Tag: Program

Syrian Rebel Training Program Ends After Obama Regime Spends Half A Billion Dollars To Train 5 People

Another Foreign Policy Failure For Obama: Pentagon Training For Syrian Rebels Ends – Daily Signal

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After the grim announcement last month that only four or five Syrian rebels trained by U.S. military personnel remained inside Syria, the Obama administration has decided to call it quits on the program altogether. There were supposed to be roughly 5,400 trained fighters this year and 15,000 within 3 years in order to effectively combat ISIS in Syria.

While some Defense Department officials have masked the ending of the operation as “an operational pause,” others have confirmed that the program has been halted and may soon be replaced by a smaller program focused on supporting existing rebel forces fighting ISIS, rather than trying to create new ones. A covert CIA program to train Syrian rebels has been more successful. But after a pricey $500 million dollar expenditure, it’s easy to see why so many observers are disgusted with yet another Obama foreign policy failure.

The failure of the Pentagon’s plan to train the rebel groups has been looming for months; even Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged in February that the president needed a better – or different – strategy in the region. The administration’s feckless policy in Syria and its initial dismissal of the threat that ISIS poses to the west, and particularly to America, is proving to be one of President Barack Obama’s most costly strategic blunders. As the Islamic State recruits more foreign fighters and gains more territory, it becomes harder for Obama to simply write off the radical terror group as he has done so many times before.

In addition to the mushrooming humanitarian catastrophe inside Syria and the flood of millions of Syrian refugees, the White House’s passivity emboldened Vladimir Putin’s Russia to actively intervene in the crisis. To make matters worse, Russian warplanes have launched airstrikes targeting rebels that the U.S. is trying to support, while Russian officials are falsely claiming that their attacks are aimed at ISIS. Putin’s actions in Syria have further raised the costs and risks of Obama’s hapless foreign policy. Obama’s inaction has provided an opportunity for Putin to seize the initiative and exploit the deteriorating situation to establish Russian presence in the region, as well as affirm Russia’s alliance with Syria and Iran.

There has been heavy criticism of the equip-and-train program in recent months with mounting pressure from Congress. The hesitant halfway measures that have been dispensed by the Obama administration in its efforts to address the Syrian crisis have achieved minimal benefits.

The Obama administration will mask the suspension of the program with a cloud of rhetoric, but the facts remain clear. The Pentagon’s plan to train the rebels has been a disaster from the start, complete with zero accountability on behalf of the government. The formal end of the Pentagon’s program to train Syrian rebels is just an example of the Obama administration’s true foreign policy legacy: one empty promise after another.

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Feds Cover Up Rampant Crime In $1.6B Job Corps Program

Govt. Covers Up Rampant Crime In $1.6 Bil Antipoverty Job Program – Judicial Watch

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The U.S. government’s $1.6 billion vocational program for at-risk youth was created decades ago to end poverty by offering poor teenagers free job training, but it’s a seriously mismanaged hotbed of violence rife with violent crimes that are routinely covered up by officials in charge.

The crisis appears to have plateaued recently when four youths participating in the program, known as Job Corps, brutally murdered a fellow student in a Miami, Florida job training center. The area’s mainstream newspaper reported that the Job Corps students confessed to luring a 17-year-old to the woods, where he was repeatedly hacked with a machete and forced into a shallow grave as he lay mortally wounded. The sickening details came right out of the police report. Months earlier a murder occurred at a Job Corps facility in St. Louis, Missouri.

The recent crimes are part of a much broader problem within the Job Corps, which serves about 60,000 low-income students ages 16-24 at 125 centers nationwide. The Department of Labor (DOL) administers Job Corps, which has also been plagued with fraud and corruption over the years, and insists it has a strict policy forbidding any kind of violence or illegal drugs. The reality is however, that crime is rampant at local centers around the country and seldom do cases get reported or adequately investigated. Often officials sweep incidents under the rug or downplay them to prevent the offenders from getting booted out of the taxpayer-funded program.

In fact, earlier this year a scathing DOL Inspector General report blasted the agency for failing to take action involving lax enforcement of Job Corps disciplinary policies that had been well documented in previous investigations. The “continuing deficiencies” have allowed “potentially dangerous students in the program,” investigators wrote, further revealing that an astounding 35,021 serious misconduct incidents occurred at 11 centers alone. In many cases serious infractions were not reported or were improperly downgraded to lesser infractions, the agency watchdog found. They include assault, illegal drugs and fighting among the students.

For instance, at a North Carolina center a violent physical altercation landed one student with enough injuries to require hospitalization yet the crime was downgraded and no disciplinary action was taken, in violation of established rules. At an Oklahoma center a student struck another student in the head with an object yet remained enrolled as if nothing ever happened, even though the injury required five stitches. At a Pennsylvania facility a student was busted with drugs on the Job Corps property yet faced no consequences. There are many more examples in fact, 51 students who should have been automatically discharged, remained in the program. Not surprisingly, they went on to commit other crimes, the IG confirms in its report.

Some of the Job Corps centers are operated by independent contractors, but many are directly run by the U.S. government which makes the violations all the more outrageous. For instance, of 47 centers that retained 177 students who should have been discharged for disciplinary reasons, eight were federally operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The public funds wasted to keep the 177 thugs enrolled could have been used to house and educate other at-risk youth who are more committed to be in the program, the DOL watchdog points out.

Job Corps has been in trouble for more than just covering up serious crimes over the years. There has also been fraud involving the waste of public funds and abuse of prepaid debit cards as well as unscrupulous contract practices. Last year a federal audit identified nearly a quarter of a million dollars in questionable personal purchases made by staff and students on government debit cards. A separate probe determined that Job Corps doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in questionable contracts and failed to keep proper documentation for others worth tens of millions of dollars.

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North Carolina Supreme Court Kicks Leftists In The Teeth; Upholds Private School Voucher Program

Huge Win For School Vouchers In North Carolina – Daily Caller

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Backers of private school vouchers won a huge victory Thursday as the North Carolina Supreme Court narrowly endorsed a program that allows public school money to be spent providing vouchers to attend private schools.

North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship program, created in 2013, allows for up to $4,200 per family to help pay for private school tuition. The scholarships are only available to low-income families, with the threshold pegged to 133 percent of the income required to qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches.

Demand for the program has been high, as only 2,400 scholarships are available and more than twice that number have applied, necessitating the use of a lottery system.

Shortly after the program’s creation, a coalition of public school teachers, parents, and school administrators sued, claiming the voucher law unconstitutionally supported religious schools and failed to spend public money on an exclusively public purpose, as required by the Constitution.

Writing for a 4-3 majority, Chief Justice Mark Martin said otherwise, overruling a lower court that had struck down the program.

“Our review is limited to a determination of whether plaintiffs have demonstrated that the program legislation plainly and clearly violates our constitution,” Martin wrote. “Plaintiffs have made no such showing in this case.”

The decision means that students will be able to receive vouchers in the upcoming school year.

National advocates for school choice have been quick to praise the ruling.

“With more than double the applications for scholarships in the first year of the program – approximately 5,500 applications for 2,400 scholarships – parents are making it abundantly clear that they want and demand more power over their children’s education,” said Kara Kerwin, president of the pro-voucher Center for Education Reform, in a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “This is a giant step in the right direction for parent empowerment in North Carolina.”

The ruling is a big win for voucher supporters, especially as it helps make up for a ruling in Colorado in June which struck down a major voucher program in that state.

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DHS Agent Stripped Of Gun, Nearly Lost Daughter After Blowing Whistle On Corrupt Visa Program

DHS Agent Says She Was Stripped Of Gun, Nearly Lost Daughter After Blowing Whistle On Immigration Visa Program – Daily Caller

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A Department of Homeland Security agent testified Thursday that she nearly lost custody of her 1-year-old adopted daughter and was told that she could not own a personal firearm after she voiced concerns about a little known federal program that grants green cards to foreign investors.

Taylor Johnson, a senior special agent with a division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), testified at a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing alongside several other whistleblowers who claim they’ve faced retaliation for reporting wrongdoing in their agencies.

Johnson, an 11-year veteran of ICE, said she began investigating a U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) program called EB-5. The program grants green cards to foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in U.S. companies.

Johnson testified that during her investigation she uncovered and disclosed gross mismanagement and public corruption that posed “national security risks” and threatened public safety.

“Some of the violations investigated surrounding the project included bank and wire fraud, and I discovered ties to organized crime and high-ranking politicians and they received promotions that appeared to facilitate the program,” Johnson testified.

She said that during her investigation she “discovered that EB-5 applicants from China, Russia, Pakistan, Malaysia had been approved in as little as 16 days” and that case files “lacked the basic and necessary law enforcement queries.”

“I found over 800 operational EB-5 regional centers throughout the U.S.,” Johnson said, stating that she found this “disturbing” given that the U.S. allows only 10,000 EB-5 applications per year.

“I could not identify how USCIS was holding each regional center accountable or how they were tracked once they were inside the U.S.,” she added.

Johnson’s testimony comes as the EB-5 program is under intense scrutiny from a damning report released in March by DHS’ inspector general, John Roth. Roth’s report concluded that former USCIS director Alejandro Mayorkas, now the second-in-command at DHS, intervened in an “unprecedented” manner to help expedite EB-5 applications.

Some of those who Mayorkas was in contact with include Nevada U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and current Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Mayorkas met with Reid to discuss an EB-5 application for the Sands Casino, a Las Vegas casino which employed Reid’s son’s law firm.

Mayorkas was in routine contact with McAuliffe who aggressively pushed for EB-5 approval for his company, GreenTech Automotive. Hillary Clinton’s brother, Tony Rodham, was also involved in that deal.

It is unclear if Johnson investigated Mayorkas or any applications involving Reid or McAuliffe.

After receiving complaints from “high-ranking officials” at outside agencies, Johnson’s managers shut down her investigation, she testified. From there, she says she was “subjected to a significant amount of harassment and retaliation.”

Blowback started when she was escorted from her work desk and prohibited from accessing her case files or other personal records.

She also said that her service firearm and credentials were confiscated. But the gun grab went further.

“I was told I couldn’t even carry or own a personal weapon which is a constitutional rights violation,” Johnson said.

Johnson grew emotional during one part of her testimony when she discussed how the retaliation she faced hit home, literally.

“When an adoption social worker tried to contact and verify employment, she was told that I had been terminated for a criminal offense,” Johnson said, her voice shaky.

“I almost lost my 1-year-old child.”

Watch:

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Thanks Barack… Student Loan Forgiveness Program To Cost Taxpayers $21.8 Billion

Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program Has $21.8 Billion Shortfall – Daily Signal

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The Obama administration’s student loan program came up $21.8 billion short last year because of unpaid and forgiven loans.

According to Politico, which found the number buried in President Obama’s 2016 budget proposal this week, the shortfall is “the largest ever recorded for any government credit program.”

The president’s student loan initiative limits student loan payments to 10 percent of the borrower’s income, and forgives outstanding debt after 20 years – or 10 years if the borrower works in public service.

According to WhiteHouse.gov, the initiative is “part of the Obama-Biden administration’s ambitious agenda to make higher education more affordable and to help more Americans earn college degrees.”

Politico reports that 40 million Americans currently hold $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.

Romina Boccia, the Grover M. Hermann fellow in federal budgetary affairs at The Heritage Foundation, said the federal government “is hiding the very real taxpayer exposure to risk that arises from its massive and growing student loan portfolio.”

“If the federal government included the market risks of that portfolio, its student loan programs would quickly reveal themselves as big money losers for taxpayers,” said Boccia.

“According to the Congressional Budget Office, using a fair-value approach to account for student loans shows them to drain federal coffers by $88 billion over the decade – a figure that can be expected to grow even higher given Obama’s new repayment program, which would forgive many of the loans,” she added.

According to Politico, because of a “quirk” in how credit programs are budgeted, the $21.8 billion difference can be added to the deficit without “appropriations or even approval from Congress.”

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Company Fired By HHS Over Botched Healthcare.Gov Rehired By IRS To Provide Support For Obamacare Tax Program

IRS Has Active Contract For Millions With Company HHS FIRED Over Botched Healthcare.Gov – Daily Caller

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Seven months after federal officials fired CGI Federal for its botched work on Obamacare website Healthcare.gov, the IRS awarded the same company a $4.5 million IT contract for its new Obamacare tax program.

CGI is a $10.5 billion Montreal-based company that has forever been etched into the public’s mind as the company behind the bungled Obamacare main website.

After facing a year of embarrassing failures, federal officials finally pulled the plug on the company and terminated CGI’s contract in January 2014.

Yet on Aug. 11, seven months later, IRS officials signed a new contract with CGI to provide “critical functions” and “management support” for its Obamacare tax program, according to the Federal Procurement Data System, a federal government procurement database.

The IRS contract is worth $4.46 million, according to the FPDS data. The contract expires Aug. 15, 2015.

Prior to terminating CGI’s contract, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress, “I am as frustrated and angry as anyone with the flawed launch of HealthCare.gov.” She called the CGI-designed website a “debacle.”

A joint Senate Finance and Judiciary Committee staff report in June 2014 found that Turning Point Global Solutions, hired by HHS to review CGI’s performance on Healthcare.gov, reported they found 21,000 lines of defective software code inserted by CGI.

Scott Amey, the general counsel for the non-profit Project on Government Oversight, which reviews government contracting, examined the IRS contract with CGI.

“CGI was the poster child for government failure,” he told The Daily Caller. “I am shocked that the IRS has turned around and is using them for Obamacare IT work.”

Washington was not the only city that has been fed up with CGI on healthcare.

Last year, CGI was fired by the liberal states of Vermont and Massachusetts for failing to deliver on their Obamacare websites.

The Obamacare health website in Massachusetts never worked, despite the state paying $170 million to CGI.

Massachusetts, the state that pioneered government healthcare through its Romneycare health insurance program in 2006, could only enroll 31,000 people in 2014. Most enrolments were through paper applications.

And in Vermont, state officials pulled the plug on CGI after its system failed to work for 10 months. Vermont had paid $66.7 million to CGI. The state imposed a $5 million penalty on the company for shoddy work.

CGI’s 2014 annual report says nothing about the disastrous rollout of online healthcare websites in the United States.

Curiously, CGI features its online health work in Helsinki, London, Alberta, Saskatchewan and for the New York State of Mental Health, but says nothing about its ruined rollout of Obamacare web sites.

In Canada, CGI’s parent company, Montreal-based CGI Group, was just as deficient.

Ontario health officials fired CGI after it failed to deliver a flagship provincial online health registry.

About 7 million Obamacare policyholders and about 20 million Americans who don’t have healthcare coverage will depend this year on the proper IRS processing of their 2014 income tax returns.

Improper processing of health information could cause some Americans to receive smaller tax refunds, or even pay more out-of-pocket for their government-issued healthcare policies.

A September 2013 audit by the IRS inspector general criticized the tax agency’s software and computer systems aimed to process Obamacare tax return forms.

Michael E. McKenney, the acting deputy inspector general, found many problems with the IRS software, including lax security and fraud controls.

Government auditors found “Many of the vulnerabilities in information systems can be traced to software flaws and misconfigurations of system components.”

The IRS did not reply to numerous inquiries to the agency about the CGI contract.

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Big Surprise… Obamacare Website-Maker Runs Failed Army Human Terrain System Program

Obamacare Website-Maker Runs Failed Army Human Terrain System Program – Daily Caller

The company that earned the no-bid contract to build the failed Obamacare website also runs the Army’s disastrous Human Terrain System in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has been accused of fraud, sexual harassment and racism.

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The much-maligned Human Terrain System (HTS), launched in 2007, sends academics from social science fields like anthropology and linguistics into war zones to help soldiers understand the local population. The Army spent $58 million on the program in 2013, down from $114 million in 2011.

CGI Federal, the U.S. arm of the Canadian CGI Group and the designer of the failed Obamacare website, attempted a failed turnaround in HTS during the Obama administration. The young company, which employs Michelle Obama’s former Princeton classmate and Christmas guest Toni Townes-Whitley as a top executive, received eight figures from the Army in 2013 for the project, records reveal.

Oberon Associates, a CGI Federal subsidiary that joined the CGI portfolio in 2010, earned the $227 million contract to run HTS in 2011 in a deal that insiders said reeked of cronyism due to former HTS director Colonel Sharon Hamilton’s rumored friendship with an Oberon co-founder.

The HTS contract was one of CGI’s first big gets in the United States, as CGI Federal was only formed to bring the CGI Group into the federal contracting business in 2009.

CGI Federal received a more than $45.5 million modification this year to continue work on the Federal Terrain System.

“They took over in 2011. There were high hopes that CGI Federal could turn it around, but there’s a hearing going on now into fraud, waste and abuse,” John Stanton, author of “General David Petraeus’ Favorite Mushroom: Inside the US Army’s Human Terrain System,” told The Daily Caller.

“Many troops were injured defending Human Terrain system academics,” Stanton said. ”I was just kind of stunned to see CGI Federal running that [Obamacare] website. To me, it’s an example of bad contracting and bad government oversight.”

HTS team members were found to have engaged in instances of fraud, sexual harassment and racism in 2009 and 2010, prior to CGI’s takeover, according to recently released documents. An Army internal investigation found program supervisors inflating overtime and comp time pay, and members even admitted to filing for hours that they didn’t work.

“My supervisor is the laziest, most incompetent human being I have ever met,” according to one internal Army complaint from a member of the program.

“Sexual harassment is prevalent and sexist behavior is an everyday occurrence; I was sexually harassed in the field repeatedly; sexual comments and jokes are rampant; nearly every female in the program faces some form of sexual harassment,” according to another complaint.

CGI’s management of the program failed to sufficiently turn things around, with Stanton noting that the problematic behavior continued.

The program’s failures have not escaped notice on Capitol Hill.

“The HTS reduction is long overdue and it’s good to see the Army take this initial action to downsize the program,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter of the House Armed Services Committee in 2013. “The program definitely requires an even closer look for reasons pertaining to both past performance and future necessity.”

“Who wants to keep the Human Terrain System around? Who in the Pentagon? Nobody else can figure it out,” Stanton said. ”It’s a tragicomic program.”

CGI Federal did not return a request for comment.

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Thanks Barack… U.S.-Iran Nuke Deal Preserves Iran’s Nuclear Program, Frees Up Billions In Future Terrorist Funding

US-Iran Nuke Deal Preserves Iran’s Nuclear Program – Daily Caller

President Barack Obama agreed to loosen crippling economic sanctions on Iran’s theocracy and to release up to $7 billion in Iranian funds, in exchange for a promise from Iran’s theocratic leaders to not expand its nuclear bomb program.

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In a late night speech, Obama suggested that the deal – signed in Geneva, Switzerland – would be ended or expanded after six months, depending on Iran’s decisions.

But critics, including Israel’s prime minister, say any loosening of the sanctions will likely spur a flood of international dealmaking with Iran, and increase lobbing pressure in numerous countries for an end to the sanctions long before Iran’s nuclear bomb program is dismantled.

The deal effectively creates a U.S. and European diplomatic shield around Iran’s nuclear sites, which are likely targets for an Israeli attack.

Israel’s government is responsible for defending its small nation and population of seven million from Iran’s government, which has repeatedly promised to wipe the country off the map.

GOP senators criticized the deal for not dismantling Iran’s program to build nuclear weapons. “Amazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care,” said a 10:15 pm tweet from Texas Sen. John Cornyn.

“The Geneva Agreement is a defeat for the United States and the West,” said a statement from the Emergency Committee for Israel. “It fails to uphold even the minimum demand of repeated U.N. Security Council resolutions that Iran must stop enriching uranium… Iran will continue its march to nuclear weapons, with perhaps a brief pause in some parts of the program… Congress should make clear that it does not support this deal… [and] Congress should make clear the United States will support Israel if Israel decides she must act to prevent a regime dedicated to her destruction from acquiring the means to do so.”

Iran’s government lauded the deal as international recognition for its expensive program to build a nuclear energy sector to complement its massive oil resources.

“It is important that we all of us see the opportunity to end an unnecessary crisis and open new horizons based on respect, based on the rights of the Iranian people and removing any doubts about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“This is a process of attempting to restore confidence,” said Zarif, whose superiors repeatedly promised to wipe Israel off the map, have funded numerous killings of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, funded Hezbollah attacks on Israel and are providing Syria’s government with cash, weapons and soldiers for its civil war.

During the talks, Obama endorsed Iran’s nuclear industry, which the theocrats say is needed to produce electricity for a nation that also could also generate electricity fro its huge oil and natural gas resources.

Obama also acknowledged that Iran’s government has lied and cheated on previous deals.

“We approach these negotiations with a basic understanding: Iran, like any nation, should be able to access peaceful nuclear energy,” he said. “But because of its record of violating its obligations, Iran must accept strict limitations on its nuclear program that make it impossible to develop a nuclear weapon.”

Iran is also a threat to its neighbors, including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government has repeatedly hinted that it will build a nuclear force if Iran creates a nuclear weapon.

In a late night speech, Obama declared the international deal would open up a path for peace.

“We have pursued intensive diplomacy – bilaterally with the Iranians, and together with our P5+1 partners: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, as well as the European Union,” he said.

“Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure – a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon,” he said.

The terms of the deal “cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb,” he insisted. “Meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program.”

The deal blocks Iran from building many new centrifuges that are used to separate especially less radioactive isotopes of uranium from the more radioactive atoms that are used to fuel first-generation nuclear bombs, dubbed A-bombs.

If Iran actually complies with the deal, it would also prevent the Iranians from starting up a highly radioactive plutonium reactor at Arak. That plutonium reactor can make the highly radioactive fuel for second-generation nuclear bombs, dubbed H-bombs.

But the deal would not stop Iran from nearly completing the plutonium reactor during the next six month stage of negotiations.

Once the Arak reactor is turned on, any missile strike would release large amount of poisonous radioactivity into the atmosphere. The worldwide opposition to any radiation release would likely deter Israel or the United States from striking the reactor once the Iranians start it up.

“While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal,” Obama said his his late-night speech.

“We have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back,” he said. “Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment, and neutralizing part of its stockpile. Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges – which are used for enriching uranium. Iran cannot install or start up new centrifuges, and its production of centrifuges will be limited.”

“Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor… New inspections will provide extensive access to Iran’s nuclear facilities, and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments,” he added.

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Retailers Supposedly Banned For Food Stamp Trafficking Still Redeemed Over $65 Million From The Program

Retailers Banned For Food Stamp Trafficking Redeemed $65.3 Million From The Program – Washington Free Beacon

Retailers who have been banned by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) for food stamp trafficking are still redeeming more than $65 million in benefits from the program, a new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector general (IG) found.

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The report sheds light on fraud within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), with the IG concluding the integrity of the program is “at risk.”

“The Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) does not have clear procedures and guidance to carry out key oversight and enforcement activities to address SNAP retailer fraud, or adequate authority to prevent multiple instances of fraud—either by a particular owner or within a particular location,” the Aug. 20 audit report states.

“As a result, the integrity of SNAP is at risk because FNS does not consistently provide deterrents for trafficking,” the IG said. SNAP “trafficking” means exchanging food stamp benefits for cash.

As record numbers of Americans are on food stamps (47,635,297 as of May 2013), the number of authorized retailers has also increased dramatically. A total of 246,565 stores participated in 2012, a 40 percent increase since 2007. With more retailers comes a greater opportunity for fraud.

The audit found that the “FNS currently allows 585 multi-unit retail store owners to continue redeeming SNAP benefits at other locations after being permanently disqualified for trafficking in one location.”

As a result, the banned retailers redeemed $65.3 million in benefits in fiscal year 2012.

Of the 585 prohibited retailers, 66 were “permanently disqualified owners” who started businesses at new locations, redeeming $11 million in benefits.

Thirty-nine were classified as owners who were directly involved in trafficking and banned in the agency’s own database, which manages approval for retailers to participate in the program.

Retailers can be permanently banned from participating in SNAP if an owner or employee is found to be exchanging food stamp benefits for cash, trafficking in firearms or drugs, or for three total violations.

The IG listed the $65.3 million as “questioned costs.” The FNS disputed this, saying, “There is no indication that the [585] retailers noted in this finding are committing fraud.”

The revelation that the program is giving millions to known food stamp traffickers comes on top of a release last week by the USDA, which found that the practice was at a record high of $858 million in 2011.

The number of Americans redeeming their food stamps for cash was up 30 percent from 2008 to 2011.

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ObamaNazis At DEA Directing Agents To Cover Up Program Used To Illegally Investigate Americans

Exclusive: U.S. Directs Agents To Cover Up Program Used To Investigate Americans – Reuters

A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.

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The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant’s Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don’t know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence – information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.

“I have never heard of anything like this at all,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers.

“It is one thing to create special rules for national security,” Gertner said. “Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations.”

THE SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIVISION

The unit of the DEA that distributes the information is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. It was created in 1994 to combat Latin American drug cartels and has grown from several dozen employees to several hundred.

Today, much of the SOD’s work is classified, and officials asked that its precise location in Virginia not be revealed. The documents reviewed by Reuters are marked “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” a government categorization that is meant to keep them confidential.

“Remember that the utilization of SOD cannot be revealed or discussed in any investigative function,” a document presented to agents reads. The document specifically directs agents to omit the SOD’s involvement from investigative reports, affidavits, discussions with prosecutors and courtroom testimony. Agents are instructed to then use “normal investigative techniques to recreate the information provided by SOD.”

A spokesman with the Department of Justice, which oversees the DEA, declined to comment.

But two senior DEA officials defended the program, and said trying to “recreate” an investigative trail is not only legal but a technique that is used almost daily.

A former federal agent in the northeastern United States who received such tips from SOD described the process. “You’d be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.’ And so we’d alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it,” the agent said.

“PARALLEL CONSTRUCTION

After an arrest was made, agents then pretended that their investigation began with the traffic stop, not with the SOD tip, the former agent said. The training document reviewed by Reuters refers to this process as “parallel construction.”

The two senior DEA officials, who spoke on behalf of the agency but only on condition of anonymity, said the process is kept secret to protect sources and investigative methods. “Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day,” one official said. “It’s decades old, a bedrock concept.”

A dozen current or former federal agents interviewed by Reuters confirmed they had used parallel construction during their careers. Most defended the practice; some said they understood why those outside law enforcement might be concerned.

“It’s just like laundering money – you work it backwards to make it clean,” said Finn Selander, a DEA agent from 1991 to 2008 and now a member of a group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which advocates legalizing and regulating narcotics.

Some defense lawyers and former prosecutors said that using “parallel construction” may be legal to establish probable cause for an arrest. But they said employing the practice as a means of disguising how an investigation began may violate pretrial discovery rules by burying evidence that could prove useful to criminal defendants.

A QUESTION OF CONSTITUTIONALITY

“That’s outrageous,” said Tampa attorney James Felman, a vice chairman of the criminal justice section of the American Bar Association. “It strikes me as indefensible.”

Lawrence Lustberg, a New Jersey defense lawyer, said any systematic government effort to conceal the circumstances under which cases begin “would not only be alarming but pretty blatantly unconstitutional.”

Lustberg and others said the government’s use of the SOD program skirts established court procedures by which judges privately examine sensitive information, such as an informant’s identity or classified evidence, to determine whether the information is relevant to the defense.

“You can’t game the system,” said former federal prosecutor Henry E. Hockeimer Jr. “You can’t create this subterfuge. These are drug crimes, not national security cases. If you don’t draw the line here, where do you draw it?”

Some lawyers say there can be legitimate reasons for not revealing sources. Robert Spelke, a former prosecutor who spent seven years as a senior DEA lawyer, said some sources are classified. But he also said there are few reasons why unclassified evidence should be concealed at trial.

“It’s a balancing act, and they’ve doing it this way for years,” Spelke said. “Do I think it’s a good way to do it? No, because now that I’m a defense lawyer, I see how difficult it is to challenge.”

CONCEALING A TIP

One current federal prosecutor learned how agents were using SOD tips after a drug agent misled him, the prosecutor told Reuters. In a Florida drug case he was handling, the prosecutor said, a DEA agent told him the investigation of a U.S. citizen began with a tip from an informant. When the prosecutor pressed for more information, he said, a DEA supervisor intervened and revealed that the tip had actually come through the SOD and from an NSA intercept.

“I was pissed,” the prosecutor said. “Lying about where the information came from is a bad start if you’re trying to comply with the law because it can lead to all kinds of problems with discovery and candor to the court.” The prosecutor never filed charges in the case because he lost confidence in the investigation, he said.

A senior DEA official said he was not aware of the case but said the agent should not have misled the prosecutor. How often such misdirection occurs is unknown, even to the government; the DEA official said the agency does not track what happens with tips after the SOD sends them to agents in the field.

The SOD’s role providing information to agents isn’t itself a secret. It is briefly mentioned by the DEA in budget documents, albeit without any reference to how that information is used or represented when cases go to court.

The DEA has long publicly touted the SOD’s role in multi-jurisdictional and international investigations, connecting agents in separate cities who may be unwittingly investigating the same target and making sure undercover agents don’t accidentally try to arrest each other.

SOD’S BIG SUCCESSES

The unit also played a major role in a 2008 DEA sting in Thailand against Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout; he was sentenced in 2011 to 25 years in prison on charges of conspiring to sell weapons to the Colombian rebel group FARC. The SOD also recently coordinated Project Synergy, a crackdown against manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of synthetic designer drugs that spanned 35 states and resulted in 227 arrests.

Since its inception, the SOD’s mandate has expanded to include narco-terrorism, organized crime and gangs. A DEA spokesman declined to comment on the unit’s annual budget. A recent LinkedIn posting on the personal page of a senior SOD official estimated it to be $125 million.

Today, the SOD offers at least three services to federal, state and local law enforcement agents: coordinating international investigations such as the Bout case; distributing tips from overseas NSA intercepts, informants, foreign law enforcement partners and domestic wiretaps; and circulating tips from a massive database known as DICE.

The DICE database contains about 1 billion records, the senior DEA officials said. The majority of the records consist of phone log and Internet data gathered legally by the DEA through subpoenas, arrests and search warrants nationwide. Records are kept for about a year and then purged, the DEA officials said.

About 10,000 federal, state and local law enforcement agents have access to the DICE database, records show. They can query it to try to link otherwise disparate clues. Recently, one of the DEA officials said, DICE linked a man who tried to smuggle $100,000 over the U.S. southwest border to a major drug case on the East Coast.

“We use it to connect the dots,” the official said.

“AN AMAZING TOOL”

Wiretap tips forwarded by the SOD usually come from foreign governments, U.S. intelligence agencies or court-authorized domestic phone recordings. Because warrantless eavesdropping on Americans is illegal, tips from intelligence agencies are generally not forwarded to the SOD until a caller’s citizenship can be verified, according to one senior law enforcement official and one former U.S. military intelligence analyst.

“They do a pretty good job of screening, but it can be a struggle to know for sure whether the person on a wiretap is American,” the senior law enforcement official said.

Tips from domestic wiretaps typically occur when agents use information gleaned from a court-ordered wiretap in one case to start a second investigation.

As a practical matter, law enforcement agents said they usually don’t worry that SOD’s involvement will be exposed in court. That’s because most drug-trafficking defendants plead guilty before trial and therefore never request to see the evidence against them. If cases did go to trial, current and former agents said, charges were sometimes dropped to avoid the risk of exposing SOD involvement.

Current and former federal agents said SOD tips aren’t always helpful – one estimated their accuracy at 60 percent. But current and former agents said tips have enabled them to catch drug smugglers who might have gotten away.

“It was an amazing tool,” said one recently retired federal agent. “Our big fear was that it wouldn’t stay secret.”

DEA officials said that the SOD process has been reviewed internally. They declined to provide Reuters with a copy of their most recent review.

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*AUDIO* Walid Shoebat Discusses Egypt And Benghazi On The Jeffrey Kuhner Radio Program 07/02/13



……………………….Click on image above for audio clip.

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Click HERE to visit the official website of Walid Shoebat.

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Federal Government Spent $800,000 On African Genital-Washing Program

Feds Spent $800,000 Of Economic Stimulus On African Genital-Washing Program – CNS

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), spent $823,200 of economic stimulus funds in 2009 on a study by a UCLA research team to teach uncircumcised African men how to wash their genitals after having sex.

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The genitalia-washing program is part of a larger $12-million UCLA study examining how to better encourage Africans to undergo voluntary HIV testing and counseling – however, only the penis-washing study received money from the 2009 economic stimulus law. The washing portion of the study is set to end in 2011.

“NIH Announces the Availability of Recovery Act Funds for Competitive Revision Applications,” the grant abstract states. “We propose to evaluate the feasibility of a post-coital genital hygiene study among men unwilling to be circumcised in Orange Farm, South Africa.”

Because AIDS researchers have been unsuccessful in convincing most adult African men to undergo circumcision, the UCLA study proposes to determine whether researchers can develop an after-sex genitalia-washing regimen that they can then convince uncircumcised African men to follow.

“The aim of the proposed feasibility study is to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a post-coital male genital hygiene procedure, which participants will be asked to practice immediately post-coitus or at least 12 hours after,” reads the abstract.

Entitled “Community-Based HIV VCT: South Africa,” the name of the broader umbrella project, the program plans to test how well received the penis-washing regimen is among South African men.

If most of the men in the study wash their genitals after sex, are willing to do so after the study ends, and report that their partners accept the regimen, the researchers will develop another study to see if the “penile cleansing procedure” actually works to prevent HIV infections.

“If we find that men are able to practice consistent washing practices after sex, we will plan to test whether this might protect men from becoming HIV infected in a later study,” the grant says.

The study’s lead investigator Dr. Thomas J. Coates was the fourth highest-funded researcher in the country in 2002 and is currently conducting HIV research on three continents.

CNSNews.com asked both Coates and NIMH the following question: “The Census Bureau says the median household income in the United States is $52,000. How would you explain to the average American mom and dad – who make $52,000 per year – that taxing them to pay for this grant was justified?”

Coates, who was unavailable for comment, directed CNSNews.com to ask grant-related questions of his assistant, Darya Freedman, who did not respond.

The NIMH also declined to respond to CNSNews.com’s question.

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Program Offers Cash Incentives To Live In Downtown Detroit

Program Offers Cash Incentives To Live In Downtown Detroit – WWJ

Employees of five downtown-based companies are being given financial incentives to live where they work.

DTE Energy’s Paul Hillegonds says the trend is already there, with a number of young professionals and creative types hanging their hat in downtown Detroit lofts and apartments.

Now, the plan is to create greater density in surrounding neighborhoods, but not just for the younger set.

“We have a number of probably empty-nesters, but also a number of retirements ahead with younger people who will be coming to work in Detroit at DTE headquarters,” Hillegonds told WWJ Newsradio 950′s Ron Dewey.

“And I think we’re going to see growing interest in living in Detroit,” he said.

Blue cross Blue Shield President CEO Dan Leopp thinks the program will work.

“Our first application came in via email at 10 a.m., and we’ve already gotten about a half-a-dozen phone calls. So, I think clearly I believe the demand is there,” Leopp said.

Blue Cross is offering incentives to their 16,000 employees to buy or rent downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. It’s a seed program to attract more development and more people to the city.

In the five-year, $4 million “Live Downtown” program, first-time home buyers will get a $20,000 forgivable loan. Renters will get a $2,500 first year allowance, and $1,000 the following year. Employees who already own a home in the city will be given up to a $5,000 grant for exterior improvements.

“Everything is market, and if you’ve got bodies and you’ve got volume, it’s gonna attract business, it’s gonna attract retail. You’ve gotta have that density and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Loepp said.

Other companies taking part are Compuware, Quicken Loans and Strategic Staffing Solutions.

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