United States Department of State
English: Location of Benghazi within Libya. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Published: Sept. 11, 2013 at 9:40 AM
WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 (UPI) — Several militant groups took part in the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, U.S. counter-terrorism officials determined.
The officials identified numerous people involved – such as the extremist group Ansar al-Sharia — and have issued sealed indictments in recent months, but on the one-year anniversary there isn’t “anyone in custody who can tell us” specifics of the attack, a counter-terrorism official told The Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday.
“That is a huge gap,” said the official. “What we lack is a source of information that puts us where we need to be.”
The Benghazi attack — in which Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other diplomatic employees died — still is a live issue for investigators and House Republicans conducting hearings on whether the Obama administration is covering up failures that occurred before, during and after the assault.
Iranian authorities blocked a website Wednesday hours after it was launched by the U.S. State Department to be a “virtual embassy” reaching out to people in the Islamic Republic.
“In accordance with the cybercrime law, access to this website is not possible,” read a notice to anyone inside Iran trying to visit iran.usembassy.gov.
The semi-official Fars news agency commented on the blocking of the U.S. website, saying, “A decisive reaction by Iranian authorities has neutralized another sly plot by the Americans.”
The “Virtual Embassy Tehran” website — which makes clear it does not offer consular services — is an attempt by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to give Iranians a sympathetic view of the United States, which is referred to as “the Great Satan” by Tehran’s ruling elite.
The White House condemned the effort by Tehran to control “what the Iranian people see and hear,” and said it remained committed to engaging in dialogue with the Iranian people.
“Through this action, the Iranian government has once again demonstrated its commitment to build an electronic curtain of surveillance and censorship around its people,” it said.
The United States has launched what it’s billing as a “virtual Iranian embassy” in an effort to engage with that country more than three decades after the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was closed and diplomatic relations were cut with Iran.
The project’s stated aim is to “enhance outreach and dialogue between the American and Iranian people.” A message by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in English and in Persian, welcomes users to the site. Clinton says she hopes it will provide an opportunity for citizens of the two countries “to communicate openly and without fear.”
“Because the United States and Iran do not have diplomatic relations, we have missed some important opportunities for dialogue with you, the citizens of Iran,” Clinton says. “But today, we can use new technologies to bridge that gap and promote greater understanding between our two countries, and the peoples of each country, which is why we established this virtual embassy.”
In accompanying text, the State Department explains: “This website is not a formal diplomatic mission, nor does it represent or describe a real U.S. embassy accredited to the Iranian government. But in the absence of direct contact, it can work as a bridge between the American and Iranian people.”
Direct contact between Americans and Iranians has been lacking since 1979, the year of Iran’s Islamic revolution and the taking of 52 American hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Since then, the embassy — dubbed a “nest of spies” by Iranian revolutionaries — has been closed and Washington has relied on the Swiss government to represent its diplomatic interests in the country.
For much of that time, Washington has been challenging, and sanctioning, Tehran over its secretive nuclear program, which the United States and many international critics claim is hiding a weapons program. Iran insists its nuclear activities are peaceful. Read the rest of this entry »
The Pentagon‘s secret plan to slash its own budget.
BY JOHN NORRIS | APRIL 13, 2011
On Friday, April 8, as members of the U.S. Congress engaged in a last-minute game of chicken over the federal budget, the Pentagon quietly issued a report that received little initial attention: “A National Strategic Narrative.” The report was issued under the pseudonym of “Mr. Y,” a takeoff on George Kennan’s 1946 “Long Telegram” from Moscow (published under the name “X” the following year in Foreign Affairs) that helped set containment as the cornerstone of U.S. strategy for dealing with the Soviet Union.
The piece was written by two senior members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a “personal” capacity, but it is clear that it would not have seen the light of day without a measure of official approval. Its findings are revelatory, and they deserve to be read and appreciated not only by every lawmaker in Congress, but by every American citizen. Read the rest of this entry »