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McCain Goes Off on Senate Dems for No Border Bill: ‘Is That a Hell of a Lot to Ask Here?!’



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The House may still be attempting to pass a border bill, but the Senate has already recessed for the next month, and that does not sit well with Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.). Taking to the Senate floor on Thursday night, McCain slammed Democratic leadership for its refusal to allow Republicans to offer amendments and go through the normal process of legislating, especially in light of “a crisis of incredible proportions” on the border.

“I say shame on you for not allowing those of us who represent the states that are most affected by this to have an amendment voted on,” he said. “That is unbelievable to me.”

McCain rejected Democratic claims that the Senate does not legislate on appropriations, citing several examples of him doing so.

“I want to have some amendments debated — I want to be able to tell the people of my state, that are being flooded by immigrants, that I had a proposal representing them here in the United States Senate, and I wanted it debated, and I wanted it voted on,” he continued. “Is that a hell of a lot to ask here?! I don’t think so!”

Gutiérrez​ in Spanish Remarks: GOP ‘Want to Punish Our Community’



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Representative Luis Gutiérrez​ (D., Ill.), one of the most prominent proponents of comprehensive immigration reform, offered a noticeably harsher message about Republicans when he switched to Spanish during a recent press conference.

Joining the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as the House awaits a vote on a border bill, Gutiérrez​ first spoke in English, criticizing Republicans’ approach to addressing the border crisis and accusing them of putting political gain over helping the unaccompanied children crossing the border. The remarks were critical, as one would expect; the furthest he went was to claim that Republicans speak about Hispanics “almost as though we are a vile, repugnant community to them that they vilify and demonize in every one of their statements.”

He then said he would make some remarks “en español.” Gutiérrez started by saying the issue at hand was about protecting the rights of the children on the border, DREAMers, and millions in the country illegally. He claimed that the president had the authority to grant legal status to these groups and would act to do so soon, which is the reason Republicans are moving so quickly to stop him. He went on to take a much fiercer tone than he had in his English comments. Here is what he said in Spanish:

Ellos saben que él​ va a actuar pronto — ellos quieren mantener esta crisis para condenar a nuestra comunidad, una comunidad sin derechos para nuestros niños en este momento, nuestros soñadores, y para millones de otros que el presidente ha dicho que él​ quiere ayudar. Eso es que ellos quieren. Quieren castigar nuestra comunidad, y ese castigo va a ser recibido con un castigo electoral. Asegúrense que nosotros no nos vamos a olvidar del maltrato que nuestra comunidad ha recibido.

The English translation:

They know he’s going to act soon — they want to maintain this crisis to condemn our community, a community without rights for our kids at this moment, our DREAMers, and for millions of others that the president has said he wants to help. That’s what they want. They want to punish our community, and that punishment will be met with an electoral punishment. Be assured that we are not going to forget the mistreatment our community has received.

The vote on the newly amended bill is expected to take place on Friday evening.

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Colo. to Issue Driver’s Licenses to Illegal Immigrants



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Next desirable destination for illegal immigrants: Colorado. The Guardian reports that the Centennial State has begun issuing driver’s licenses and identification cards to immigrants “regardless of legal status”:

About 9,500 people are signed up for appointments through the next 90 days to get the documents, with more getting scheduled every day. Both people in the country illegally and those who have temporary legal status will qualify.

The demand for the licenses and identification cards has been tremendous, with the state’s website for appointments crashing at one point because of traffic, and immigrant advocates urging officials to add more locations where people can go. So far, appointments are being handled at only five locations – Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Grand Junction. . . .

Immigrants with temporary legal permits don’t have to make appointments, only those in the country illegally. Those without legal status must show documents like a utility bill to prove they’ve lived in Colorado the previous two years, in addition to an identification number they’ve used to pay taxes. They must also show a passport or other identification from their home country.

Those with a temporary legal status must present the documents that prove that, as well as evidence that they’re Colorado residents.

Driver’s licenses will cost $50.50, higher than the $21 that legal residents pay. Identification cards will be $14, also higher than the $10.50 paid by everyone else. The new program will be supported by user fees.

The documents must be renewed every three years, and the cards will be marked to say they can’t be used for voting or to obtain federal benefits.

Several states — Washington, Illinois, Nevada, and New Mexico among them — already provide driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. An Oregon law that would do the same will be on the ballot in November.

Web Briefing: August 1, 2014

What Do You Mean, ‘Our’ Children, Congressman?



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Representative Luis Gutierrez, one of the most passionate amnesty advocates in Congress, reacted to the House border legislation with his trademark restraint and sobriety: “It is almost as though they despise and hate all of our children.”​

Many commenters recoiled from the tried and true leftist tactic (Gutierrez is a former member of the Puerto Rican Socialist Party) of emotional manipulation through appeals to “the children.” But what I found more disturbing was his use of the possessive pronoun “our” in referring to the illegal aliens from Central America crossing into South Texas. For Gutierrez is clearly a tribal politician, one who sees himself as a spokesman and leader not for his fellow Puerto Ricans, or even for Americans of Hispanic origin in general, but for Latin Americans wherever they are. This kind of politicized ethnicity is poison to a multi-ethnic democracy. The only way to avoid going down the road of Bosnian Serbs, Kosovar Albanians, Tutis vs. Hutu, and all the rest is by comprehensively privatizing ethnicity and actively cultivating a strong trans-racial American nationalism. On both counts the Left fails.

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Want to Help Defend Israel? Canadian Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for Iron Dome Anti-Missile



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Israel’s Iron Dome defense system is very effective — and very expensive. But Israel supporters everywhere can now pitch in. An Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign has begun that hopes to raise $62,000: the reported cost of a single Iron Dome anti-missile. Begun by a Canadian citizen from Calgary, the campaign pitch reads:

According to one CNN report, each Iron Dome anti-missile costs about US$62,000. What would happen if hundreds — maybe even thousands — of people around the world chipped in a few dollars here and there, and then we sent a cheque to the Government of Israel to buy more Iron Dome anti-missiles? Of course, we couldn’t actually buy an Iron Dome anti-missile. But we could donate the exact amount of money to the Israeli government, and ask them to put it towards that defensive system, or any other civilian defence project in affected parts of Israel.

It wouldn’t be for an offensive weapon. You can’t use the Iron Dome to attack anyone. It’s 100% defensive — like a bulletproof vest. It only saves lives. And it doesn’t discriminate — it protects Jewish, Muslim and Christian Israelis all the same [emphasis original].

Interested individuals can donate however much they please, but an $18 (CAD) donation will secure “Supporter” status, and for a $250 (CAD) donation a tree will be planted in Israel in the donor’s name.

Sixty-nine people have donated so far, raising $4,914 (CAD), or 8 percent, of the goal. The campaign, which started on July 31, will close at 11:59 p.m. (PST) on Thursday, August 14.

Below is the campaign’s promotional video:

Obama: ‘I’m Going to Have to Act Alone’



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President Obama gave forewarning that Congress’s failure to act on the border crisis will force him to use executive action to address it.

“I’m going to have to act alone, because we don’t have enough resources,” he said on Friday from the White House briefing room, saying the administration will have to reallocate funding in the meantime to cover basic functions. “We’ve already been very clear: We’ve run out of money.”

The House is still working on a bill to address to border situation, and is expected to vote on it later in the day. The Senate, on the other hand, has already left for the August recess.

The president pulled no punches in his comments regarding the House’s decision to pull a bill yesterday, and took shots at the Republican infighting.

“In circumstances where even basic, commonsense, plain-vanilla legislation can’t pass because House Republicans consider it somehow a compromise of their principles, or giving Obama a victory, then we’ve got to take actions. Otherwise, we’re not going to be making progress on the things American people care about,” he said.

Queer Activists Demand Amnesty, Stage Sit-In on Capitol Hill



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LGBT activists staged a sit-in earlier this week at the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus demanding President Obama include LGBT-specific recommendations in potential executive action on immigration. A group of “at least six” LGBT activists staged the sit-in on Capitol Hill, Buzzfeed reported. The activists want Obama to expand deferred action and end collaboration between Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other law-enforcement agencies.  

Hermelinda Cortes, an LGBT activist, told Buzzfeed the activists would be sitting-in until the caucus released a statement or the activists were arrested. But the sit-in ended approximately seven hours after it began, and Equality Caucus executive director Brad Jacklin tells National Review Online it ended with no statement and no arrests. While the nature of the agreement was not made immediately clear, Jacklin says he and the staff members of the caucus leadership had lunch with the queer and trans activists.

In a statement released this afternoon, the caucus says, “Any executive action taken by the President to address immigration should institute anti-discrimination policies for at-risk communities, including undocumented immigrants who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. In far too many places, LGBT people around the world are at great risk for harassment and physical violence because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status; they should not experience the same harassment while undergoing the immigration process in the United States.”

Jacklin says the caucus includes 114 members of Congress, and the seven openly LGBT members co-chair the caucus. All 14 co-chairs and vice-chairs of the group are listed as Democrats on the caucus website, but Jacklin touts the fact that the caucus is a bipartisan group. Several LGBT organizations involved in the sit-in at the caucus office appear ready to rally in Washington and march to the White House tomorrow with the #NOT1MORE campaign, promoted by NotOneMoreDeportation.com.

Jacklin declined to say whether he hoped the president would expand deferred action to explicitly include LGBT individuals, but says the queer and trans activists are concerned with seeing how the president addresses the LGBT community in executive action related to immigration.   

Invasive Species: Dept. of Agriculture Shuts Down Community ‘Seed Library’



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No good deed goes unpunished by the federal government. That’s what the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg, Penn., which was piloting a new “seed library” in partnership with the Cumberland County Commission for Women, learned this week. The community effort, which would have allowed locals to “borrow” seeds and replace them with new ones harvested at season’s end, had already found 60 residents willing to participate. The local Sentinel reports:

That was, until, the library system received a letter from the state Department of Agriculture telling them they were in violation of the Seed Act of 2004. . . .

Darr explained that the Seed Act primarily focuses on the selling of seeds — which the library was not doing — but there is also a concern about seeds that may be mislabeled (purposefully or accidentally), the growth of invasive plant species, cross-pollination and poisonous plants.

The department told the library it could not have the seed library unless its staff tested each seed packet for germination and other information.

According to Cumberland County commissioners, the department sent “a high-ranking official and lawyers” to a meeting with the library.

Contra the government’s claims, the only invasive species in Mechanicsburg is the Department of Agriculture.

Obama: ‘I’m Going to Have to Act Alone’ on Border Crisis



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President Obama said that he’s “going to have to act alone” on the border crisis.

“I’m going to have to act alone because we don’t have enough resources,” Obama told reporters during a Friday press conference. “In the end, the challenge I have right now is that they are not able to act even on what they say their priorities are.”

Obama faulted House Republicans for not yet passing a border bill — the bill is expected to pass this evening after a dramatic last minute negotiation — that he described as something they initially supported.

The conceit of his response to a question about whether he is blameless for the political gridlock is that Democrats refused to support changing a 2008 human trafficking law that Obama’s team initially said needed modification. As a result, Senate Democrats refused to back a border bill including such a change, which House Republicans said was essential.

“When it comes to the humanitarian crisis on our southern border, President Obama has been completely AWOL – in fact, he has made matter worse by flip-flopping on the 2008 law that fueled the crisis,” Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), said in response to Obama’s remarks.  “Senate Democrats have left town without acting on his request for a border supplemental.  Right now, House Republicans are the only ones still working to address this crisis.”

Jeff Sessions ‘Is Very Encouraged’ by House Border Deal



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Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), who led the opposition to the border legislation originally proposed in the House, may support the updated version.

“Senator Sessions is very encouraged by the significant developments in the House,” a congressional source told National Review Online.

It was Sessions whose public denunciations of the border bill — he called it a “surrender to a lawless president” – motivated the influx of phone calls over the past several days from constituents who disliked the legislation, especially when it was possible that the House might not pass anything addressing President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

His support could go a long ways towards sparing Republicans a rough August of townhall meetings with angry conservative voters, but it’s almost certain that Sessions would not support the legislation if the border funding passed but the DACA fix were to be voted down.

Geraghty Talks The Weed Agency: ‘Fake, But Accurate’ Telling of Federal Bureaucracy Run Amok



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​Make sure to check out Jim’s new book, which can be found here.

The Border Bill



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Here is the take of one immigration hawk who’s been following it closely, via e-mail:

I think this deal is a net winner for us. At the beginning of the week, they were going to leave town without even mentioning the president’s planned unilateral amnesty. Now, after the public burned the phone lines to a crisp we’ve got a frontal attack on Reid and Obama against this unlawful amnesty — and can rally the people behind it.

Also, they fixed the flawed original language making it harder to remove people in favor of sound enforcement language from Representative Aderholt expediting removals.

Calif. School District Decides Learning about Diversity Is More Important Than Learning Geography



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El Rancho Verde Unified School District will stop requiring its high-school students to take geography and instead require them to take a class on diversity and inclusion.

ERUSD president Aurora Villon said the class is necessary because minority students “need to feel validated.”

“When you negate their culture, they feel less than other students,” she said in an e-mail to Whittier Daily News.

98 percent of the district’s students are Hispanic.

The class will “expose . . . . students to global perspectives and inclusion of diversity,” according to ERUSD vice president Jose Lara.

The district plans to have the program implemented by the 2015–16 school year.

Tags: Diversity

Rubio Calls for Increased Sanctions Against Venezuela



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Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) pushed members of Congress to increase sanctions against Venezuelan officials and cronies for the country’s widespread human-rights violations amid the “complete erosion of democracy.” While Rubio commended the current sanctions, namely visa restrictions that have limited travel for Venezuelan officials, he said the mass corruption by President Nicolás Maduro demands further action.

“I would go so far as to say that virtually every major political figure in the ruling party is corrupt,” Rubio said on the Senate floor on Thursday, adding that they “are systematically stealing the funds of the Venezuelan people.”

Venezuelans took to the streets earlier this year to protest the Maduro government, but were met with what Rubio and others senators called “a shocking display of brutality and repression.” Authorities responded with “excessive force,” imprisoned members of the political opposition, and unlawfully ousted opposition leaders in elected office.

Beyond visa restrictions, Rubio said the United States government must do more to impose sanctions on the assets of Venezuelan officials. He also pointed to Venezuela’s support of other brutal regimes as another reason to take action.

“Venezuela projects itself as a defender of every single human right-violating country on the planet,” Rubio said, citing the country’s support for Iran and Syria. “You can count on Venezuela’s government being on the side of the human-rights violators — every time.”

Via Washington Free Beacon.

NRI Seeks Applicants for Inaugural Class of Dallas Fellows



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After the successful expansion of National Review Institute’s Regional Fellows program to New York City earlier this year, it is growing again.

In September, we will launch the NRI Dallas Fellows using the same model as our New York and Washington programs. We are looking for 20 mid-career professionals in the Dallas area who are interested in learning more about the foundations of conservative thought. An ideal candidate has at least ten years of full-time work experience and does not currently work in politics or policy, but all are welcome to apply.

The goal of NRI’s Regional Fellows program is to introduce succeeding generations to the conservative movement’s most important thinkers, institutions, and writings, and to build networks of talented, like-minded individuals who can assist one another professionally and personally for years to come.

You can find more information about the program and how to apply here. The deadline to apply is Friday, August 15 by 6:00 p.m. ET.​

Heritage Action Key Votes DACA bill



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Heritage Action announced that they’ll note on their legislative scorecard the votes for a bill authored by Representative Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) that freezes President Obama’s  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“To be clear, Heritage Action would have preferred language to freeze DACA be rolled into the supplemental,” the group said.  “However, it is undeniable that the President’s unilateral actions have become the focus of this debate; indeed, the DACA program has become the linchpin of this debate.”

Representative John Fleming (R., La.,) told National Review Online that he’s worried the House will pass the border bill and then kill the Blackburn legislation

“Leadership assures me that DACA will pass; now, they’re not so sure themselves that they’re willing to let us vote on it first to be sure. So, that creates a lot of anxiety for me,” Fleming said

House GOP Reaches Border Deal, but Holdouts Fear Bait-and-Switch



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House Republicans are on the cusp of passing a border package that appeared dead Thursday afternoon, as Republican negotiators picked up votes by changing the asylum provisions in the bill and restoring the anti-DACA language preferred by Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Representative Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.).

The new bill takes $35 million that was previously slated for Central American countries and uses it to support the National Guard in border states. It also replaces the original asylum language with provisions offered by Representative Robert Aderholt (R., Ala.,) and Representative John Carter (R., Texas) in order to bar immigrants from getting multiple bites at the apple.

The updated legislation would also change the 2008 human trafficking law to establish that unaccompanied children from Central American countries and contiguous countries (Mexico and Canada) got through the same process; the previous version also changed the 2008 law, but it allowed Mexican and Canadian kids to participate in the process used for Central American children rather than putting Central American children on the contiguous countries process.

“I don’t know why [the drafters of the original bill] went the wrong direction, but we’ve gotten the process right,” Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) told National Review Online after a Friday morning Republican conference meeting.

The changes to the bill were hammered out in Thursday evening by about 15 House Republicans — which featured Blackburn, Goodlatte, Raul Labrador (Idaho), Mick Mulvaney (South Carolina), Tom Cotton  (Arkansas), Lou Barletta (Pennsylvania), Steve King (Iowa), Louis Gohmert (Texas), and John Fleming (Louisiana), among others — who met in the basement of the Capitol.

“There were literally people who walked in that room, they were ‘no,’ pretty well ‘no’ no matter what, they were against this bill,” Barletta told NRO Friday morning. “But because of this process, we were able to find enough in the bill that they could support it.”

Labrador helped bring Steve King on board by removing the original language and replacing it with Carter-Aderholt. King also needed the House to take up Blackburn’s language targeting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in its original form as a companion to Cruz’s legislation.

“Marsha had a good bill which was taken and things were added to it which actually made it more of a problem for others,” one member in the meeting told NRO. “There were small hints that some felt that left holes, through their own interpretation, felt that there were holes that the president could use.”

The negotiators restored Blackburn’s original language. “Once those changes were made, [King] was fine,” the member said.

As welcome as the negotiation was, it left some opponents of the original bill annoyed that it didn’t take place earlier.

“It was just a markup of the bill, which should have happened four weeks ago in the Judiciary Committee,” another congressman in attendance said of the meeting. “Half the Judiciary committee was there. I’m exaggerating, but a lot of the Judiciary Committee players were there.”

The language providing the border supplemental funding will not include the Blackburn bill that fixes DACA in the same vote, though, which has at least one immigration hawk worried that the supplemental funding will pass the House and then some Republicans will break their word and vote against the Blackburn bill.

“What if the border bill passes and DACA fails?” Fleming mused to NRO. “The DACA fix bill will be [voted on] second . . . Leadership assures me that DACA will pass; now, they’re not so sure themselves that they’re willing to let us vote on it first to be sure. So, that creates a lot of anxiety for me.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) wrote asylum provisions which were included in the original bill and then removed.

Senator Tim Scott Makes His First Trip to Iowa



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Senator Tim Scott (R., S.C.) will make his first trip to Iowa next week to attend a conference in Ames, the home of the straw poll that boosted Representative Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) and convinced Tim Pawlenty to drop out of the race during the last presidential campaign.

“Senator Scott was invited to speak at the FAMILY Leader’s Leadership Summit in Ames, and will be making his first trip to Iowa for that event,” spokesman Sean Smith told National Review Online. “He looks forward to sharing his story, his journey to becoming a conservative and discussing how important family values are to the future of our nation.”

Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, has kept a fairly low profile during his short time in the Senate — he was appointed to the position after Jim DeMint retired — but he has recently worked with Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) and other lawmakers on developing a conservative reform agenda. Scott has focused on school choice and workforce training, in addition to reaching out to minority communities, as when he took a tour of historically-black colleges in his state.

“So when I think about the Great Society and the objectives, they wanted it to work,” Scott said at American Enterprise Institute in May. “They wanted it to feel good, to make a difference. If you have direct payments to seniors, you’re going to reduce the poverty rate, but the fact of the matter is for kids like me growing up in houses of Frances Scott, who was working 16 hours a day, living in the wrong zip code, it didn’t work very well. And, unfortunately, when you look in those same zip codes, things are getting worse. And that’s part of the challenge that we face.”

Bill Clinton Before 9/11: I ‘Could Have Killed’ Osama bin Laden



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On the night before the September 11, 2001, attacks, former president Bill Clinton told an audience that he passed on the opportunity to kill al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden because he feared there would be a cost of civilian lives.

“Osama bin Laden – he’s a very smart guy, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about him, and I nearly got him once,” Clinton told a group of Australian businessmen, according to unreleased audio captured by Paul Murray of Sky News. “I nearly got him. And I could have gotten, I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children. And then I would have been no better than him. And so I didn’t do it.”

The Huffington Post notes that in a 2012 60 Minutes interview former CIA official Hank Crumpton said the agency had the opportunity to take out bin Laden in 1999 when they detected his convoy, but did not get authorization from the White House to move forward with the missile strike.

A Stunning Rebuke of Our Current Defense Policies



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Those familiar with the Constitution know that the federal government is given certain enumerated powers but in general is not required to exercise them. For example, Congress has the power under Article One to enact a bankruptcy code, but felt no urgency in doing so, and in fact did not pass a permanent bankruptcy statute until the end of the 19th Century.

Only one federal power is obligatory. Article IV, Section IV of the Constitution states that the United States  “shall protect each of them (the States) from invasion.”

In other words, the only thing the federal government must do under the Constitution is provide for the common defense. So how is the government doing on that? 

Every four years, the Department of Defense issues its “Quadrennial Defense Review” which is supposed to be a thorough evaluation of the state of the military and its plans for the future. The latest “QDR”, as it’s typically called, came out last spring. In the meantime, Congress passed a statute creating an Independent Panel to analyze the QDR and make recommendations regarding the armed forces. 

That panel was co-chaired by Bill Perry, former secretary of defense under President Clinton, and retired General John Abizaid. There were eight other members appointed on a bipartisan basis by the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. (I was one of them.) 

The panel issued its unanimous report yesterday. It’s a stunning rebuke of the government’s defense policies over the last three years. The report is available at USIP.org, but here are excerpts from its analysis:

Keep reading this post . . .

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