Video: If Captured Benghazi Suspect Was Talking To Reporters, Why Not Capture Him Sooner By Posing As A Reporter?

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki probably didn’t see the obvious question barreling her way when Fox News’ James Rosen got his turn to ask why it had taken so long to capture suspected Benghazi terrorist Ahmed abu Khattalah, who apparently conducted interviews with western media long before his apprehension by U.S. forces this week.

Rosen asked Psaki why it was so easy for the media to lure Khattalah out of hiding for publicity while he effectively eluded U.S. special forces from the time of his alleged involvement in the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

“The question being put to you, it seems to me, is why U.S. special forces couldn’t have an unscheduled meeting with this individual in a period of time less than – as you put it – it just a few years?” Rosen asked.

Psaki tried to explain how complicated it is to catch people who know they’re being hunted, Rosen pressed on:

“Follow your own logic: the next question to be propounded to you is, why didn’t we pose as a reporter to capture him then?”

D’oh!

Psaki was left grasping for an ad hominem: “If you’re volunteering yourself for future endeavors, we’ll take that into account,” she suggested.

“You’re still not addressing the central question, Jen,” Rosen shot back. “You’re not answering the question of why a reporter was able to get within six inches of this guy, and U.S. special forces weren’t, for more than two years. What is the answer to that?”

For a story summarizing Khattalah’s multiple contacts with U.S. and British news sources, see this Fox News article from Tuesday.

IRS Knew Lerner Emails Were ‘Missing’ From Computers, So Where Are The Paper Copies?

So what if Lois Lerner’s emails (and, it turns out, those of six more Internal Revenue Service employees) went “missing” from computers? Shouldn’t there be a paper trail for everything? After all, that’s what Federal law requires.

So far, there is no paper trail, and Congressional investigators into the IRS political discrimination scandal say they’re having a hard time believing a simple computer snafu can account for the perfectly timed unavailability of communications records from the alleged key players — at least the ones we know of so far — involved in the government-sanctioned targeting of conservative groups.

Even as new IRS director John Koskinen was telling the House Oversight Committee that the agency would provide Lerner’s emails after months of stonewalling, he and others within the IRS knew the emails had vanished, according to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.).

“The White House promised full cooperation, the Commissioner promised full access to Lois Lerner emails and now the Agency claims it cannot produce those materials and they’ve known for months they couldn’t do this,” Camp said in a statement last week.

On top of that, Lerner’s communications aren’t the only ones within the IRS that have vanished since the Oversight Committee began investigating.

“It’s not just Lois Lerner’s emails. The Internal Revenue Service says it can’t produce emails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups, according to two Republicans investigating the scandal,” National Review reported Tuesday.

“The IRS told Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany (R-La.) that computer crashes resulted in additional lost emails, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.”

Computer experts who understand the role information technology plays in government data have since weighed in on the IRS’s admission, with one expert describing the alleged loss as “mind-boggling.”

“It is very well known in both legal and IT circles that as soon as litigation and/or criminal investigation is likely — not actually initiated, but merely likely — it is imperative to preserve any relevant electronic documents, even it if means suspending existing practices of, say, email deletion or purging of backup files,” IT consultant Bruce Webster told FOX News on Tuesday.

Former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who left the network in frustration over its alleged rejection of her investigative reporting on scandals emanating from the Administration of President Barack Obama, told a Philadelphia talk show host there is virtually no way the IRS has irretrievably lost any of its communications data.

“One [IRS] official wrote me… to say this is entirely implausible, and he said there are criminal penalties for destroying Federal records, which makes sense, including liability for negligence for not taking the necessary steps to protect files, including a federal requirement to backup data,” said Attkisson. “This doesn’t happen. He said… all email servers are backed up with something called ‘RAID’ (Redundant Array Of Independent Disks), and it’s nearly impossible for something to delete the files, and that even if that were to happen they would not be gone forever.”

Regardless of the legitimacy of the IRS’s claim, the agency has so far offered no excuse for failing to offer access to paper copies of all of the allegedly missing data. Under the Federal Records Act, the IRS has been breaking the law if it hasn’t been archiving hard copies of everything.

“The IRS’s own definition of the Federal Records Act makes clear that emails must be saved and documented, according to an instructional page for employees on the IRS website,” The Daily Caller reported Tuesday.

Indeed, the provided link to the IRS website squares with that report:

The Federal Records Act applies to email records just as it does to records you create using other media. Emails are records when they are:

  • Created or received in the transaction of agency business
  • Appropriate for preservation as evidence of the government’s function and activities
  • Valuable because of the information they contain.

If you create or receive email messages during the course of your daily work, you are responsible for ensuring that you manage them properly. The Treasury Department’s current email policy requires emails and attachments that meet the definition of a federal record be added to the organization’s files by printing them (including the essential transmission data) and filing them with related paper records.

“If it’s true that the emails are lost,” quipped Attkisson, “that’s quite a story in itself.”

Americans Want Nothing To Do With Fresh War In Iraq

An overwhelming majority of Americans has no desire to see the United States place soldiers on the ground as Iraq breaks into Balkanized territories defined by sectarian loyalty. And, according to a poll released Tuesday, it’s a sentiment that transcends political party lines.

Whether Republican, Democrat or independent, most Americans don’t want to revisit the prolonged “boots on the ground” scenario that unfolded over eight years after the Administration of President George W. Bush toppled the regime of then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Nearly three-quarters, 74 percent, of all respondents in this week’s survey by Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning polling firm, said they do not want the U.S. to send troops back to Iraq to help current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stave off a nation-shaping insurgency of Sunni militia through the country’s northern half. That insurgency, which has taken control of major cities in a rapid sweep south from the border with Syria, now threatens Baghdad, Iraq’s capital and home to 7 million people — mostly Shiites.

Only 16 percent of respondents said they favor sending U.S. troops back into combat.

Among those Americans who claim a political affiliation, Republicans are the most likely to favor a return to Iraq. But those who do are still decidedly in the minority. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans said they oppose placing U.S. troops into combat in Iraq, while only 28 percent said they favor such a decision.

For Democrats, the opposition is even greater (82 percent opposed to 10 percent in favor); among Independents, it’s higher still (86 percent opposed to 9 percent in favor).

While the survey’s preparers offered no commentary on the results, it’s evident that America’s appetite for renewed military activity in Iraq, in terms of placing soldiers in harm’s way, is meager.

However, public opinion does favor diplomacy and a possible U.S.-led effort at “mobilizing the international community to stabilize the situation” in Iraq: 52 percent said they support a talking solution, compared with 30 percent opposed and a full 18 percent who said they aren’t sure. A majority of those affiliated with the two major parties, as well as independents, all favored a diplomatic response.

House Budget Slashes IRS Funding (Good Luck With That In The Senate)

The GOP-controlled House of Representatives is taking aim at the Internal Revenue Service in a proposed spending bill that trims more than $300 million from the agency’s present allotment.

It’s far from a defund, but fiscal leaders within the Republican Party are making it clear that the proposed reduction has everything to do with the agency’s targeting of conservative groups, as well as its role in administering next year’s non-participation penalties in the still-creaky rollout of Obamacare.

“In order to make these investments and to be good stewards of each and every tax dollar, the bill focuses cuts on lower-priority or poor-performing agencies — such as the scandal-plagued and inefficient Internal Revenue Service,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) Tuesday.

The 2015 Financial Services and General Appropriations bill still allots approximately $10.95 billion to fund the IRS, although President Obama has requested that Congress increase the agency’s funding to roughly $12.5 billion. It attaches some symbolic strings to the IRS portion:

From the House statement accompanying the bill’s release:

In addition, due to the inappropriate actions by the IRS in targeting groups that hold certain political beliefs, as well as its previous improper use of taxpayer funds, the bill includes the following provisions:

  • A prohibition on a proposed regulation related to political activities and the tax-exempt status of 501(c)(4) organizations. The proposed regulation could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of many non-profit organizations and inhibit citizens from exercising their right to freedom of speech, simply because they may be involved in political activity.
  • A prohibition on funds for bonuses or awards unless employee conduct and tax compliance is given consideration.
  • A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs.
  • A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights.
  • A prohibition on funding for the production of inappropriate videos and conferences.
  • A prohibition on funding for the White House to order the IRS to determine the tax-exempt status of an organization.
  • A requirement for extensive reporting on IRS spending.

Like nearly everything else of real consequence that emanates from Washington, the chances of the IRS cut making into a final bill are slim. The Senate, which is still under Democrat majority control, isn’t likely to include another key provision in the House bill: severing the IRS from its Obamacare enforcement role. “The legislation would also prevent the IRS from further implementing Obamacare, and a separate rider would bar funding for the IRS to implement the law’s individual mandate,” The Hill reported today.

That’s obviously going nowhere, but that provision could fall away as a built-in bargaining chip GOP leaders may surrender as a means of keeping the fiscal cuts intact.

Commerce Department Says First-Quarter GDP Shrank More Than First Reported

Last month, economic pundits began cautioning that the Commerce Department’s forthcoming estimates of the Nation’s first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth would be flat at best. Two weeks later, when Commerce released its data, it revealed the first-quarter economy had exhibited the same symptoms as a recession.

Last week, Commerce revised its numbers again to reflect even greater pessimism. The Commerce Department’s quarterly services survey, released last Wednesday, overhauled its original May 29 report to accommodate first-quarter health care spending data – and found it had underestimated the GDP contraction by almost half.

The revised figure estimates that the U.S. economy shrank during the first three months of 2014 by 1.7 percent. Commerce had reported on May 29 that American GDP had shrunk by an alarming 1.0 percent.

General consensus among economists acknowledges a national recession if the GDP contracts for two consecutive quarters.

“Should first-quarter GDP be revised sharply lower, economists could trim their growth estimates for 2014, which had been dubbed as a break-out year,” Reuters reported Friday, citing analysts who cautioned that policymakers should temper their original expectations for a dramatic economic rebound in 2014.

“Healthcare spending did not add nearly as much to growth as we initially thought in the first quarter,” Moody’s economist Ryan Sweet told Reuters. “Because we had such a horrible start to the year, you’re going to see GDP estimates for all of 2014 ratcheted down a little bit.”

“[I] t looks like there could be a significant downward revision to healthcare consumption, which would make the healthcare data more in line with most of the other components of GDP which looked weak in the first quarter,” explained JP Morgan economist Daniel Silver.

Forecasters had expected a surge in the demand for health insurance, a function of Obamacare’s mandate for Americans to obtain health coverage, would boost total GDP by 1.0 percent. Actual health insurance spending as a percentage of GDP has since been revised downward to .7 percent, a figure more in line with tepid growth in other sectors, said economists.

Scientists Say Geothermal Warming Responsible For Melting Of Antarctic Ice Sheet – No Mention Of ‘Climate Change’

A study released last week by researchers at the University of Texas reveals the West Antarctic ice sheet indeed appears to be melting – but human activity’s got nothing to do with it.

The study, which attempts to assess glacial erosion of Antarctica’s massive Thwaites Glacier, was conducted by a research team at the university’s Institute for Geophysics. The Texas scientists found that tidal forces are physically eroding glacial material, and that geothermal heat from subglacial magma is exacerbating the pace of that process.

The Thwaites Glacier, according to researchers, is about the size of Florida in area and up to 4,000 meters thick. Understanding the forces behind the glacier’s retreat is “crucial to understanding what might happen to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet,” the research team said in a press release, which makes no mention of man-made global warming:

The cause of the variable distribution of heat beneath the glacier is thought to be the movement of magma and associated volcanic activity arising from the rifting of the Earth’s crust beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

… Because its interior connects to the vast portion of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet that lies deeply below sea level, the glacier is considered a gateway to the majority of West Antarctica’s potential sea level contribution.

The collapse of the Thwaites Glacier would cause an increase of global sea level of between 1 and 2 meters, with the potential for more than twice that from the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

“The combination of variable subglacial geothermal heat flow and the interacting subglacial water system could threaten the stability of Thwaites Glacier in ways that we never before imagined,” added lead author Dusty Schroeder.

The new research “significantly change[s] the understanding of conditions beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet where accurate information has previously been unobtainable,” the team said, noting that the geothermal activity beneath the structure is “much hotter than previously assumed.”

Stonewalling IRS Says It’s Lost Two Years’ Worth Of Lois Lerner’s Emails

Those Lois Lerner emails must really contain things that somebody with access doesn’t want Congress to see. After famously stonewalling the House Oversight Committee’s request to review the former IRS official’s communications, the IRS is now saying that two years’ worth of Lerner’s on-the-job electronic data has been lost to a computer glitch.

The agency informed the House Ways and Means Committee this week that it had forever lost Lerner’s emails from the period spanning January 2009 to April 2011 – a timeframe which overlaps the IRS’ political discrimination against conservative nonprofits leading up to President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.

The Ways and Means Committee issued a statement today in response to the IRS’ admission, with Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) making his skepticism known:

Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) issued the following statement regarding the Internal Revenue Service informing the Committee that they have lost Lois Lerner emails from a period of January 2009 – April 2011. Due to a supposed computer crash, the agency only has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame. The IRS claims it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.

“The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’s response to Congressional inquiries. There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.

“Just a short time ago, Commissioner [John] Koskinen promised to produce all Lerner documents. It appears now that was an empty promise. Frankly, these are the critical years of the targeting of conservative groups that could explain who knew what when, and what, if any, coordination there was between agencies. Instead, because of this loss of documents, we are conveniently left to believe that Lois Lerner acted alone. This failure of the IRS requires the White House, which promised to get to the bottom of this, to do an Administration-wide search and production of any emails to or from Lois Lerner. The Administration has repeatedly referred us back to the IRS for production of materials. It is clear that is wholly insufficient when it comes to determining the full scope of the violation of taxpayer rights.”

At the end of the day, it’s all good, argued Texas Congressman Steve Stockman: just have the NSA hand over her metadata instead. After all, don’t they surveil government employees the way they surveil everybody else?

“I have asked NSA Director [Mike] Rogers to send me all metadata his agency has collected on Lois Lerner’s email accounts for the period which the House sought records,” said Stockman today. “The metadata will establish who Lerner contacted and when, which helps investigators determine the extent of illegal activity by the IRS.”

The House of Representatives found Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress on May 7 on a 231-187 vote for refusing to continue her testimony in earlier hearings in which she argued she’d done nothing wrong, before invoking her Constitutional protection against self-incrimination. The House is continuing its investigation.

 

‘None Of The Above’ Wins Nevada Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

“None of the above” isn’t the name of a racehorse; it’s simply a placeholder for the name of somebody — anybody — whom Democratic Nevada voters would prefer to elect to the Governor’s office than the choices they were given at the polls on Tuesday.

“None of the above” took 29.96 percent of the vote, with real (if little-known) candidate Robert Goodman receiving 24.9 percent. Under Nevada law, Goodman will move ahead as the Democratic nominee for Governor, facing (and almost certainly losing to) Republican incumbent Governor Brian Sandoval in November.

Goodman finished first among named candidates in an extremely crowded field of Democrats. The Las Vegas Review-Journal described “None of the above’s” victory as an apparent “protest vote” in a primary that featured much lighter voting than did the State’s GOP primary.

“In what appeared to be a protest vote over the lack of a strong challenger to GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval, more Democrats opted for ‘None Of These Candidates’ over the eight actual individuals running for the party nomination,” the Review-Journal reported Wednesday:

Eric Herzik, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, said he was shocked when the early returns suggested that the choice would outperform all of the actual candidates.

The reasons are twofold, he said. First was the total lack of knowledge most voters had about the candidates, none of whom spent any real money to raise their name recognition.

For many Democratic voters who knew something of the candidates, the reasoning appeared to be that none of them were worthy of support, he said.

“It is absolutely a slap in the face,” Herzik said. “Regardless of why it happened, this adds insult to injury.”

Since Nevada implemented the “None of the above” option for State-level races in 1975, no gubernatorial race has ever ended with the “None” option receiving the most votes — until Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Cantor Worth More As A Potential Lobbyist Than As A Congressman

The political career of Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is worth more alive than dead on K Street, where headhunters already are assaying the price tag for luring the voter-ousted House Majority Leader into the lobbying business once his six-term Congressional stint ends.

According to The Hill, Cantor’s surprise GOP primary loss to conservative challenger Dave Brat in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District race has set off an “unprecedented” rush among K Street recruiters to put a dollar value on Cantor’s insider’s connections as House Majority Leader.

“The loss instantly catapulted Cantor to the top of the list of prized recruits for trade associations and law firms in Washington,” wrote The Hill Thursday:

Headhunters said the GOP leader would be welcomed with open arms — and a hefty payday — should he decide to leave politics for a new life in the private sector.

“I think Eric Cantor, given his experience and depth and breadth of his relationships — if he decides to go into the field of advocacy would be a highly-prized ‘get,’ if you will,” said Nels Olson, the head of the Washington office for Korn Ferry. “It will take a while for the ramifications to settle.”

… Cantor has more going for him than just his credentials: Between his leadership PAC and his campaign committee, the Virginia Republican has more than $2 million that he can use to support state and federal candidates.

Being an entrenched part of the establishment political class has its perks, and Cantor hasn’t indicated which of his many post-Congressional career options he’ll pursue. If Cantor decides to go full lobby, he’d have to sit out 2015. The law requires former House members to wait a year before entering the lobbying world (former Senators must wait two years.)

As The Hill observes, the lobbying industry cherishes the influence, networked connections and Capitol Hill insight of former party leaders. “Most prominently, former Democratic leader Dick Gephardt (Mo.) founded a consulting firm, the Gephardt Group, not long after retiring from Congress in 2005. Two years later, he registered to lobby and formed an advocacy arm called Gephardt Group Government Affairs,” the paper reports.

“Gephardt’s lobbying operation brought in nearly $4.8 million last year from clients including Google, General Electric, Boeing and UnitedHealth Group.”

For the elected class, getting voted out of office is only the beginning.

Jay Carney Has A Tough Time Explaining How Obama’s Iraq Diplomacy Represents A ‘Signature Achievement’

Departing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney faced reporters today to address a bevy of questions about whether – and how – the U.S. will move to protect what’s left of its interests in Baghdad as an army of highly-organized ISIS insurgents wrest control of cities from the Iraqi government in a decisive trek towards the capital.

ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked Carney whether the ISIS assault discredits the Obama Administration’s repeated boasts over the manner in which it (thought it had) resolved America’s indefinite entrenchment in Iraqi’s young, U.S-installed government.

“The President and senior officials in this White House have repeatedly – over the years and as recently as Tuesday – described as the President’s top foreign policy accomplishment ending the war in Iraq and decimating and destroying core al Qaeda,” said Karl. “Given what we’re seeing now in Iraq, can you still claim those as two of your signature achievements?”

Carney had no choice but to dissemble, eventually offering this:

“What is also the case, and what the President made clear as we wound down the war in Iraq, is that we need to be a good partner to the government in Iraq and provide the assistance that we can at their request to help them meet their security challenges, and we have done that,” Carney said. “Ultimately, Iraq’s future has to be decided through reconciliation of the political factions within Iraq and a unified approach to dealing with the challenge posed by a group like the ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – an appellation interchangeable with ISIS].”

Karl kept trying. All Carney would say is that nobody could argue that “core Al-Qaida” in Afghanistan and Pakistan (he didn’t mention Iraq) had been “severely compromised and decimated.”

 

‘Planeloads’ Of U.S. Contractors Flee Baghdad As ISIS Moves South

As the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continues its southern sweep across a severely destabilized Iraq, non-government American workers in Baghdad are evacuating to undisclosed areas of the country by the planeload, the State Department told media today.

“We can confirm that U.S. citizens, under contract to the government of Iraq, in support of the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program in Iraq, are being temporarily relocated by their companies due to security concerns in the area,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told media today. “The status of the staffing at the U.S. Embassy and Consulates has not changed.”

The U.S. Embassy in Iraq, a massive city within-a-city opened in 2009 at a cost of more than $700 million, has operated with a reduced (but still sizable) staff since American forces officially withdrew from the country in December of 2011.

The State Department, along with diplomatic offices of several other Western nations, issued a travel warning to civilian nationals in Iraq this week as ISIS-organized militia under the command of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took control of key Iraqi cities north of the capital city in a show of force that has elicited mass surrenders from Iraqi forces.

According to The Hill, the State Department disclosed that U.S. citizens were evacuated from the region by the planeload today, with “several hundred more U.S. contractors” in queue to retreat ahead of the expected arrival of ISIS forces.

The Obama Administration resolved Thursday to review possible U.S. military options to bolster the Iraqi government’s feeble resistance to the al-Qaida-spinoff group, with possible air strikes appearing as the most viable option. Psaki said the Administration is not considering a “boots on the ground” operation.

Obama himself said a U.S. response would likely exchange some kind of military assistance for a commitment from the Iraqi government that it will listen to all options in cultivating a stronger defense strategy.

“In our consultations with the Iraqis, there will be some short-term immediate things that need to be done militarily,” Obama said today. “This should be also a wakeup call for the Iraqi government…There has to be a political component to this.”

Obama Doubles Down On Confiscation By Praising Australia’s Gun Laws

Not wishing to let a tragedy go to waste, President Barack Obama on Tuesday reacted to recent highly publicized shootings in California, Nevada and Oregon by telling an Internet audience the United States should emulate Australia’s infamous “assault weapons” ban.

Responding to a gun control question from a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara — the same school attended by former student Elliott Rodger before he gunned down six people and then killed himself last month — Obama told a Tumblr blog audience that a lack of Congressional action on gun control has been one of the biggest disappointments of his Administration.

“I’ve got two and a half years left,” began Obama. “My biggest frustration so far is the fact that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of… of people who… can, can do just unbelievable damage.

“We’re the only developed country on Earth where this happens. It happens now once a week. And it’s a one-day story. There’s no place else like this.”

Then Obama brought up Australia, which instituted gun restrictions, a national registry and gun buy-back program following a 1996 massacre in Tasmania that claimed the lives of 35 people.

“Couple of decades ago, Australia had a mass shooting, similar to Columbine or Newtown. And Australia just said, ‘well, that’s it; we’re not doing — we’re not seeing that again,’ and basically imposed very severe, tough gun laws, and they haven’t had a mass shooting since,” said Obama. “I mean, our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country on Earth that would put up with this.

“Now, we have a different tradition — we have a 2nd Amendment. We have historically respected gun rights. I respect gun rights.”

Obama then went on to outline some of the Democratic Party’s gun control ideas that Congress has so far declined to pass.

It’s worth revisiting the President’s claim that “our levels of gun violence are off the charts.” They do have charts for these sorts of things, and the charts don’t reflect Obama’s claim.

Here’s one from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports for 2007-2011 that tracks the overall U.S. rate of violent crime:

VICRIME

And here’s another from the Pew Research Center that shows a general overall trend of decline in the rate of homicide deaths involving firearms since 1981:

PEW

 

Harry Reid Consoles Reeling GOP Establishment: ‘We Need More Lindsey Grahams’

As the GOP establishment tries to close ranks following Tuesday’s stunning primary defeat of six-term incumbent Congressman Eric Cantor (R-Va.), it’s receiving a perverse kind of solace from across the political aisle.

Presumably because it’s in the interest of the Democratic Party’s own establishment to have malleable Republican peers to work with, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday called on voters, if they must elect a Republican, to elect Republicans like establishment darling Senator Lindsey Graham, who sailed through the crowded South Carolina Republican primary on the same day Cantor took his beating.

Reid’s message was one of preaching to the establishment choir.

“I believe the Republicans should follow the lead of Lindsey Graham,” he said. “Lindsey Graham was part of the Gang of Eight to come up with immigration reform. He never backed down, backed up. He kept going forward on this issue.

“We need more Republicans who are Lindsey Grahams. Lindsey Graham is a very conservative man, but I’ve worked with him on a number of issues, some of which we don’t even talk about publicly.”

Graham won his State’s GOP primary despite passionate opposition from jaded South Carolina conservatives for siding with the Administration of Barack Obama on controversial partisan issues. Six Republican challengers, all attacking Graham from the right, jockeyed for space on the primary ballot. None was able to distinguish himself against the field, and Graham cruised through the election, even though his popularity among the party’s base is weak.

By contrast, Cantor faced a single challenger Tuesday in the Virginia GOP primary: Tea Party newcomer Dave Brat, a professor of Economics at Randolph-Macon College. While knee-jerk punditry has credited a single issue (immigration) for propelling Brat to a surprise victory, Brat ran to the right of Cantor not only on immigration reform, but also on Federal spending and for going along simply to get along with the Obama Administration.

“Immigration was the surface reason that galvanized the opposition to Cantor, but the opposition could not have been galvanized with this issue had Cantor been a better congressman these past few years,” conservative pundit Erick Erickson wrote Wednesday. “He and his staff have repeatedly antagonized conservatives. One conservative recently told me that Cantor’s staff were the ‘biggest bunch of a**holes on the Hill.’ … Cantor lost his race because he was running for Speaker of the House of Representatives while his constituents wanted a congressman.”

Video: President Obama Rejects All The Absurd Views Held By Political Straw Men

President Obama has a rhetorical gift for absolutely crushing absurd contrarian views that virtually no one holds. This video mash-up, compiled by the staff at The Washington Free Beacon, offers a Presidency-spanning highlight reel of all the phony political adversaries Obama’s taken down in his growing repertoire of straw-man speeches.

One of our favorites is Obama’s courageous firebrand stance against people who think all problems disappear when you ignore them. “I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves,” he boldly asserts.

Who doesn’t reject that view? People with no problems?

H/T: The Washington Free Beacon

U.S. Intelligence Anticipates Four Of The Freed ‘Taliban Five’ Will Return To Terror

According to high-ranking U.S. intelligence officials, the odds strongly favor the eventual re-assimilation into the Taliban terror network of four Taliban members whom the Administration of President Barack Obama released last week in exchange for the freedom of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

At a Senate briefing last week, Deputy Director of National Intelligence Robert Cardillo advised lawmakers that only one of the freed prisoners — former high-ranking Taliban operative Abdul Haq Wasiq — does not appear likely to rejoin a regional militia or terror cell, according to a report Monday at Obama-friendly news website The Daily Beast (TDB).

Although TDB devotes a requisite amount of its story space to a poignant justification for the Obama Administration’s decision to act quickly and independently of the Congressional vetting process required under Federal law to release the five Guantanamo detainees, the site nevertheless acknowledges U.S. intelligence knew what the White House was risking before the deal was done:

According to a pair of U.S. officials, the briefing from Robert Cardillo, a deputy director of national intelligence, represented the latest community-wide U.S. intelligence assessment on these Taliban Five, completed in 2013.

It also means that President Obama was faced with a particularly excruciating choice as he weighed whether or not to swap these five for American hostage Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The government of Qatar, which agreed to look after the five Taliban leaders as part of the deal for Bergdahl, warned that factions within the Taliban were growing impatient, and campaigning to kill Bergdahl instead of trading him.

“Time is not on your side,” they told U.S. negotiators, according to two senior defense officials.

… It all added up to a painful dilemma for the White House: free Taliban leaders who might return to the fight–or risk losing America’s last service member held abroad. Obama ultimately chose to make the deal, despite his intelligence services’ estimate that four of the five Taliban detainees would ultimately resume their struggle against American allies.

Obama himself admitted as much in a remarkably defiant statement when he met with reporters in Poland last week.

“We will be keeping eyes on them. Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely,” Obama said. “We have confidence that we will be in a position to go after them if in fact they are engaging in activities that threaten our defenses.”

That begs the obvious question: If their behavior is so predictable, and so likely to threaten national security, why set them free in the first place?

Obamacare Opt-Out Penalties Will Hit 1 Million Low-Income Americans In First Year

A report last week from the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 1 million Americans will be required to pay a penalty to the Federal government by the end of next year as a “tax” for declining to purchase health insurance under Obamacare’s individual mandate provision.

In all, CBO now expects about 4 million people — including the estimated 1 million low-income Americans who live below the government’s 200 percent poverty threshold — to pay the Obamacare penalty for 2016.

From the report:

“CBO and [the Joint Committee on Taxation] JCT’s estimates of the number of people who will pay penalties account for likely compliance rates as well as the ability of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to administer and collect the penalty payments.

All told, CBO and JCT estimate that about 4 million people will pay a penalty because they are uninsured in 2016 (a figure that includes uninsured dependents who have the penalty paid on their behalf). An estimated $4 billion will be collected from those who are uninsured in 2016, and, on average, an estimated $5 billion will be collected per year over the 2017-2024 period.

Of the 1 million Americans the government regards as “low-income,” roughly 200,000 will earn gross income of less than 100 percent of the government’s poverty baseline; another 800,000 will earn less than 200 percent of the gross income poverty line, which places them in a category of low-income earners eligible to receive a host of Federal poverty entitlements. For a breakdown of how the Department of Health and Human Services assesses “poverty” as a ratio of household size to annual income, see the department’s 2014 poverty guidelines.

The CBO graph below illustrates the Obamacare penalty forecast as a function of income demographics:

Obamacare opt-out graph

“In general, households with lower income will pay the flat dollar penalty (with adjustments to account for the lower penalty for children and the overall cap on family payments), and households with higher income will pay a percentage of their income,” the report indicates.

The Obamacare opt-out penalty is the greater of a flat “tax” ($695 in 2016 and pegged to inflation thereafter) or “a percentage of a household’s adjusted gross income in excess of the threshold for mandatory tax-filing” (2.5 percent in 2016 and beyond). The CBO is expecting most people living beneath the 200 percent-of-poverty line to pay the $695.

Last week’s report represents a marked downward revision of the CBO’s 2012 prediction that roughly 6 million people would end up paying the Obamacare tax. If that sounds like a good thing, it’s a function of your point of view: CBO is also anticipating a commensurate drop in expected Obamacare funding, thanks to the drop in penalty payments. And many Americans who the CBO originally predicted would have to pay the penalty have since been lumped into the entitlement group of low-income Obamacare recipients who qualify for exemptions.

“The decrease in the number of people who are projected to pay the penalty largely stems from an increase in CBO and JCT’s projection of the number of people who will be exempt from the penalty,” the CBO stated. “That increase is attributable in part to regulations issued since September 2012 by the Departments of Health and Human Services and the Treasury and in part to technical updates and changes in the economic outlook.”

More Selective Enforcement Of Obamacare As States See Key Provision Delayed

Eighteen States are getting a reprieve from the Obama Administration in rolling out an Obamacare provision that requires their State-managed insurance markets to offer an array of coverage to small business employees.

In granting the delay, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did not decline any of the 18 States that petitioned for more time to deploy the employee choice feature of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), according to The Hill.

“The delays mean that small-business employees seeking to buy health insurance in the SHOP system will only have one option in those 18 states,” The Hill reported today. “The Affordable Care Act intended to allow customers on the SHOP exchange to pick from a variety of options, but the rollout of that feature has been delayed several times.”

The delay represents the latest in a long line of unilateral decision by the Obama Administration to forestall or selectively implement portions of the Affordable Care Act following its poorly-received and problem-plagued rollout last October.

Most of the States that petitioned CMS to delay the employee choice feature are those that declined to expand Medicaid coverage under Obamacare’s Federal matching-funds program, along with six that have accepted the expanded Medicaid program.

They include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.

Woman Files Federal Lawsuit Over Naked Pepper Spraying Ordeal At Indiana Jail

An Indiana woman is preparing a Federal lawsuit following a March ordeal in which she allegedly was pepper sprayed, stripped and paraded by police through a local jail after being detained on a pair of misdemeanor charges. Video from the incarceration shows the woman was pepper sprayed in her cell and left without clothes for almost an hour before being allowed to wash out her eyes.

An attorney representing Tabitha Gentry, the alleged victim, told local media that Gentry will file the suit next week against officers with the Floyd County, Ind., Sheriff’s Department. She alleges the officers violated her Constitutional rights while she was in their custody.

Gentry, who lives in New Albany, Ind., was brought to the jail in the early hours of March 30 on charges of resisting and disorderly conduct after police responded to a domestic call at a residence. Her attorney, Laura Landenwich, said things escalated quickly once she arrived at the jail.

“Almost immediately upon entering the jail, she’s assaulted by four officers. They grab her around the neck; they grab her body,” Landenwich told WDRB News. “They hold her down. There are two male officers and two female officers and they forcibly remove her pants, her shoes, her underwear and her shirt and bra.”

From the video, Gentry appears to be unruly (she was reportedly very intoxicated when taken into custody), but she does not appear violent. Without an accompanying audio track, the surveillance video doesn’t reveal what Gentry said that prompted the team of officers to throw her to the floor and drag her into a padded cell, strip her of her clothing and leave her naked and begging for something to wear.

Landenwich said Gentry attempted to escalate her demands for clothing by banging on the cell door, and that officers responded by pepper spraying her and leaving her alone in the cell for another 45 minutes before allowing her to wash the spray from her face. After she finally was provided an opportunity to clean herself up, she was placed back in the cell for another five hours.

“There is no justifiable law enforcement purpose to treating someone this way,” Landenwich told WAVE News. “There is no officer safety issue that is implicated by her having clothing. What this is, is humiliation.”

There was a standard-issue smock in the padded cell. At one point, the video shows Gentry draped in the loose cover. Isn’t that “clothing?” Doesn’t the smock ensure detainees’ Constitutional rights remain intact?

Maybe, but Landenwich insinuates that this incident reflects a larger pattern of detainee abuse by the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department. In a similar case last year involving one of Gentry’s relatives at the Floyd County jail, the county ended up settling with a plaintiff who alleged officers had withheld clothing in order to humiliate her. And she points out an obvious, but overlooked, fact: Detainees aren’t convicts. Unless and until they’re found guilty of crimes, treatment of the kind that Gentry allegedly received amounts to a form of punishment.

“Now this is a woman, who under our system of law, is innocent until proven guilty,” Landenwich said. “She’s charged, and she’s charged with a misdemeanor crime that’s not a violent crime…What we also see on the video is, there is another inmate also being held naked prior to her entering that cell. These are egregious Constitutional violations.”

Hillary’s Hard Choices Is Hard To Praise, Say Critics

Boring. Politically correct and eager not to offend. Devoid of critical thought. Not insightful. Of little news value.

Those aren’t assessments of Hillary Clinton, the person. But they are assessments of her new book, Hard Choices, an in-her-own-words revisiting of her time as President Barack Obama’s first-term Secretary of State ghostwritten by Ted Widmer. Hard Choices releases today, but advance reviews of the book by critics and pundits alike have been dismissive — at best.

POLITICO’s Mike Allen went off on the book, calling it a “newsless snore.”

TRUTH BOMB 1: “Hard Choices” is a newsless snore, written so carefully not to offend that it will fuel the notion that politics infuses every part of her life. In this book, like in “The Lego Movie” theme song, everyone is awesome!

Allen also quotes a Republican acquaintance who read the book and found it less than compelling. “Honestly, it is so vanilla and picked over. They leaked out the very few interesting anecdotes in the [656] pages to make it seem more interesting than it is… There is no insightful Obama stuff beyond the ’08 part that’s been discussed a lot already.”

Slate’s John Dickerson had trouble finding scintillating-sounding adjectives to capture the book’s (evidently) essential tepidness. “Clinton’s account is the low-salt, low-fat, low-calorie offering with vanilla pudding as the dessert. She goes on at great length, but not great depth,” he wrote. “Even Condoleezza Rice, one of the most loyal [George W.] Bush aides on the planet, was more candid in her memoir about the inside workings of power relationships than Clinton.”

Then there’s The New York Times, the authoritative voice for so many literates seeking a North Star to guide their general well-roundedness. Here’s what The Times’ Michiko Kakutani had to say:

There is little news in the book. And unlike former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’s rawly candid memoir “Duty,” this volume is very much the work of someone who is keeping all her political options open — and who would like to be known not only for mastering the art of diplomacy, but also for having the policy chops to become chooser-in-chief.

“Hard Choices,” like Mrs. Clinton’s tenure at the State Department, does not evince a grand, overarching foreign policy vision, as Henry A. Kissinger’s 1994 book “Diplomacy” did. Rather, Mrs. Clinton displays a pragmatic, case-by-case modus operandi.

And that’s considered praise. New Republic’s Isaac Christopher griped that The Times’ review is too sunny; that it is, in fact, not “a ‘book review’; it’s a press release.”

“Keeping all her political options open” is the book’s likely endgame for Clinton. Other pundits more explicitly connect the strategic dots between the timing of the book’s release, its relative political banality and the ticking of the clock as it winds toward the 2016 Presidential campaign season.

Reporting not on the book itself but its role in laying some groundwork for a Hillary 2016 candidacy, POLITICO’s Todd S. Purdum explains how the book can, maybe, win a few Hillary converts by showing Hillary at her best — while simultaneously pulling double duty as the vehicle for critical research into voter demographics:

She has 100 percent name recognition, prohibitive political support in the polls — and more money than most ordinary people could ever dream of. So why does Hillary Clinton need another book, much less one that’s pre-sold a million copies and dominated news coverage even before its official release?

The answer: Her forthcoming book tour and the attendant multiplatform media blitz are about everything but the book and the bucks. To begin with, the rollout of “Hard Choices,” which officially begins Tuesday, presents a perfect way to gather priceless retail consumer data that can later be put to political use.

…Personal appearances will drive book sales, which could eventually drive voter turnout, and Clinton has data resources available to her in the age of social media that Powell and his would-be backers could only dream of.

“They can really take advantage of all these new tools with her, because she has a huge social media following,” said Gretchen Crary, a veteran book publicist who now runs February Media, her own public relations and marketing firm. “Authors really should take a page from politicians’ playbooks, because you build an audience the same way you build a constituency: You have to go to these anemic coffee klatches where three people show up, and turn them into your ambassadors.”

But the little people have to like the book for that to happen, across the country, thousands of times over.

More problematic for the Hillary 2016 pep squad, the little people have to want to read Hard Choices in the first place.

“[E]ven if the book is a guaranteed best-seller (the initial printing of 1 million copies has already sold out to retailers), some in Clinton’s circle nevertheless confess a certain anxiety about sales,” wrote Purdum, “if only because the book’s commercial performance will inevitably be viewed as yet another straw poll of Clinton’s political prospects.”

Don’t say we didn’t do our part: Here’s where you can rush out to buy Hard Choices.

Why Do Police In New Mexico Need 42 MRAPs?

The New York Times has a lengthy Sunday piece on the continuing militarization of America’s municipal police, which you can read here.

The article questions the need for, and the possible motives behind, the wholesale adoption of military tactics and gear in cities and communities whose violent crime problems, where they exist at all, typically don’t gibe with comparisons to war zones.

“The [decommissioned military] equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units,” The Times laments. “Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs. Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of ‘barbering without a license.’”

People who read websites like Personal Liberty Digest™ likely already know all that. But the story included an infographic from the Department of Defense that offers a breakdown of the number of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicles (MRAPs) currently in service in every State — and, even if you accept the premise that armored tank-cars are an acceptable addition to our new era of militarized policing, the proportions in several cases seem to be a little out of whack.

mrap_map
Take New Mexico, the 36th most-populous State in the U.S. with slightly more than 2 million people. If we’re counting the little square boxes on the DoD graphic correctly (the graphic bears a strong resemblance to some Common Core math puzzles), the Land of Enchantment has 42 MRAPs, making it No. 1 among all the States for MRAP-owning bragging rights.

Oklahoma, the 28th most-populous State, is a very close second, with 40 MRAPs in service. South Carolina, 24th on the population charts, has seven more MRAPs (28) than California, which is the most populous State in the Nation.

How many MRAPs do the populous States have? California has 21; Texas has 37; New York has 16 and Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio have 10, eight and eight, respectively.

For some strange reason, local authorities in Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware, New Hampshire (which isn’t too far down the population list from New Mexico) and Rhode Island haven’t hopped on the MRAP/military surplus gravy train — or, at last count, they hadn’t done so successfully.

Law enforcement agencies offer a predictable variety of reasons to justify their rush toward militarization, with the appeal of free stuff that local taxpayers don’t have to pay for typically topping the list.

But we like the alternate-universe myopia earnestly reflected in the comments of Pulaski County, Ind., Sheriff Michael Gayer, who (presumably while wearing a straight face) told the Indianapolis Star over the weekend that we live in a Nation that’s all war, all the time — even tiny Pulaski County (pop. 13,124):

“The United States of America has become a war zone,” Gayer told the Star. “There’s violence in the workplace, there’s violence in schools and there’s violence in the streets. You are seeing police departments going to a semi-military format because of the threats we have to counteract. If driving a military vehicle is going to protect officers, then that’s what I’m going to do.”

Jeez, now we’re afraid to get in our cars at the end of the day and brave the public streets.

Unless…

Can private citizens get in on the free MRAP racket, too?

Veterans Agree: Obama Administration Should Not Have Swapped Terrorists For Bergdahl

The Obama Administration doesn’t fare well among the general public on the question of whether the U.S. made the right call in exchanging five Taliban detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s freedom. But among veterans, Obama fares even worse.

A USA Today/Pew poll released today reveals the vast majority of American military veterans aren’t pleased with the Obama Administration for trading five known terrorists for a possible deserter. By a 68-16 percent margin, veterans polled said Obama “made the wrong decision,” according to USA Today.

Asked whether they found Bergdahl a sympathetic figure, veterans were similarly displeased: “Only 6% of veterans who responded say they sympathized with him, while 33% say they were angry,” the summary indicates.

Among the general population, “43% of Americans say it was wrong for Obama to make the deal, compared with 34% who say it was the right thing to do.”

The head of the Veterans of Foreign Wars public affairs office, Joe Davis, told USA Today he believes veterans are angered by what they perceive as the Obama Administration’s subversion of longstanding diplomatic values that reflect American ideals even as they serve soldiers’ welfare.

“If he [Bergdahl] was a captured prisoner of war, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. He put his teammates in jeopardy, and you absolutely don’t do that in a combat zone,” said Davis. The U.S. government has “a long history in this country of not negotiating with terrorists. And we just did.”

The general public also believes, by a 2-1 margin, that the White House should be legally obligated to notify Congress before moving on any prisoner transfer with diplomatic or military implications. Just last year, Obama signed the law obligating him, as President, to do that very thing with regard to Guantanamo Bay prisoners – although he protested the law’s potential to limit his flexibility to “act swiftly” in negotiating such deals.

 

There’s No Winning: Conscientious Pennsylvania Kid Gets Suspended From School For Voluntarily Turning In Toy Gun

You can’t win for losing with the effete, fearful, gun-obsessed, progressively-correct adults overpopulating the ranks of the Nation’s public school teachers and administrators. One kid who realized he’d accidentally brought a toy gun to school inside his backpack recently tried, and was promptly slapped with a suspension for violating the school’s gun-replica policy.

Darin Simak, a first grader at Martin Elementary in Kensington, Pa., reportedly came to school with an old backpack his mom had dragged out of storage as a temporary replacement for the daily-use backpack he’d accidentally left in a friend’s car. Once at school, he realized there was a toy pistol inside the old backpack, from whenever it was last used.

Evidently aware, on some level, of the school’s no-toy-guns policy, Darin reportedly brought the toy to his teacher and said “I’m not supposed to have this.”

Sounds adorable to us.

Not so much to his teacher or school administrators, though. His teacher allegedly sent him to the principal’s office on the spot, where he was suspended from school. The New Kensington-Arnold School district has a one-year expulsion policy for bringing a replica of a gun to school, although the policy also allows administrators discretion in meting that punishment, based on the circumstances.

The suspension strongly angered Darin’s mother, Jennifer Mathabel, and she resolved after a day had passed to send him on to school anyway. But the principal called her after Darin arrived that morning and allegedly told her to come get her son.

“I said, ‘I’m sending him to school because he is entitled to be in school and be educated,’” Mathabel told WTAE News in Pittsburgh. No dice – the school elected, at that point, to place Darin into in-school suspension while officials contacted his father, who reportedly came and picked him up.

Those in positions of power often argue that they can be trusted with it. But instances like this one illustrate that kids can also learn, through experience, that it’s often better not to engage – on any level – the powerful people they’ve been told they can trust. As long as our fascistic strain of nanny culture continues to permeate American thought and, yes, government, it’s a lesson kids might as well carry into adulthood.

“He did the right thing, and we’re trying to teach him the right way,” said Chris Simak, Darin’s father. “And now they’re teaching him the wrong way.”

Superintendent John Pallone would not comment on the matter to the local newspaper. An expulsion hearing for Simak was scheduled for today.

UPDATE – Following today’s hearing, Darin Simak has been allowed to return to school Monday, with his suspension retroactive to include June 5 and June 6 – the two days of school he “officially” missed.

“I’m glad he can go back to school on Monday and get his last couple of toys the teacher took throughout the year and of course his report card,” Chris Simak told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He was upset that he was going to miss the last day of school.”

 

Sunday News Show Roundup

Sunday’s TV news talk didn’t add much depth to the ongoing controversy surrounding the United States’ exchange of five Taliban detainees for the mysterious Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, but it certainly added to the volume.

The Bergdahl story took center stage Sunday as the Administration of President Barack Obama continued to defend its decision to swap Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl — a soldier who, according to anecdotal reports from those who served with him, allegedly deserted the Army by walking off base in the Paktika Province of Afghanistan.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Secretary of State John Kerry doubled down on President Obama’s rhetoric last week, which defended the swapping of mid-to-high-level Taliban for Bergdahl as justified, because Bergdahl is “somebody’s child.”

“What I know today is what the President of the United States knows — that it would have been offensive and incomprehensible to consciously leave an American behind, no matter what — to leave an American behind in the hands of people who would torture him, cut off his head, do any number of things, and we would consciously choose to do that,” said Kerry.

“That’s the other side of this equation. I don’t think anyone would [forsake a soldier]; that’s the appropriate thing to do.”

But the Obama Administration didn’t get much sympathy for its decisionmaking Sunday, nor for the reasoning the President has employed to explain why the prisoner swap represents a good deal. In fact, GOP critics insinuated that the philosophical focus of Obama’s Bergdahl narrative; the Administration’s emphasis on not leaving a lone soldier (or child) behind, distracts from the more serious problems the swap has created for U.S. diplomacy.

“I think that completely misses the problem here,” Michigan GOP Congressman Mike Rogers told ABC’s This Week. “This is a huge regional problem for the United States now,” he added, saying the terrorist trade sends “the wrong message at the wrong time.”

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), a reliable foreign policy hawk, said on “State of the Union” there’s little reason to share the Obama Administration’s faith that the newly-freed terrorists won’t eagerly find their way back to the Taliban terror network.

“Qatar is not renowned for its ability to keep things in security,” McCain said. “We know that 30 percent of those who were released from Guantanamo before have re-entered the fight. These people are in the leadership. They are the ones who are dedicated, the hardest of hardcore, and — by the way — they became a lot harder after their years in Guantanamo.”

Under terms of the swap agreement, the freed Taliban are obligated to live in Qatar, without freedom to leave the country, for one year. There is no restriction on their movements within that country, and the men are reportedly residing in a well-appointed residential compound where they’ve been reunited with family from across the Middle East.

The terrorists’ newfound freedom of movement has grown into a bipartisan concern, with a frustrated Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) offering a similarly pessimistic assessment on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I heard John Kerry this morning say, ‘don’t worry about them in Doha [Qatar]’ — you can’t help but ‘worry about them in Doha,’ and we have no information on how the United States is actually going to see that they remain in Doha; that they make no comments; that they do no agitation…and another rumor is that one Taliban has apparently said that he would return to the battle field.

“So it’s a mixed bag, at best.”