US Intelligence Veterans Say Merkel Information on Russia’s Invasion to Ukraine Unreliable

Situation in Donetsk region.© RIA Novosti. Guennady Dubovoy

Situation in Donetsk region.© RIA Novosti. Guennady Dubovoy

 

Topic: Situation in the South-East of Ukraine

MOSCOW, September 2 (RIA Novosti) – Members of US Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) movement wrote an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying that the NATO’s information about the invasion of Russian troops in Ukraine is unreliable.

“You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian “invasion” of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence,” a letter published on warisacrime.org website reads.

The letter, signed by ten former US intelligence officers also says that “the images, released by NATO on August 28, provide a very flimsy basis to charge Russia with invading Ukraine.”

Moreover, the veterans are certain that NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s speeches are drafted by Washington.

The letter aims to brief Merkel on the alleged Russian invasion to Ukraine prior to the NATO summit scheduled for September 4-5.

Earlier in May, the movement’s members signed a memorandum addressed to US President Barack Obama, asking him to take steps towards the de-escalation of the Ukrainian crisis and urged him to officially announce that NATO will not integrate Ukraine and Georgia.

Eastern Military District Troops Moved to Highest State of Combat Readiness

Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

 

MOSCOW, September 12 (RIA Novosti) – Troops in Russia’s Eastern Military District are moved to the highest state of combat readiness as surprise drills begin in the region, the Russian Ministry of Defense informed on Friday.

“As part of a surprise check of the Eastern Military District troops’ combat readiness, military formations and units located in the Eastern region of the Russian Federation have completed the implementation of measures to enter the highest degree of combat readiness,” the ministry wrote in a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered to hold snap combat readiness drills in Russia’s Eastern Military District starting Thursday.

Air defense forces and military units would be put on full combat alert starting 10:00 a.m. Moscow time [6:00 a.m. GMT], Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Thursday.

The Eastern Military District includes military units in Transbaikal and the Far East. The headquarters are located in the city of Khabarovsk.

 

MOSCOW, September 10 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Armed Forces received over 3,600 units of main military equipment in 2014 as a result of the efficient implementation of the state defense orders, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

“This year alone, as of August, the troops have already received more than 3,600 units of main military equipment and almost 241,000 units of other types of weaponry,” Putin said at a government meeting on federal budget.

“It is important to maintain this intensive tempo,” Putin stressed.

 

 

TIME – President Obama’s Anti-ISIS War in Syria May Be Illegal

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks on the phone with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington September 10, 2014. President Barack Obama called Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Wednesday ahead of an evening speech in which the U.S. leader plans to lay out his strategy for defeating the militant group Islamic State, the White House said. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks on the phone with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington September 10, 2014. President Barack Obama called Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Wednesday ahead of an evening speech in which the U.S. leader plans to lay out his strategy for defeating the militant group Islamic State, the White House said. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES –

 

CIA Says ISIS Ranks May Have Tripled

Obama is relying on questionable legal authority in his pursuit of terrorists, but that never stopped George W. Bush.

If truth is the first casualty of war, law is apparently the last, at least for President Barack Obama.

Obama came to office declaring his determination to reimpose legal limits on the American effort to defeat al Qaeda. He swore to close Guantanamo Bay, abolish torture, tighten rules for the treatment of terrorist prisoners and rein in the broad executive power President George W. Bush had claimed in the global hunt for terrorists.

But after five-and-a-half years of near-constant terrorist brush fires in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, and a Congress that remains largely unwilling to update key counterterrorism legislation, Obama appears finally to have surrendered to a very loose legal definition of where and when he can use military force against terrorists.

In his prime time speech Wednesday evening, Obama told Americans he was expanding attacks against the group calling itself the “Islamic State”, also known as ISIS or ISIL, by targeting its fighters not just in Iraq but also in Syria. “I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria as well as Iraq,” Obama said, “This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

Strategically, that makes sense. Speaking to reporters before Obama’s speech, a senior administration official explained, “ISIL is moving with impunity back and forth from Syria to Iraq, and vice versa, each time and from each place gaining arms, gaining manpower, gaining fuel, literally and figuratively, for their fight.”

Legally, however, Obama’s authority to attack ISIS in Syria is on shaky ground. Under the Constitution, Congress decides if and when the U.S. goes to war. In 2002, it authorized President George W. Bush to attack Iraq. That authorization, broadly interpreted, can be read to include the threat ISIS now poses there. But it doesn’t apply to Syria, at least not easily. And the Obama Administration announced this summer that it was no longer using the 2002 authorization to justify its actions.

Instead, Obama claims he has authority to bomb ISIS in Syria under the Sept. 14, 2001 authorization from Congress following the 9/11 attacks. In the call with reporters, Obama’s senior administration official said, “We believe that he can rely on the 2001 AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force] as statutory authority for the military airstrike operations he is directing against ISIL.”

That joint resolution gave the president the power to “use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

A variety of legal scholars on the left and the right, including Obama himself, have argued that authorization is too broad and needs to be rewritten so it doesn’t give eternal war-fighting power to all future presidents. And as Jack Goldsmith writes for TIME today, it’s a stretch for Obama to claim it applies to ISIS, given that ISIS and al Qaeda split earlier this year.

According to a 2012 speech by Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security who previously served as Obama’s top lawyer at the Department of Defense, there are two characteristics that a group must have to be considered an “associated force” with al Qaeda under the 2001 authorization. First they must be “an organized, armed group that has entered the fight alongside al Qaeda,” and second, the group “is a co-belligerent with al Qaeda in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” The White House has yet to release to Congress or the public any detailed analysis of their determination that the Islamic state meets these standards.

If Obama is breaking the law, don’t expect much to come of it in the short term. The consequences of Obama’s legal interpretation, beyond his own discomfort, are not likely very great. The Bush administration showed the bar for legally constraining presidential counterterrorist actions is high, and even when it is surmounted there are little or no penalties. Politically, the president has nothing to fear: no matter how angry they are about the new effort against ISIS, the left wing of Obama’s party isn’t going to impeach him, and the right won’t either, at least not for going after Islamic extremists.

In the long term, perhaps Obama’s legal legerdemain will boost those who want to come up with new, clearer legal frameworks for international counterterrorism operations. But for now Obama, like Bush before him, seems determined to act without them.

 

U.S. intelligence

CIA Says ISIS Ranks May Have Tripled

Foreign fighters, including Americans, appear to be pouring into Syria to support the terrorist group

The CIA estimates that ISIS, the Islamist terrorist group that has declared a caliphate in the large swath of Iraq and Syria which it now controls, “can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria, based on a new review of all-source intelligence reports from May to August, an increase from our previous assessment of at least 10,000 fighters,” a CIA spokesperson said. That estimate accounts only for individuals fighting with ISIS itself, not with any affiliated group.

The new estimate reflects a sharp uptick in recruitment over the summer “following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate,” the CIA spokesperson said.

The CIA believes more than 15,000 foreign fighters from 80 countries—at least 2,000 of whom are Westerners—have traveled to Syria to join ISIS ranks. A dozen or more could be Americans, the CIA believes.

A U.S. intelligence official cautioned that the CIA’s estimate is not a precise figure and reflects a broad approximation based on limited intelligence. “The gap between the low and high points indicates there is uncertainty about the exact number of fighters in (ISIS),” a US intelligence official said. “Given the changing dynamics of the battlefield, new recruits, and other factors, it is difficult to assess the precise number of individuals in a terrorist group that is evolving and practices good operational security.”