Most Americans would think that after 9/11 and the four trillion dollar, 15 year “war on terror” that followed, the US government might actually wish to prevent individuals from visiting the country who are affiliated with al-Qaeda. Sadly, they would be wrong.

The McClatchy News Service reports that Labib al Nahhas, an official in the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist fighting group Ahrar al Sham, was granted a visa to enter the US for a brief visit.

In a recent State Department press briefing, one journalist questioned Department Spokesman Mark Toner about the purported visit. “Were US officials aware of this visit?” asked the journalist.

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The State Department Inspector General’s (IG) investigation report leaked out a day early on May 25 makes a number of significant points. These matter, and need to be considered by anyone voting in November.

What’s in the IG Report

  • Neither Clinton nor any of her senior staff would participate in the IG’s investigation.
  • Clinton never sought approval, legal or technical, for her unprecedented private email system.
  • IT staffers and others at State warned her against it.
  • Had she sought approval, the State Department would not have granted it.
  • Clinton violated Federal Records laws.
  • Clinton did not turn over all of her work-related emails. Several (unclassified) were quoted in the IG report that had never been released.
  • Clinton violated State Department policies and guidelines in place at the time, even as the State Department enforced those on the rank-and-file.
  • IT staff at the State Department who raised concerns internally were falsely told the server was approved and ordered to not discuss it further.
  • Clinton’s use of a non-standard email account caused many of her emails to not reach their recipients inside State, and ended up instead in Spam.
  • State Department staffers not in Clinton’s inner circle aware of her private email address could not communicate with the head of their agency.
  • His State Department bosses did not know their employee, Bryan Pagliano, was simultaneously working directly for Clinton maintaining her private server.
  • The server came under severe enough hacker attacks that its administrator had to physically unplug it to prevent intrusions.

The question of classified material handling is, by agreement, being left by State to the FBI, and is thus not addressed in the IG report.

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11796415_934981119876529_3032773539452310147_nPresident Obama’s #apology tour keeps a-rollin’ on, am I right? No, hang on.

As unforgivable as Obama has been on foreign policy in myriad ways — and how much worse, perhaps, a Clinton or any Republican ever might be with the help of Obama’s drone precedents — there is something about him which almost looks like better than it could be. At least in certain lights. That is to say, Obama kills people, but he also occasionally appears to notice that the US has made foreign policy mistakes. This is what the hawks and right-wingers dub the apology tour, even though “sorry” never crosses the president’s lips when he’s discussing the heavy handed US response to 9/11, or admitting America’s role in the 1953 coup in Iran.

Obama is the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima. The opening act for his visit to the site of the first nuclear bomb ever dropped on human beings was Secretary of State John Kerry, who went last month. Kerry’s delicate acknowledgement that the bombing was a tragedy gave conservatives a case of indigestion. Obama’s Friday speech may make them lose their minds entirely. Continue

Our main story today is a new study which involved personal interviews with over 300 Syrians to understand why so many have joined the ongoing civil war. Interviews were conducted with people who have already participated in the war and those actively considering it, as well as family and community members.

The study found that an overwhelming majority of Syrians were motivated to join the civil war (against President Assad) based on pragmatic and political reasons, not religious ones. Even those Syrians who have joined the radical Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat Al-Nusra, still cited very practical reasons for their decisions. Some of them join because all other economic opportunities have been decimated as a result of war. Others joined out of desire for revenge, gravitating toward extreme groups like Al-Nusra because they’ve proven to be among the most effective fighting forces against the Syrian government.

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James Bovard talks about the war on terror, which he says has cost the U.S. $4 trillion since it began in 2001.

On May 18, 2016 the Charles Koch Institute hosted “Advancing American Security: The Future of U.S. Foreign Policy” to examine current U.S. foreign and defense policies. During his opening address, renowned military historian Andrew Bacevich surveyed the recent history of U.S. engagement in the world and assessed whether it has made America safer.