Obama gives update on progress being made against Islamic State © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Barack Obama gives update on progress being made against Islamic State © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In remarks following his meeting with the National Security Council at the Pentagon, President Obama gave more specifics about the fight against the Islamic State, including killing numerous ISIS leaders and taking back 40% of the territory the terror organization had held in Iraq.

Today, the United States and our Armed Forces continue to lead the global coalition in our mission to destroy the terrorist group ISIL.  As I outlined in my speech to the nation last weekend, our strategy is moving forward with a great sense of urgency on four fronts — hunting down and taking out these terrorists; training and equipping Iraqi and Syrian forces to fight ISIL on the ground; stopping ISIL’s operations by disrupting their recruiting, financing and propaganda; and, finally, persistent diplomacy to end the Syrian civil war so that everyone can focus on destroying ISIL….

I want to provide all of you a brief update on our progress against the ISIL core in Syria and Iraq, because as we squeeze its heart, we’ll make it harder for ISIL to pump its terror and propaganda to the rest of the world. 

This fall, even before the revolting attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, I ordered new actions to intensify our war against ISIL.  These actions, including more firepower and Special Operations forces, are well underway.  This continues to be a difficult fight.  As I said before, ISIL is dug in, including in urban areas, and they hide behind civilians, using defenseless men, women and children as human shields. 

So even as we’re relentless, we have to be smart, targeting ISIL surgically, with precision.  At the same time, our partners on the ground are rooting ISIL out, town by town, neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block.  That is what this campaign is doing. 

We are hitting ISIL harder than ever.  Coalition aircraft — our fighters, bombers and drones — have been increasing the pace of airstrikes — nearly 9,000 as of today.  Last month, in November, we dropped more bombs on ISIL targets than any other month since this campaign started.

We’re also taking out ISIL leaders, commanders and killers, one by one.  Since this spring, we’ve removed Abu Sayyaf, one of their top leaders; Haji Mutazz, ISIL’s second-in command; Junaid Hussain, a top online recruiter; Mohamed Emwazi, who brutally murdered Americans and others; and in recent weeks, finance chief Abu Saleh; senior extortionist Abu Maryam; and weapons trafficker Abu Rahman al-Tunisi.  The list goes on.  

We’re going after ISIL from their stronghold right down — right in downtown Raqqa, to Libya, where we took out Abu Nabil, the ISIL leader there.  The point is, ISIL leaders cannot hide.  And our next message to them is simple:  You are next.

Every day, we destroy as well more of ISIL’s forces — their fighting positions, bunkers and staging areas; their heavy weapons, bomb-making factories, compounds and training camps.  In many places, ISIL has lost its freedom of maneuver, because they know if they mass their forces, we will wipe them out.  In fact, since the summer, ISIL has not had a single successful major offensive operation on the ground in either Syria or Iraq.  In recent weeks, we’ve unleashed a new wave of strikes on their lifeline, their oil infrastructure, destroying hundreds of their tanker trucks, wells and refineries. And we’re going to keep on hammering those. 

ISIL also continues to lose territory in Iraq.  ISIL had already lost across Kirkuk province and at Tikrit.  More recently, ISIL lost at Sinjar, losing a strategic highway.  ISIL lost at Baiji, with its oil refinery.  We saw the daring raid supported by our Special Forces, which rescued dozens of prisoners from ISIL, and in which Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler made the ultimate sacrifice.  

So far, ISIL has lost about 40 percent of the populated areas it once controlled in Iraq.  And it will lose more.  Iraqi forces are now fighting their way deeper into Ramadi.  They’re working to encircle Fallujah and cut off ISIL supply routes into Mosul.  Again, these are urban areas where ISIL is entrenched.  Our partners on the ground face a very tough fight ahead, and we’re going to continue to back them up with the support that they need to ultimately clear ISIL from Iraq.   

ISIL also continues to lose territory in Syria.  We continue to step up our air support and supplies to local forces — Syrian Kurds, Arabs, Christians, Turkmen — and they’re having success.  After routing ISIL at Kobani and Tal Abyad, they’ve pushed ISIL back from almost across the entire border region with Turkey, and we’re working with Turkey to seal the rest.  ISIL has lost thousands of square miles of territory it once controlled in Syria — and it will lose more.  The Special Forces that I ordered to Syria have begun supporting local forces as they push south, cut off supply lines and tighten the squeeze on Raqqa. 

Meanwhile, more people are seeing ISIL for the thugs and the thieves and the killers that they are.  We’ve seen instances of ISIL fighters defecting.  Others who’ve tried to escape have been executed.  And ISIL’s reign of brutality and extortion continues to repel local populations and help fuel the refugee crisis. “So many people are migrating,” said one Syrian refugee.  ISIL, she said, will “end up all alone.”

All this said, we recognize that progress needs to keep coming faster.  No one knows that more than the countless Syrians and Iraqis living every day under ISIL’s terror, as well as the families in San Bernardino and Paris and elsewhere who are grieving the loss of their loved ones.  Just as the United States is doing more in this fight — just as our allies France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, Australia and Italy are doing more — so must others.  

And that’s why I’ve asked Secretary Carter to go to the Middle East — he’ll depart right after this press briefing — to work with our coalition partners on securing more military contributions to this fight.  On the diplomatic front, Secretary Kerry will be in Russia tomorrow as we continue to work, as part of the Vienna process, to end the Syrian civil war.  Meanwhile, here at home, the Department of Homeland Security is updating its alert system to help the American people stay vigilant and safe.

And as always, our extraordinary men and women in uniform continue to put their lives on the line — in this campaign and around the world — to keep the rest of us safe.  This holiday season, many of our troops are once again far from their families.  And as your Commander-in-Chief, on behalf of the American people, we want to say thank you.  We are grateful, and we are proud for everything that you do.  Because of you, the America that we know and love and cherish is leading the world in this fight.  Because of you, I am confident that we are going to prevail.