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Conservatives fear extremism in military debate is ‘political theater’ to target Christians


Reported by Abraham Mahshie | Washington Examiner | March 25, 2021

Read more at https://1776coalition.com/rise-up-1/conservatives-fear-extremism-in-military-debate-is-political-theater-to-target-christians/

Conservative lawmakers lambasted Democrats over a hearing on extremism in the military on Wednesday, claiming it was merely “political theater” and fearing that Catholic and evangelical service members will be targeted in a crackdown by the Left.

About 20% of the arrests related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots were of current or former members of the military, who are frequently the targets of aggressive recruiting by extremist white nationalist groups. Regulations already exist to root out service members who espouse violent extremist behaviors. Conservative House Armed Services Committee members are now worried that lacking definitions and metrics from the Defense Department, Democrats will mount a crusade that targets some of the military’s religious members.

“We lack any concrete evidence that violent extremism is as ripe in the military as some commentators claim,” said House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mike Rogers of Alabama.

“Legislative attempts to further crack down on domestic terrorism is going to run headlong into the First Amendment rights of our service members,” he added.

Rogers noted that since fiscal year 2020, only nine soldiers have been separated from the Army for problems related to extremism.

One witness, Michael Berry, a Marine Corps veteran and attorney for the First Liberty Institute, warned that the First Amendment rights of service members, particularly Catholic and evangelical soldiers, could be at risk.

“Expanding anti-extreme efforts to punish thought or belief is risky,” he said.

“The U.S. Army produced training materials that labeled evangelical Christians and Catholics as religious extremists alongside Hamas and al Qaeda, never mind the fact that evangelicals and Catholics continue to comprise the majority of those serving in uniform today,” he said. “Labeling religious or political beliefs that are held by tens of millions of Americans as extremists is to declare them unwelcome and unfit to serve is to say, ‘Uncle Sam does not want you.’”

Texas Republican Rep. Pat Fallon made a full-throated attack on the credibility of the witnesses and implied that the hearing was launched by liberals to root out conservative ideologies in the military.

“This isn’t a hearing about the readiness of our armed forces. It’s nothing more, unfortunately, than political theater,” he said.

Following the Capitol riot, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called for a 60-day stand-down across the force to discuss extremism in the ranks, but he did not provide guidance or ask for data to be collected. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday that soldiers of all beliefs are welcome in the military and will be protected by Austin, himself a witness to extremism as a former commander.

“This isn’t about religion, and it’s not about politics,” he said.

“The suggestion that this would have anything to do with the God you worship or don’t is anathema to the whole effort,” he added. “This is about, again, ideology that inspires conduct that is prejudicial to good order and discipline and puts our teammates in harm’s way.”

Audrey Kurth Cronin, an American University professor who studies how extremist groups recruit on the internet, said a major problem within the Defense Department is the lack of a definition for extremism and metrics to measure it.

“The 2020 Capitol insurrection leaves the impression that the number of extremists in the military is increasing,” she said. “Yet DoD officials repeatedly claim that the number is small. No one truly knows. No serious plan can be built without defining the scope of the problem.”

As Austin’s 60-day deadline nears, the Pentagon has yet to disclose what it has learned, but Kirby assured that the secretary would be defending the constitutional rights of all soldiers.

“He’s well aware of First Amendment rights and free speech and freedom of religion,” he said, noting that service members are entitled to the same rights as civilians. “Part of the whole reason for the military is to defend this country and to defend the ideals upon which this country was founded.”

Dozens of intelligence analysts reportedly claim assessments of ISIS were altered


waving flagPublished September 10, 2015 FoxNews.com

URL of the original posting site: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/09/10/dozens-intelligence-analysts-reportedly-claim-reports-on-isis-were-altered/?intcmp=hpbt1

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Dozens of intelligence analysts working at the U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM) have complained that their reports on ISIS and the Nusra Front in Syria were inappropriately altered by senior officials, according to a published report.

The Daily Beast reported late Wednesday that more than 50 analysts had supported a complaint to the Pentagon that the reports had been changed to make the terror groups seem weaker than the analysts believe they really are. Fox News confirmed last month that the Defense Department’s inspector general was investigating the initial complaint, which the New York Times reported was made by a civilian employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

At a panel discussion Thursday moderated by Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, DIA Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart also confirmed the probe and said the DIA will let the investigation play out. He said the DIA “delivers the truth wherever the debate takes us.”

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The Pentagon acknowledged the IG investigation as well.

“I think … the best thing for us to do is wait” for the IG investigation, spokesman Peter Cook said. He said Defense Secretary Ash Carter expects “candid assessments” from the intelligence teams. 

“Unvarnished, transparent intelligence is what this secretary expects on a daily basis,” he added.

The assessments in question are prepared for several U.S. policymakers, including President Obama.

The Daily Beast report, which cited 11 individuals, claimed that the complaint being investigated by the Defense Department was made in July. However, several analysts reportedly complained as early as this past October that their reports were being altered to suit a political narrative that ISIS was being weakened by U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria.

“The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command,” the report quotes one defense official as saying.

According to the report, some analysts allege that reports deemed overly negative in their assessment of the Syria campaign were either blocked from reaching policymakers or sent back down the chain of command. Others claim that key elements of intelligence reports were removed, fundamentally altering their conclusions. Another claim is that senior leaders at CENTCOM created a work environment where giving a candid opinion on the progress of the anti-ISIS campaign was discouraged, with one analyst describing the tenor as “Stalinist.”

The report alleges that when the analysts’ complaints were initially aired, some of those who complained were urged to retire, and did so. Facing either resistance or indifference, other analysts self-censored their reports, the Daily Beast claims.

The defense official quoted by the Daily Beast said that some who spoke up did so out of guilt that they did not express doubts about former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s alleged chemical weapons program in the run-up to the Iraq. War. “They were frustrated because they didn’t do the right thing then,” the official said.

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have been advised of the complaint that prompted the inspector general’s investigation, which is required if Pentagon officials find the claims credible.

Government rules state that intelligence assessments “must not be distorted” by agendas or policy views, but do allow for legitimate differences of opinion.

Central Command spokesman Col. Patrick S. Ryder said in a statement Wednesday that they welcome the IG’s “independent oversight.”

“While we cannot comment on ongoing investigations, we can speak to the process and about the valued contributions of the Intelligence Community (IC),” he said, adding that intelligence community members typically are able to comment on draft security assessments. “However,” he said, “it is ultimately up to the primary agency or organization whether or not they incorporate any recommended changes or additions. Further, the multi-source nature of our assessment process purposely guards against any single report or opinion unduly influencing leaders and decision-makers.”

Earlier this summer, on the eve of the anniversary of the launching of airstrikes against Iraq, the Associated Press reported that U.S intelligence had concluded that the airstrikes had helped stall ISIS after sweeping gains in the summer of 2014. However, the report also said the terror group remained a well-funded army that could easily replenish its numbers as quickly as fighters were eliminated.

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ISIS Official Killed in U.S. Raid in Syria, Pentagon Says


  MAY 16, 2015

WASHINGTON — American Special Operations forces mounted a rare raid into eastern Syria early Saturday, killing a leader of the Islamic State and about a dozen militant fighters, as well as capturing his wife and freeing an 18-year old Yazidi woman whom Pentagon officials said had been held as a slave.

In the first successful raid by American ground troops since the military campaign against the Islamic State began last year, two dozen Delta Force commandos entered Syria aboard Black Hawk helicopters and V-22 Ospreys and killed the leader, a man known as Abu Sayyaf. One American military official described him as the Islamic State’s “emir of oil and gas.”

Even so, Abu Sayyaf is a midlevel leader in the organization — one terrorism analyst compared him to Al Capone’s accountant — and likely is replaceable in fairly short order. And the operation, while successful, comes as the Islamic State has been advancing in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, demonstrating that the fight against the Sunni militant group in both Iraq and Syria remains very fluid.

Yet the Pentagon’s description of a nighttime raid that found its intended target deep inside Syria without any American troops being wounded or killed illustrates not only the effectiveness of the Delta Force, but of improving American intelligence on shadowy Islamic State leaders.

A Defense Department official said Islamic State fighters who defended their building and Abu Sayyaf tried to use women and children as shields, but that the Delta Force commandos “used very precise fire” and “separated the women and children.” The official said the operation involved close “hand-to-hand fighting.” (The accounts of the raid came from military and government officials and could not be immediately verified through independent sources.)

The American forces eventually entered the building where they found Abu Sayyaf and his wife, known as Umm Sayyaf, in a room together. His spouse was captured and later moved to a military facility in Iraq, officials said.

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The raid came after weeks of surveillance of Abu Sayyaf, using information gleaned from a small but growing network of informants whom the C.I.A. and the Pentagon have painstakingly developed in Syria, as well as satellite imagery, drone reconnaissance and electronic eavesdropping, American officials said. The White House rejected initial reports from the region that attributed the raid to the forces of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

“The U.S. government did not coordinate with the Syrian regime, nor did we advise them in advance of this operation,” said Bernadette Meehan, the National Security Council spokeswoman. “We have warned the Assad regime not to interfere with our ongoing efforts against ISIL inside of Syria,” she added, using another name for the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS.

In a statement early Saturday, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said the killing of Abu Sayyaf dealt a “significant blow” to the group. The militant leader was said to be involved in the Islamic State’s military operations and helped direct its “illicit oil, gas and financial operations” that raised the funds necessary for the organization to operate. Officials said the raid was approved by President Obama.

Defense Department officials said the Delta Force soldiers carrying out the raid came under fire soon after they landed near a building used by Abu Sayyaf as his residence, in Amr, about 20 miles southeast of Deir al-Zour, near the oil facilities that he oversaw for the Islamic State.

The commandos had left Iraq aboard the aircraft, and were soon on the ground in Amr, a Defense Department official said. They came under fire, the official said, and fired back, killing around a dozen Islamic State fighters. “The objective was the building, a multistory building,” the official said. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

Abu Sayyaf “tried to engage” the commandos, the Defense Department official said, and was shot and killed. The commandos took his wife and the Yazidi woman back to the waiting American aircraft, which, by then, had sustained a number of bullet holes from the firefight with the Islamic State fighters. Defense Department officials said only Islamic State fighters had been killed in the mission, and that they had received no reports of civilian casualties. But officials acknowledged that they were still gathering information on the raid.

The commandos were back in Iraq with the two women around dawn local time, officials said. They said the American forces were able to seize communications equipment and other materials from the site, which may prove useful in intelligence assessments.

The Yazidi woman, Mr. Carter said, will be reunited with her family as soon as possible. It was unclear on Saturday what would be done with Umm Sayyaf, who, according to Mr. Carter’s statement, is suspected of playing an important role in the group’s activities and “may have been complicit in what appears to have been the enslavement” of the Yazidi woman.Picture2

The Yazidis are a religious minority persecuted by the Islamic State.Picture3

David Thomson, an analyst and author of the book “The French Jihadists,” said by email that he had confirmed with sources inside the Islamic State that Abu Sayyaf was a Tunisian emir, who had traveled to Iraq as far back as 2003. As a member of the first wave of jihadists who arrived in Iraq over a decade ago, he and his Tunisian colleagues were called “Al Iraqi,” creating confusion over his nationality.

The operation came just months after three unsuccessful raids by American commandos in Syria and Yemen to free American hostages.

In the first one, in Syria last summer, two dozen Delta Force commandos raided an oil refinery in the northern part of the country as part of the effort to free James Foley, an American journalist, but found after a firefight that there were no hostages to be saved.

Mr. Foley was later beheaded by the Islamic State.

In the second, on Nov. 25, American Special Operations forces entered a cave near Yemen’s border with Saudi Arabia in an effort to free Luke Somers, an American photojournalist. But he was not there; the forces freed eight other hostages and killed seven militants.

A few days later, in December, American forces mounted another attempt to free Mr. Somers, storming a village in southern Yemen, but that raid ended in tragedy with the kidnappers killing Mr. Somers and a South African held with him.

Saturday’s raid into Syria represents an important threshold for the administration in showing that it will continue to send American ground troops into conflicts outside major war zones — as it has in Yemen, Somalia and Libya — to capture or kill suspected terrorists.

Although Abu Sayyaf himself was not a well-known figure, he was important as much for who and what he knew about the Islamic State’s hierarchy and operations, as for his actual job.

“He managed the oil infrastructure and financial generation details for ISIL,” the senior United States official said. “Given that job, he was pretty well-connected.”

Bruce O. Riedel, a former C.I.A. analyst now at the Brookings Institution, said the operation looked like “a collection mission, the goal to capture someone or two someones who can explain how ISIS works.” With Abu Sayyaf now dead, he said, “perhaps the wife can do that.”

But, he added: “To me, it demonstrates we still have large gaps in our understanding of the enemy and how it is organized.”

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