Connect with us

Politics

Iran likely at ‘inflection point,’ launching attacks to change ‘status quo,’ Defense Intelligence Agency director tells Fox News

Published

on

Iran likely at 'inflection point,' launching attacks to change 'status quo,' Defense Intelligence Agency director tells Fox News

Iran is likely at “an inflection point,” and the recent attacks on tankers and the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone appear to be part of an effort to change “the status quo,” the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) told Fox News exclusively.

“I’d say that they’re probably at an inflection point right now,” the director, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., explained in his first national TV interview as the leader of the nearly 17-thousand strong agency. Director Ashley said, based on their activity over the last several years, the Iranians would probably say they were in a “favorable” position with their influence over the Iraqi government and the likelihood their longtime regional ally — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — will remain in power.

But, Director Ashley — whose agency’s mission is to understand foreign militaries and the operational environment — said the United States’ withdrawal from the Iran deal and subsequent sanctions made a major impact on the regime. Later this year, DIA expects to release an unclassified military study on Iran, which follows similar reports on China and Russia.

WATCH MORE OF THE INTERVIEW MONDAY ON FOX NEWS’ ‘SPECIAL REPORT’ AT 6 PM ET AND ‘FOX NEWS @ NIGHT’ AT 11 PM ET

“As you look at the developments of JCPOA (the Iran deal), the lack of an economic outcome for them, and then, really, the sanctions which have put a lot of pressure on the Iranian government… I think this uptick that you’ve seen is a reflection of them trying to kind of change the status quo in the path that they’re on,” Ashley said.

He continued, “I would say the pressure campaign is working and there is hardship. And, you know, the president has asked the question before, “Does this have an impact on the Iranian people?” And, it has an impact on the entire nation when you look at their economy, because the economyʼs moving into a recession and they are struggling.”

When the U.S. surveillance drone was shot down last week, the Defense Intelligence Agency provided immediate analysis of Iran’s military capabilities. This past Friday, Ashley described recent events avoiding operational details citing national security reasons.

“We map those things out for the chairman, for the secretary, for the warfighters, so that they can have a sense of, what are the capabilities the Iranians have, what are the possible reactions that they might take if pressure’s put upon them. And so, we give them options to understand what are the low, mid, and high probability kind of reactions from the Iranians.”

Tehran’s threat this past week to surpass enriched uranium limits brokered by the Obama administration — a deal President Trump abandoned — may be designed to pressure other nations to rein in the U.S., Ashley said. “They’re looking to go beyond 300 kilograms, and with the Iraq heavy water nuclear reactor, to start increasing the – the heavy water – that that produces as well,” Ashley said.

“I think one of the things that Iranians and we assess is, they want to figure out how they can also leverage the European nations to come back in and bring the dialogue back to the floor and to have those discussions… if they were to break out and start fully building out the program, then it’s still about a year out before they can actually get to a weapon.”

On a high-security installation near the Pentagon, Fox News went inside the secretive agency. Its analysts were embedded with Special Forces to track Saddam Hussein to his hiding place, the so-called spider hole, in Iraq, as well as Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden to his Pakistan compound.

“Being in the Air Force I have used information that came from DIA and see the other side of it, and how, if the information isn’t correct or isn’t up to date, how that could impact the warfighters deployed,” Staff Sgt. Leanna Parker, a military forces analyst, said. “They use this (intelligence) on a day-to-day basis. It’s that tactical piece versus strategic — looking five years ahead — this is something they can use today.”

TRUMP WARNS WAR WITH IRAN WOULD LEAD TO ‘OBLITERATION’

Now, the pivot has been away from terrorism to competition between nations.

“China is the long-term concern. If you think about Russia, in so many ways, even though they have thousands of nuclear weapons and a lot of things that are left over from the Soviet era. In a lot of ways they are a declining power, especially economically,” Ashley told Fox News.

But, China and Russia are working together against U.S. interests.

“It is a transactional relationship,” Ashley said. “This is not a relationship that’s built on trust. This is a relationship that’s built on a mutual interest, which is, where do they block us… and in many ways, China looks at Russia as a junior partner and that’s not something that they like.”

Though President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently exchanged letters, Ashley said the findings of the intelligence community — or “IC” — have not changed.

“We still continue to assess within the IC that Kim Jong Un is not ready to denuclearize… We’re still doing everything we can to make sure that we can characterize the capability that the North Koreans have, that they continue to train hard and build out their forces. And so, whether weʼre in discussions or whatever is happening on the political side of that, for the policymakers and for the senior decision makers, our job is to make sure that we’re able to tell them what is happening, because they may go into a negotiation and hear something, but we’re able to give them as much ground truth as possible which gives them leverage and advantage.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

One of Ashley’s goals is the MARS project — which is short for Machine-Assisted Analytic Rapid-Repository System — which brings together current military intelligence databases with artificial intelligence to put together “a virtual environment so that the decision makers can understand strength, weaknesses, capabilities, and that we can do it in a very dynamic fashion.”

Ashley said, “the goal is not to go to war, it’s to prevent war, and that really is the outcome that we desire. But, if we do go to war, obviously the objective is to win.”

Fox News’ Cecilia Duffy contributed to this report.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Politics

Tlaib calls for $20-an-hour minimum wage

Published

on

By

Tlaib calls for $20-an-hour minimum wage

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., called for a federal minimum wage of $20 per hour at an event in Detroit on Sunday night, prompting mockery from conservatives and threatening to force mainline Democrats in the 2020 presidential race to address the issue in upcoming debates.

Tlaib’s comment came during remarks to the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan and the labor rights group One Fair Wage, and were recorded by the conservative political action committee America Rising. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed a $15 federal minimum wage bill last week, but it has little chance of passing the GOP-controlled Senate.

Tlaib, referring to the federal minimum wage for those workers, said that “tipped employees make $2.13 per hour, federally.”

“Think about that for one minute. People cannot live on those kind of wages, and I can’t allow people to be living off tips, you know, relying on tips for wages. It’s just not enough to support our families. … By the way, when we started it, it should have been $15,” she said at the event, titled “Server for an Hour.”

VIDEO SHOWS TLAIB SHOUTING AT PRESIDENT TRUMP AS SECURITY DRAGS HER AWAY — SOMEONE TELLS HER TO ‘GET A JOB’

“Now I think it should be $20 — make sure America Rising hears that,” she continued, to applause. “It should be $20 an hour — $18 to $20 an hour at this point. … They say all of this is going to raise the cost, but I can tell you, milk has gone up, eggs have gone up, everything has gone up. The cost of a lot of things that we need has gone up already.”

In a 231-199 vote along party lines on Thursday, the House passed legislation that would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, more than double the current rate of $7.25. In an even more drastic increase, the bill calls for having the same minimum wage for tipped workers, raising it from $2.13 an hour.

Tlaib’s office did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment, but her remarks were derided by conservative commentators.

“Why not $20?” asked Town Hall Editor and Fox News contributor Guy Benson. “Or $50? Go, Rashida, Go!”

“They should make it $1,000 an hour and cure income inequality inside of a month, obviously,” joked Ben Shapiro. “These radical Democratic policy proposals are the political equivalent of the pitch for the Fyre Festival.”

Democrat presidential contenders are set to debate again on July 30 and 31, and could be asked about Tlaib’s now-viral proposal. The party’s embrace of once-radical proposals — including Medicare-for-all, health care for illegal immigrants, and decriminalization of border crossings — has alienated moderates, some analysts contend.

Tlaib, a member of the progressive freshman “squad” on Capitol Hill, has attracted an outsize share of attention in recent days. Over the weekend, video resurfaced showing Tlaib calling out to President Trump as security removed her from a meeting at the Detroit Economic Club in August 2016.

But her minimum wage proposal has her farther afield on the issue than virtually all other prominent Democrats. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently concluded that a $15 federal minimum wage could result in 3.7 million people becoming unemployed — far higher than House Democrats’ estimates — as employers struggle to make payroll and respond by slashing jobs and hours.

The CBO noted the “considerable uncertainty” in calculating the impact of the minimum wage from state to state, and indicated that up to 17 million Americans could see pay increases.

Republican leaders have said a minimum wage hike would be “devastating” for middle-class families, citing CBO research finding that it would also reduce business income, raise consumer prices and reduce the nation’s output. Overall, the CBO said the move would reduce real family income by about $9 billion in 2025 — or 0.1 percent.

SANDERS SAYS HE HAS TO CUT WORKERS’ HOURS TO MEET $15-PER-HOUR PROMISE

The minimum wage fight has spilled over into the Democrat presidential race in recent days. Over the weekend, Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced he will cut staffers’ hours so that they can effectively be paid a $15-an-hour minimum wage, prompting mockery from critics who said the move is more evidence that Sanders’ plan to raise the national minimum wage is hypocritical and would only lead to less work and more unemployment.

Alfredo Ortiz, president of the Job Creators Network, told The Washington Free Beacon that “America can’t afford a $15 minimum wage, never mind $20.”

Ortiz also connected Tlaib’s remarks to the strife rocking Sanders’ campaign.

“It’s a shame Representative Tlaib didn’t hear that Bernie Sanders is cutting his staff’s hours to meet their demands for a $15 minimum wage,” Ortiz told the paper. “If she won’t listen to job creators about the unintended consequences of a higher minimum wage, maybe she’ll listen to a socialist politician.”

The Washington Post first reported last Thursday that Sanders’ field staffers were upset that Sanders had championed a $15 minimum wage on the campaign trail, and made headlines for railing against major corporations who pay “starvation wages” — even as his own employees made “poverty wages.”

In response, Sanders told The Des Moines Register he was “very proud” to lead the first major presidential campaign with unionized workers, but also “bothered” that news of the internal strife had spilled into the media.

BERNIE SANDERS SAYS HIS $40 TRILLION MEDICARE-FOR-ALL PLAN WOULD HELP US SAVE MONEY

The self-described socialist candidate said junior field organizers earn roughly $36,000 per year in salary, with employer-paid health care and sick leave. But he acknowledged that their salary can effectively dip below $15 per hour if staffers work much more than 40 hours per week, which is common on presidential campaigns.

The solution is to “limit the number of hours staffers work to 42 or 43 each week to ensure they’re making the equivalent of $15 an hour,” he told the Register’s Brianne Pfannenstiel.

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.

Continue Reading

Politics

Deep budget cuts put University of Alaska in crisis mode; ‘grappling with survival’

Published

on

By

Civil rights groups sue Tennessee over law imposing new penalties on voter registration

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – The University of Alaska board of regents, facing deep budget cuts exacted by the governor that will eliminate about 40% of the university’s state funding, voted at an emergency meeting on Monday to declare the academic equivalent of bankruptcy reorganization.

The regents’ 10-1 vote puts the university into “financial exigency,” a status allowing administrators to summarily fire tenured faculty and other staff, close whole academic programs and even shut down entire campuses. Up to 2,000 employees could lose their jobs, University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen has said.

The drastic move is necessary, regents said, because of line-item spending vetoes by Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy that slashed $440 million from the budget passed by the state legislature, including $130 million from the university system.

Dunleavy, who took office in December and is an outspoken supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, has called for major cuts in higher education, health care and other social programs as he pushes to sharply raise the annual oil revenue dividend that Alaska pays to nearly every state resident.

Lawmakers attempted on July 10 to reverse Dunleavy’s budget vetoes but failed to muster the required three-quarters vote to override the governor. The result, the regents said at their meeting, is tragic for the university.

  “Unfortunately, we are now grappling with survival,” said John Davies, the board of regents’ chairman.

Davies disputed Dunleavy’s assertion that sharp cuts to the university and other programs were necessary because Alaska faces a financial crisis.

“I believe it’s more of a political crisis. It’s some decisions that have been made by the governor and by a minority of the legislature,” he said.

The budget as passed by the legislature contained a surplus. Dunleavy imposed deep cuts, nevertheless, while pushing to nearly double the dividend paid to residents each year from oil revenues collected for the Alaska Permanent Fund.

Dunleavy’s proposal for a record $3,000 dividend this year, at a time of declining oil industry receipts, would cost the state an estimated $2 billion.

The University of Alaska operates its three main campuses in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau, with 13 smaller satellite campuses in remote communities such as Nome, Bethel and Kodiak. The $130 million cut by the governor is more than the cost of running the entire Anchorage campus, Johnsen has said.

The university, especially the Fairbanks campus, is considered a world-class hub for Arctic and climate-change research, and some Dunleavy critics have accused the governor of targeting the university because of that.

“Some prominent conservatives deny the reality of human-caused climate change, and so curtailing UA research is great from their perspective,” Susan Henrichs, a former University of Alaska Fairbanks provost, said in a column published in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Regents had considered declaring financial exigency a week ago but postponed their decision. Since then, Moody’s sharply downgraded the university’s bond rating, giving it a “negative” outlook.

Members of the legislature’s bipartisan majority coalition said they still hope to restore funding to the university and other programs.

Reporting by Yereth Rosen in Anchorage; Editing by Steve Gorman and Leslie Adler

Continue Reading

Politics

Trump announces ‘real compromise’ on budget deal with congressional leaders

Published

on

By

Trump announces 'real compromise' on budget deal with congressional leaders

The Trump administration and congressional leaders, including Democrats, have reached a critical debt and budget agreement, a deal that amounted to an against-the-odds victory for Washington pragmatists seeking to avoid politically dangerous tumult over fiscal deadlines, President Trump announced Monday.

The deal would increase spending caps by $320 billion relative to the limits prescribed in the 2011 Budget Control Act, whose provisions have repeatedly been waived year after year. It would also suspend the debt ceiling and permit more government borrowing until July 31, 2021 — after the next presidential election.

The arrangement all but eliminates the risk of another government shut down this fall, but already has been drawing the ire of fiscal conservatives saying it will lead to more irresponsible government spending.

Even some Democrats — including Vermont Sen. Patrick J. Leahy — were outraged, saying the bill would not block Trump from spending money on his proposed border wall.

“I am pleased to announce that a deal has been struck with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy – on a two-year Budget and Debt Ceiling, with no poison pills,” Trump wrote.

He added: “This was a real compromise in order to give another big victory to our Great Military and Vets!”

Democrats celebrated that, under the new deal, the domestic, non-military budget receives larger increases than the defense budget, when compared to last year. Democrats also lauded the deal’s allocation of $2.5 billion for the 2020 Census, to ensure that all residents are counted.

The deal, which must still pass Congress, also comes as budget deficits have been rising to $1 trillion levels — requiring the government to borrow a quarter for every dollar the government spends — despite the thriving economy and three rounds of annual Trump budget proposals promising to crack down on the domestic programs that Pelosi, D-Calif., has been defending.

It apparently ignored warnings from fiscal conservatives saying the nation’s spending has been unsustainable and eventually will drag down the economy.

“This agreement is a total abdication of fiscal responsibility by Congress and the president,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington advocacy group. “It may end up being the worst budget agreement in our nation’s history, proposed at a time when our fiscal conditions are already precarious.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Continue Reading

Categories

Recent Posts

Like Us On Facebook

Trending