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Do You Hate the Koch Brothers?

Do you abhor and despise the control they allegedly exercise over the nature of political debate here in the United States? Are you afraid and worried that other similarly wealthy and powerful people/institutions could hijack political debate in a similar fashion?

Well then, you should be absolutely outraged by this:

Did You Hear the Koch Brothers Just Gave a Million Bucks to NPR to Cover Healthcare?

No, you didn’t hear about that Koch gift to NPR, because it never happened.

But now that I have your attention, let me ask you whether you heard that a different funder, who also has a strong agenda on healthcare, just gave $1.3 million to NPR to report on this topic?

No, you probably didn’t hear about that gift either, by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation—a grant that has caused zero controversy.

Come to think of it, I didn’t recall any controversy when RWJF gave National Public Radio $5.6 million to report on healthcare between 2008 and 2011, during a period when this was among the most politicized of all topics.

You’d think that somebody would at least have raised an eyebrow, given that RWJF is a strong proponent of the Affordable Care Act, as well as other healthcare policy positions on the progressive side of the spectrum.

God bless that foundation, if you ask me. But as a thought experiment, imagine if the Koch brothers had given the same amount of money to NPR to cover healthcare.

People would have gone nuts.

Yes. They would have. But since the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation–and not the Koch Brothers–are involved here, no one will care about this story. It’s just fascinating how we select our political villains, no?

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I Keep Telling You People that the Human Rights Situation in Iran Is Awful

And here is more proof–assuming that more proof is actually needed:

Executions have surged in Iran and oppressive conditions for women have worsened, a United Nations investigator said on Monday, drawing attention to rights abuses just as Iran’s president is pushing for a diplomatic breakthrough with the West.

The investigator, Ahmed Shaheed, a former diplomat from the Maldives and now special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, made the comments on the eve of presenting his latest findings to members of the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr. Shaheed said he had been shocked by the execution on Saturday of Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, who was convicted of killing a man she had accused of raping her. The death sentence had prompted international outcry and efforts by the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, to rescind it. Under the Iranian Constitution, the president has no power over the judiciary.

In a briefing with reporters Monday morning, Mr. Shaheed suggested that Mr. Rouhani had only “limited authority” to make the broad changes that he promised when elected in June 2013.

From July 2013 to June 2014, Mr. Shaheed’s report says, at least 852 people were executed, in what he called an alarming increase from rates that were already high.

Among those put to death were at least eight juvenile offenders and four minority Arabs whom Mr. Shaheed described as “cultural rights activists.”

The death penalty can be applied in Iran for adultery, recidivist alcohol use, drug possession and trafficking, as well as crimes in which a person “points a weapon at members of the public to kill, frighten and coerce them,” the report said. Mr. Shaheed said minorities are sometimes charged for “exercising their rights to peaceful expression and association.”

Any further comment in this post is superfluous. The excerpt speaks for itself.

Smart Diplomacy

Recall that back in 2008, Barack Obama promised that if he became president, he would strengthen alliances and draw friends over to the side of the United States–unlike that George W. Bush fellow who supposedly angered and alienated allies left, right and center.

Remember that? Good. Now read this:

The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.

[. . .]

“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”

I ran this notion by another senior official who deals with the Israel file regularly. This official agreed that Netanyahu is a “chickenshit” on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat. The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

This entirely silly line of “argument” gets eviscerated here:

As a million people on Twitter are noting this afternoon, “the chickensh*t” served as a team leader in the IDF’s special forces unit, Sayeret Matkal. Team Hopenchange isn’t questioning his personal bravery, though, they’re questioning something they naturally consider more important — political bravery. Which is interesting because The One’s shown plenty of gutlessness on international affairs himself over the past few years. He abandoned Mubarak because he didn’t want to be on the wrong side of Arab populism, then abandoned Morsi once the winds of Arab populism changed. He backed off his “red line” in Syria once he realized the public wasn’t keen on bombing Assad, then accepted a transparently sham deal to disarm Damascus’s chemical weapons brokered by Vladimir Putin. He let Iraq fall to pieces, enabling the rise of ISIS, because keeping a residual force of U.S. troops there would have upset his base. Ten years from now, his legacy on Iran will almost certainly be that he missed the west’s last clear chance to stop the mullahs before they built a bomb, choosing to accept another transparently sham denuclearization deal instead because he feared a war more than he feared Shiite fanatics with nuclear weapons. How is this guy, or rather his surrogates, calling other leaders “chickensh*t”?

[. . .]

Let me understand this. Netanyahu considered attacking Iran, we pressured him not to do it, and now we’re mocking him as a “chickensh*t” for taking our advice? Logically, doesn’t that make The One “King Chickensh*t”? I’ve re-read that boldfaced part five times now and I still can’t quite process it. Not only are they sneering at Bibi for adopting the White House’s own policy, they’re flatly admitting — boasting even — that they made Iran’s nuclear program attack-proof. A bombing run might have worked three years ago but it won’t work now, thanks to … Uncle Sam’s delay tactics on behalf of Tehran. Iran might as well name its first ICBM the “Barack.” You’re welcome, A-holes.

So much for improving international alliances. So much for providing America with a cogent, intelligent, rational, realist foreign policy. Remind me why these guys got a second term, let alone a first one.

Quote of the Day

At some point, a compendium of condemnations against the Obama administration’s record of media transparency (actually, opacity) must be assembled. Notable quotations in this vein come from former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, who said, “It is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering”; New York Times reporter James Risen, who said, “I think Obama hates the press”; and CBS News’s Bob Schieffer, who said, “This administration exercises more control than George W. Bush’s did, and his before that.”

USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page has added a sharper edge to this set of knives. Speaking Saturday at a White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) seminar, Page called the current White House not only “more restrictive” but also “more dangerous” to the press than any other in history, a clear reference to the Obama administration’s leak investigations and its naming of Fox News’s James Rosen as a possible “co-conspirator” in a violation of the Espionage Act.

The WHCA convened the event both to strategize over how to open up the byways of the self-proclaimed most transparent administration in history, as well as to compare war stories on the many ways in which it is not. Peter Baker, the veteran Washington reporter from the New York Times, provided perhaps the best instance of White House-administered madness. In covering a breaking story recently, Baker received a note from a White House handler indicating that President Obama had been briefed on the matter in question.

That information came to Baker “on background.” The gist: Not from me — a meeting has occurred..

Other gripes: Correspondents took aim at large-scale “deep background” briefings — attended by up to 40-odd reporters — at which ground rules specify no names for the officials in attendance and no quotations of anything they say. ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl spoke of covering the Boston Marathon bombings. As the story developed, Karl noted that the White House wasn’t giving out any information at all. So he went around it and found out that the feds were sending their high-value interrogation team to Boston. “No way I would have gotten that out of the White House,” said Karl.

Bloomberg White House correspondent Margaret Talev noted how the White House stopped giving details on the fine wines served at state dinners, an opaque measure that she exposed in this story. In pursuing the piece, said Talev, she got the runaround from White House press officials, making her “so mad at them.” Over the course of a few weeks, she had to become, in essence, a wine correspondent.

Erik Wemple. Remember that all of this is about “the most transparent administration ever.”

Wasn’t the Obama Administration Supposed to Improve the Conduct of American Foreign Policy?

I could swear that was the promise back in 2008. I could also swear that the president claimed to have delivered on that promise when he ran for re-election. And yet . . .

When President Obama, after months of equivocation over how to respond to the takeover of parts of Iraq and Syria by radical militants, announced in September that the United States would “lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat,” the White House swung quickly into action, sending proposed legislation to train and equip Syrian rebels to Capitol Hill that same day.

Unfortunately, the White House failed to consult with the Pentagon—which would be doing most of the rolling back—on the timing or details of the announcement.

According to multiple sources, behind the scenes a few things went badly awry in the launch of Obama’s new policy. First, the Pentagon was surprised by the president’s timing, according to a senior defense official. “We didn’t know it was going to be in the speech,” he said, referring to Obama’s Sept. 10 address to the nation. Second, the White House neglected to give Pentagon lawyers a chance to revise and approve the proposed legislative language before it went to the Hill, which is considered standard practice. Staffers working for Rep. Buck McKeon, the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said they were appalled by what they saw: language so sloppy that it failed to mention adequate protections against so-called “green-on-blue” attacks by trainees on American troops, and effectively left the Defense Department liable for funding the mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)—even though the president was telling members of Congress he didn’t need money for this new mission, since the Saudis were putting it up. “What came over would have not have been a mission the DoD could have executed,” says a senior Republican committee staffer.

The Armed Services Committee later went directly to the Pentagon and worked out new language, the White House approved it, and Obama signed the legislation as part of a new Continuing Resolution on Sept. 19. But that was hardly the first instance in recent months when the White House failed to consult with the Pentagon. The office of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was taken by surprise as well last July, when national security adviser Susan Rice sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner requesting a withdrawal of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed in 2002 to enable U.S. military action in Iraq. This letter came after Mosul, a key northern Iraqi city, had already fallen to ISIL and the scale of the threat was becoming clear. The letter was never acted on, and in fact the AUMF that Rice wanted withdrawn is now part of the very authority the administration says it is operating under, along with the 2001 AUMF against al Qaeda. The Pentagon was not given a heads-up about that letter either, according to multiple sources. “We didn’t know it was going over there, and there were significant concerns about it,” said the senior defense official. “We had these authorities to go into Iraq under the 2002 AUMF, which is what she wanted repealed. We believed the authorities were still needed.”

We all remember Chuck Hagel, right? He was supposed to be this incredibly transformative secretary of defense. As it turns out, he is practically a non-entity in the national security establishment, having failed to live up to his hype. Much like Susan Rice in terms of competence and effectiveness, as the story points out.

And much like the Obama administration in general when it comes to foreign policy and national security, now that one thinks about it.

Kevin Drum Is Fighting Cancer

I remember being invited to Kevin Drum’s house for dinner with some other bloggers back on December 13, 2003. I remember the date because it was the same day that Saddam Hussein was captured by American forces; it figures that a dinner gathering of bloggers would feature some important breaking news. But what I remember from the day was not any discussion of blogging, news, or political debates. Rather, I remember Kevin’s kindness as a host, his sincere interest in what each of his guests wrote and thought about the issues of the day, and of course, his cats, Inkblot and Jasmine, both of whom made their appearances. They were like stars on the red carpet on Oscar night.

Over the years, Kevin and I have obviously had our political disagreements, featuring each of us being exasperated with the other. But for my part, I never stopped being impressed with his writing, his analysis of the issues of the day, his ability to parlay blogging into a career, and of course, the cataloging (even if I am allergic to cats and am a dog person instead).

So our political differences notwithstanding, I consider and have long considered Kevin to be one of the good guys of the blogosphere. That is why I was shocked to read that he has cancer. Multiple myeloma, to be exact. Of course, one never wants bad things to happen to good people, so to write that this sucks is to write an understatement of a sentence.

Fortunately, Kevin’s “short-term prognosis is pretty positive.” As for the long term, I can only hope that treatment for multiple myeloma improves by leaps and bounds in the coming years, so that once Kevin goes into remission–as he is expected to in the short term–he will stay in remission. Or as James Joyner puts it, “I certainly wish the remission comes soon, the regimen is as painless as possible, and the treatment protocols improve by leaps and bounds before they’re needed again.” Indeed.

Relatedly, I would hope that everyone in the blogosphere–including those who disagree with Kevin’s political point of view–will join me in supporting him as he takes on this new challenge in his life. Again, Kevin is one of the good guys, and he deserves to have people rally around him. Some fights are more important than political ones, and Kevin is taking on the biggest fight of his life. The more we cheer him on, the more successful that fight can be.

Stalin Would Approve

This is what happens to Scott Walker supporters in Wisconsin:

The early-morning paramilitary-style raids on citizens’ homes were conducted by law enforcement officers, sometimes wearing bulletproof vests and lugging battering rams, pounding on doors and issuing threats. Spouses were separated as the police seized computers, including those of children still in pajamas. Clothes drawers, including the children’s, were ransacked, cellphones were confiscated and the citizens were told that it would be a crime to tell anyone of the raids.

Some raids were precursors of, others were parts of, the nastiest episode of this unlovely political season, an episode that has occurred in an unlikely place. This attempted criminalization of politics to silence people occupying just one portion of the political spectrum has happened in Wisconsin, which often has conducted robust political arguments with Midwestern civility.

From the progressivism of Robert La Follette to the conservatism of Gov. Scott Walker (R) today, Wisconsin has been fertile soil for conviction politics. Today, the state’s senators are the very conservative Ron Johnson (R) and the very liberal Tammy Baldwin (D). Now, however, Wisconsin, which to its chagrin produced Sen. Joe McCarthy (R), has been embarrassed by Milwaukee County’s Democratic district attorney, John Chisholm. He has used Wisconsin’s uniquely odious “John Doe” process to launch sweeping and virtually unsupervised investigations while imposing gag orders to prevent investigated people from defending themselves or rebutting politically motivated leaks.

According to several published reports, Chisholm told subordinates that his wife, a teachers union shop steward at her school, is anguished by her detestation of Walker’s restrictions on government employee unions, so Chisholm considers it his duty to help defeat Walker.

In collaboration with Wisconsin’s misbegotten Government Accountability Board, which exists to regulate political speech, Chisholm has misinterpreted Wisconsin campaign law in a way that looks willful. He has done so to justify a “John Doe” process that has searched for evidence of “coordination” between Walker’s campaign and conservative issue advocacy groups.

On Oct. 14, much too late in the campaign season to rescue the political-participation rights of conservative groups, a federal judge affirmed what Chisholm surely has known all along: Since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling 38 years ago, the only coordination that is forbidden is between candidates and independent groups that go beyond issue advocacy to “express advocacy” — explicitly advocating the election or defeat of a particular candidate.

Oddly enough, all those who in the past denounced George W. Bush for supposedly constructing and running a police state are completely silent concerning this story. I’m sure this particular revelation absolutely shocks my readers.

“You Didn’t Build That” Redux

Oh great. Here we go again:

At a Democratic rally in Massachusetts, Hillary Clinton’s attempt to attack “trickle-down economics,” resulted in a spectacularly odd statement.

[. . .]

She went on to state that businesses and corporations are not the job creators of America. “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs,” the former Secretary of State said.

One wonders whether the Rose Law Firm, which gave Clinton a job out of law school, is and has been viewed by her as some kind of government agency. In related news, the next time that Democrats wonder why they are viewed by so many as an anti-business party, you can point them to this story and Clinton’s quote.

Further related news: Boy, Hillary Clinton really isn’t a good candidate, is she?

Some Things Never Change–Like the Awful Human Rights Situation in Iran

To wit:

Iran hanged a woman on Saturday who was convicted of murdering a man she alleged was trying to rape her, drawing swift international condemnation for a prosecution several countries described as flawed.

Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged at dawn for premeditated murder, the official IRNA news agency reported. It quoted a statement issued by the Tehran Prosecutor Office Saturday that rejected the claim of attempted rape and said that all evidence proved that Jabbari had plotted to kill Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former intelligence agent.

The United Nations as well as Amnesty International and other human rights groups had called on Iran’s judiciary to halt the execution, which was carried out after the country’s Supreme Court upheld the verdict. The victim’s family could have saved Jabbari’s life by accepting blood money but they refused to do so.

According to her 2009 sentencing, Jabbari, 27, stabbed Sarbandi in the back in 2007 after purchasing a knife two days earlier.

“The knife had been used on the back of the deceased, indicating the murder was not self-defense,” the agency quoted the court ruling as saying.

Britain, Germany, and a group of European parliamentarians, among others, condemned the execution, as did the United States.

“There were serious concerns with the fairness of the trial and the circumstances surrounding this case, including reports of confessions made under severe duress,” State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

“We join our voice with those who call on Iran to respect the fair trial guarantees afforded to its people under Iran’s own laws and its international obligations,” she added.

I have nothing to add. This whole story is appalling beyond words.

Bigotry + Delusion = The American Studies Association

Behold:

When the American Studies Association adopted its Israel boycott in February, it was “credited… for giving moment to the boycott campaign.” Now the ASA has significantly reversed its boycott of Israeli scholars – and is indeed trying to claim it never happened.

If the ASA’s original action was important for popularizing such boycotts (at least in the narrow quarters of area studies), its reversal is equally important for showing them to be beyond the pale. It will be extremely hard for other academic groups to now put a good face on adopting a boycott that the ASA has done so much to distance itself from. This is underscored by the ASA’s dodgy and frantic triangulation about its boycott policy. In the past week it has issued what the observers have described as inconsistent statements“uncomfortable clarifications,” and further “clarified clarifications.”

While having the revolutionary vanguard of the boycott movement disclaiming such efforts is welcome, their rewriting history to claim the boycott never happened is less so. When the boycott was being considered earlier this year, some members favored a broad boycott of all Israeli academics, while others were uncomfortable with that. Ultimately the group adopted a watered-down compromise that would exclude only some Israelis – those who are “expressly serving as representatives or ambassadors” of Israeli schools, but not “individual Israeli scholars.” This distinction is not terribly clear (more on this later).

What is clear is tat the ASA decided, in a widely-publicized move, to discriminate against some Israeli academics. Now, the ASA says it will not discriminate against any Israeli academics. The Conference is open to “everyone,” the group says, even, as the ASA’s executive director explained to me, “representatives of Israeli institutions.”

The worst part of the story is, of course, the fact that the boycott was launched in the first place. But almost as bad is the display of the ASA’s utter intellectual cowardice, now that the boycott has been criticized and now that it has failed. Pretending that the ASA never meant to boycott or discriminate is beyond absurd, and the organization shouldn’t be allowed to get away with rewriting history. In related news, maybe this attempt to whitewash the ASA’s efforts to discriminate indicates that being discriminatory and bigoted is a bad idea, one that should not be adopted by others. I realize that this is a revolutionary thought, but it has the virtue of being intellectually defensible.

Those Nasty Koch Brothers

Look what they’re up to now:

Liberals and conservatives don’t often see eye to eye on matters of constitutional rights, particularly when it comes to the First and Second Amendments.

The Sixth Amendment, and its guarantee of defense counsel, may be at least one patch of common ground.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers announced this week that it’s getting a “major grant” from Koch Industries Inc. to support the group’s indigent defense training programs and to study how states can do a better job of delivering legal services to the poor.

“We are supportive of the NACDL’s efforts to make the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of an individual’s right to counsel a reality for all Americans, especially those who are the most disadvantaged in our society,” Charles G. Koch, the chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, said in a statement about the grant, which is believed to be in the six figures.

The grant comes at a time when state spending on legal defense for the poor has slumped, as Law Blog noted earlier.

How very oppressive and terrible. When, oh when will the Koch brothers stop being History’s Greatest Monsters?

Speaking of “Derpy” . . .

Look, I am no fan of Ron Paul’s, and I don’t take his views on monetary policy seriously. But this Paul Krugman hit piece is silly on multiple levels. You can’t criticize the content of a televised presentation when the sound is off, leaving you unable to discuss anything that was said in the presentation. If you are Paul Krugman, you are thoroughly unqualified to denounce others for being “pulled in by affinity fraud” and “liv[ing] in a bubble.” And of course, if Krugman insists on denouncing others for “liv[ing] in a bubble,” he might wish to take his own side to task, which he might learn to do if he bothered to read the content published by his own employer.

These basic facts don’t actually have to be explained to most people. But they have to be explained to Krugman. And if you recall what Daniel Okrent wrote about Krugman–that he “has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults”–you’ll realize that the explanation will fall on deaf ears. Paul Krugman isn’t interested in being fair, honest, or open-minded. He is interested in being insulting, unfair, hypocritical, and shielded from opposing points of view that might disturb his mindscape. It’s how he makes his living, after all.

Nota bene: If the word “derpy” could be excised from our vocabulary, no one would be more pleased than me.

For Everyone Who Doubts the Threat Hamas Poses to Israel . . .

Be sure to read this article about the tunnels dug by Hamas to allow terrorists to launch surprise attacks on Israelis and kill or kidnap scores of them. The following excerpt provides a good summary of the story, but do read the whole thing:

While Israel, a nuclear power, takes pride in having fielded one of the world’s most technologically advanced armies, its adversaries have charted a decidedly different course. For half a century, the Palestinian resistance has proved to be something of an incubator for the tools of unconventional warfare: hijacking, hostage-taking, suicide bombings—all highly visible terror tactics designed to attract the world’s media outlets. As a result, Israel has repeatedly been forced to adapt to its enemies’ lower-cost, higher-yield methods.

Underground networks are just the latest example. According to the Israeli Security Agency, better known by its Hebrew abbreviation, Shin Bet, Hamas began building tunnels under the Gaza Strip as early as 2000. For the most part, these were crude structures designed for one-off attacks against Israeli forces, which withdrew from Gaza in 2005. A year later, however, Hamas used just such a tunnel to sneak into Israel and kidnap a 19-year-old soldier named Gilad Shalit. “This was one of the most asymmetrical incidents in recent memory,” a senior Israeli intelligence official asserts. “One Israeli soldier was held for five and a half years and traded [in 2011] for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.” Another top official agreed, “This was a proof of concept for them. Tunnels work.”

The next time that someone tells you that Hamas poses no threat to Israel, or that the threat is exaggerated, or that Hamas does not so much as wish to cause catastrophic damage to Israel, cite this article to them. It may not actually change the minds of those who are committed to the belief that Israel is illegitimate and that efforts to destroy it should not keep us up at night, but it will at the very least force Israel-haters and those who are unconcerned with the country’s fate to contend with actual facts.

In which Socialists Learn a Lesson about Economics

The Freedom Socialist Party (yeah, I’ve never heard of them either) is advocating a $20 per hour minimum wage. But when it comes to trying to get a part-time web designer, the party is only willing to pay $13 per hour.

Asked about the discrepancy between the party’s words and deeds, “Doug Barnes, the party’s national secretary, told The Huffington Post on Saturday that the group relies heavily on donations from low-wage workers and could not afford to pay much to an inexperienced designer.”

And of course, that is entirely understandable. Why, if the minimum wage were actually raised to $20 per hour, in accordance with the party’s demands, the party may not be able to hire anyone new. And you know what? Other organizations and entities whose financial situation is similar to that of the Freedom Socialist Party might not be able to hire anyone new either, if the minimum wage goes to as high as $20 per hour.

All of which would appear to indicate that minimum wage laws can in fact adversely influence employment. Which kind of makes you wonder why there are so many people out there who claim otherwise.

Incidentally, I won’t write much about the hypocrisy being shown by the Freedom Socialist Party, and I trust that I don’t really have to. It’s self-evident, after all, no?

Why Are We Aiding ISIL?

And make no mistake; we are. I understand and appreciate the desire to lend humanitarian aid to innocent civilians, but we have no evidence whatsoever that civilians are actually receiving the aid; rather, it appears that the aid is being diverted to meet ISIL’s needs and interests. Behold:

“The convoys have to be approved by ISIS and you have to pay them: the bribes are disguised and itemized as transportation costs,” says an aid coordinator who spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition he not be identified in this article. The kickbacks are either paid by foreign or local non-governmental organizations tasked with distributing the aid, or by the Turkish or Syrian transportation companies contracted to deliver it.

And there are fears the aid itself isn’t carefully monitored enough, with some sold off on the black market or used by ISIS to win hearts and minds by feeding its fighters and its subjects. At a minimum the aid means ISIS doesn’t have to divert cash from its war budget to help feed the local population or the displaced persons, allowing it to focus its resources exclusively on fighters and war making, say critics of the aid.

The aid is being used to materially assist a group with which the United States is at war. It’s a hard decision to make, but the decision must be made to stop the flow of humanitarian assistance until ISIL’s hold on the territory where the aid is flowing is disrupted.

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